All Replies on Design consultation fee

  • Advertise with us
View anastacia_elon's profile

Design consultation fee

by anastacia_elon
posted 01-26-2018 07:52 AM

7 replies so far

View Mike_D_S's profile


605 posts in 3060 days

#1 posted 01-26-2018 02:15 PM

So first off, I’m primarily a hobby guy who sells a few things by word of mouth and personal reference, but this last year I’ve started doing some work referred to me from a couple of contractors for cabinets, built ins and some free standing furniture.

So starting from the point that I’m not really a professional wood worker nor have I done hundreds of jobs, here’s what I do. If a client has good ideas about what they want or a few pictures from pinterest or other, then I go talk to them and do the initial design to submit with my quote for nothing. This typically includes elevation and basic 3D rendering for cabinets or a sketchup drawing for furniture.

Sometimes the customer is not sure about being ready or they want to do multiple comparison designs, see multiple sample doors in different finishes, etc. In those cases, I usually have a discussion with them about some type of straight hourly rate or $x for 10 hours, etc for the initial work.

Sometimes they balk at paying for the up front work and I’ll try to find some middle ground (X sample doors for free, get 50% of the design work discounted against the job, etc) but I find that most people understand. Usually the value of having “custom” work done means something to these people and they don’t have an issue of paying a reasonable amount for exploring options.

Hope that helps. If I remember correctly from one of your earlier posts you are getting into the commercial side fairly recently, so maybe my experience will help.


-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View John Smith's profile (online now)

John Smith

2644 posts in 1008 days

#2 posted 01-26-2018 03:51 PM

if the design is given to the customer in finished format and it is something that they can use to
“shop around” for the cheapest price, yes, I will charge for the design time up front.
if a customer walks out the door with paper or digital plans in hand to “study at home”,
the design fee becomes a “deposit” to ensure you are compensated for your time if they don’t come back.

if they just want to see what their project would look like and no plans involved, no, no charge.
(rendentions only – nothing to scale).

you must be totally up front with the customer about designs and pricing so there are no surprises.

often times if it involves several hours of design time, I will tell the customer that the design time
is not free and they will be charged accordingly and they can have the designs to do with as they please.
if I get the job, there will be no design charge and no discount for the job.
the purchase contract that I use clearly states at the bottom that “all renderings, drawings, sketches and photos
remain the property of [business name] unless purchased separately”.
in today’s world, it would have to be reworded to include “any and all digital files” as well.

clarity and transparency is the key to good business.

I don’t think there is just one answer to cover design fees and deposits unless you are
a professional business and there are contracts (in writing) to cover the work and designs .


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Kilo19's profile


104 posts in 1071 days

#3 posted 01-26-2018 03:56 PM

I can’t really speak to wood working in this question, but for (CAD) work I do, It depends on how close to my house and how long I spend with the customer. For example, I did a job for a lady building a house in CO. and she lived 2 1/2 hrs away from me. We met in the middle and spent about 2 hrs talking in a restaurant.

So if I spend less then an hour with someone, I don’t charge that time (if there within an hr drive time). In this case I did, because the drive was about 1hr20min away and being there for about 2 hrs. So for that job the “initial site visit”, as I call it, that got worked into my price, and they were made aware of it. In the several years that I’ve done this I’ve never had anyone disagree with that. I also tell them I can do Facetime, or skype for subsequent calls, questions, follow ups, but for the first initial visit I really want to shake the hand of the person I’m doing the job for.

Don’t know if this’ll help. But remember (everyone keeps telling me this too) your time is worth something. If you spend a lot of time designing, that has to be worth something. But if you save notes, details, you can speed up that process and have blocks, templates to base off of, (if applicable).

-- Justin

View ralbuck's profile


6577 posts in 3111 days

#4 posted 01-26-2018 05:40 PM

A sort of side note here. I learned that if on meeting the person you dis-like them; whatever you do will never please them! If I am considering a job for someone that hits me wrong; I do NOT DO IT!

I do like to meet the person that I am making something for too. My exception is if it is small and something I know I can find a different sale for easily.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View anastacia_elon's profile


55 posts in 2005 days

#5 posted 01-26-2018 08:12 PM

Everybody thank your advice, tips. I have been creating furniture professionally for about 5 years. I have charged a design consultation fee ( deposit in the past). Im rethinking my fee. However John you bring up some very valid points. The one that sways me to keep my fee is the “shop around” for the cheapest price factor. I live in Hawaii. The cost of living is high. I feel like I waste my time on if I don’t charge a fee (based off of some of my past interactions). At the moment it’s the face to face consultation rather the design on my on time factor. I can get a lot of clients who just want to meet and sit for an hour. That’s an hour I could be in shop if they don’t order. I also feel it weeds out the non- serious buyers.

-- LaShunda - No Final destination moments please !

View anastacia_elon's profile


55 posts in 2005 days

#6 posted 01-26-2018 08:38 PM

Railbuck thats been my philosophy from day one.

-- LaShunda - No Final destination moments please !

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1349 days

#7 posted 01-26-2018 11:27 PM

I don’t charge an initial consultation fee, but after that I am on the clock from the time I start. This includes running around getting lumber, travel time to the house {if it involves an install} and every other minute I actually spend on the project until it’s finished and I get half of the estimate up front. If you are doing this for money then you have to make money or stop doing it and just know that you are doing it for fun. If someone balks at paying half up front then I leave and forget it. I allow them to be as picky as they want, but I make sure they understand I am on the clock. Don’t like the shade of wood or the grain…I’ll start over no problem, but you are going to pay for it.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics