As the second-largest city in the Free State province of South Africa, Welkom is also known as the youngest town in the country. The city came into existence thanks to the discovery of gold in the north-western Free State – it was proclaimed a town in 1948, less than a decade after gold was found just north in Odendaalsrus.
Located about 256 km south of Johannesburg, Welkom is named after the Afrikaans and Dutch word for ‘welcome’. It has flaunted a growth rate faster than that of Johannesburg, even though it is much smaller in size and population. It is well-known for its efficient road traffic design, especially its various traffic circles (currently 33).
Houses are the most popular types of listed properties in Welkom (approximately 10,724 on the market), followed by apartments and flats (about 1,782). The estimated value of a house in Welkom comes to about R660,000. For an apartment or flat, the price drops to roughly R460,000. Three-bedroom houses are the majority of listed properties in Welkom, with about 271 listed in January 2019. The average price for a three-bedroom home works out to about R760,000.
There is a subtle distinction between these two professions and nobody can be blamed for assuming they are the same. However, to set the record straight:
An Interior Designer holds a tertiary qualification (typically a degree or advanced diploma in Interior Design) and works with every aspect of the way in which a structure’s interior spaces are laid out, designed and used by the inhabitants (such as the residents of a house, the workers of an office, etc.). Interior Designers are also required to study the theory and practice of design in great detail. Some of the topics which they are schooled on include:
Thus, even though they busy themselves with the designing and decorating of an interior space, Interior Designers also have a working knowledge of construction practices and documentation requirements.
An Interior Decorator usually holds a qualification in Interior Decoration (normally a diploma) and focuses more on the “dressing” of an interior with decorations, furnishings, floor coverings, etc. Interior Decorators study and work on a lot of the same elements as Interior Designers; however, their jobs do not involve the moving of walls, the installation of services or planning for things like safety and utility. Interior Decorators are more concerned with decorating what has already been built.
1. What are your references and credentials? Similar to architects, formal training at a university or college is crucial to become an interior designer in South Africa. In addition, always ask for references and work examples to get a better understanding of their work ethics, customer satisfaction, etc.
2. What services do you offer? The levels of services offered by one interior design firm can differ considerably from the next. Always know what you are getting and paying for. Some of the usual services a typical South African design firm can offer include: Design consultation, site measuring and assessing, space planning and project managing.
3. How do you structure projects? The way in which an interior designer structures a project will tell a lot about their time management, what you can expect from the process, etc. When setting up an initial meeting, always discuss their fees as well as your budget before jumping into the design specifics. And remember that a professional interior designer must first present a concept before finalising the details of a design.
4. How do you charge? This will directly influence your project budget. Ask whether the firm charges a flat rate, at an hourly rate, or a percentage of the total project cost.
5. Can you recommend contractors? If your interior designer has an established relationship with contractors, it is possible for you to get a discount. But even if there is no discount, a designer who can recommend other expert professionals in the industry is always an asset.
6. Have you worked on projects similar to mine? If so, request photos of the ‘before’, ‘in-process’, and ‘after’ phases of the project to get an idea of the designer’s style and experience.
7. What interior style do you prefer? Even though a professional interior designer should be able to work in numerous design styles, this is not always the case. Some favour certain styles (such as modern, rustic, Scandinavian, etc.), and if their style matches yours, the entire working relationship will just be that much easier.
8. What was your most recent project? You might even request a sneak peek of their most recent work to give you an idea of whether the designer makes use of the latest design trends, materials and finishes. If possible, request a reference from their last project and contact the client to see if they were satisfied with the designer’s work.