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renovation selections process

July 18th, 2015 in


Selection’s process: What is it, and do I need an interior designer?

Selection’s process: What is it, and do I need an interior designer?

The selection’s process is what I call the system that I use for selecting all of the products, materials, and various items that will be used in putting together your building project. The list of items can be somewhat daunting and will be driven by the scale and size of your project. In my opinion this is one of the most important steps in getting organised and setting yourself up for success.

The list of selection items could be endless and will depend on your individual project. Below I have listed some examples of the items you may need to select or at least have some input on when dealing with any of the various professionals who you may have employed.

You can download a copy of the basic selection’s template I use in the pre-commencement stage of all my projects.

Various selection items may include, but are not limited to:

  • Internal Finishes — Kitchens and appliances; stone benches; glass or tile splashbacks; vanities; shaving cabinets; detailed joinery; toilets, taps, and other associated bathroom fittings; tiles; various stones such as marble, granite, limestone, etc.; shower screens; light fittings; plaster cornices (or none depending on detailing); skirtings; architraves; internal doors; door handles and associated fittings; networking cabling or smart wiring for home automation; floor boards; carpets; paint finishes and colour selections; wall paper and feature wall detailing.


  • External Finishes— Windows and doors; face bricks; cladding; various sheet panelling; rendered surfaces; roof coverings; terracotta tiles; concrete tiles; slate shingles; metal roof sheeting; fascia and gutter styles;external surfaces with tiles, stone, or concrete such as driveways, paths, and retaining walls etc.; decks; pergolas; and painted surfaces including colour selections.

The list is endless depending on the level of detail that is required for your project, but you will be surprised because even the smallest projects can include many of these various items.

Depending on the level of assistance you have through your selection’s process, it is going to take you a considerable amount of time to select all of these items — believe me that it will be worth it!

I have personally been involved in hundreds of construction projects over the last fifteen years that have been at both ends of the spectrum: from everything completely selected right down to the last detail prior to starting onsite, to others that are just so anxious to make a start they are prepared to wing the selections along the way. Let me tell you that the clients with the latter approach usually ended up with considerably longer build times onsite due to delays with selecting and supplying materials. They were usually the ones that ended up blowing their budget as well. When you’re rushed or pressured for a decision, it does not leave you a lot of time to shop around!

So the lesson to take away from this is to select as much as you can up-front in the pre-commencement stage. By doing so you will be able to shop around for the best prices, and also adjust your selections if you find out that costs are over or under your original budget.

interior design and the selections process


Allowances and Showrooms

If you go out to the marketplace for tenders from various builders, tradesman, or suppliers with your plans before you have made selections, it will be difficult to compare your prices as people may be making various allowances, either based on their standard inclusions, or guesstimates until the selection is finalised.

Allowances made for items before a selection is finalised is usually referred to as a ‘provisional sum.’ We will touch on this more in our estimating section of the site, but my advice would be to try and avoid too many of these before you start because your true building cost will be unknown.

Part of the selection’s process will involve you having to visit various showrooms and talking to suppliers about the products you are looking to purchase or receive quotes on. This part of the process can become time consuming and frustrating if not performed correctly. I recommend downloading my selection’s template, in my 5-stage process, where I lay how to focus on getting the big ticket items out of the way first.

There are also various showrooms and suppliers out there that are one-stop-shops. If you can select your plumbing fittings, tiles, kitchens, and appliances in one spot, it will save you a lot of running around. Even if you do want to shop around, starting at these suppliers will help you to create a wish-list of everything you require, including prices that you can then take away and break down to shop around with.

Some of these suppliers and showrooms will require appointments, so I recommend you call ahead to arrange one as you will need to allocate a good portion of your day to this process.This way you will be guaranteed to get your showroom representative’s full attention in helping with your selections.

If you can plan or block out a full day then you should be able to squeeze in at least three major selection item categories. For example, you might choose to focus on the bathroom fitting and tile showroom, the kitchen showroom, and the window and door showroom. I recommend them in this order because the first one is a the most time-consuming and can be draining when you consider all of the individual fittings, such as taps and toilets, that maybe required in your project.

Kitchen selections can also be onerous, but if you have a reasonably detailed plan of what you require, the process should be streamlined.As for window selections, depending on the level of detail you or your designer has specified,the selection may only be between timber or aluminium, colour of frames and hardware, or a selection of frame-size grade of residential, commercial, or semi-commercial.


Interior Designers

Now if all of that sounds a bit overwhelming, and considering it’s only the tip of the iceberg, I would suggest you go back to the first question I posed: Do I need an interior designer? If you are time-poor, don’t feel confident with selecting your items, or just want some guidance in the look and feel of your overall design, then an interior designer could be the way to go.

The benefit of hiring an interior designer to take care of your selections is that most companies or individuals will have two or three standard suppliers that they use for individual products or required items that mesh with their overall design style. After an initial meeting or brief from yourself to the designer, a selection schedule or finishes schedule could be generated with pictures and prices of the majority of items ready for you to approve.

Of course with this method you would probably still want to visit the showrooms and look at the individual items or products you will be purchasing, but at least this way all of the leg work has been done for you upfront,which can save you the headache of all the decision making (or at least relieve some of the pressure).

Some architects, builders, and building consultants will also offer an interior design service, so I suggest shopping around if you need some extra assistance and guidance with all of your selections.However please remember that the more of this process you do upfront prior to starting with your project, the more money you will save!

While on the topic of money, you are going to need to find out what your proposed workis going to cost, so let’s move onto ‘Estimating: What is it and how can I save myself thousands?

Good luck and happy selecting 🙂

Best wishes,

James Mason




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Hi Guys, Im a 40 something year old builder who loves to help people, if you have come to this site to find out tips and tricks on how to renovate you are in the right place! When im not adding content to this site im usually hanging out with my beautiful wife Alison and two daughters Alana and Eden. We have recently moved from the hustle and bustle of Sydney to the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Queensland. My two passions are my family and building, so that is probably why our homes are always under constant renovation!

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