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costing design work

Interior Design Project Stages and Costs

If you are self-employed or own a business, especially in the design sector, it can be difficult to establish your prices. However, failure to do so might prove detrimental to your business. As we have suggested in our previous article top tips on charging, mis-managing budgets can be one of the greatest errors for self-employed business owners. In this article we break down the work of an interior designer.  When your work is broken down into comprehensive sections, it is easier to chart how you should charge clients. This will enable you to create a pricing system that works.

Before knowing how much to charge for each stage, you need to figure out your base hourly rate. See our previous article tips on charging for help on how to calculate this. You can then allocate this hourly rate to the different talks involved in the overall project.

Meetings with client

WorkshopThe initial meeting or consultation with the client will involve viewing the space, discussing requirements and budget. It is an opportunity for your client to put forward their ideas and for you to explain how you work and what the client can expect from you. This consultation usually lasts for 60-90 minutes and gives the client the opportunity to find out whether you are the right designer for them, and for the designer to get a feel for the project. We suggest that initial consultations are free of charge.

Following the consultation, you will send the client a detailed plan of the work you intend to undertake, and the fixed fees involved. If the client decides to use your business for the project, you should start charging them after the initial consultation.

The meetings following the initial consultation will involve further discussion of requirements and design plans with the client. All meetings after the initial meeting with the client should be charged at your base hourly rate.




Research can mean several things. It may involve researching of suitable products and appropriate companies to help you make this project a success. Research is something often overlooked, but it is an important part of interior design and should be charged accordingly. We would again suggest that you charge for research at your base rate.


As an interior designer, this is the stage in which your skills really shine through. For this reason, you should charge higher than your base hourly rate.

The design stages will involve site visits to gain a better understanding of the space you are working with and its requirements. During this stage you will be making design suggestions and presenting samples. You will also be drawing up floor plans and layouts. Exactly how much you should charge for this will depend on the size and complexity of the job. You will ultimately produce final drawings, a detailed sample board and a list of key items and accessories.


Travel is often dismissed and overlooked. However, it can be very time consuming. It is therefore important that you factor your travel to and from your client, into how much you charge. You could charge this at a day rate.

Finally, other things such as correspondence, administration, revision to drawings or quotes, installations, and quality control all need to be considered when calculating your pricing. Managing the project and negotiating with other contractors and trades takes time. You should charge for this work at the base hourly rate.

Please feel free to contact us if you require further information regarding how much to charge for different project stages in interior design.

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