Differentiating COST from VALUE -Interior Design Practice


Interior Design practice involves dealing with works of art, artefacts, craft pieces, and many other precious things. It not only involves identifying objects, judging their true worth, for acquiring, and sometimes even disposing off such articles.

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At another level interior designers also help create entities of such merit. The benefits accruing to the client could be several times more than the real cost of creation or acquisition. It is very important for a design professional to be able to differentiate between the cost and value.

Routine jobs have a determinable cost (and by adding a customary margin of profit, etc. one can derive the price). However, jobs with substantial intellectual effort accomplish more than the cost of implementation. So, dilemmas occur, should one charge a professional fee on the total cost of the job, or value accruing out of the job? Authors of creative efforts must know how to value their accomplishments, and thereby demand a fair compensation for it. Designers need to know both the cost and value of their professional services.


The understanding of Cost versus Value of an entity helps a designer at TWO distinct levels:

1 Determination of Fees

2 Helping a client for the value-assessment of their possessions.


1a.       Determination of Cost-based Fees

Interior Design practice follows age-old traditions of Architectural practice. Jobs are generally executed by appointed contractors or selected vendors. These third party (away from the Architect and the Client) entities present an invoice, which reflects the nearly true cost of the job. Architects base their fees on this foundation after adding certain percentage amount to account for miscellaneous expenses, (such as on power, water, etc.). Substantial part of Interior Designer’s work follows a similar path.


1b.       Determination of Value-based Fees

Jobs like renovation, extension, addition, conservation, etc. make substantial change to the existing environment, upgrading the commercial value, or advantages deriving out of it. A unique concept that costs very little to implement, provides a substantial benefit to the client. Should one charge a fee on the cost of a job or on the value of the completed job? Here determining an appropriate cost base for fees is very difficult.


2.         Value assessment of possessions

In design field valuation is made for all types of properties to assess their wealth. Designers help their clients acquire or dispose off entities. Value is specific, there cannot be a general fall or rise in value of all the things. Value of a thing goes up, when we can acquire or aspire for more or superior things in exchange, and goes down, when we can acquire or hope for less or inferior things in exchange. Value is relative, referred in terms of something else.

Value of a thing, cannot be always measured in money. Value has many different connotations, and it has relevance in terms of, emotions, remembrances, associations, ageing, maturity. heritage, rarity, ecological, environmental, social, etc.