Budget basics: a designer's rant

Why is it that 3 times this past week 3 different people from 3 different areas of the city said "There is no budget."? Lies, lies, lies. I know there is a budget in there somewhere, I just don't want to be on the receiving end when the client is upset over costs.

As a designer, it's very concerning when a client says that they do not have a budget. Actually, it's not a concern, it's a problem. In fact, if you told me what these three clients have told me, I would likely just consider you're project a lost cause because there is really only so much I can do, and without a budget, I can't give you a realistic design. It would be a shame to be disheartened and have no choice but to go to IKEA and do it all yourself, right? Right.

So let's work with some golden rules to remember:

1. Have a budget

If you don't have an idea of what you budget should be, you need to do some research on your own before walking in or contacting a designer. Doing your own research proves to the designer that you are indeed interested in the project and you care about your well being. If you don't have a budget you're just wasting your designers time and you are thereby increasing prices for everyone else because of supply and demand of the design time.

Because I primarily design kitchens, here's an easy way to calculate what things could cost in your project:

Description Size Cost Multiplier Estimated Cost
Cabinetry 100 Sq. Ft. $125 $12,500
Solid-surfacing 30 Sq. Ft. $100 $3,000
Granite 30 Sq. Ft. $125 $3,750
Quartz Composite 30 Sq. Ft. $140 $4,200
Tile Backsplash 25 Sq. Ft. $25 $625
Hardwood Flooring 100 Sq. Ft. $30 $3,000

2. Be realistic

If you expect to have a kitchen installed and using it in 4 weeks, you need to give your head a shake because that's just not going to happen. The average time to DESIGN a kitchen is about 12-20 hours per design, plus manufacture, plus installation, plus countertops and backsplash. So saying that you have no budget doesn't speed up the process at all, it's not a jump off the bridge situation for me at all. Your job is in the pile with the other accounts and I'll get to it as quickly as I can.

3. Do your research

It's much easier for me to design you a kitchen when you've done your research and know what you like. If we have to sit down for 2 hours together and hand hold, it's going to take away from design time and other clients. Just start Google searching, but if you need someplace to start look at Houzz.com or WolfCooking.com, for example.

4. Be on time

You're expectations of your designer are that they be there when you need them and that they are where they'll be when they say they're going to be there. The same applies for clients. Nothing ticks me off more when I wait for a half-hour to show you a tile sample when I could be working on your design.

5. Be respectful

Bottom line, never yell or get angry. You don't know what your designer is working on or going thru on a daily basis. It's hard work, long hours, and all you see is some paperwork. We are in this business for a reason and love what we do, but there's nothing like a bad taste in the mouth to make a project go sideways. Intentionally or not.

Follow these simple steps and you're project will start that much smoother and you'll be that much happier.