By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!

Formulas & Calculators To Price Projects – Do They Work?







We all are looking for that quick fix, and I am guilty of this as well! Boy, do I love Amazon Prime 2-day shipping. I have teenagers who need sports equipment, something for a party, etc., and as a busy working mom those things fall through the cracks and we need them last minute. 

There are also things like the latest diet trend, or whatever the case is every week, every month, it’s an onslaught of quick fixes.

I’m not saying some people don’t have the success that so many programs promote, but are they average? Are they something you can count on every time? The answer is no.

There are too many variables in each person’s life for a plug-and-play formula to work for everyone. This is the same for pricing projects.

Pricing your projects is critical to getting right and a huge stressor for the designers I talk to. Whether that’s in various FB groups, my course, or a Zoom call with one of you, it inevitably comes up in every call. We all want to be making the money we deserve and profit from the actual time we spend.

We are all out there searching for that one magic formula to make sure we’re doing it right each and every time.  What works for others and their business model, scope of work, and in their part of the country doesn’t necessarily translate to yours. 

These formulas, these calculators, and hell, even the diets do work once you customize them for yourself.

When I first built my course, I didn’t include pricing – none of it. And that was intentional. I didn’t want to imply that I have the way, that here’s the formula, here’s the cod you’ve been looking for. It’s just not who I am, and I also wouldn’t do it if I weren’t 100% sure it worked. 

Then, I started investigating whether I was going to stay hourly or go to a flat fee. I was sure I wasn’t going to touch pricing until I determined what works for myself and my business. So I did the research. By the way, I am still frustrated that our industry can’t come up with some sort of standard, but I think I need to get over that because thirty years of waiting have proven pretty frustrating.

So in today’s episode, I share how I want each and every one of you to evaluate every single project on its own.

This isn’t the easy way out, I know. But this isn’t a hobby. This is a profession. You are counting on this income and therefore it needs to be accurate. 

More often than not, I see designers underbilling. And that is scary. Because you can’t sustain that for very long without being deep in debt. And there is no purpose in having a business if you’re just running off debt. 

So I decided to stick my neck out. I decided to try to break it all down and thought it would be one lesson. Turned out it was five. The key to all of it is understanding the phases of construction—every phase of construction, whether you will be a part of it or not. 

Components that have to be taken into account to price your projects 

So when you are determining a flat fee for your construction services, you have to truly understand what it is you’ll be doing and how much time you estimate to do it. 

Then are you also taking into consideration the makeup of the team? Because my role and the time spent is vastly different on a new build than it is on a large renovation, and again on a renovation, I’m managing with a small team. 

Please learn from my mistakes of the past – I underestimated the administrative time I spent on projects. I was completely underpaid.

Administrative tasks:

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Texts

Those all take time. 

Educational hours 

Inside my course I also encourage everyone to have educational hours. They are exactly what they sound like – they are hours spent educating yourself on something that shouldn’t be billed to a client. Track that time, because I know in the past I haven’t paid enough attention. I certainly knew there was time I wasn’t billing for, but I wasn’t writing it down. So I was upside down as far as my time commitment on specific projects. 

The goal with the educational hours is every year or every project. They go down because you’re educating yourself. You can also see your own progress and improvement and your skills building, as well as the fuller picture of the time you are committing to total projects. 

So track your time, look at the scope of the work, and look at the budget, but focus on the phases of construction and what you will be doing in each phase.

It is really important to make sure that you allocate enough time. And I do that with each and every project, even still. 

I think this is where I get pushback from designers when I say this is a lucrative business. I think they’re getting their numbers wrong and working themselves to death without getting compensated properly. 

But I do know there is a different way. And I also know everyone wants that one solution, that one fix, that one plug-and-play. 

Run all the formulas you’ve been given and use them as a point of context. I can guarantee you none of them will be the same number. But if you love these formulas and they make you feel more secure in your estimating, please use them. But don’t remove the portion of your thoughtful and holistic overview of the project. 

In order for this to be a thriving service you offer to clients, you need to get your pricing right. And not just every so often, but for every project you’re on. 

I hope you take today’s episode to heart and truly look at this from a holistic standpoint, considering all of the nuanced factors that each project brings. Then, you can build your fees confidently, knowing that you will be compensated for the time you spend on these projects.

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