Buying GuideRegina Kwok, Creative Director of Artwill Interior Design House. She has more than 12 years of experience in interior design, working on a diverse range of projects including large residences, offices, and public spaces. A keen traveller, she is always in search of the best boutique hotels and home-furnishing stores around the world. She obtained her Bachelor degree in the Interior Design (honor) from Swinburne of Technology University in Australia and has received a number of interior design awards.

Regina gives you tips on how to work with your interior designer

I just bought a new home in Hong Kong and want to renovate it. How do I get started?
Contact several interior designers and get them to submit design and fee proposals. Finding designers through referrals is always recommended, but looking at local publications like SCMP or Perspective, Modern Home magazine for features on completed projects is also a good way to learn about designers.

How much time does a typical project take?
For a home of 2,000 square feet, the average project duration is four to six months from design to completion. If the client asks for a lot of changes, it will be longer. The pace of work in Hong Kong sometimes surprises people who have just moved here from overseas; but it quite common for multiple works to happen in parallel and for contractors to be working long hours.

How do I keep track of construction progress?
Before construction starts, the project manager must walk the client through the work schedule in detail. You should be able to follow the progress with the schedule you’ve been given.

Any tips on what to watch out for during construction?
In Hong Kong (especially after several recent cases of unauthorized building works that were highly publicized) it is important to have a designer who will follow all legal procedures for filing alteration works with the government’s Buildings Department. For example, unlike in singleunit houses, some walls in tall apartment buildings are structural, and so cannot be torn down without BD approval. Changing the size or location of a window or even external planters, also requires BD approval.

Because of the humidity here, contractors need to pick suitable wall and floor coverings. Primers and anti-mold paint are critical, as is multi-layer flooring or underlayment to keep hard wood floors flat and dry.

Well-sealed double-glazing is sufficient to keep your home insulated from strong winds during typhoon season and extreme heat in the summer (so your air conditioning bill can stay manageable in August). But if you are in a particularly noisy area or if your window faces west and gets direct sunlight in the late afternoon, then your designer may need to suggest alternative solutions. Tinted, UV-blocking glazing or heavy curtains may be the solution.