The cost of Interior Design services in today's DIY-minded culture is a minefield of confusion. What services are you paying for and should you pay for and how do you know that you are getting a good, value-for-money service from a guaranteed professional? The hardest part is probably to compare the pricing you get from different designers and to compare them like for like, since every designer charges and prices their services in different ways.

There are a few industry standard ways of charging clients:

Hourly rate: This means simply charging per hour design services. An average hourly rate could be between £60-£100 per hour. This is a standard way of charging for design work that is mostly consultancy work. On home refurbishments, hourly rates can create stress and headache for the client, not knowing what they will be charged for their project.

The Flat Fee: This is a single price that may be broken up into payments for the project. A deposit would most likely be taken at the start of the project and then further payments at certain phases during the work, with a final payment at the end of the project. This is a good way to charge on smaller projects with a clear start and finish with not many projected delays.

Percentage of Entire Budget: A popular way for architects to charge clients but this fee basis is also used by interior designers on projects of considerable value with long lead times. A typical percentage could be anywhere between 15-30%, depending on the size of the budget. This way of charging is probably most suited to commercial work as many private clients are put off by the uncertainty of paying their designer in this way.

Hourly Fee + Contingency: This is where the client charges hourly for design work but there is an estimated time that the Designer must not go over. In addition, the designer will charge re-sale charges on merchandise purchased at trade prices. This is a good way to charge for those on a relatively strict budget but wanting a high-quality designer (as it's often the senior designers that charge on a time basis).

Flat Fee + Contingency: This is arguably the most popular as well as the clearest way to charge in terms of knowing the cost of design services from the onset. The designer charges a flat fee for an agreed schedule of design services, as well as a contingency on top of the trade discount received from suppliers.

Many designers tend to mix and match aspects of the above but as long as the fees are clearly outlined and time-charges and extra fees agreed in a signed contract, any of the above are perfectly acceptable industry standard fee structures.

Ardesia Design tends to use a flat rate fee and contingency, with an additional time charge for work beyond a certain number of agreed working hours. This structure works for the types of projects we work on (residential, mostly) and works in favour of both client and designer. The number of hours and flat fee are agreed following the initial brief discussion. The additional time charges would kick in if more than the agreed number of revisions were made to the brief and the designer has to put in additional work hours. The contingency fee can work to the client's benefit and we often try to structure a project so that  the designer's trade discounts can be used to offset the cost of the designer's services - in essence, the discounts received are greater than the flat fee charged by the designer. This of course depends on the size of the project but as a rule of thumb, this is what we aim for. Happy client, happy designer.


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