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Building & Renovating

How Much Do Interior Designers Charge?

Here's everything you need to know about professional interior designers' fees, from getting the best scheme you can afford to how to pay them

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Photography: Dairy Darilag (Main Photo)

"How much is an interior designer’s fee?” This is the common question asked by people seeking professional services from an interior designer.

The good news is everyone has the right to ask. And the sooner you figure out how interior designers' fees work, the better, since getting professional design help can actually save you from wasting money on trial and error attempts of doing the interiors yourself.

However, be wary of practitioners who claim to be professional interior designers when they have not even passed the licensure examinations from the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC). Like other regulated professions, interior design is an area that addresses your wellbeing, safety and security and should therefore, not to be taken lightly. 

After finally choosing a legitimate interior designer, you will find out exactly how much it will cost you when you go through these five steps:

Step 1: Arrange a meeting with your prospective interior designer to discuss the scope of work and services. Show the interior designer the site of the project and available architectural plans.

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Step 2: Give the interior designer the approximate budget you have in mind so that he or she will have a basis for making a proposal.

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Step 3: The interior designer will prepare a proposal in the form of a contract or letter of agreement containing the scope of design services, responsibilities of the client, and the exact figure of professional service fees for the project.

Step 4: Decide if you will accept the said figure for design fees and services, and if you approve of the designer's proposed payment scheme.

Step 5: Sign a conforme and make a downpayment to formalize your agreement with your interior designer.


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DESIGNER'S FEE SCHEMES

Interior designers' fees vary depending on the scope of services required. This may include any of the following: Design and working drawings, supervision of construction and implementation of designs, purchasing of items, and so forth. The fees for such services may be based on several schemes, among which are the following:

1. Per square meter.

This means that fees shall be computed according what the interior designer charges per square meter of the work area involved in the project.

2. Per set of drawings.

In cases when you will be needing only design concept or working drawings, the service fees based on a per set of drawings could be the best arrangement. The cost per set of drawings will depend on the difficulty of production of drawings in terms of labor, content, and quantity. 

3. Per room or per area.

For economical purposes, you may choose this method. This means that the interior designer shall present his or her service fees on a per-room or per-area basis. This will allow you to prioritize the areas you would like to have done first in case your budget does not allow a full-blown renovation. 

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4. Lump sum.

This refers to a flat fee covering all the services required in the project. This method may be the most practical for others while the most intimidating for some. On the other hand, this is ideal for those who are in a very tight budget, as there are interior designers who practice socialized billing wherein they determine their service fees according to the paying capacity of their clients.


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MANNER OF PAYMENT

One big consolation to all clients is that the manner of payment for interior designer's fees is always by installments that come in different percentage breakdowns. Here is an example:

  •  10% Downpayment upon acceptance of the contract
  • 25% Upon submission of initial drawings
  • 40% Upon approval and acceptance of final designs
  • 25% Upon completion of the project

Now that you know that there are schemes you can choose from in hiring the services of an interior designer, it will definitely not hurt you to decide on one you can afford and even make a lot of savings from it in the end.  Make that appointment now with your interior designer! 

OTHER COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why are interior designers so expensive?

You're paying for the expertise of a lisenced professional, which has taken years to hone. Moreover, your designer isn't just upgrading your space, but also acts as the conduit among your architect and your contractor, often doing project management in order to make sure that everything is running smoothly and on time.

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What should I expect from an interior design consultation?

Some interior designers charge for consultation, some don't, but nevertheless, you'll want to first be prepared with photos and specifications of your space, as well as a a list of what you want for it. Be as specific as possible. If you have pegs, all the better. This will allow your designer to get a picture of what kind of service you want.  

Is it worth getting an interior designer?

The answer is yes, especially if you have money set aside for one, and you have no idea on how to go about sprucing up your property. Interior designers are licensed professionals who understand not just how spaces work, but how spaces can work specifically for your needs. As previously mentioned, interior designers will work within the specific budget you've provided, plus they can also get discounts from material and furniture sources that not everyone has the privilege of, which means that you can actually get more bang for your bucks.

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This originally appeared in the article: “Wanted: Interior Designer” in the November 2006 issue of Real Living magazine. Idr. Adelaida V. Mayo is the Dean of the Clothing Textiles and Interior Design Department in the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

With additional reporting by Charlene J. Owen

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