James Stanley Designs is a 1-stop shop in New York City for Interior Design, Construction, Architectural, and Project Management Services. Back in March, prior to the quarantine, we interviewed James Stanley, specifically seeking answers about how the pricing and estimate process works for design and renovation jobs in the City.

  • We think that a large percentage of homeowners don’t know how much interior design costs – for many, it’s a total mystery. We understand that every job is different, and every client comes with their own unique set of circumstances. And of course, there are many variables like the cost of materials… So, if someone asks, “How much does interior design cost,” is there a generic way to answer that question? 

YES EXACTLY. 

  • Is there a formula? i.e. is it priced per square foot? Per room? Some other way? 

TWO OPTIONS ARE STANDARD- HOURLY RATE vs. FLAT RATE + 20-30% COMMISSION ON ALL PURCHASED ITEMS.  DEPENDING ON THE SIZE, SO SOME FIRMS WILL REDUCE HOURLY RATE AS LONG AS THE PURCHASE COMMISSION IS SUBSTANTIAL 

  • What happens more often?
  • A client establishes a budget and the designer presents a vision that fits within that budget.

Or

  • The designer presents a vision and a price for their vision and the client decides if they want to move forward (or scale back on the project)? THIS IS MOSTLY WHAT HAPPENS. 
  • Are design estimates done a-la-carte? 

JSD WORKS COMPLETELY A-LA-CARTE

  • In other words, does the cost get broken down by each room? 

YES EXACTLY. 

  • Is it even more detailed than that (i.e. per room and per item in each room like furniture, paint, and light fixtures?) 

YES. WE PUT TOGETHER A DETAILED BUDGET WITH ALL ITEMS BROKEN OUT. CLIENTS CAN SEE EVERY ITEM AND THE COST WITH-WITHOUT LABOR ETC. 

  • Are there any instances in which a client would save money by hiring a designer? (i.e. designing and purchasing on your own vs. hiring a designer that could accomplish a look in a more cost-effective manner or take advantage of materials they might be able to purchase wholesale rather than retail? 

ON THE HIGH-END A CLIENT WOULD SEE SAVINGS USING THE DESIGNER TRADE PRICING (WHOLESALE DISCOUNTS) FROM THE HIGHER-END SHOWROOMS. THIS % COULD BE AS MUCH AS 15-40% OF RETAIL. KEEP IN MIND SOME HIGH-END SHOWROOMS ONLY DEAL WITH TRADE (DESIGN FIRM-ARCH) AND NOT TO GENERAL PUBLIC. WHILE IT IS A DYING BUSINESS MODEL, ITS STILL OUT THERE.  MOST TYPICAL ( MID-RANGE) RETAIL SHOWROOMS ARE PRICED AFFORDABLY ENOUGH FOR THE END USER DIRECTLY, SO NO REAL SAVINGS ON PURCHASING THROUGH A DESIGN FIRM. WITH SAYING THAT USING A DESIGN FIRM CAN SAVE TIME AND $$$ BY SMART SOURCING. A EXPERIENCED DESIGNER WILL KNOW WHAT TO PURCHASE (QUALITY PRODUCTS) AT THE BEST PRICING AND LEAD TIMES THAT WORK BETTER.   

  • Your company is really a 1-stop shop. There is a design element, but you also offer architectural services as well as renovations/contracting services… CORRECT. 
  • There might be just as many people who don’t know what to expect when it comes to costs associated with architectural planning. Can you shed some light on that? 

OF COURSE. 

  • When you provide an estimate of costs, what are you pricing out? Hours? Drawings/blueprints? 

THERE IS A LINE ITEM IN OUR BUDGETS FOR ARCHITECTURAL FEES INCLUDING EXPEDITER-ASBESTOES TESTING AND PERMITS.  ARCH FEE IS BASED ON SCOPE OF WORK (SIZE OF PROJECT) HOW MANY HOURS-DETAIL OF DRAWINGS. USALLY IT TURNS INTO A FLAT RATE ON A TYPICAL APARTMENT RENOVATION IN NYC,  UNLESS ITS A LARGER PROJECT WITH MANY REVISIONS NEEDED FROM THE DESIGN END, ETC.  THE OTHER FEES ARE SET BASICALLY   AS THE DOB IN NYC HAS A STANDARD PROCESS THAT WE KNOW WHAT THE COST WILL BE. 

  • What factors impact the cost of hiring an architect? (scope of work/location/property type/size of space/detail of drawings) 

EXACTLY ALL OF THIS AS STATED ABOVE. A TYPICAL, LETS SAY 2 BED 1200-2000 SQFT APT IN NYC WITH AVERAGE DESIGN DETAILS WILL ALL COST ABOUT THE SAME IN FEES. IT’S WHEN WE GET TO THE HIGHER-END ATTENTION TO DETAIL, LUXURY FINISHES, CUSTOM LAYOUTS- THAT THE FEES GO UP. 

  • Not every situation calls for or requires an architect. CORRECT What are the most common situations that a New York City resident/homeowner would need an architect? 

ONCE YOUR DEALING WITH WET AREAS ( KITCHEN-BATH) IN A  BUILDING,  THE BUILDING MANAGEMENT WILL REQUIRE ARCHITECTURAL DRAWINGS SUBMITTED BY A LIC ARCH. INFACT MOST BUILDINGS WILL WANT TO SEE PRO ARCH DRAWINGS ON MOST RENOS TODAY EVEN WITH-OUT WET AREAS BEING INVOLVED.  2019 BROUGHT ABOUT THE LARGEST DOB TASK FORCE I’VE EVER SEEN ENFORCING DOB INVOLVEMENT INTO ALMOST ALL RENOS IN THE CITY. 

  • Every time we interview someone, we always ask the same generic question —- Are we leaving out a very obvious question? Is there something related to these topics that I haven’t asked you about that would be beneficial to our readers? 

MOST OF MY CLIENTS ASK WHAT WILL ALL THIS COST PRIOR TO SEING A BUDGET FROM JSD. I DONT QUOTE PRICING PRIOR TO RUNNING THE NUMBERS BASED ON A WALK-THROUGH OR CONVO, BUT YOU CAN GUESSTIMATE MID RANGE RENOS IN NYC BASE ON PER SQFT. WHICH WILL INCLUDE MINOR INTERIOR DESIGN OPTIONS. 

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