It’s always a challenge to have the budget talk with our new clients.
In my opinion most are afraid to talk about what they might spend, thinking that their design team will always go far over their limit.
The reality is that it is very empowering to know what the limits are as designers, and your team will work far more efficiently when they can have real conversations about budget expectations up front.
Working with this team approach with our clients, and keeping them informed about the budget each step of the way eliminates surprises, and keeps the ‘uh-oh’ factor to a minimum.
Since interior design products and services are our specialty, and not generally what our clients do for their business, many really don’t know what to budget for interior design services. Often clients ask me what design services cost on average, but the truth is, there is no average because everything is designed specifically around your needs.
There are several variables to consider when making an educated guess about what will ultimately effect your overall budget :
- The size and existing condition of your building or office
- The level of detail and customization you would like to achieve (custom cabinetry, imported exotic woods or furniture, LEED/Green building etc
- The speed at which we will be working to complete your project (nights, weekends, and holiday work all effect pricing and delivery schedules)
- How involved you and your team will be in the process (there are times when client involvement is helpful and others when it delays progress)
- How many outside vendors we will need to collaborate with (millworkers, sign makers, wallpaper hangers, flooring vendors and installers, lighting specialists, code reviewers etc. I could go on and on with this list but I’m sure you get the picture)
- Special codes and/or requirements we may need to work with for permitting or approval (title 24 lighting issues, warehouse spaces, mixed use spaces)
- The number of options you would like to be presented with prior to approving the final design direction. Yes, creativity takes time, and developing several ideas and options gives the best selection for our clients. It also means an investment in creative time to develop a direction that would actually be feasible in the allocated space.
- Available funds from your landlord for tenant improvements
After reading this list, you may notice that it would take a trained eye and some level of design industry experience to be able to consider these variables. The reality with most projects, is that it takes some time in developing a design direction before we can answer some of these questions. It would be almost impossible to answer #2, #5 and #6 before we have agreed on a preliminary design direction with our client, and generally that takes a few weeks of creative design work.
Less often, the design team is presented with a client, a space and a budget all ready to go. When that happens, we still take time to discuss the scope of work, the variables that may effect it and the expectations, so that the design team and the clients team are in alignment, and the project has the very best opportunity for success.
If you have questions about setting a budget for your project or would like to professional design services for your building or office, the team at San Diego Office Design will be a wonderful resource for you. Feel free to email or call us so we can find out how we can best help you design a project budget.