Tuesday, January 26, 2010

That's Not a Lot of Sugar For a Dime

Ahhh, the colloquialism.

I love clever sayings and word plays. I was engaged in a kitchen consultation the other day when the lovely southern lady I was meeting with said to me, "...Well, that's not a lot of sugar for a dime," after I explained a design and construction process to her. In the design business we refer to it as the point of diminishing return.

Part of my job is to help people spend their money wisely with regard to their project and the value of their home. I hate to see them waste resources on details that won't make an impact visually or financially. I admit I watch a design show on occasion and find myself screaming at the TV, "Don't do that!" Usually it is one of the "flip that house" genre of shows that gets me going the most. I see people making design decisions that will cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars and in the end, no one will notice the difference. In the case I mentioned above, the "simple" act of adding a cabinet side wall to a refrigerator would have cost a couple of thousand dollars. Which would have involved moving electrical, moving and replacing HVAC, framing out a soffit, repairing the floor, altering the bank of cabinets beside the refrigerator ... shall I go on? It was my advice that she not do the work. In all honesty I just couldn't bring myself to "sell" her on the idea; it would be robbery. She thanked me for being honest with her.

My points: first, hire a professional. What you pay for their expertise will easily be recouped in the money they save you by avoiding costly mistakes. Second, be willing to rethink your design if you encounter significant issues. I like to let my designs evolve as the job progresses. I have an overall plan and most details will be executed as drawn, but if I get to a difficult spot I am willing to adapt and adjust if I think the client will overspend on an insignificant detail.

Have you had any projects where you didn't get “a lot of sugar for a dime”?

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