Counting the cost.

One of the first questions prospective clients generally ask me is some variant of, “How much do your design services cost?”

The short answer to that question is, “Probably somewhere around ninety-five cents per square foot.” But in reality that is misleading, and the fact of the matter is, commissioning an excellent design professional could actually save you money!

If you consider your project from a business perspective, you’ll make many decisions based upon the ROI (Return On Investment). Today’s television programing has a plethora of shows incorporating this principle, and you have likely seen them. In these shows they typically find a distressed property that can be acquired at a “bargain price”, and then strive to make it “highly desirable.” Decisions are made not only with an eye for design and the aesthetic appeal, but also with the ROI being considered in the equation. For example: That imported terrazzo floor at Spend Big Bucks may be absolutely perfect for the space, but the nice tile at Keep Your Money may also suffice.

Resale and how much profit is being eroded in these purchasing decisions are always considered, as are the lead times, current construction schedules and deadlines, and any other factors that may cause delays. Time is money after all, especially if you are paying interest.

“But” you say, “I really want that terrazzo, and this is my home, not just an investment.”

That’s fine of course, after all it is your dream home and you are entitled to choose whatever you want. But you likely have a budget to adhere to, and if you do, you will also need to give and take as you work through the details. And that is precisely where excellent architectural design and documentation can be your secret weapon. (Please note that I stated excellent design AND documentation.)

You may be wondering how that can possibly be when you’ll make a significant financial investment in the design process, and still have nothing to show for it but a PDF file containing a bunch of confusing lines on paper.  

Well… The answer to that question is that excellent design and documentation eliminates errors, problems, and add-ons that would have otherwise occurred, causing delays, change orders, and conflicts.  All of those will drive up the construction costs through additional interest, labor, and material costs. 

Additionally, building your dream home is an emotional roller coaster, and decisions made “after the fact” often lead to overages, especially when it comes to allowances designated for big dollar items like flooring, cabinets, appliances, lighting, windows, doors, and plumbing fixtures.

Change Orders and Allowances may be the lifeblood for some contractors and their profit margins, but they are absolute killers of the construction budget.

I recognize that I am very biased on this subject.  But if in doubt, ask around and see where and how budget overages occurred with other projects.  It likely won’t take long to find a common thread and prove my point.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

Benjamin Franklin

So find an excellent architect or residential designer to work with, and trust that they have your interests at heart and are saving you money in the long run. And hopefully you’ll be choosing me as the design professional to work with on your project!

For an actual quote or to commission my services, we need to discuss the scope of your project, your own expectations, and the locale and associated building code requirements to be considered.  Which means you’ll need to contact me, and you can do that right here: Contact David 


Hourly Rate: $52.00 per hour; Billed in 15 minute increments.

Square Footage Rate: $0.95 per square foot. 

Fixed Project Price: Requires a defined scope of work to determine.

Decisions, Decisions

Early on in my career I learned the value of spending time clarifying what the true design criteria is for any given project. I also learned that often the client isn’t able to clearly articulate that. Some clients have a very nebulous idea of what they are after, and often it is something as generic as, “We want more space.” Others may know in their own mind what they are after, but getting that mental image articulated clearly with verbiage that we are both interpreting in the same manner can be a challenge.

The art of decision making includes the art of questioning.

~ Pearl Zhu

In an attempt to assist me in clearly identifying the needs and wants of my clients, I developed a Design Questionnaire. This questionnaire is completed by every client I work with, and has proven to be of great assistance to us. In fact, it has proven valuable enough, that a number of General Contractors I have worked with over the years have also adopted it for use with clients.

So if you are considering having a custom home designed and built for you, please feel free to utilize this tool to assist you in organizing your thoughts, and the direction(s) you might want to take in designing your new home.

Of course, I hope you’ll utilize me in the designing of your custom home, but regardless, your design professional and builder will be very grateful for the insight and direction this questionnaire can provide.