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Should We Pay a Design Fee ?


If you are shopping for a new kitchen then sooner or later you will be faced with having to answer this question. Understand design fees and how a design program can benefit your remodeling project

So What Exactly Is A Design Fee?

This is a fee you pay to your Designer as compensation for the time, effort and skill that they dedicate exclusively to you and your project. Fees may be either as a fixed total cost, an hourly rate or as a percentage of the projects value.

What Does The Design Fee Cover?

Although this may vary according to the Designer and your needs the fees typically cover consulting time with you, concept development, drawing preparation, preliminary costing and scheduling. As part of this other trades and service providers may also be brought in as required to provide material/installation advice and cost quotations.

We Plan To Purchase My Kitchen With Them So Why Are They Charging Me A Design Fee?

The key here is “Plan To…”, unfortunately without a proper design and a known cost it is not possible to know 100% if you will actually proceed forward. Even if you do wish to proceed with the project there is no guarantee that you will do it with them. Try to see the design fee as a means to move forward without having any future obligation. Let’s get the design done first and then we will decide as to where we will purchase our cabinetry and when to proceed

OK! But We Already Know What We Want.

Yes most of our clients do initially have a fairly strong sense of what they want but this is usually from a generalized perspective. “We would like a classic white painted kitchen, engineered quartz counter tops, built-in appliances and an island”. Just go to and search for this and you will see 1,000’s of kitchens that meet this criteria. Even with 1000,s to choose from it is unlikely that you will find one that is the exact right fit for you, your home or your budget. This is the job of your Designer which is to take these generalized wants and refine them down into a design that suits your specific needs and budget.

Will We Really Get Our Money’s Worth?

I suggest checking out portfolios and compare those of fee based designs versus non-fee. I believe you will see a distinct difference not only in the cabinetry design and layout but the entire project including additional elements such as lighting, paint colour, flooring, etc.

Below are two remodelled kitchens, their cost are within 10%. The first kitchen (stained shaker) was not managed under our design program, while the 2nd kitchen (painted shaker with island/table) was.

No Design Program

 With A Design Program

Graham T. Korbey
The Kitchen Abode

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