I recently hired a designer for the first time ever to help me with a living room that has stood empty for over a year. We discussed her fees and the budget upfront. During the process I specifically asked if there were going to be any other fees and charges and she said only a $100 delivery fee. I asked again and told her I wanted no surprises, she said no. She told me several times that we would stay in budget and I knew the amount of all the big purchases. A week and a half after she finished the room, I got a bill that was thousands over the budget. Sorry but I am extremely broke and it took me a year to save up what little was my budget. The bill also included a $600 fee for having things hung on the wall. A fee I specifically asked about ahead of time. She was shocked when I complained. I assumed that she would purchase the major items, look at her budget and see what was left to spend on accessories. She said that is not how it works. She buys things from day one, puts them all in the room, and if you like it, you pay for it. But she never tells you the price or that it was over budget. She said she doesn't even add it up until much later when she sends the bill. She was mad and said that I was the first person to complain. Well, I had to pay and am very, very broke right before Christmas. Is this how all designers work? Do you not really consider the budget throughout the process? I was shocked and angry and I can't stand to look at my room now. I won't hired a designer again even if I could afford it. How do you handle clients and the budget?
Two important details regarding your dilemma. One, based on your version of the details your designer did not conduct his/herself typically, so please don't assume that this is how most professionals handle their business.
Two Candice, nor any of the designers respond to these boards. The boards are a social network for the entertainment value they offer fans of the HGTV network and design.
Thanks. The designer told me that is how it is done and made me feel weird for complaining. She said that is how they do it all the time and was so shocked that I said something. I am glad it is not typical of all, maybe just her group. Ugh, still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Why did you let yourself be bullied? Keep what you like and what was in the budget and tell the designer to take the rest of the stuff out. The most powerful weapon you have is your checkbook.
I've been doing this for years. Every designer I work with has presentations for which we request any/all decision makers to attend. Each aspect is reviewed, and each has its own contract which has to be signed before anything is ordered. Nothing is ordered without a signature,so there are no surprises and most of all no charges the client doesn't sign off on. This is the third design firm I have worked for over the past 24 years and they all conducted their business in this way.
She did have me sign off on the major purchase of sofas and custom designed pillows and I kept track of all the big purchases myself. That is why I fully expected to end up on budget. But when I specifically asked her about additional fees she said only one small fee for delivery, but then charged me $85 an hour for an entire day for the men picking up items at her house, hanging things and so forth. And she went thousands over budget on the end with accessories. I was not told about any of those costs until I got the bill. She said they don't tell you about them because they want the reveal to be a surprise and don't want you to know about everything. I mean there was money in the budget for accessories but I thought she would review the budget and spend what there was on them and not go overboard. She bought all the stuff that she thought would look good without considering it's price and never considered the budget when putting it all in the room. She just assumed I wouldn't mind if it looked pretty. I really just expected her to keep the budget in mind. I wonder if she gets a lot of repeat business.
It is fairly common for designers to do an "accessory run" the day of delivery to show the client how the space could ultimately look. The accessories should be left on approval for 3-5 business days, with no obligation what so ever.
It is possible that this person just burns her bridges as she goes, but ultimately she will run out of potential clients conducting her business in this way.
BTW I have always added in the delivery onto each contract to avoid confusion.
Hanging artwork should be done by a professional with liability insurance in case they whack a nail into a previously water logged wall, hit a plumbing pipe, etc. Clients do complain about the cost, but they usually understand when you give them all their info up front.
As a designer who prides himself on being informative and ethical, I am sorry you had such an unpleasant experience working with the trade.
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