7 "Hidden" Costs You Should Know About When Working With A Designer

Thinking about hiring someone to style your home or event?

Maybe you've been shopping around for a designer. Or maybe you've already found one.

She has a great rate (not too high, but not so low that question the quality of her wok). You're excited about her style + track record. You can't wait to see how she transforms your space. You've received her proposal + and you're ready to sign the agreement.

But, wait! 

Did she tell you that there may be some unforeseen or hidden costs that may come up? I'm sure she's not purposefully "hiding" the costs from you. But, she may not think to bring them up. She's only human, and she may forget to bring details like this up.

But, you, as a client, you can educate yourself and get around when your designer has a brain fart. 

Here are the 7 "Hidden" costs you, as a client, should be aware of:

1. Shipping

Shipping is largely calculated by weight & distance.  If the vendor is unsure of how much the package will weigh until its packed up and ready to ship to you, shipping will usually be billed later.

2. Storage

To get that "blown-away-I-can't-believe-how-awesome-my-house-looks-and-you've-even-lit-candles" moment, the install should happen all at once, preferably while you're away so clients can enjoy the impact of what the space looks like finished.  To get the "oh-my-god-I-never-expected-my-home-to-look-this-good-ever" moment, your stuff has to spend some time in storage.  Tucked away until everything is in and ready to be installed for the big "ta-da".  Trust me, it's so worth it.

3. Insurance

It's important to have insurance and to check with your insurance company and interior designer as to who is responsible at what time for that $25,000 Coromandel screen you're having shipped from the Far East.  Just sayin'.

4. Unexpected labor  

Sometimes we as interior designers, can't possibly foresee everything (why is it so hard for me to admit that?).  Perhaps something was hidden behind a large family portrait on the walk-thru, or covered up by wallpaper, maybe that Coromandel screen needs a little repair work but it's not clear how much.  Things come up and you've got to be flexible (anyone who has ever remodeled knows this all too well, right?).

5. Expected Labor

So, you've decided that you need a built-in for your study, so we need to hire a third-party vendor. Vendors don't know how much time and effort it'll take until they see what they have to do.  Is that vague?  Maybe restoration work does need to be done on an antique, maybe the silk fabric needs knit-backing, perhaps a lantern needs powder-coating, or rewired.  Many of these things we can get estimates for, but until the work is completed it may not be possible to get an exact cost.

6. Minimum Fees

Sure you can order a yard of fabric, but it'll cost you extra with many vendors because of their minimum yardage requirements.  It may seem unfair, but it is time-consuming and not as lucrative to cut one yard as opposed to twenty.  You'll also see mimimum fees if purchasing from a wholesaler and not reaching their minimum order requirements.  And unfortunately, I often see vendors providing quotes without this minimum fee, only to have it show up on the invoice when you are ready to purchase.

7. Rush fees

If you want to be at the front of the line, you'll have to pony up.  Disney and the airlines do it so this one isn't too surprising.

So how do you avoid these costs being a SURPRISE down the line?

Be informed. (You're already in the know if you've read this post! Go you!)

Ask questions. Ask your designer if you should expect any of these costs during your transformation.

Remember, if your designer doesn't bring these items up, she isn't trying to scam you. Every project is different, so yours may not need any of these items, and that's why the designer never brought it up.

If you have any questions about working with a designer, I'm more than happy to answer them!

Leave a comment or email me, and I'll make sure to have an A to your Q!


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