Friday, September 4, 2009

What is the Process for Purchasing Custom Furniture?

A lot of people are interested in custom furniture, but they don’t know the process of going from idea to delivery. Like any creation, you have to start with a design. Some people know exactly what they want, but more often than not, you may only have a general idea.

Information gathering is the next step in the creative process. You have to take into account how the piece will be used, how will it fit into the existing décor and what size would be appropriate. Expect lots of questions at this stage. Let’s look at a desk for example. Questions that I frequently ask include: would you like drawers on both sides? Do you want drawers to hold file folders? Would you like a pencil drawer (that shallow one in the center)? Will the desk be used for a computer, and if so will it be a desk top? If yes, I then ask if they would like a storage area for the tower or CD’s, would they like a keyboard tray, will the printer go on the desk top or do we need to look elsewhere? The list goes on, and the questions vary from piece to piece, but you get the idea.

Once the basic information is gathered, it’s off to the drawing board. The design phase incorporates the information we’ve pulled together, and knowledge of standards, joinery, hardware and aesthetics. All of this is brought together and a sketch(s) is made. The designer and customer sit down review the sketch, make any changes, and once the final design is reached, it’s time for the numbers.

My quote process involves creating a cut list, or a list of every piece needed to build the furniture – by size. This information is then moved to a pricing sheet that gives me a cost for the materials. To that I add the cost of any hardware, finishing supplies, etc. Finally I estimate the labor required, and add these together for a sale price.

When the written quote is accepted the customer provides a down payment. On larger jobs, subsequent payments may be required throughout the construction process. Once the piece is finished and delivered the final payment is made.

While I may have skipped a step or two, say choosing a material and the actual building process, I hope that this has clarified any questions you may have on the process of purchasing custom furniture.

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