It’s been awhile since PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER added anything positive to the effort to validate the profession of interior design-which is the purpose of this blog.  Lest I be labeled a chronic whiner I woke up this morning and said to my self-

Self….Self…..Wake Up….It’s time to stop posting obtusely cynical observations with no real merit- You need to make a positive contribution to society….Hey….why are you going back to sleep…….ZZzzzzz z zzz zz.

I think we agree that the effort to legislate interior design has evolved from distinguishing the qualified from the not, to- pursuing the ability to practice as peers with, or independent of, other licensed design professionals.  To that end ASID in particular has amped up their legislative advocacy efforts to be more current and transparent;

So in regard to current interior design legislative efforts this is all well and good.  (see PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER can be positive).

But when I came across this recent newsletter item from the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association regarding Colorado ID’ers recent effort to legislate the practice of ID in their state;

I got to thinking.

It seems that the ability to pull building permits for one’s own interior design work is ultimately the holy grail of independent practice.  Sure there are other minor practice issues that ID practice legislation will promulgate but owning the entire design process is why we regulate.  Yes?

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has investigated the permitting issue and I believe that maybe our focus on practice regulation may be missing the mark.  As stated in the NKBA article,

“The primary reason given by most representatives voting in opposition to this bill seemed to be that it would have created redundant language that already exists in the exemption under the Architectural statutes giving NCIDQ certified designers the right to submit non-structural plans for building permits. Several representatives questioned the proponents’ arguments that an additional statute would improve the plan submission process that in some cases has been shown to be inconsistent. A sentiment expressed by one representative was that the permitting process by its very nature in requiring building departments to make judgment calls on the quality of submissions is inherently prone to inconsistences and this affects other design and building disciplines, not just interior designers.”

Given my limited but growing knowledge of the permitting processes in other states where ID’ers have implemented some form of permitting legislation (Colorado, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, Florida amongst others) it seems that the deciding factor is not legal recognition as a registered or licensed design professional but how the state building statutes (AKA Architectural  statutes) address the permitting process and how the local jurisdictions interpret those statutes.  In other words it seems that the existing building/permitting ordinances are what we should focus our efforts on- not creating new regulations.  Oh sure if we could implement reciprocal nationwide practice licensure like architects and engineers there might be less misinterpretation/bias on the part of the local code officials but let’s face it- we’ve been at this 35+ years and we are only officially licensed in 3 states (and 2 territories).

So maybe instead of focusing our advocacy efforts on forcing new regulations on a state by state basis maybe we should be focusing those efforts on national level building code implementation, state level building statutes, and local level building code enforcement.  A monumental effort and true paradigm shift to be sure….but one I suspect may house our holy grail.

In other words it appears we can’t beat them. Maybe…..with some strategic reinvestment of resources just maybe we can join them.

P.S.  I am not saying that we should abandon the effort to regulate the practice of ID. I realize this is a critical component of the parity/independence issue.  Some ID’ers are very qualified to be the prime or lead designer on larger projects and should have the legal right, and inherent liabilities, to own that responsibility.  My point above is simply that if permitting rights are the goal then we have a lot of work to do on that front as well.  Divide and conquer?

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