THE ANATOMY OF AN INTERIOR DESIGN AGREEMENT

Warning: This is a long post full of detailed information.  My goal when I launched this new site was to provide information about interior design services that nobody provides.  For you to use my site as a resource for finding & working with an interior designer.  Part of being completely transparent was to put my design agreement on my site for all to view- other designers may think I am crazy, but if I were a client I would want to know.

But interior design agreements or contracts are full of lawyerly legal language and so today I am going to walk you through my standard agreement for even more clarity.  This is my standard contract and may not be applicable in every situation.

  • Scope: Designer shall develop interior furnishing specifications that may include coloration, fabrics, lighting, and furnishings as required. Designer’s services do not include contractor services, landscape design, or architecture. Designer shall consult other professionals such as lighting consultants, landscape architects, architects, and others.  Client acknowledges that Project deadlines are subject to the vagaries of the marketplace and the performance of third parties.

This essentially says that my job is interior decoration and will keep an eye on the whole design plan when other design professionals are involved so that the end result is awesome, but I also can't control everything.

  • Purchasing: Purchasing is billed at an hourly rate. Full deposit is required for each item and upon receipt of deposit Designer will place order.Designer shall arrange delivery and installation of Designer-purchased furnishings and other items purchased on behalf of the Client for the Project.If available, Client will receive 50% of Designer discount and Designer will receive 50%.When practical, Designer will present specification to Client for Client to purchase direct from vendor. Client is wholly responsible for all items purchased by the Client.

I want my clients to feel comfortable purchasing items through me.  By purchasing through me, I take care of all the logistics, shipping, billing, and possible issues.  My clients will never pay more than retail for items I purchase.  Items I purchase must be paid for up front and most items cannot be cancelled or returned.  If I buy it I'll take care of it and if you make the purchase then you take care of it.

  • Drawings: Designer’s drawings are conceptual in nature and are intended to set forth design intent; they are not to be used for architectural or engineering purposes. Designer services do not include modifications to structural, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, ventilation or other mechanical systems in the Project. Designer is not responsible for incorrect measurements provided by the client.

In other words, don't use my drawings to build something.

  • Contractors:Designer is not a general contractor and does not provide contractor services.  If Project requires contractors to perform work based on Designers concepts, Client will enter in a contract directly with each contractor.

Contractors are important and I like working with them - they have specific sets of skills that I do not.  But in Arizona, one must be a contractor to manage contractors (unless you are the homeowner) so anything like plumbing, tile, electrical work is between you and the contractor.  But I am still around to offer design direction for that work.

  • Design Fees: Designer shall be compensated on an hourly basis at the rate of $130 per hour.  All time Designer is working on and/or for the Project will be charged.  Hourly charges will be invoiced to Client monthly and are payable by Client upon receipt of invoice. Upon signing this Agreement, Designer shall receive a nonrefundable initial advance of $1000, which constitutes the minimum fee due Designer for Design Services.  The advance will be credited against hourly fees otherwise payable by Client to Designer for Design Services at completion of project.  Design Fees are non-refundable.

I charge $130 an hour when I work on your project.  (Learn more about Interior Design Pricing)  Some clients may be more comfortable with a flat design fee and we can discuss that if you are interested.  Good design requires a minimum time commitment.

  • Reimbursable Expenses:  Client agrees to reimburse Designer for all out-of-pocket expenses actually incurred by Designer in relation to the Project, including but not limited to, renderings, drafting services, postage and handling, freight, delivery and storage costs. Client shall reimburse Designer for all travel, lodging, and meal expenses incurred by Designer and Designer’s staff (where necessary) in connection with the Project.

The biggest reimbursable expense you'll encounter is shipping or freight.  Meaning that if I pay to ship samples or FedEx your fabric to the upholsterer you'll get a bill for it.  Reimbusables are not marked-up and I am always looking out for your budget and not shipping overnight Saturday delivery unless absolutely necessary.

  • Insurance:  Client is required to have insurance coverage for all furnishings and materials during handling, moving, storage, and installation.  Client is responsible for ensuring that their insurance coverage is sufficient per this Agreement.  Designer cannot be held responsible to inadequate insurance coverage.

It is important that you make sure that you have insurance to cover the work in your home.  Call your agent to make sure that you're already covered or if you need to add a bit more coverage for the project.

  • Photographs:  Client agrees to allow Designer to photograph Project during all stages of Design Services including when project is complete. Photographs will be used for business purposes, including, but not limited to: press, publications, online, social media, marketing, advertising, and print.  Designer will not disclose address or Client’s name without prior consent.

I want to document the work we do together!  This is for my business records as well as putting on the blog or in my portfolio.  But I take your privacy very seriously and do not disclose any personal information.

  • No Price Guarantee: Designer cannot guarantee prices of merchandise, interior installation, or other services not performed by Capella Kincheloe Interior Design.  Vendor pricing is subject to change and out of the control of Capella Kincheloe Interior Design. 

This simply means that I cannot control what others are charging for their goods or services.  That light fixture for your dining room may go on sale or the price may increase - these things are out of my control.  My prices will not change for the scope of my services.

  • Payment: Hourly Fees and Purchases are due in cash or check upon receipt of Proposal or Invoice.  Capella Kincheloe Interior Design does not accept credit cards. 

I think you got this one.

  • Permits: Client is responsible for permitting or any and all approvals required by any governmental agency. 

If any work requires permits or approvals that's up to you to obtain.

  • Termination:  If Designer or Client desires to terminate business relationship, Client will be responsible for any outstanding reimbursable charges and hourly fees. All in-process proposals and orders will be completed by Designer and delivered to Client. If a balance remains in Client’s account, the amount will be refunded after the above charges have been deducted.  Client agrees to take no action which is intended, or would reasonably be expected, to harm the Designer’s reputation or which would reasonably be expected to lead to unwanted or unfavorable publicity to the Designer.

In the case we're not a good fit, I wrap up anything still in progress to deliver to the client and the client pays for any work or charges outstanding.  You agree not to bad-mouth me and my company.

  • Have Fun: Capella Kincheloe Interior Design strives for the most comfortable, enjoyable, and transparent design experience possible. We require open communication and honest feedback.

I wanted to put this into my agreement because while it is important to protect both parties and set up expectations can be a little serious.  SO I put this at the end of my agreement as a reminder that the process is fun!

DISCLAIMER: The language in this post does not replace the official interior design agreement.  The agreement is a living document and we reserve the right to change it at any time without notice.  This is not a substitute for legal advice or other professional contract advice.

PS: If you're a design professional, why don't you check out my business training course The Golden Blueprint

Read the updated post: Anatomy of an Interior Design Agreement 2.0