How to Price Contractors, Architects and Designers? When trying to design and open a store or restaurant, the best ideas are worth nothing if they are not implemented right. Similarly, the best implementation may end up in disaster if it drains your financial resources and leaves you in a precarious spot before you even start on your way as a business owner.

To help you with the complicated process of selecting a team that will assist you in designing and building your store or restaurant, we came up with a few tips. 

1. Find out how busy the contractors/designers are

How to Price Contractors…  Just because your prospective designers or contractors are juggling too many projects at the same time doesn’t mean they are the best in town. It is a better sign when they know how many projects they can comfortably serve and try to stay within that range. 

How to Price a Contractor

2. Ask to see similar completed projects

Whether you are looking at images of their former projects or you visit in person the businesses they serviced before, you should do this for three reasons.

First, to confirm their experience and expertise. If your designers or contractors specialize in restaurants or stores, they have a pretty good idea on how to save you money. They also had to overcome a few challenges in the past, which makes them more valuable to your team.

Second, to see if what they create appeals to you. This doesn’t mean, however, that a designer cannot adapt his or her style to incorporate your preferences and ideas. Designers are creative people that are always interested in something new.

Third and most importantly, so that you don’t fall into the trap of companies that copy and paste the same design from one project to another. There are a few companies out there that offer the same layout and design to all the restaurants or stores they work with, and that give you few options to choose from. Their designs differ only by colors and finishes. The goal of these companies is usually to sell you their equipment. They are not interested in creating or building your brand.

How to Price a Designer

3. Ask for referrals

 Yelp is a good place to start when researching your future designer or contractor. If you don’t see enough referrals there, ask for personal referrals or for places they designed and built, then go talk to their owners.

4. Compare designers’ proposals by deliverables

When you compare designers’ proposals, you need to know exactly what you’ll be getting.

For instance, most architects will help you with the building permits, but not with the interior design. Other design agencies, such as Mindful Design Consulting, can do it all: branding graphics, interior design and permit drawings. This will save you time, money and the headache of dealing with multiple companies. It will also ensure design continuity. 

When you are trying to price contractors, you need to make sure that everything is included, down to any type of hidden trim, plumbing fixture or light bulb. If not, you will have to deal with change orders during construction, and you will most likely go over budget. This is why it is a good idea to ask your designer to look over all contractors’ proposals, which is an additional service called Construction Administration. 

How to Price a Contractor

5. Keep your designer close during the Construction Phase

Do not get rid of your designer once the Design and Permitting phases are done. In the Construction stage, he or she can review contractors’ proposals to ensure that they are fair and that the design is implemented correctly. These Construction Administration services will come at a price that you should pay upfront, since it is cheaper than an hourly rate.

Construction administration should include the following services:

  • Value engineering.Value engineering is both a science and an art through which a good designer gives you the best possible value at the best possible price. If you find that your contractors’ pricing pushes you over the budget, changes in the design will be necessary. These changes may mean replacing materials or removing a few design elements, which require drawings to be adjusted and contractors to make changes to their proposals. Keeping your designer will ensure that, regardless of any modifications to the original proposal, the design intent stays the same and the branding concept is carefully executed.
  • Details update. The demolition stage can come with surprises. Unexpected conditions uncovered on site mean that some of the construction details may need to change. It is best to ask your designer to incorporate the proposed changes into a redesign than to trust the contractor’s aesthetics when dealing with these changes.
  • Shop Drawings review. During construction, your contractor will obtain Shop Drawings from his subcontractors, showing details of any cabinetry and custom fixtures. It may happen that these documents accidentally change the look of some elements and thus alter the integrity of the design intent. This is why all Shop Drawings should be reviewed by your designer who can promptly correct such issues.
  • Materials update. When the perfect product happens to have a long manufacturing lead time, you may want to choose a more convenient option. Your designer can help you do that by choosing an alternative product.
  • Answering contractors RFIs. It is essential that, during the construction phase, your designer is available to answer your questions. Sometimes, these questions address information that cannot easily be found on plans, yet is quite simple. Communicating with your designer will save you time, money and headaches during construction, since it will prevent a situation where the building is done incorrectly.
  • Any other unexpected construction problems with design. These will likely appear, so having the expertise of a designer at your disposal will make the process run smoothly.

How to Price a Contractor

6. Learn about standard prices

You probably know by now that the cheapest designer, architect or contractor is not necessarily the best. 

A quick rule of thumb is that the designer or architect’s industry standard cost is 10% of the construction cost or more. A contractor’s labor cost is typically double the cost of materials. Contractors also charge about 10% profit on top of their total proposal.  

If you need a rough estimate of the construction cost for your project, use our calculator

Please take a look at our Before and After images of selected projects from 2018 HERE.

If you are thinking to open up a new business or in a process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.

Also, take a look at “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight on how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.

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