Frequently asked Questions

If you would like to know more about us and what we do, or if you have any questions, please call us … we would love to hear from you. However, if it is not convenient or if outside office hours please take a look at our list of FAQs below. The answer you want might be here.

Who we are

How do I choose the right lighting designer?

Most importantly, can you talk easily to the designer. Your home is personal to you, the designer must understand your needs and preferences. Don’t be embarrassed to ask them to show examples of their work, check their qualifications and ask how long they have been in business. What one person likes another may not, the designer’s suggestions and designs must reflect what you want. A good designer turns your dreams into reality.

Don’t be swayed by extravagant designs, you will need to live with this day in day out. The lighting must be easy to operate, provide the lighting you want and be good quality.

Why would I use a lighting designer

There are many reasons for using a lighting designer including:


  • You would like new ideas and inspiration.
  • You want to be up to date with the latest lighting designs and technical innovations.
  • You know what you want but are unsure how to achieve it.
  • Your electrician or builder needs a lighting specification and a full set of plans.
  • You want to highlight artworks, objet d’art and architectural features in your home.
  • Usually people call a designer when they are starting a new project or buying a new property, but you may just be unhappy with your existing lighting.
  • To ensure your lighting system meets all current legal electrical safety requirements.
  • To design a lighting system that meets any planning requirements – especially for listed properties.

How long have you been trading

Sam ColesSam Coles Lighting has been trading for 15 years but Sam has been a lighting designer for over 18 years.

Sam began her design career with a BA Honours degree in Interior Textile Design. Sam then gained a further qualification in Interior Design and spent a number of years offering a soft furnishings interiors service alongside her lighting consultancy services. This gives her a broad breadth of experience, from use of colour through to detailed knowledge of period and contemporary architecture and design.

Do you have experience of listed buildings

Yes, we have a great deal of experience dealing with listed buildings. This is a great benefit to our clients as we know what is required and what pitfalls to avoid, saving them time and money.

We have also become very creative to overcome the constraints of what is and is not allowed. This means we provide practical and innovative solutions to problems resulting from planning requirements for listed buildings.

These challenges are not restricted to just listed buildings. There is a myriad of considerations regarding the positioning of lights, especially outside in gardens and drives where the light may impact neighbours.

Do you visit us on site

Yes we do – however, this depends on the type and size of project and where you are located. Some projects don’t require a visit, in these situations we often use web-based solutions such as Skype and Zoom. This can save time and money on smaller projects.

I am a long way from you. Is this a problem

No problem – we have a remote service using web based solutions such as Skype and Zoom which are very popular

What we do

What does a Lighting Designer Do

A good lighting designer will do as much or as little as you need. You may just need some advice and ideas or you may need a full service solution. The four main services we provide are:

Lighting Design – Design a lighting system that is practical yet attractive and meets your technical requirements while keeping to your budget

Lighting Specification – Produce a full lighting specification including lighting design plan, lighting controls plan and lighting specification with full budget breakdown

Installation Management – On site meetings with electrical contractors Attend site for lighting first-fix electrics checks. Attend site for second-fix electrics checks to ensure that works are moving on smoothly and to answer any queries face-to-face that may result during this phase. Make paperwork revisions to the lighting design and specification, as necessary. Answer technical or design queries that arise during this phase.

Commissioning & Delivery – Attend site to supervise the aiming of any adjustable lights, assist with the hanging lengths of pendants, dress chandeliers, etc. Carry out an inspection of the lighting installation to prepare a snagging list. Assist in the initial lighting controls scene setting.
Attend site to check all snagging items are rectified. Produce an Operations and Maintenance (O and M) Manual.

My house is not very large – is it worth having a lighting design

Whatever the size of your house, good lighting is important. You want your house to look its best but you also want the lighting to be attractive and practical. We understand that in a smaller property it is not always easy to justify a budget for lighting design. Especially if you may only require lighting for one or two rooms. Maybe you are just looking for some ideas or advice. In this situation we generally provide our ‘hourly rate service’. You decide what you want us to do and we charge by the hour. This means you can use as much or as little as you need.

Can you help if the project has already started

Yes, we work on projects at all stages. Obviously, it is better to start planning at the beginning, however, things happen. In this situation we need to work quickly and consider best solution depending on how far the work has progressed.

Do you manage the entire project

If required, we can manage the complete lighting project. This includes meeting with you to understand your needs, what you like and don’t like. Producing a lighting plan and lighting specification, producing all drawings for your builder or electrician.  Meetings with your electrical contractors, wiring inspections during the project to ensure the correct wires for lights and switches are in the right place.  Supplying lights and fittings. We also handle snagging issues and troubleshoot lighting problems.

However, you may not require all these services – we are happy to provide as little or as much as you need.

Do you specify Lighting Control Systems

Yes, we also have a lot of experience of programming these systems

Do you supply the lights

If required we can also supply lights, switches and accessories. This is particularly useful for specialist or distinctive styles which may be hard to locate or bespoke items such as switch plates. We also have long standing relationships with many manufacturers which means we can often supply lights at a discount to the RRP.

Do you also design lighting for gardens and outdoor spaces

Yes, we have a great deal of experience of all outdoor lighting.

Outdoor lighting is fascinating with massive selection of specialist lights available. Beautiful designs can enhance your garden and plants whilst allowing for the vagaries of the British climate. Outdoor lighting has to function from hot sunny days to howling wind and snow.

How we do it

What are typical stages for each project

You may not require all of these services however here are the typical stages of a full service project –


We meet with you to discuss your requirements
We then produce a lighting plan & specification for your approval
Make any necessary changes you require
Supply full sized plans for your electrical contractors or builders
Meet with your contractors and then monitor the progress of the work
Inspect finished job, handle snagging issues and troubleshoot any problems.

At what stage in our project should we contact you

As soon as possible. Ideally, as soon you begin the planning stages of your lighting design. We can often suggest ideas that can be included during the building stage this can save time and money later and give you far more options.

This will also help you to plan and budget to ensure you get the lighting scheme you want at the right price.

I do not have plans at this stage – can you still produce a design.

If this is a renovation or extension we can take measurements when we visit. Alternatively, you can provide a simple sketch. Another source of information are the estate agent particulars for the property which often include a basic floorplan.


How are your fees calculated – Are they fixed per job or an hourly rate

We use both methods. It depends on the size of job and what suits you.

Why is a budget important

If we know what you wish to achieve and what budget is available we can produce a plan to ensure you get exactly what you want at the right price. This means you get the most value for your money.

Is VAT included – do I pay VAT on a new build

We clearly show the VAT on our quotes and invoices. In some circumstances a reduced VAT rate or no VAT value may apply. We will discuss this with you in detail depending on your project.