Thursday 10 February 2022

How to find out the budget of the project?

How to find out the budget of the project? This question often becomes a stumbling block between the designer and the client. The designer claims that the client never says what his budget is for the project. The client is worried about how much to voice.

Why doesn't the client talk about the budget?

I remember the first time I came across a specialized book for interior designers about clients "Interior design clients. The designer's guide to building and keeping a great clientele" by American author Thomas Williams. "Clients in interior design. A designer's guide to building and maintaining a customer base."

At the very beginning, the author talks about the fears and expectations of clients who come to the designer, which explains, in particular, their secrecy on the subject of the budget. At the moment of discussing the client's money, thoughts like "I will call below the alleged one, the designer will think that he is a beggar in front of him. Ashamed... Suddenly, he doesn't want to work with me. On the other hand, I will name a high bar, the designer will immediately want to master every last cent, and suddenly we could meet a smaller budget. "

Is it possible to have a preliminary budget at an early stage of the project?

Therefore, I suggest that you consider the form of calculating the preliminary budget, when you can offer the client a "fork" from and to under different conditions. Using this form of discussing the project budget, I have repeatedly found out what the real budget of the project is, and for which items of expenditure the client can increase the budget.

The concept of "preliminary budget" and the formation of how it looks now was preceded by the experience of my colleagues in Barcelona and Moscow.

Experience of colleagues in Europe and US

The first case was from the practice of our Western colleagues in Barcelona of the Interiors studio, which we visited with the Design Experience group back in 2014. We came to the design studio, where we were told how has internal processes, what is the structure of the company, etc.

And then we were offered to watch a presentation that was prepared for the client. This presentation was prepared for the third meeting with the customer. The layout, stylistic collage and ... Preliminary budget of the project, divided into rooms.

Our eyes were rounded then: how can you already provide the client with a selection of furniture, put all the furniture, sizes, prescribe materials? We did not yet have a strongly developed local production, most of the items in the configuration we bought abroad and depended forever on the exchange rate, the availability of positions from the manufacturer, deadlines and other things.

To which we received a comprehensive answer about the formation of the budget, which they may well have predictable, since all the main items in terms of cost are under their control. We learned what a full-cycle studio means: from construction and installation works to the production of our own furniture.

In this case, indeed, the estimate, the equipment can be calculated in advance on the basis of a brief. At that point, my idea of the studio's structure and project budget changed radically. So, we see how the preliminary budget is formed already at the first stage of the design project along with the development of planning solutions.

Then, in 2017, as part of my author's course "Design as a Business" by DEx Academy, I invited the manager of an architectural bureau in Moscow and its chief architect to highlight this controversial topic. We saw a system for creating a preliminary budget, which was also submitted for discussion with the client at 1 more stage. The strong position of the bureau in this case was the experience of the team. Almost 20 years of practice of conducting turnkey projects and owning a database of its contractors and suppliers made it possible to form a preliminary proposal. We took it as a basis in our further practice.

How to Make Friends with Numbers

To be able to "immediately" give out figures, it is necessary to develop in your practice:

1. Be sure to keep the budget of the current project, there is no wording "somewhere / about that much". This is your data library for the future.

2. At the end of each project, sit down and summarize in numbers: how much this project cost. What they wanted to do, but refused because of "expensive". Do not be lazy and figure out what if we put these doors or ordered all the same kitchen. After that, make a brief squeeze about the project not just a lyrical description for the site or publication, but in numbers. For example: Project of 2017, apartment of 120 sq.m., duration of work from project to implementation ... months, the cost of the project ... rubles, the cost of implementation, of which so much was spent on construction and repair work, on furniture so much, on custom products so much, etc. This analysis will help you in the future to quickly give the client an approximate budget simply by citing a similar project as an example.

3. It is necessary to constantly monitor prices on the market. Yes, it takes time to cope with current requests in the configuration. But this may be one of the responsibilities of your picker. By individual categories, by manufacturers. Keep an ear to the ground in the market for certain suppliers or their conditions.

4. Create a database of reliable suppliers and contractors who have been with you for a long time and give adequate prices. In contrast to these, there are many one-day companies, which are "thrown" from side to side, then in dumping, then in unreasonable overstatement. Fix the cost for basic items, for example, flush-mounted doors of standard height, plumbing, parquet, etc., indicating the date of the last cut. Conduct a comparative analysis with a regularity of six months at least.

The key principles in this system are several principles:

1. The budget shall be drawn up for the main items of expenditure and enlarged. For example, the budget for furniture is folded by rooms: Bedroom - ... thousand rubles, Cabinet - ... thousand rubles Without details such as: bed, bedside table, wall sconces, etc.

2. The table shows two options for comparison: more expensive and average. As you know, the truth is somewhere in the middle. And the client has the opportunity to understand what the difference is when he sees, for example, the doors of an Italian manufacturer in veneer and analogues from a domestic one that is also quite a worthy manufacturer, but with a slightly lower cost.

The customer does not have questions: where did you get this cost and why is it so expensive? What's the difference? More precisely, if they arise, then more specific and they can be given a well-reasoned answer.

3. The budget includes not only the cost of furniture and finishing materials, but also all the costs that will be required for the implementation of the project: construction and repair work, additional engineering projects, coordination in the housing administration, equipment, the cost of the project design, author's supervision services.

I agree that this is a lot of work, that it is impossible at such an early stage to predict with accuracy what material will be used or what doors will stand. But this is quite possible, and with the acquisition of experience it becomes easier from time to time. And another key point that affects the accuracy of the hit is the brief.


I will never forget how, on one of our trips to Barcelona with design experience, we met with a wide variety of designers and design studio managers and invariably asked the same question: "What do you think is the most important thing in working on a project that most affects the success of implementation?". And from all of us we received the same answer: BRIEF.

We will talk more about how to make a competent brief, and we will touch upon our dear customers. Now I suggest you familiarize yourself with the table (note: an enlarged detailed table can be seen by clicking on the picture at the bottom in the image gallery), which you can implement in your practice. In the process of work, it will be polished to your own specifics, but I assure you, this technique will save you and your clients a lot of nerve cells, and also warn you from numerous useless selections of what was not even worth considering. Another plus for customers, which can become your trump card: the risk that the money will suddenly run out, and the project will remain unfinished, is reduced significantly.

This article is part of my book "Interior Design. Order in project management is the key to the success of the designer", which is currently being prepared for release.

This is a book for interior designers who are tired of catching an endless stream of burning tasks, being responsible for "that guy" because of which you have a client boiling with claims on the wire, whose head has become square from multitasking and it seems that "this will never end"...

The book will collect and lay out on the shelves all the work on the project, starting with the brief and the first technical specifications to instructions to employees and contractors and reports to the customer. All this in the form of templates, ready-made forms and checklists.

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