If you’re a designer who takes on clients abroad, whether in another state or overseas, this one is for you! Or if you’re a homeowner considering hiring a designer who’s not local, you’ll want to know what to look out for. This article is not about discouraging you from long distance design at all, but rather painting a full picture and tempering expectations. So read on: Here are problems that Arise when Designing Long Distance and their Solutions!


As in any design project, local or long distance, communication is going to be essential. Clear communication really is the key to success. Building a clear communications system with clients is essential. It may take more time to set up initially, but it will save you lots of time and money in the end. Luckily, technology has made it easier than ever to communicate with clients abroad.

Designers and clients use digital inspiration boards and can share them and discuss them via Skype and Facetime. If you’re someone who considers yourself a ‘technophobe’ or just back with tech in general, this is a good time to face that fear head on and get over it. It’s going to make things a lot easier! To reiterate: With a bit more time invested up front, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache later.

Site Visits

When a designer is working on a long distance project, they likely won’t be able to make as many site visits as they would if the project were local. This is okay and there are plenty of workarounds (a lot of which come back to clear communication), but it makes things like double checking for correct measurements and sizing even more important than usual. There’s nothing worse than realizing a beautiful custom-made couch can’t fit through a doorway.

You want to be sure you have precise measurements of the space itself and of the furniture selections. Designers are used to having more control in this department and designing abroad can weaken the peace of mind in this department.  One great way to work around this issue is to provide the designer with video walk-throughs of the space in addition to wall to wall, windows (width, height, how high off the floor), doors, ceiling height, and outlet locations measurements. 

Designing To Code

This is where working with a pro is going to be really really important. A good designer or builder will tell you when something isn’t to code or if they have to double check something. The design team will provide the contractor with specifications on plumbing, appliances, lighting and other materials and need to clear all material selections with the contractor to make sure it’s approved, to code and works in the space.

Tracking Deliveries & Damages

Damages happen. Things break in transit and need to be replaced. It’s an annoying headache but something that has to be dealt with all the time. Knowing whose responsibility it is to (again) communicate and deal with tracking deliveries and if there are any damages is so important to resolving any issues that may arise during this portion of the process.

home building abroad

Contractors keep track of deliveries, inventory, and damages, and communicate with the design team if issues arise (they almost always do). When items arrive damaged, the contractor lets the design team know asap, and provides info on the damage, condition of packaging, etc. to submit a claim and get replacement pieces as soon as possible without causing further delay.