how to charge for design

our design group met again yesterday afternoon.  we have been meeting most weeks for a few hours-- deciding how to define ourselves and what our goals are in working together.  each meeting we get deeper into understanding what we really want of each other-- but also we seem to leave each meeting with a much clearer notion of what we do individually as well.  

it is easy, each working on our own-- each working individually with people in their homes-- to lose track of the ability to define what we do and how we do it.  i have settled on saying that i help people with their houses.  but what does that really mean?  i consider myself a residential designer-- i am deeply concerned with how we live and the systems, aesthetics, and structures that will better serve individuals and families.  so-- i do color consultations, furniture layouts, space planning, structural design (additions, moving walls, adding windows), AND i help with designing appropriate storage and organizational systems-- all the stuff that makes busy modern life easier-- AND that gives people a sense of 'ahhh' when they get home.  

as we have begun working together in a group, we are spending a lot of time asking each other how we do things-- how do we organize our time, our paperwork, our billing-- and what are our routines in working with people in their homes.   we each work on our own and we have each developed our own systems-- we are finding we have a lot to learn from each other!

the biggest topic of conversation so far is how to charge for what we do.   we each have our hourly rate, but there are very few jobs in which we really feel like we can charge for every hour that we really work-- putting together a floor plan, drawings, the directions for how to implement a design, thinking, creating-- never mind going out and finding furniture, fabrics, paint colors-- all of these things take longer than we would like to admit.   AND we all live in the real world-- none of us is about to charge $4000 for the choice of new paint colors-- even if we end up spending dozens of hours on it-- which might easily happen in some other market.

what we are going for is a coherent price structure within the group-- so that we are charging in the same way for our time.  no answers so far.... just continued (and good) conversation.


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