Designers use a variety of fee structures. Most designers charge using one of the following fee structures or a combination depending on the scope of work:
Consultation Fee — is an hourly fee to provide consultation services to the client. The designer is available to assist the client in purchasing, selecting finishes, merchandise, etc., and answering questions. This is a good fee structure for the DIY’s (Do It Yourselfers).
Fixed fee (or flat fee) — The designer identifies a specific sum to cover costs, exclusive of reimbursement for expenses. One total fee applies to the complete scope of services proposed, from conceptual development through layouts, specifications, and final installation. This fee structure may be broken up into payments for the project. A deposit at the beginning and then further payment due after certain phases of the work is completed with a final payment at the end of the project.
Hourly fee — Compensation is based on the actual time that the designer consults on a project or specific service. This is charging an hourly rate for time, but there is an estimated amount of time to complete the project. The designer is not to go over that estimated amount of time. This is a good fee structure for décor projects for those who are working within a strict budget.
Percentage of project fee — Compensation is computed as a percentage markup on the total project cost, including furnishings and services purchased or specified on behalf of a client.
Cost-plus — A designer specifies materials, furnishings, and services (e.g., carpentry, drapery workrooms, picture framing, etc.) at wholesale and sells to the client at the designer’s cost plus a set percentage increase, or at retail rates or slightly less, to cover the designer’s fee and services.
Per square foot — The designer charges fees based on the square footage of the project. This stucture is common with commercial projects.