What you're about to read is not news. Let's call it history - with a side order of advice.
15 Years Ago...
15 years ago, when I started my interior design career, designers had physical portfolios - binders filled with sketches, plans, and photographs of their work. We also had a written list of "references."
I asked former clients to "act as a reference." They let me add their name and phone number to my list and agreed to talk to potential clients who called to ask about me.
Designers don't ask for references any more, and consumers don't use them. They go online and read reviews from third-party websites like Houzz. The good and bad is all right there for everyone to see. That's a change for the better.
Here's the advice...
I'm not ready abandon in-person references, and I don't think you should either. Potential clients got a rich and nuanced view of what to expect if they hired me. They got to ask follow-up questions and hear unrehearsed answers. Plus, past clients enjoyed sharing their lessons learned with someone who was just starting down the renovation path.
So, ask your architect, builder, engineer - whatever flavor of professional you're considering - for an in-person reference, and follow up. Make the call.
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko