Post 637 –by Gautam Shah

This is a random selection of BLOGS on Design Practice (Professional Practice) from several of my blogs on the subject.


Flickr Image by Denis Jacquerye


  • CLIENT and DESIGN PROFESSIONAL -Relationship >>






  • Differentiating COST from VALUE -Interior Design Practice >>




  • INTERIOR DESIGNER – the role



  • MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – III

  • MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – IV

  • MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – II

  • MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – I








Pexels Image by Kaboompics // Karolina >

A set of articles on DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES that were offered as PG Level course are also available at >


01 Organizations

02 Essentials of Design Organizations

03 Design Organizations

04 Projects of Design

05 Job or Assignment Handling in Design Organizations

06 Deliverables from Design Organizations

07 Dealing with a Client in a Design Organization

08 Specifications

09 History of Specifications

10 Standards

11 Liabilities

12 Bureau of Indian Standards BIS

13 International Standards Organization ISO

14 ISO 9000 and other Management Standards

15 Quality for Designers

16 Quality Conscience

17 Consumerism

18 Human Resources

19 Leadership in Design Organizations

20 Data, Information and Knowledge

21 Design Processes 21-1 to 21-4

22 Decision Making and Problem Solving

23 Systems Thinking

24 Risk Management

25 Guarantees and Warranties

26 Finance


MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – IV

Post 511 by Gautam Shah



Building Design firms often provide many different design services, such as Architecture, Interior Design, Structure, Interiors, Landscape, etc. And within these broad range of groups, the actual services may relate to New constructions, Renovations, Alterations, Extensions, valuation and project assessment, project feasibility reports, etc. The projects, when handled simultaneously rarely remain within the confines of well-documented definitions. Like some pre-emptive work for interior or landscape design will occur in the architectural scheme. And when the post building construction, other services are prematurely terminated, the ‘pre-emptive’ work will not get paid.

Serpentine BP Pedestrian Bridge by architect Frank Gehry’s Buckingham Wikipedia image by Author Torsodog

The Louvre Museum

These services occur in different schedules, and their scopes are based on very different criteria. Building design fees are chiefly collected on the basis of floor spread or footprint, except in few countries where it may be based on hours spent on it. The floor spread based varies with the type of project. Fees charged for Architectural projects include the construction cost (built-up coast) + some extra for site development design works. Similarly structural design fees are computed on the construction costs, but that may be a small part, in comparison to costs of site development works like land contouring, retaining walls and other support entities. Interior Design fees cannot always be calculated on the basis of carpet area, as lot of materials and objects are retained or reused.

Maggie’s Care Centre, Glasgow, Scotland Wikipedia – Flickr image by Author scarpadog (Jon-Marc Creaney)

In a group or associated practices the savings occur from the seamless handling of a project. This occurs when common entities are detailed or specified just once. Like for Landscape design site structures (pavings, curbs, retaining walls, water-body formations) are specified with architectural details. Electrical layout for architecture and Interior design is nearly identical.

Schönes Deutschland
Das Haus der Deutschen Kunst in München.


Yet, in all these, the most important issue, vis a vis a client that comes through is, What should be, and How to determine the Cost of the job? The term Total Cost of Job nominally means to include all the costs of actually executing the designed job, similar costs of inputs from other design consultants or agencies, and the cost of all the peripheral work executed on the site through or by owners themselves or their agents, during the Currency period of the Design Services. The total Cost of Job will also include the estimated value of the work being preserved or maintained on the site.

interior-of-maintenance-shop Public Domain images by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

At the start of a design project, the total cost of the job, is not available. As a result some notional figure is determined, to bill the first installment of fees or a lump-sum figure is used for first bill. This figure is determined on the basis of total cost of the job, but more importantly the intellectual rights of design formation. To determine the cost of a job, spread of the job or the built-up area is very useful. Structural engineers often base the fees on RCC (or structural) component of the project or a percentage of fees payable to the architect. Interior designers base their fees on Carpet area, but more surely on Interior Design intervention area, which is more rational or realistic. In spite of this in a group or associated practices it becomes difficult to derive a common fee’s formula.


The Louvre Museum


MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – III

Post 502  by Gautam Shah




Design fees are based on many factors or considerations. One of the important elements is the complexity of the job, which in turn is reflected in Design floor spread or area of work. This is now called expected area of design intervention. It can include every thing that is intensively and intentionally to be impacted by design. In case of architecture or interior design it includes all design affectations inside and outside the built form. For this purpose your design brief presented to a client becomes the Bench Mark. But one must also equate the design brief with a structure for fees’ computation.




640px-Small_group_conversation_at_a_Gurteen_Knowledge_CafeFor all designers the safest bet is to mention a minimum chargeable fee with a rider that it relates to One site, One Project, One Client and One occasion or interaction. The minium chargeable fee, must be interpreted as the retaining amount (services of a designer). Mention of one occasion or interaction is necessary as some clients after paying the retaining amount go into sleep-mode lasting an indeterminate period. It is necessary to state what design services a client can expect on payment of retaining amounts. This may include one or few meetings for discussions of design brief, including scope of design services, collection and verification of the site related documents, a site visit, or submission of a design scheme.

If minimum chargeable amount (or retaining amount) covers and obligates you to submit a schematic design, than following cares are necessary. Schematic design must never be submitted in digitally manipulable form, such as the CAD-based files. One may however, submit image files like in pdf, jpg, or similar format. Smart designers avoid creating very exactly scaled proposals.


First fee is a retainer fee > Pic through Flickr by David Goehring

The schematic or preliminary sketch design is likely to go into hyperbole for showing the possibilities of design interventions. The design elements not only spread as built-forms, but include surroundings’ treatments. This is often equated as a promise against the clients’ estimate or the perception of the budget. This means, one need resubmit a redefined version (usually truncated and very rarely an expanded one ) of schematic drawings, as soon as project is shaped (that is fees are set). At this stage it would be wiser to define and graphically indicate the extent and nature of Design interventions. It could also include the Requested Design (Client’s brief) and Design to be executed. A client should clearly understand the term ‘design to be executed’ will form the basis for fees’ determination. Cancellation of the job or any downward sizing will not affect the ‘basis for fees’.


Caupona Salvius Pompeii customers playing dice


MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – II

Post 497  by Gautam Shah



A design client visiting a design office or querying about design fees through a communication channel, is expected provide some basic details about own-self and the project (its location and scope). Such inquiries however, routine may not be answered instantly or orally. A design fee statement is not a commodity rates list, and should be presented after knowing, meeting or vetting a client. A design fee statement presented to a client should be very specific. It should never be a standard print-out with few filled in blanks.

Students People Talking

A designer must mention as to why (under what circumstances) the fees are being stated in the presentation. For this purpose a Fees statement must mention the name of the client, and some details of the project, including its location.

Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, Kerala India. A large building complex design has many overlapping design interests and fees for a component must have Limitations Statement.

A typical Starting Line could be > In reference to our meeting / your query of Dated: Date-Month-Year, I/We present our Terms, Conditions and Schedule of Charges for the Design Services1 for XYZ project2 for Client3 at, Location of project4.

1 = Architectural, Interior Design, Landscape Design, etc.

2 = Residential, School, Hospital, Office, etc.

3 = Mr or Mrs XYZ or M/s ABC Co (The Client).

4 = Plot or Building number, Suburb, Town, State, etc. (Location of the Project).


It is very necessary to define precisely the scope of design services and for this Statement of Limitations must become part of Design Fees Statement. A statement of limitation restricts the liability to only the listed nature of services.

Pic from Wikipedia by Author Wolfgang H. Wögerer, Wien > French photographer en:Jean-Pierre Sudre, France, 1975.


1 We offer Design Services in the field of ____ . This statement relates to, our offer for design only services. Design services will mean and include designing, describing, specifying and facilitating (by our selves and other consultants to be appointed for sub services) the total project and its systems that are necessary. Design shall mean all drawn, written or digitally formatted documents, oral or otherwise instructed or implied schemes emanating from our office or the staff. The Period of design services shall nominally last 12 months from the date of payment of first payment of fees. On completion of this period, the Design Services will have to be renegotiated as a fresh project.

2 We offer our services as Designers, and for that we do not sell, supply or help procure any components, units, goods or materials, or provide on rent, hire or provide on any other basis: human resources, plants, tools, equipment, implements or gadgets. We also do not undertake any type of operations or servicing of jobs. We do not provide any operational surety or performance guarantees or warranties for the items, systems, or schemes likely to be generated or formed through implicit or explicit design, suggestion, instructions drawn, described, specified in our design.


3 All payments to vendors, contractors and suppliers shall be made to the party concerned, directly by the client. As a designer our responsibility will be restricted to checking the work bills, and approving for payments, provided such bills or their authenticated copies are presented by the client with appropriate request to us.

President of UW Mark Emmert with an architect Pic from Flickr by Wonderlane

4 The job of Design shall mean designing and specifying all things for a building and its immediate surroundings (if listed in scope of a design project), and apparently for which no sanctions from any authority will be required. However, if any such sanctions / permissions are required, the client shall on own cost arrange them, or negotiate the issue separately with the designer.

5 As a consultant Architectural Designer we operate on our own, providing all such services to cause a building structure. We do not collaborate or agree to take in any help from any other designer or such experts or consultant, working on the behalf of any other agency weather paid by the clients or not. We will not accept or abide by reports, advise or observations offered by such persons or agencies. We will also not allow access or make available any copies of our documents, studies etc. to such persons or agencies.



Post 484  by Gautam Shah



Professionals and clients seek each other in a variety of ways. A client can go about it without any inhibitions, whereas a professional can go about it with certain restrictions, depending on the type ethics followed by the profession. Client and professional come to know about each other primarily through intermediaries like friends, relatives and so on. However, in a rare case, the client may contact a professional directly after seeing or experiencing the work as a real entity, sketch or a publication about it.

CLIENTS’ approach

A lay-person as an Individual is always free to appoint any person as an adviser or helper for the professional services. Here no Government regulations or rules of the professional bodies like council or guild can be operative. Perhaps by dealing with ‘unrecognized professional’ one may not get legal protection or redressal.

When an organization, as a client is not allowed, or authorized to deal with any professional, on a person to person basis; a process for an appropriate selection of a professional is required. The process of selection begins with invitations offered to:

  • any competent member of society,
  • member of bodies with a certain level of competence
  • members of a body who necessarily have certain level of competence.
  • persons belonging to a certain geographical region, experience, age, sex, nationality, religion.

For complex jobs, selection of a professional is done through a competition, wherein professionals are required to tackle certain essential components of the job, or offer a holistic concept towards the issue.


A client may not contact a professional, unless there is some foreknowledge, reference or suggestion by someone. This usually comes through another professional, like a financial adviser. Members of the society usually know where and how to locate professionals of well established or traditional fields. However, in newer branches of human skills, the professional and the client do not have an appropriate forum to interact. In such situations, the intermediary professionals help to bring together the potential clients and professional.


A professional on realizing a person’s potential as a client, may seek the person directly or through a mutual acquaintance or a friend. However, if the person concerned is a potential client in the official capacity (employed official of Government or private organization), than an official appointment with the clear declaration of intent is necessary.


A professional can seek a client in a variety of ways. Most of the professional bodies regulate a professional’s exposure and consequently the behaviour with the society in general and with potential clients in particular. Many professional bodies discourage direct advertisements by professionals to seek clients and assignments. “An advertisement however effective cannot project the professionalism or the competence of a professional”. It provides an undue advantage to the user.

Lawyer of the years

Most professional organizations believe that professionals should receive jobs in proportion to their professionalism and not their capacity to project through media. Paying out any consideration or any promise to that effect, to procure a job is also considered unethical. Problems of this ground arise; when a person is a client on the basis of the official position (so is capable of selecting / appointing and compensating a professional).

1024px-Consultation_-_Health_Check-up_Camp_-_Howrah_Swamiji_Sangha_-_Dumurjala_-_Howrah_2015-04-12_7598Cultivation of social contact is the most common method for a professional to come into contact with a potential client. Other Personal approaches include, specific letters, generalized bulletins, telephonic calls and face to face meetings. The impression created through a meeting or telephonic call may not be of desired type and intensity. Letters are very objective, last longer but have to be brief to be effective. Professionals get clients from other professionals. Here their competence is assured by the referring person.

Bio-data or resume is ever lasting, and very effective medium of exposure. Bio-data may contain basic information about the person, professional achievements and competence. Bio-data could be a very specific document, prepared (tailor made) for a potential client or could also be a generalized document that may serve to a set of potential clients with similar needs. Bio-data could be a very general introduction, good for any person whether potential client or a lay person.


A bio-data that is tailor made, may reveal or emphasize data that is relevant to that particular exposure. Concealment or non emphasis of data in such a bio-data is intentional and is generally not unethical though could be malafide. General bio-data tends to create impression of a commodity pamphlet. Creative professionals generally do not favour this type of medium. Internet has become an ideal medium for placing a Bio-data. A digital document is very flexible and accessible worldwide.

In dealings with clients, what kinds of behaviour, actions or attitude are considered as unethical, malafide or bad, varies from country to country, region to region, profession to profession, and time to time. In professions where rules regarding behaviour have not been formalized, it may vary even from a professional to professional.




Post 360 – by Gautam Shah



Determination of professional fees is a very difficult exercise. To determine a right fee, a professional is expected to know the following:

  1. What is the VALUE of professional services to the client, and in the society,
  2. What is the COST of providing professional services (cost of input),
  3. Will there be a surplus (profit) after deducting COST from the VALUE.

Senior professionals have experience, and so can prejudge the value of their professional services. Fresh professionals and even seniors venturing into unknown fields cannot judge the value of their services. They would rather compute the cost of input first, and then add a fixed or a percentage amount, as profit.


Professional fees are very subjective. Fees vary from a professional to professional, from one project to project, and also from one client to another. There are no standards, though there may be traditions in the field. Professionals take on an assignment for a fee, determined by themselves, and sometimes after further negotiating with the clients. Besides fees, a professional also collects: Extras for other services, such as site visits, surveys, additional or optional detailing, special documentation, etc. and applicable taxes.

A professional gets engaged for different types of assignments.

Physical assignments are projects where implementation involves large resource outlays and the cost of the professional input is measurable with the scale of the project.


Innovative projects are more intensive on conceptual input or idea. The cost of idea formation is indeterminable and cost executing the extraordinary concept is very small. The results or benefits accruing to the client are great. A client may gain extraordinary advantage by such professional contribution. So fees for intellectual projects are based the value of the professional input (to the client, society, etc.). Such fees need not match with the scale or cost of the project.

Involved projects are of two types: Involvement of the professional and the involution of the client. The client is fascinated by the prestige of the professional and desires personal involvement. Such clients will payout the stipulated fees. Professional involvement depends on many factors: Personal attitude (sincere, commercial), Demands by the client, Nature of the assignment / Competition from others / Client’s readiness to bear the additional costs (of intense involvement) etc.

Marina Project Dubai

■   Cost of a job nominally includes cost of all items that physically constitute a job. These items may be existing and are reformed, reused or acquired afresh. Cost of supplies by third party vendors and contractors are accountable, but items supplied by the clients from the existing stock are difficult to document. Cost of retained, saved-reused structures, antique materials, curios used in a project are not available, instead their values, though not easy to ascertain, are used. On sites where several professionals operate simultaneously, authorship to a creation is disputable.

■    Cost of professional inputs are costs or expenses incurred to conceive, design and plan out a project. It includes cost of data collection, stationary, documentation, presentation, printing, conveyance, staff salaries, cost of management, cost of investments, cost of rents for plants, tools and equipment, etc. It also includes the value of patent ideas, royalties, and taxes.

■   Scale of a project can enlarge or shrink during planning, designing and the execution phase. Even at fixed spread or volume, the costs inflate or deflate according to the economic conditions. But are the fees adjustable, accordingly?

Carsten Höller’s work -a series of corkscrewing tubular metal slides

■   Cost of involvement in the project is as per the agreement on the variety of design services offered and agreed upon, and the scale of the project. Any downward sizing of the project may not automatically reduce the involvement of the professional. Though upward scaling of a project, increases the professional’s work.



Post 265 – by Gautam Shah



A contract document consists of certain components placed in a hierarchy. The document consists of following parts:

1 Name and identity of parties signing the contract. Name, address, age, sex, nationality, residency, eligibility and capacity (individual, a power-of-attorney holder, authorized representative of a group, authorized signatory, government official), a licensee or a permit holder, group’s identification (formation, constitution, registration, recognition, taxation status), medical declaration (sound mind and body), solvency status.

2 Intentions of the first party to cause the contract (generally the first party is the person who provides the consideration and the person who provide the service is called the second party – but not as a rule). Eligibility of the first party (rights to property, ownership, easement rights, tenancy rights, permits, licenses, quotas, grant, sanctions). Duties of first party (providing data, permissions, items, services, etc.)


3 Competence and readiness of second party to serve the cause of the contract. Extent and nature of rights, duties etc. of the second party for the cause of the contracted job. Qualifications, experience, Man and Machine resources.

4 Joint declaration by both parties that according to their knowledge and understanding, the contract is enforceable and legal.

John Garfield and Dorothy McGuire in Movie Gentleman’s Agreement

5 Relationship of consideration to the tasks, in parts, groups of parts, and as a whole (schedule of rates, time and quantum schedules, guarantees and liabilities, risk coverage). Fines, Late delivery charges, Rewards.

6 Conditions, situations, acts, and omissions, that can debilitate the contract, remedial measures to correct them, rights to raise and settle such issues, unilateral acts, effects of such an exercise and acceptability of the result.

7 Corrections and attestation modes.

8 Time schedules: Date of signing the contract (dates of various signatures), Date and conditions (if any) for the enactment of the contract, Date schedules for things to be provided by the first party and second party, Schedules of start, continuance and completion or termination of the contract.

Certificate Document Proof Parchment Contract

Certificate Document Proof Parchment Contract

9 List and details of other related documents that form part of the contract, and support or corroborate the contract. Details of any action to be caused, being caused, or already caused by the contract.

10 List, details and certified copies of other contracts, MoUs, that form the basis of this contract, or must be implemented as a follow-up action.

11 Mode of registration of the contract (where required by law and other bodies)

12 Signatories of the contract, involved parties, witnesses, government officials, dates, place, time, jurisdiction, etc.

Sale of a male slave and a building in Shuruppak, Sumerian tablet, circa 2600 BC

It should be remembered that a Contract is a document of initiation of relationship between two people, as individuals, or as authorized-recognized representatives of their groups or organizations. A contract once drawn, spoken out, communicated in presence of witnesses, even if not registered with an authority, is a binding document to both parties. Most countries have Laws of Arbitration to deal with issues arising out of the contractual relationship. Such laws usually have a provision that supercedes, any contradicting provisions of the contract. No contractual relationship can be beyond the state laws.




Post 197 – by Gautam Shah 


City Architecture Skyscrapers Skyscraper Architect

When a person professes skill for a negotiated compensation and conditions, then the person is called a professional. This is very contrary to a situation where a person gets paid a time bound amount -a salary, for discharge of a skill. Salaried people, however, well skilled, are not considered to be true professionals.


A salary, does not reflect the true value, but rather a generalized cost of the skill. Salary is also not linked to a quality assurance or time bound delivery. Salary as an income does not motivate a person to maximize the productivity and creativity.

Professionals can profess skills for their clients. Professional need clients, with specific assignments and certain compensation. Professionals, themselves become clients, when they need technical help, and are willing to compensate someone with appropriate skill.??????????????????

A professional is required to behave professionally with:

  • another professional of the same skill
  • other professional/s but of different skills
  • other individuals who help to carry out the assignments
  • person /persons who retain the professional for the technical services such as the clients.
  • society in general.


When a professional deals with another professional, it needs to be examined, if the contact has a professional to client or client to professional context. If not, than the relationship is very predictable. Both the parties profess the same skills and so follow similar norms of behaviour. However, when the context is professional to a client or vice-versa, then one is a retainer and the other is retained one. The relationship is like any other ordinary client and professional relationship.


A professional sports-person is one who is no longer an amateur, i.e. one who can be commissioned with a fee, for the skills for a specific situation like a game or a sports event. A crafts-person who produces artefacts in a workshop and later sells it to a connoisseur, is not a professional, as the products were not created as an assignment. On a similar count an artist or a sculptor who creates a work of art and sells it in an exhibition, is also not a professional. A muralist, however, is a professional, as the person is retained for a fee to mount a mural, at a specific location. A chartered accountant working, as a financial executive in a company for a salary, is not a professional, though the membership to a chartered body may endow a status that of a professional. Similarly, a doctor working in a hospital on a salary is not a professional, though he may behave with all the professionalism expected of a true medical professional. A cook, magician, actor, barber and prostitute, are all true professionals, if are retained with a fee for a specific assignment. A salaried ship captain, army General, or a professor, all may show utmost professionalism in their work or duties, yet are not true professionals..

Pankaj Advani Professional sports-person

Pankaj Advani Professional sports-person

Society expects a certain kind of behaviour from a person who is assigned a task for a fee. This unique behaviour or professionalism is set by:


1 Person own-self: A professional is always an individual entity, because the individual own-self is the prime originator of professional behaviour. A professional’s behaviour or the professionalism is always judged as an individual.

Larry King Broadcaster

Larry King Broadcaster

2 Professionals themselves (professing similar skills) as a group: Formal codification of behaviour norms for a particular profession excludes the newer peripheral skills. New skills demand slightly different type of behaviour norm. Entrenched practitioners of a profession cannot tolerate the altered or additional behaviour norms required for the new skills. When conditions to become or remain a professional are very formal (written or neatly described), creative individuals feel stifled. They try to reform the existing set-up to cause a change, or step-out to form a new organization. In both cases, the existing organization suffers, or is destroyed.


3 Society in general: Over a period of time, the behaviour of all persons in a particular profession becomes so obvious or predictable that, these professionals seem to be directly or indirectly, visibly or invisibly governed by a set of `ethics’, code of conduct, or rules-regulations. All such rules, codes etc. however, can never be formally set, explained, or written. Many are traditions or universally accepted norms.

4 Authority or Government through rule of the law: Unless other conditions are fully or partially met, the rule of law on its own cannot set the professional behaviour and consequently create a professional. The fourth condition, is a matter of legality or rather a necessary evil.


DJ Ian playing at DIangyang Music Festival