How many of you use one contract for all of your design work? Have you ever considered using two?
As designers, it is our job to take thousands of puzzle pieces and fit them all together to create a beautiful picture. Most of the time, that’s the easy part. What happens when you sense red flags at the onset of a project that are as bright as the chimney on the last house you designed? Do you jump in knowing you can swim if the waters remain calm, or do you opt for a life raft just in case?
After years of dealing with clients who had a tendency to muddy calm waters, I decided to split my services into two contracts. One was for DESIGN SERVICES, which included working with the architect and landscape architect, as well as all of the selections and design requirements needed to build the structure. The second one was for what we termed DECORATING SERVICES so there was a clear-cut concept in the clients’ minds as to what services fell under each contract. The decorating services related to the items that enhanced the structure beyond the building, including furniture, artwork, light fixtures, blinds, etc..
You may be asking why would you opt for two contracts over one? Here are two simple words – LIFE LINE. You can choose up front to have the client sign only the design services if your intuition is alerting you to potential waves that could rock the boat. Then, if you’ve witnessed ways in which the boat could capsize, you don’t have to choose to move forward with the second contract. However, if there isn’t a tsunami of emotions rolling in and your comfortable navigating the waters, you can either have both agreements signed up front or wait until there is clear sailing several months into the first contract before you ask them to sign the second agreement.