ASID tactics leaves acid after taste for designers

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Can you guess which of the four designs shown below became a criminal act, the GUILTY design firm slapped with a court order to cease and desist and faces criminal penalties and fines for design work?

Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, a world class luxury resort, recently refurbished the Forum Tower Suites.

Atlantis Phase III, The Cove Tower, Paradise Island, The Bahamas

The Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore

Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens Greece

The answer is none. These beautifully appointed and awe inspiring public facilities are the work of internationally known hospitality design firm of Hirsch Bedner Associates.

And yet, by designing equaling thrilling spaces in Florida and the same design firm faces criminal charges. Yes, criminal charges and fines for practicing design. And so it goes the highly acclaimed firm, Hirsch Bedner Associates, joins the growing list of design firms and other notable national designers, namely Kelly Wearstler from Los Angeles, hired to redesign the Tides Hotel in Florida; and Juan Montoya of New York, named to Architectural Digest's Top 100 Designers list, all who have been accused of designing without a certificate in the state of Florida, subject to criminal charges and fines.

Is it possible the building inspectors in Las Vegas, Singapore, Athens, the Bahamas were remiss in approving these stunning places? Were engineers, fire inspectors, architects, construction contractors, plumbers, electricians, city planners completely ignorant? Absolutely not. Designed and built according to local enforceable building codes in place, without which a project will not be issued building permits and a certificate of occupancy. Space planning and specifying materials must meet local fire, electrical, plumbing and municipal building codes without which a project will not pass inspection. This is to say that there is REGULATION in place for commercial and residential building projects by states and local municipalities.

Is this the effort of the state of Florida trying to protect the public's health and safety? Is this to say that Florida's existing codes are not adequate protection to ensure the health and safety of it's citizens? One must read the comments at Cote De Texas: ASID an agency out of control and for further comment on Florida's ASID's heavy handed legislation.

If Hirsch Bedner Associates obtains the certificate to practice design in the State of Florida, will this ensure that the public is safer than it was without the certificate?

In the 30 years that ASID has been pushing for regulation, no evidence has been presented that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public in any form of jeopardy.

See Probable Cause Panel Meeting at Florida's, BOARD OF ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN (click link to view the design firms in the thousands who have been accused of designing without a certificate). How much is this costing the citizens of Florida?

Here is the Hirsch Bedner Associates citation below:

Hirsch Bedner & Associates

Howard Pharr

Case No. 2007-068978

Probable cause was found that Hirsch Bedner & Associates of Atlanta, Georgia, is not licensed to practice interior design in Florida and contracted to provide interior design services on a commercial project. Further, Hirsch Bedner & Associates is offering these services without a certificate of authorization. An Administrative Complaint seeking fines will be filed and a Notice and Order to Cease and Desist will be issued.

American Society of Interior Designers, ASID, is hard at work to legislate their competitors out of business in the name of protecting the publics’ health, safety and welfare. ASID’s attempt to install Design Practice Acts in every state stands to create design cartels through a single-entry method into interior design. According to ASID’s own website, they retain a staff of full time attorneys and three lobbyists registered with the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Source:

ASID is up against a fight. When the goal of a few is to dominate the profession of the majority with anti-competitive and anti-consumer legislation, even ASID’s cadre of attorneys will not be able to counter the growing opposition. The public and several organizations who oppose anti-American, anti-freedom design cartels refuse to be silent and will oppose the legislation at every turn.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association, NKBA, has many concerns about these attempts to co-opt the interior design market.

“While interior designers are deserving of respect for their role in the design process, special legislative consideration is not warranted based on an objective review of the facts. In truth, these bills protect the economic interests of a few within the interior design community and in no way promote or advance any rational, justifiable or necessary public policy. As such, NKBA joins with the vast majority of the design community in opposing these unjustifiable attempts to monopolize the interior design profession.” Ed Nagorski, General Counsel, NKBA


As the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies put it, there is "no evidence of physical or financial harm being caused to . . . consumers by the unregulated practice of interior designers."

In vetoing interior design legislation last May, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels explained that the "principal effect" of the law would have been "to restrain competition and limit new entrants into the occupation." Mr. Daniels noted that interior designers were "hardly the only profession" seeking government protection from potential competitors.


Institute for Justice’s communications team provided key support, this time by bringing ASID’s cartel’s nationwide efforts to the attention of nationally syndicated columnist George F. Will, who wrote a devastating column about it entitled “Wallpapering with Red Tape.” The column left quite an impression on our friends in the resistance and even more importantly on our opponents, who were still reeling from IJ-backed battles in New Hampshire (where Clark testified against practice legislation in March) and in New Mexico.


Additional Opponents to Interior Design Legislation includes:
BSA (Boston Society of Architects)

NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association)

RAM (Retailers Association of Massachusetts)

NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses)

Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts

Massachusetts Building Inspectors

IJ (The Institute For Justice)

Live Free and Design

Massachusetts Fire Chiefs oppose Interior Design Legislation

Massachusetts Building Inspectors Oppose Interior Design Legislation

More cases against this legislation can be found at

WHO OPPOSES SB 1312? (California’s Practice Act that failed to pass in the Senate)
The opponents of this bill are





IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council)


CAB (California Architects Board)

CALBO (California Building Officials)

Los Rios Community College District

WHFA (Western Home Furnishings Association)

Lumber Association of California

NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry)

AIBD (American Institute of Building Designers),

The Home Depot

California Retailers Association, and several others.

The California Council for Interior Design Certification, CCIDC, issued a statement against a practice act in California.

“It is the opinion of the CCIDC board that this bill does nothing to improve the current certification program in California other than create a parallel registration program that is under the control of the state government and paid for at taxpayer's expense.”

ASID contends that interior designers are asking to be allowed to practice their profession through means of a practice act. ASID would like to convince the public that a practice act is a necessary means to protect the publics’ health, safety and welfare.

The Practice Act does nothing to further the protection of public health, safety and welfare. It is merely another layer of legislation. The increased costs will be passed onto the consumer.

If there is any issue of placing the public in harm’s way, it is the interior designers who strive to be interior architects, without having received the proper education or experience.

According to the article in Interior Sources, May 2008, ASID Update: A Goal of Licensure, Not Limitation by ASID President Rita Carson Guest, FASID, ASID’s argument in favor of legislation is a moot point by the author’s own admission.

The author states: “…we are asking to be allowed to practice our profession.” To those who say to us, "Why do you need a law for interior designers?" we say, interior design is already regulated de facto. The law is there to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, and we support that. But those laws are preventing interior designers from fully practicing their profession. We simply want states to grant interior design professionals who meet the necessary qualifications to be permitted to offer their services. We want to loosen the restriction on interior design professionals, not add a new one.”

What double talk is this? No one is preventing interior designers from fully practicing. What law is Mrs. Carson Guest referring to that is preventing interior designers from practicing their profession?

The only limitation is ASID’s legislative lobbying efforts to limit other designers from practicing. Look at the witch hunt ongoing in Florida. Currently, three states have practice acts in place –Louisiana, Washington, DC and Florida. Alabama’s Supreme Court ordered a stay against the practice act, which deemed it unconstitutional. In California, we’ve succeeded in fighting back the lobby’s efforts in the Senate. Senate Bill 1312 was struck down because it did not garner enough support in the Senate to consider the bill.

The practice act legislation is a circular argument and flawed. CIRCULAR: 1) By admitting there are laws in place that protect the health, safety and welfare of the public is an admission that a practice act is redundant to existing codes. FLAW: 2) No one is preventing designers from practicing their profession. Yet, the ASID proponents of the practice act, by asking for permission to practice by passing the NCIDQ exam will limit who can take the exam. In California, The NCIDQ exam does not test for knowledge of California Codes and Regulations as provided by current state law.

ASID's Practice Act is anti-competitive and anti-consumer.

The legislative proposals advocated by a small handful of designers which would create a restrictive practice act to control who may provide interior design services and discriminate against thousands of existing interior designers and students who are currently enrolled in college interior design programs and will not be able to become licensed under such proposals.

In California, several qualified Kitchen designers I know, some who hold CMKBD status, would have to go back to school to earn the right to take the NCIDQ Exam, find work (which could be hard to find), as an intern under a Certified Interior Designer to earn work experience credit. Currently, previous work experience for a Kitchen and Bath design firm does not count. This may proof wholly ineffective for a Kitchen and Bath designer who would have to work for a commercial designer that specifies system interiors for offices. How does this push for regulation protect the health, safety and welfare of the public ? It only serves to devastate the earning potential of a qualified designer who must go back to college and take a pay cut to work as an intern to sit for the expensive NCIDQ exam. NCIDQ, which has a historically low pass rate of arond 40%, is not the standard for minimum competency. It is just one of several exams that are equally valid, and arguably, the NCIDQ is not even the best.

Few designers even bother to take the NCIDQ exam because it is generally considered irrelevant by designers and more importantly, by their clients. Perhaps this lack of initiative is the true reason for trying to legislate what should continue to be a voluntary certification process.

Watching the disaster of Florida’s practice act, it is inconceivable to grasp the millions of dollars lost and construction projects halted as alternate design firms must be selected who are certified to practice in Florida. This is anti-business. It is the industry at large that depends on the work from design firms. The consumer is affected with this anti-competitive and anti-consumer practice act. The draconian Practice Act in Florida is nothing less than outrageous. ASID is most definitely an agency out of control. This is a situation that calls to mind the poem “First they came…" by Pastor Martin Niemöller about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

Fortunately Americans don't take kindly to injustice. Grass roots efforts have been effective in fighting back legislation in California, Texas and Arizona. More work needs to be done to overturn this Draconian law in Florida and prevent laws from passing in New York.

The ASID Practice Act legislation is too broad. The CKD and CBD exams are not considered a legitimate substitute, despite the fact that these are the prevailing standards of kitchen and bath design expertise.

“The definition of "interior designers" is very broad based,” contends Ed Nagorsky, general counsel for the NKBA. “It encompasses all aesthetics of room design – from painting to hanging artwork. The mandate from the ASID is to obtain a practice act with a very broad definition, so as to require that all who practice within the design trades must take their exams and attend schools of their choosing.” Reference: Kitchen and Bath Design News, May 07.


Obtaining a license would require a designer to take the NCIDQ exam and study at institutions mandated by ASID and other allied organizations.

In California, SB1312 Practice Act would discriminate against many current professional interior designers by requiring licensing through an out of state organization that will not recognize our qualifications. This bill would not protect the consumer and adds an unjustified layer of bureaucracy to the already overburdened state budget.

California's SB1312 Practice Act will raise exam and licensing cost which will result in higher prices passed on to the consumer. It will only add additional cost to the services that an interior designer provides making it more exclusive and out of reach for many consumers.

California's Senate Bill 1312 has no provision for a registered interior designer to submit plans to local building officials and state agencies. It will not add any protection to the consumer.

California's SB 1312 will exclude many designers from becoming registered because of hard-to-meet requirements. Further, it will “criminalize” certain acts. Section 5751 states any person who violates any provisions of the law, is subject to severe penalties; guilty of a misdemeanor, and fines up to $10,000.

Section 5800 of the Business and Professions Code already establishes the Certified Interior Designer Law and the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC). California certification already requires an interior designer to follow a “Code of Ethics” and pass an exam covering California Codes and Regulations (CCRE) to become a Certified Interior Designer.

To become registered, Senate Bill 1312 requires an interior designer to pass an exam (called the NCIDQ exam) given by a private organization based in Washington D.C. This is an expensive exam over which California has no control. Senate Bill 1312 says prior experience will qualify a designer to become registered but the NCIDQ exam ignores experience in the profession to even qualify to take the exam.

If you can’t take the exam, you can’t become registered. The NCIDQ exam also does not test for knowledge of California Codes and Regulations as provided by current state law.

The impact of such a law would have far reaching consequences on the design community. This sort of regulation law would put many thousands of designers, decorators, contractors and retailers out of business without any demonstrable showing of harm to the public from the failure to license the interior design profession.


In California, we've succeeded in fighting back the lobby's efforts in the Senate. As we suspected, the interior design lobby has not given up on their quest to limit interior design services to only a handful of designers who support their efforts and can pass the self-imposed requirements for licensure in the State of California. Designers and business owners oppose the “gut and amend” tactics to revive SB1312 and will continue to oppose it as it may be reviewed in the Business and Professions Committee.

Would consumers be affected by regulation of interior design?

Yes -- and in an extremely negative way. The Federal Trade Commission concluded that regulation would result in fewer choices and increased costs to the consumer. Regulation would take away consumers' freedom to choose a designer based on their needs. Currently, consumers have many avenues to determine the qualifications of interior designers -- portfolios, websites, resumes, interviews, private certification programs such as NKBA-CKD and CBD, CQRID, NCIDQ, and state code exams. The public does not lack the ability to make informed choices and regulation would take this choice away from consumers and put it in the hands of the government.

SB Senate Bill1312
Kitchen and Bath Design News : The Right to Practice. May 2007


Interior Sources, May 2008, ASID Update: A Goal of Licensure, Not Limitation

Cote De Texas: ASID an agency out of control


Verify everything in writing

Sunday, July 6, 2008

At the scene of an auto accident,
the one thing for certain is that there will be numerous versions of what lead up to the accident.

At the scene of an accident, every witness and every party involved in the accident has their own version of what took place. What is perceived as each persons truth will never really agree with the next persons story. Explaining what happened varies: speed of travel, weather, amount of cars on the road, color and type of cars involved all are subject to interpretation. The accident happens so fast, that everyones recollection will be weighted based on what they were doing at the time of the accident.

Don't let your remodel become a scene of an accident.

A home improvement project can become an accident without proper documentation. I got a call today from my sister complaining about a home improvement project that is nearly completed. There was mold and water damage in the kitchen. The insurance company had a specialist come in to handle the mold remediation and repair the cabinetry. One of the workers promised, "a verbal promise", that he would install all new roll out trays in the pantry.

Listening to this story, my red flag alert went off.

Does a a verbal agreement between an employee of a company constitute a valid

contract change order? No. Anything discussed verbally, requires a written change order detailing additional time, materials and labor that will be added to the project cost.
Should a company honor a verbal agreement? It becomes a problem at this point. There is the interpretation argument of what was promised versus what was in the contract.

The issue is, that this employee's promise of roll outs was never written into the contract originally and a change order adding the roll outs was never submitted for her to sign off after that discussion of roll outs. An employee of the company can promise an item all he wants, but the homeowner must ask for this in writing so that there is no "he said/she said" dispute.

Imagine you were to explain your story in court, you are before the judge and you explain, "Your Honor, he told me he would install new roll outs for me. How was I supposed to know this was not in my contract , I was under the impression it was included based on what the salesperson said." It is a homeowners responsibility to know what they are signing for, what they are buying, and if not, they need to ask questions and have it explained if they are unclear about anything. Whenever your sales person starts explaining what they will do in a contract, have them take the time to show you where this is in your contract. Signing a contract, no matter how much paperwork you have to read, and no matter how tedious it is to read, you cannot ignore this step and plead ignorance later.

Get it in writing.

Now that it is time for the project to end, she is asking for the roll outs installed based on a verbal promise made by an employee of the company. The owner of the company is saying this wasn't billed into the contract and he will not do it. So the employee who made the promise is now denying he said that, the owner is not willing to supply the roll outs, and my sister is going to demand they be installed because they were discussed and requested originally. The whole reason she went with this company was he was the least expensive and the sales man said he would install roll outs where others who bid the project did not include them in the cost. The problem is that roll outs are not written anywhere in the contract. She is insisting it is the companies obligation to make good on that employees promise. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Get all promises in writing.

So who is right and who is wrong?

There is a customer belief that they would receive roll out trays because of a verbal promise. The problem is there is no documentation of roll outs in the contract. You can't go on the assumption that a verbal agreement will be honored. Most likely, they were never included in the original charges. If the owner was willing to make amends for his employee promising items he had no authority to do without charging for it, he could split the cost or reduce the cost of the roll outs and install them to keep the customer satisfied. My sister is right to be upset, the employee was wrong, but all this could have been avoided if she checked her contract and got the change order in writing. If it sounds like I am taking sides with the owner of the company, I really do not want to, but my sister should have made sure to get the sales person's verbal agreement in writing that it was included, she would be in a better position to ensure that work gets done. Saying she trusted the sales person is not good enough.

Put your wish list in writing and compare it to your written quote.
Question anything that is vague.

I put a bid on a project where the client had a cap on what she wanted to spend on her kitchen remodel. (Who doesn't? Every one has a budget). We crunched the numbers and came up with a plan that accomplished what she wanted in her project with a few exceptions. We could not honor the whole wish list without breaking her budget; but we provided a very nice complete project for the budget.

To keep the project on budget, the wish list items that didn't make it into the project were relocating the water heater and going tankless; adding an exterior door into the kitchen plan; adding a desk; adding a glaze to the cabinets; changing the door style to a more expensive door; adding custom cabinetry; adding more cabinetry and molding in general.

What I discovered was that the client was not willing to compromise on excluding anything from her wish list. Incidentally, she was not willing to expand her budget to include the wish list work.

The wish list made it's way back into the plan.

In the end, the client added her whole wish list back into the project.

This was all detailed by me in writing with a change order form detailing the costs and additions to the project.

Drawings were resubmitted for approval, and explanations of where the additional charges were added. This was all explained to the client in detail, and was approved by the client and signed off. Now that all of this was approved in the last meeting, the cabinet purchase order was painstakingly reviewed and submitted to the factory for order processing.

After all of this, the client had a change of heart, admits she does not understand why these changes were not included in the original estimate and cannot justify spending the extra money on her wish list items. One aspect of this is that she could be getting more estimates from others who will down play the construction costs, underbid items only to throw change orders at her later, throw doubt into her mind. Someone can always do it cheaper. One thing I know is that I never have to apologize for quality.

Adding more construction and adding more materials costs more. If anything was not included in the original quote, it can not be assumed to be included.

What I know for sure is that my original budget friendly design gave her a great design for the budget. It was a perfectly doable project. It just could not include the fancier details.

The reality is that getting everything on your wish list will cost more.
If you are willing to add more details, be prepared it will cost more.

Managing a client's expectations is probably the most challenging aspect of my job. Normally, my time with a client during a design meeting and a contract signing is very thorough and can last on average for two hours to make sure both husband and wife are very clear on what they are buying.

In managing your own expectations, write it down exactly what it is you want in your project, convey that to your contractor or designer. Then write down a separate list on what items you are willing to compromise if it won't work with your budget. There has to be some give and take in what can be accomplished for the money.

In an auto accident, there is no time to think of all the details leading up to the accident. In a construction project, you have the opportunity to review and make sure you are clear about all the details in the project. Don't rush the details. Read your estimate, read your contract. Have details explained if you don't understand them. Taking the time now, prevents the problem later of dealing with the disappointment of what you thought was included, when it wasn't.


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