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How To Understand & Write An Interior Design Letter of Agreement

The Interior Design Letter of Agreement

Hiring an interior designer is easy, but understanding and writing an Interior Design Letter of Agreement can be confusing. Whether you are thinking about renovating, or a newbie designer, this is a must read. First, as with all agreements, consider an attorney reviewing any legal documents. Every business is diverse and unique, therefore, what might be in one LOA may be unsuitable for another. 

Scope of work in the agreement:

The scope helps to describe the first steps in the design process. To list work in the agreement, the designer schedules a consultation to gather information. Under the heading scope of work, enter all rooms discussed with the client, for example, master bedroom, bathroom, and/or kid’s bedrooms. Identify each bedroom one- Mary-12 and so on. In addition, I prefer including the cost for each room; this makes it easier for the client to breakdown the grand-total. The design concept fee applies only to the design concept agreed upon during Phase I.

Tidbit: Time frames are like setting goals, each phase of the project should include a realistic time frame.

Floor Plans

Phase I: Preliminary Design Concept:

The Preliminary design concept includes: Intake meeting, site survey, measurements (if needed) and photos. Collect some inspirational pictures from your client. The best way to collect inspirational photos is to have the client upload and share using Google Docs, Pinterest or Houzz.  Ask the client to provide floor plans if available.

Next, discuss design concept and budget. All lines of communication are open, never assume, when in doubt, consider calling to clarify.

A tabletop presentation to the client with preliminary selections, such as finishes, window treatment, lighting fixtures, decorative items is ready for review.

Tidbit: I REPEAT, All lines of communication are open, never assume, when in doubt consider calling to clarify

Floor Plans

Floor Plans

Phase II: Design Revisions to Preliminary Design:

It is best practice to dedicate a day during the week to update the client. Use the presentation sample boards include final selections: furnishings, finishes, paint, wall covering, tile, flooring, window treatments, and lighting fixtures. Include all the deliverables mentioned in the last presentation. Now that you’ve completed Phase II, it’s time to schedule a meeting for the formal presentation.

Completion of Phase II includes approval by client for all selections and revisions made to the design concept. The client can decide if he/she will continue onto Phase III or branch out on his/her own.

Tidbit: If there are any significant revisions to the final design concept, charges will apply hourly as per Phase III (see Phase III below).


Kitchen Design Presentation Board

Kitchen Design Presentation Board

Phase III-Project Management, Hourly Fees and Retainers

First, determine if your client will purchase the goods. Explain the benefits of assigning a project manager. One advantage of working with a PM is a substantial saving of time and money. The PM not only purchases products but gets involved with the entire project.

Next, the PM hourly service is calculated in 5-10 hour increments. A retainer fee can vary from $1,500 to $3,500 a month depending on the size of the project. However, if the client does not use up all the funds within the month, the amount left on retainer rolls over to the following month. A detailed balance sheet goes to the client listing the hours and amounts for every transaction.

Last, purchasing goods with the clients credit card is the responsibility of the PM. Note, designers do not have control over vendor pricing, as vendors pricing are subject to change without notice.

Phase IV- Delivery and Punch List

The PM schedules with the client any shipping and works out all the last details for home installation. It is important to do a walkthrough with the client using a punch list to address any concerns or issues.

Before & After Kitchen by VDA

Finally, the agreement should include a photo release section. The client agrees to let the designer photograph the project in all or any stages of the design. Photos of the designs are great for publication, press, social media, marketing, print and advertising. If the client documents or posts the project in print, it is a good practice to credit the designer.

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