Hiring A Kitchen & Bath Designer: What Do They Really Do & How Much Will It Cost?

What To They Really Do & How Much Will It Cost

You've made up your mind; it's time to remodel. It's the right time and now you need the right person for the job. Working with a professional bathroom and kitchen designer could be worth the investment, but what do they do exactly? And, how much does it cost to hire an experienced designer?

Working with the right professional for your remodel can elevate the beauty and functionality of your space beyond what you may think is even possible. The services and expertise that a designer can provide, obviously depends on the scope of your project. To give you a better idea of your options and expected cost for this type of service we've compiled an informative guide of what you really need to know before your next remodel.

What Does A Designer Actually Do?

A kitchen and/or bathroom designer essentially is the friend that you didn't know you needed. They will be there with you from the initial idea for your home remodel to build out.

  • Consultation Interview

    Your designer will take the time to get to know you, your family, your routine and your needs. This step is crucial in being able to conceptualize a new space that looks and functions its' best for you. This person may ask what you hate about your kitchen now or what you love most. They'll want to know how you use the space, how often and by how many people. Designing a kitchen for one cook is obviously different than needing a design suitable for multiple cooks in the kitchen at once. Not to mention, what type of cook are you … one that enjoys baking, looks forward to entertaining, or quick easy meal prep for eating on the go? Should the design be child, or even pet friendly? You may be asked about your priorities for the room and if safety is a concern. Are you planning to age in the home, or do you plan to sell the home in the foreseeable future? You'll likely be asked about your cleaning habits. While it may sound silly, a designer will never recommend a countertop or flooring choice that requires regular maintenance to someone that is not prepared for the necessary upkeep that will be needed.

    Getting to know you is part of the interview process and the information that you provide all plays a part in the design concept creation.

  • Creating a Design Concept That Fits Your Needs

    All of the background and personal information that you shared with your designer goes into creating the ideal layout and functionality of your space. Creating a Design Concept That Fits Your NeedsFor those that prefer using the microwave a lot, the designer will carefully make sure that it is not located in the outskirts of the room, rather in closer proximity to the refrigerator and dishes. For an avid baker, plenty of deep drawers to house large pots and pans will likely be incorporated, along with sufficient space for baking sheets. A family with smaller children that aspire to cook, may include a microwave built-in the lower cabinets within reach. A separate beverage center out of the way for guests to serve themselves drinks is best for a household that does a lot of entertaining. While some of the inquiries in the interview phase may seem arbitrary, it all plays a role in the perfectly thought out concept that your designer will present to you. This concept can be in the form of a rough sketch or digital rendering.

    It's worthy of noting that at this phase, specifics are not outlined such as material choices, fixtures and exact dimensions. At this stage, the primary goal is to make sure that you and your designer are in synch with the conception before proceeding further. Your designer will not want to waste precious time on a concept that you hate, so it's important that you are open and honest with him or her about their ideas. At the end of the day, they want to design a space that you ultimately will love for years to come.

  • Time to Talk Money

    Chances are that upon talking to a designer, you’ve already got a magic price tag in the back of your mind that you are willing to pay for your remodel. Whether its $5,000 or $50,000, no one knows the market better than an experienced designer. When you share your initial budget, they will work with you to show you what is feasible for your investment. They know the costs of common products and material choices available, as well as the costs associated with major changes. Updating the layout of a kitchen or adding an island where there isn’t one, has necessary costs involved. They will give you recommendations for ways that will keep you within budget. Overdesigning a space beyond your budget doesn't do anyone any good, so it's important that you are honest with your designer.

  • Selecting Products and Finishes

    Now that your designer is familiar with your needs and your budget, they will begin working with you to select all of the products and finishes for your remodel.

    TIP: Now it's important to note that some kitchen designers will design every finite detail of your space, while others limit their involvement to the main components such as cabinets and countertops. Not all designers are created equal and all have their area of specialty. One may not be versed in moving walls, while another may thrive on projects that involve structural and layout changes. We recommend working with a Design-Build firm that offers full-service capabilities from design through buildout, like TWD.

    Your designer will want to schedule an appointment(s) with you to either come into their Design Showroom or to spend the day with you taking field trips. Utilizing a design-build firm with a showroom makes this planning phase of your project a breeze by allowing you to choose various materials all in one convenient location. The upside to this is that you'll be able to lay out your cabinet door sample, floor tile, paint color chip, countertop selection and more all together to ensure that it all coordinates beautifully.

    During the selections process, Products and Finishesyou're likely to see fixtures or materials that you fall in love with. Part of your designers’ job is to help you not blow your budget. That being said, they can provide comparable options that give you the same look or feel without the hefty price tag or insight on ways that you can compromise on other items in the project in order to splurge on your favorite tile or luxury item you're dreaming of. Trust us when we say that it is extremely easy to get carried away when you walk into a showroom full of stunning stone panels or top of the line tech devices that would take your dream remodel over the top.

    A benefit to working with a reputable designer is that they will have access to products that are only available to contractors (not sold directly to the public).

  • Provide A Scope of Work and Pricing Estimate

    After each material decision, your designer is making notes and compiling a full list of your selections. At this step in the process, many designers differ in their approach depending on their business model.

    If you are working with a designer from a design-build firm, this information is then plugged in to a proposal. Your designer will write up a full scope of work for your project stating everything that is to be done in your home and outlining every material that is to go into your beautiful transformation with an all-inclusive total price for your project. Your designer will schedule an appointment with you to present the final proposal outlining your project and all of your selections to be signed off.

    Other designers may take your material selections into account for updating the rendering of your space and have it ready for you to take to a general contractor. They may have known contractors that they can refer you to. In this instance, you would then work with the contractor going forward. They will need to visit the home to put their eyes on the existing condition of the space and meet with you to come up with the full scope of work needed. Once that is determined, they can plug in the pricing for all of the ins and outs of your upcoming remodel based off this and the selection information your designer provided. Essentially you will have two separate contracts, one with the designer and one with the contractor building the project. Both parties will need to communicate with each other to make sure everything is covered.

  • Order Cabinetry and Other Materials

    Ensuring that all measurements are correct, especially when it comes to cabinetry. Ordering cabinets is more complex that one would imagine. One slight mishap can have a ripple effect on the buildout of your project and cause delays. A good kitchen designer will guarantee that it's done correctly. They'll also secure any stone or slabs needed for your project, and take responsibility for tracking material deliveries.

    TIP: Most veteran design-build firm will order and stock all of the materials for your project prior to beginning. This enables their crews to have everything needed readily available and avoids delays from out of stock or back order items.

    It is noteworthy to mention that should you request to supply any of the materials for your project yourself, it will be your responsibility to make sure they are onsite, correct and complete. Any damaged or incorrect items will be up to you to remedy. Know that it will be up to you to pay for any required restocking or shipment fees, as well as any costs incurred due to material delays. It is recommended that you allow your design-build firm to provide all aspects of your project. They have employees and procedures in place to effectively handle all of these intricacies.

  • Ensure Proper Installation

    Depending on your kitchen designer's contract, if independent, he or she may be involved in overseeing the build-out of your project alongside your general contractor. They will be on site managing trades, particularly the installation and acting as your advocate to make sure your kitchen is installed per the design you signed off on. If your designer is part of a design-build team, know that they are maintaining communication with the project manager running the project and are consulting on anything that may arise. Everyone will be working towards the same goal … providing you the functional kitchen you've been dreaming of.

How Much Does A Designer Cost?

There are a few ways that a designer can structure their service fees, which are subject to the way they run their business and the role they play in the overall project. Bear in mind that the way an independent designer charges can be vastly different than a designer that works for a design-build company. Either way, here are the most common ways they typically charge.

  1. By The Hour

    How Much Does A Designer Cost?Most independent designers choose to charge by the hour for their design services. "It may be as low as $65 per hour or as high as $250, but often it's around $125 to $150." according to a recent article released by Houzz. These hourly fees are applied to all hours spent during the design phase, for any meetings or phone calls with your designer, and time spent on your project.

  2. Cost-Plus Markup

    For designers that are providing materials in their contract, it is common for there to be a cost plus standard markup to cover the cost of their services. For example, a designer will purchase the materials at wholesale, then add a mark up to it similar to a retailer. That markup covers the designer's services and is kept as their profit. Do not expect the designer to reveal their wholesale pricing to you. Wholesale rates that they have are negotiated rates they have in place with their preferred manufacturers. The same holds true for big-box stores – they don't divulge how much their agreed upon wholesale rates are for a pair of jeans or a gallon of milk.

    If your independent designers’ fees be based per hour, they do not mark up products because they do not sell them. Their profit is solely based on their time spent. In this case, you'll either be purchasing materials on your own in which you'll be paying retail prices or through your general contractor.

  3. Design Retainer

    Design RetainerA flat fee that a designer charges for the initial design work is known as a design retainer. It covers the initial consultation, design concept and rendering, as well as material selection process for planning your remodel. This fee can start anywhere from $500 and go up to as much as $10,000 depending on the project. Average fees in the industry normal lie around the $2,500 - $3,500 range though. Some designers have set rates, such as $2,000 per room. Others are determined based off of a percentage of the estimated project cost. For example, ten percent of the anticipated project cost of $60,000 would be a $6,000 retainer fee.

    Make sure that you thoroughly read the design retainer contract and know your limitations for their services. Most retainers will include only a set amount of hours or revisions to the renderings, and anything over and above is billed on a per hour basis. Check with your designer to make sure that you understand the terms set forth. If your contract includes up to 3 revisions, you’ll want to refrain from sending daily revisions to your designer.

    Designing your remodel is a timely process, so these fees are almost never refundable. You are essentially paying for your designers' time that he is spending, whether you choose to proceed with building the project or not. Some designers will allow you to keep the plan you've created and others will not release the plans to you until a construction agreement is in place. Refer to your agreement with your designer for full terms and conditions.

Can You Afford NOT To Hire A Kitchen Designer?

Updating cabinet hardware or paint colors are completely do-able DYI projects, however when it comes to planning and executing a major remodel can you really afford not to enlist the help of a professional designer? Making up such a small percentage of your projects overall cost, is it worth not having them in your corner …

  • … Recommending choices you otherwise wouldn't consider or may not even know about.
  • … Conceptualizing and bringing your vision to life.
  • … Ensuring that you get the best bang for your buck.
  • … Suggesting strategic layout options.
  • … Providing cost saving recommendations to keep you within budget.
  • … Working for you towards your goal of a functional and beautiful transformation.
  • … Advocating for you.

If you don't think you can afford hiring a designer for your upcoming remodel, think again. For Phoenix homeowners there is an easy, low-cost solution. TWD. As a #1 rated full-service design-build firm, they have grown into one of the largest family owned contractors based in Arizona with an on-staff design team, a gorgeous design showroom and the tools in place to be your one-stop shop. Not on commission, their designers have a no-pressure tactic to working with their customers that cultivates a lasting relationship. Offering minor drywall and stucco repairs all the way up to full home renovations, they’ve made their name in the industry since 1996 focusing on providing exceptional customer service. Visit TWD's website today to see their extensive portfolio, along with hundreds of five star customer testimonials at https://www.twdaz.com.