Last week we discussed some initial fee scenarios you might, or are likely to, encounter when working with a designer.

Once you decide to move ahead with your project and work with a specific designer or firm, you may be offered one of the following:

An Hourly Fee:

This comprises all the time expended by a designer and his/her staff on behalf of your project. It covers everything from administration to drafting to shopping to working with your architect and supervision of the job site (if construction is involved).

These fees are generally invoiced monthly (though sometimes bi-weekly on more complex projects) at a specified, hourly amount, based on the scope of work that your project requires.

A Ten-Hour Mini-Package:

A ten-hour block of time allotted to your project for any and all time expended by the designer or her/his staff, but applied in any way you choose. This could include consultation services, shopping for materials, furniture or floor plans, site visits, palette selection, purchasing services, installation services, or advice on third-party vendors.

The Mini-Package is great for projects of limited scope or for first time clients not used to working with a designer. You control the speed and direction of your project.

Please note: the hourly amount for a limited scope project may be higher. Why? Your designer or firm of choice has to set aside time for your project that might otherwise be spent on a larger or more complicated project. This does not mean that your project has less value. What is does mean is that time and resources are being allocated in a more compressed way to provide the results that everyone is working toward. And, there is a clear end to the process…literally…your time is up! In addition, what it costs to manage a firm continues once your project ends. A designer or firm is always looking at how cash flow is facilitated throughout a 52-week year, not just during a 9-month or ten-hour segment of time.

Whether or not a mark-up is charged (generally 20-35%) on items of merchandise varies from designer to designer and firm to firm. If you’re paying a mark-up on an item, you should not also being paying an hourly charge. It’s a trade-off. The flat percentage covers a specified amount of work, beginning “here” and ending “there.” This will be (or should be) outlined by your designer. During the “from here to there” period no hourly charges should apply for that item, though exceptions do occasionally occur.

Carefully review this process with your designer so that everyone is clear about expectations, due dates and percentages due to be paid.

Next week, we’ll look at per square foot and value-based fee charges.

Ciao for now…

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