How to Guide Your Client Towards Setting a Realistic Budget
Make sure a project goes smoothly with these ideas for helping your client to set (and stick to) a financial plan
It’s important to establish a client’s budget right from the start, to ensure you’re both on the same page and are working within the parameters of what the client can afford. If they’re reluctant to share the information, try to reassure them that your aim is to make sure the project comes in on budget.
Gail Race of Gail Race Interior Design says: “At the concept stage of the project I will gauge an understanding of budget provision by noting which brands the client is leaning towards and their reaction to the costs of the items they like, whether they be mid- or high-end.”
Avoid unexpected surprises by asking your client for a wish list of items such as windows, sanitaryware and tiles. Perhaps they could put together an Ideabook to share their preferences with you. You’ll be able to see the kind of thing they like, and also work out what is in their budget and even what alternative items they could have instead and how they could cut costs elsewhere to afford any must-haves.
Race says: “I pull together a complete set of costs so the client can see the budget breakdown across all items, right down to the fixtures and fittings. I’ll always have some cheaper standby products in the wings, too, as sometimes clients will fall in love with items that blow the budget!”
Once you’ve got a preliminary sketch of the project, it’s a good idea to obtain early quotes for work that you’ll need to contract out. By factoring in all the costs you can present a more accurate budget to your client and make adjustments right at the beginning.
If you’re using a management tool like Houzz Pro, you can use templates to quickly put together a detailed estimate to share with your client.
Give your client as much upfront information as possible, so that you can work together to get the ideal design at the right budget. By being transparent and making them feel that they have control over the cost of the project, there is an increased chance they’ll stick to the budget.
Jennifer Chong of Feioi says “A detailed, written brief for the project will help your client to understand what is (and isn’t) included and discussing their priorities is useful for you to know where they may be willing to compromise if necessary. Wherever possible, break down quotes and estimates into smaller chunks to help your client understand all the components that make up the big number at the bottom to make it easier to digest.”
Stress to your client the importance of a budget for any unexpected work or materials. You never know what might come up, so this contingency money is crucial.
Race says that the contingency budget depends on the type of project. “For example, a Grade II listed property requiring extensive renovation is going to have a lot more surprises in store than a relatively straight forward furnishing and decorating project,” she says. ”As a general rule, I would advise the client to take the figure they are happy to spend and keep 10 to 15 per cent back and just use 85 to 90 per cent as their budget.”
How do you get your client to set a realistic budget? Share your ideas in the Comments below.