Six critical questions you should ask when engaging a design consultant

Hiring a design consultant can be a daunting task and knowing where to begin can be confusing. While reading reviews and numerous google searches can get you so far, it’s essential for the hirer to know what questions to ask to help you find the right people for your project. To get your project off to a great start, we’ve collated six key questions you should be asking when engaging potential design consultants.

Why are you interested in this project?

You want to hire a team that cares about your project, different companies will have different motivations. The company that is right for you will have a specific interest in your project that goes beyond profit. If answers to this question don’t show specific knowledge of your company or aspirations for your project then they are not for you.

What are you offering those others might not?

Many larger design firms offer generic services and processes with guaranteed results but lack innovation. Others take a much more bespoke approach that is both innovative and tailored to the specific client and project. Depending on your desired project outcome this question should help identify the right team for you.

How do you calculate your fee?

Some companies will calculate fees based on what they think you will pay. This often results in not enough fees to cover resources which means inadequate supervision. Others will calculate the fees based on a resource. This is more transparent so you can see what and more importantly whom you are getting. The simple rule is that if the fee seems too good to be true then it really is.

Who is on the team, and more importantly, what will be the level of involvement of each team member at each stage?

A project is only ever as good as the people delivering it. Make sure you are getting the team you want and with the right commitment to your project by asking this question.

Why are you the right fit for us?

Each company has its unique way of working. It’s a good idea to question a potential consultant on their personality and culture. Construction projects are complex and difficult choosing a team that is naturally aligned with your vision and values will ensure better communication and avoid unnecessary conflict.

If the roles were reversed and you weren’t bidding for this project, which of your competitors would you hire and why?

Design companies know their competition inside out. If they are not prepared to share their knowledge or if they are negative about their peers, do you really want to work with them?

Asking the right questions from the beginning saves time, money, and resource. You should never be afraid to challenge potential collaborators on their experience and never feel pressured to hire someone who doesn’t feel like the right fit. When all is said and done, ask the right questions and, most importantly, trust your gut, and you’ll find the right team for you and your project.