Let’s talk about fees


Urgh. No one wants to talk about fees, not really, but we should. Designers like to design but we also like to eat so have to charge for our services.

Charging for design can be a tricky process. There is nothing tangible about the rejection of a series ideas which is ultimately the process in arriving at the optimum solution to  design problem.

After a first client meeting I set out exactly what it is I need to provide for that client.

For example, for an outline a garden design project it may involve the following:-


  • A site analysis drawing highlighting the opportunities and constraints of the site (interestingly the constraints are often the opportunities)
  • A sketch layout showing how the proposal might look in plan
  • Some sort of 3d images maybe a section through the garden or a visual
  • Supporting evidence- normally a short document that describes why the proposal is suited to the site and outlines suggested planting material or hard landscaping ideas

I then consider what I need to do in order to achieve the desired output. I.e.


  • Meetings
  • Site photos/survey
  • Co-ordination with other consultants such as agriculturalists or other architects
  • Design time (the fun bit with the sketch book that’s difficult to quantify)
  • Drawing time in order to communicate those ideas in a full and legible manner
  • Building a digital 3d model
  • Researching and compiling appropriate planting and hard landscaping materials

Once I have done this I estimate how long it will take to complete each action. This bit is quite difficult as I want to allow enough time to fully consider and develop a concept but also ensure I am working as efficiently as possible to be cost effective for you, my client. I will note down the hours next to the items and add them up. I include all of this information in my fee proposal document which I send out to the client.


I know that when you receive a quote you will always skim down to the price- I do the same!

However the detailed information I put into my proposals is there to make sure that you have the best experience possible. If you take the time to read and digest what it is I have planned to provide with my services you will be able to tailor my assumptions to suit your specific needs. I strongly encourage you to examine the proposal and ask questions if anything is not clear. You may want some extra visuals or not require any visuals. Maybe you’d like more detailed planting suggestions or are happy to do skype meeting in place of physical meetings.


While I am confident that my fee proposals are a fair representation of the value of my work I always have a sense of some trepidation. When I am introduced to a new project it is normally always followed by a strong wave of adrenaline and my head starts to fill with ideas. I want to grab my sketchbook and fire up the computer and get going there and then. However I know that I have to form an agreement before I start work so I pour hours into trying to measure what is I do and summarise it in written format that will plop into your inbox for your digestion.

Don’t be scared to talk about the cost of design work. If you think the cost seems to high lets talk about it. If you want something I haven’t allowed for (Virtual Reality fly through anyone? ) let’s make it happen.


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