For larger projects, those north of $500,000.00 with construction, and more likely in the million to several million dollar mark (or single family homes larger than 10,000 square feet), a designer’s fees will add up quickly. With change orders, redesigns of specific parts of a project (and this can happen for many reasons from taste issues to sound construction practices) as well as client brain freeze (not kidding!!) it can seem as though you’re drowning in demands for payment from your architect, contractor and designer (often $50-$80,000 or more per month during a project’s peak) and decision-making that can that can slow, halt or otherwise impede progress…costing even more money if not resolved quickly.

So what is a client to do? How can the costs be controlled? And how can the professionals you’ve engaged feel appropriately renumerated and able to fully deliver on your project without arguments over TIME invoices?

My suggestion is a MONTHLY or ANNUAL FEE

Simply put, this is a flat amount that covers all time expended in a given period – a month, or over the course of a year (an annual “salary” if you will). It includes all of the designer’s output from drafting to shopping to on-site supervision; and you can call your designer without feeling as though the TIME clock is ticking for every second!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While this sounds a treat…and the perfect resolution, the actual numbers can be shocking at first. $6-$20,000.00 a month (or more) is not uncommon. The good news, again, is that this is an all inclusive number with no additional fees. REMEMBER, your designer is likely dedicating full, or a large portion of their time to a project of this size…along with back-office staff unless they’re a large firm (another animal entirely) You’ve hired an artist, a skilled craftsperson and a business all in one. Do not expect this to be a “bargain” endeavor! .

As a comparison, I would point out that if you hired a top public realtions firm or marketing expert to promote your buisiness, you would acure monthly fees of between $2500-$10,000 per month or more, depending on the size of the project…so there is precedent for this type of billing.

Also, if the aveage number of hoursfor a project begin to add up to 60+ per mohth at $200/hr, you’re already looking at $12,000.00 per month. That said, some clients prefer to see the invoicing come in hour for hour. Either way, your designer should be keeping track of the all the hours expended on a monthly basis…just in case you’re interested and ask. Clients are often surprised to find out how much time accrues and how quickly; but if this work were easy or simple, you’d be doing it yourself!

To the question I know you’re asking…What about months that tally up to less than say 40 hours? All projects have a range through their life, just like people. We start out slow, figuring it all out, then learn to walk and talk, then run during our power years, then slow down again. This is true of your project too. So while the intital months may tally fewer hours, during your project’s height, you’ll be edging toward triple-digit totals that will more than offset any imagined over-payment earlier on.

Finally, you can always ask your designer for an evaluation before the project begins. How do they see your invoicing playing out for the size of project you have? Of course you should be aware that no “hard” numbers will be available at that stage, but a seasoned professional can guide you to a reasonable conclusion.

Until next time…

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Wear something RED this week!!!!

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