This subject is one of the most important ones to write about! So this post is an update of one of my earliest.
It's been many years since I started working as a Designer and the longer I work, the more I believe this: it's all about the TEAMWORK to get the project "right".
Usually, a Client hires the Architect or the Builder/Contractor -- occasionally the Designer -- and that person helps assemble the first line of experts. If the Architect comes first, much of the work important can begin. A Designer then can (I mean "should") be added to help complete decision-making. Then it goes out for bid (my favorite sequence) and the project progresses. Other times, the Contractor heads a team and recommends the Architect and/or Designer. From time to time, a whole team is hired at once. I have mixed feelings about "Design/Build", but it's very successful and was a huge part of the years of McMansion construction. In that situation, the Designer is more of a consultant on construction-related trades and does mostly that consultation the decorating (that word again).
In my ideal project, the Designer is brought in early and becomes an advocate and translator for the Client. Of all those involved, the Designer is most likely to stick around a long time - often years after the construction is completed and the Client settles in. Ideally, everyone would like to move into a space when every little item is complete, but it's hard to get it all decided and delivered/installed AND it's most often not affordable to do all the details at once. Realistically? Art and accessories can (should) have the same budget as the furniture. (& I love that part.)
In order to be properly efficient, it's all about working together: not working in parallel paths and all trying to be the big boss.
The artisans/suppliers/vendors/manufacturers are all used to working with many Designers and Contractors. Most Architects don't handle "finish trades" unless they have Designers on staff. Designers do furniture and windows and the rest of the decorating items (YES, I DID SAY THAT), but there is overlap with the suppliers available to the Designer and the Contractor. That's where the teamwork comes in. If you play with the team, you also need to include favorites of the homeowner. OK with me, as long as they are responsible for their work.
When I start a project, I discuss the teamwork project. I have a list of "team members" that are needed to complete the job and I have a list that I can present plus a typical order for making selections of suppliers and products. All Designers and Contractors have their favorite "peeps". And I sure have mine. LONG, LONG gone is my time of searching for a cheap deal. Relationships are much more successful for negotiating a contract than trying out new people only to get a lower price. Do I work with new tradesmen? Absolutely! But they are always referred by the Contractor or the Client before I put a whole new project in their hands. THAT'S how I meet new people. There is not one supplier/artisan I work with that does not understand or value consistent referrals and LOYALTY. I wish more of these specialists could return the referrals with referrals to ME, but that's not very easy, since they work with other Designers. Not expected ....I just need their usual top, top quality work and continued friendship and loyalty. If I need extra or special work, they know the request comes from a serious place.
Oh! There are projects that I have done for my own homes. Some of the people I work with have supplied work for me in four houses and apts. before the 1st house!! ... YES, some guys I think are extraordinary I have only known a short time. I regularly preface my recommendations with "I don't let anyone else do that work for me". I'm as picky with work for my yard/garden, & this loyalty applies to the furniture/fabric relationships, too.
I happily am reminded by one of " my guys" that I was working with his father when he was only 8. (Awesome--make me feel old, OK?)
This can be the antithesis of Do-It-Yourself. It's wrong to assume that working with a team will cost more. These "Trade Sources" (as some are) can give you a huge "bang for your buck" because they rely on volume and loyalty. They don't plan to spend much time with the consumer, since the Contractor or Designer will do the explaining of lingo and options.
Think on this if you want to "get it done" in top form and efficiently.