Like many other luxury service providers there is no typical fee for services provided by an interior design professional but rather, the compensation is tied to the scope of services agreed to between the designer and the client. The scope of services, spelled out in the contract, sets out precisely what services a designer will be performing for the client on a project, setting the groundwork for the fee structure.
Accordingly, costs associated with hiring an interior design professional will vary quite dramatically from job to job due to zoloftanxiety the size, type, and complexity of project; state to state due to market conditions, and even range between designers. Fees will also fluctuate due to the economic climate of supply and demand, often lowering during recessions and increasing during booms.
Consistently however, most design professionals will charge using one of the following fee structures or utilize a combination of components dependent on the project:
In the cost plus method the design fee is based on a percentage markup on the items the designer purchases for the job. Specifically, a designer identifies specific materials, furnishings, and services (e.g., carpentry, drapery workrooms, picture framing, etc.) at wholesale and then sells them to the client at the designer’s cost plus a set percentage increase. Typically the client is charged retail rates or sometimes slightly less than retail rates, to compensate the designer for their services.
Fixed fee (or flat fee)
In the fixed fee or flat fee method the design fee is based on a specific projection of the cost of the job. The designer calculates a specific sum they feel will cover all costs, exclusive of reimbursement for expenses. The fixed fee applies to the complete scope of services, from conceptual development, through proposed layouts, specification, and ultimately, final installation of furnishings.
When the design professional charges on an hourly fee they are charging for the actual time they spend planning the project as well as executing the project, this can often include travel time. The hourly rate is set by the designer based on variables such as their level of education, years of experience in the field, client demand, and their reputation of practice. For example, a signature designer might charge more than one that is newly qualified.
Per square foot
When calculating a fee structure on a per square foot basis, the design fee is based on the actual size of the project. The designer determines the square footage and then charges a fixed rate on the square footage of space. The factor used to determine the rate is subjective and is typically based on the designer’s experience on past jobs and the cost of materials, furnishings, and services as they know them and as they deem appropriate for the project in order to meet the client’s needs.
Percentage of project fee
Compensation to the designer for a project can also be assessed as a percentage of the project. This is similar to the cost plus method in that a percentage markup is used. In this instance the markup is applied to the total project cost, including the furnishings and services purchased or specified on behalf of a client. Other determinants of the percentage markup might be anticipated repeat of the work, such as multiple units in a complex, and/or bespoke elements of the design.
The percentage fee can also be affected by the length of the programming/planning of the project. A longer programming time prolongs the period of time in which the designer may be required to attend meetings and respond to requests for information from the client. Accordingly, percentage fees for a longer planning period will tend to be higher.
A retainer fee is not a method of payment; however, it is worth mentioning in the scope of the design fee discussion. Oftentimes, the client will be asked to pay a sum of money up front to the designer for design services. The retainer is customarily set forth in the fee agreement and is paid upon signing the contractual agreement. The retainer fee is typically handled in one of two ways.
- It can be held on account and applied to the last bill. This ensures that the designer receives full payment for their services rendered. Any overage will be reimbursed to the client.
- The retainer fee can be drawn upon as bills are rendered. At such time as the retainer amount is depleted, work may be paused until such time as the retainer is replenished.
What types of fee methods do you utilize in charging for your design services? Share your experiences with us in the comments.