Post 293 – by Gautam Shah


Designers always seem to have a problem as to How much, How, and When they should charge their fees? Problems are manifold, as there are few traditions, absence of professional fees mechanisms, and very little social awareness about new design fields.

Fees’ negotiations are long drawn, tiring, and usually a worrisome process. The client and the Design professional interact on different wavelengths. A client may not be asking for a discount, but just trying to understand the fees completely, whereas a professional operates on many hypothetical grounds, cannot rationally explain the fees. A designer may explain well, the work and fees to a client if alone. A designer is forced to, justify the merits own work and, the effective value of the fees in competition with other professionals.

Dual Negotiations with competitors

One of the simplest ways of reducing hassles is to discuss the fee early in the project. Discussions, even if agreeable, must be backed by a detailed communication in writing. In the same document or letter, the design professional must make a client understand that of the total to be an invoiced amount, what forms the ‘professional fees’ component, and what forms the charges for various services, (recoveries of expenses incurred for the client).

Consequences of delayed, part or non payment of fees must be clearly defined. These conditional aspects of fees should be explained to the client, collectively in one meeting, and through a single written document.


With organized clients, a professional may not get a personal meeting to explain or redefine the level of involvement and obligations. Even if such a chance is available to restate the case, it is professionally inappropriate to agree to reconsider the fees (for reduction in fees). Yet, a professional can (if one has structured the professional services and their costs) offer to take on additional responsibilities and services at no extra cost (while making the client aware of their costs), to make the offer attractive and viable.

No discounts in Design Fees

Professionally it is not courteous to reject a client, or refuse a job, however, detestable or unwanted a person may be. A professional’s only option out of this situation is to demand an abnormal fee and set extraordinary conditions.


A professional ideally prepares an invoice for the professional fees and just a statement for chargeable services (to be paid to others).

A separately identifiable mention of certain items like rents, supply charges, maintenance charges for plants and equipments, cost of goods, plants, equipments, etc., even, if is to be compensated by a client, must be avoided in the professional charges’ invoice. Professionals must in all circumstances avoid invoicing, for supplies delivered to the client.