Often people ask about the costs associated with hiring an interior architect for their project. How much would it cost to hire a designer? Does their designer overload them? It's hard to answer any questions about design fees because every project is unique, just like every customer, every designer and every design company.
However, interior designers can charge in five ways:
fees. This is feared by many customers, and that is understandable. Are we talking 20 hours or 35 hours? It's a huge difference in the total amount. Some designers (and other service providers) are willing to set a "ceiling" for the total amount in dollars or the total number of hours. But before signing an agreement with a cap, you must make sure that you know what will happen when the maximum is reached. Will your designer consider that the case is closed, or will it not bill the time spent on your project? An hourly rate is fairer for everyone when it is used for consultations rather than for complete design services.
2) Percentage Agreements. For a percentage-based agreement, the designer will charge you a certain percentage of your project's total budget. The agreement should be clear as to what would happen if you increase your budget, or decide to decrease it for whatever reason.
3) Agreements based on the Commission. Very similar to the percentage, but rather than being a percentage of the total budget, it is a percentage of the costs of the items specified and / or purchased for your project. It is more common to see this type of billing on decorating projects, or used in combination with another fee structure.
4) Fees based on area. This is most often used for large non-residential projects. Typically, designers / firms have pre-set rates of dollars per square foot for the different phases and types of work that may be required. This method of billing is never used for basic residential projects because the work and the time required are similar for a small or large bathroom or even a kitchen!
5) Fixed Price Contracts. These are often preferred by customers (and by our office). Aside from the obvious benefit of not guessing how many hours you could be charged, it is usually based on the designer's experienced estimate of the hours required, the size of the space , budget and other factors.
Payment schedules are another subject often discussed. That's when and how much you will pay your designer. It is common practice for a designer or company to charge a deposit or retention fee upon signing the agreement or contract. A retainer should not be requested for services like a two hour consultation, and a withholding should be about 15% of the total design fee, although I have often heard designers asking for up to 15%. 50% in advance.
Different designers have different billing methods or habits. Some charge every two weeks, while others charge weekly or monthly. I like the idea of billing as the phases are completed; Not only does this give customers the confidence that they pay for the services rendered, but it helps to illustrate how the total amount of the contract has been reached. When the designer's work is completed, the balance must be paid in full unless other terms have been agreed upon.
To estimate approximately how much the design costs for your project could be, calculate 10% to 15% of your total budget. This is not necessarily accurate, but it is the best guideline that anyone can provide without seeing what is involved. Of course, if your budget is unrealistic, the number you will arrive at will be far from accurate. And designers are known to charge from 10% of the total budget up to 30%. But, that does not necessarily mean it will cost you that much – your designer should grant you commercial discounts unless otherwise stated in the agreement. (The code of ethics states that the designer is not supposed to make money on the project that the client ignores.) On a recent design project of living space, the Design fees were about $ 1,500, but only $ 250 budget because the discounts (compared to regular retail prices) totaled just over $ 1,200.
It's impossible to make any suggestions on hourly rates because an independent designer starts charging a lot less than a larger company established for many years. Keep in mind that hiring a beginner, charging $ 25 an hour, may require 20 hours to do something that a more experienced designer will only need to half the time to accomplish. In this case, paying $ 60 an hour costs only $ 100 more in the end.
Regardless of the fee structure or payment schedule, you should feel comfortable with the amount you will pay to your designer. Some designers are also willing to work on a consultation basis, even for DIYers, so no matter your budget, it is possible to hire a qualified interior architect.