How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

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financial.freedom
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How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by financial.freedom » Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:14 pm

We are decorating/furnishing a new house and obtained quotes from 4 interior designers/decorators:

1. The company we liked best quoted us 54 hours of work x $90 per hour for a total of $4,860

2. Our second favorite company quoted us 20-25 hours of work for $225 per hour, so a total of $4,500-5,625

3. The third company quoted a flat fee of $9,500

4. The fourth company charged a 30% markup on all furniture and $175 per hour, about 30 hours

The numbers seem all over the map. We like the company that charges 90/hour not because of the price but because their style seemed to fit our house best and they were much more detailed (both during consultation and a more detailed proposal). Since their quote is more hours, I was thinking of responding and stating the others could complete the job in 20-30 hours and see what she will say.

Any advice from Bogleheads?

Edited to add: Please, we are not asking whether or not to hire an interior decorator. That is under another thread with some good discussion, but we already decided we want to do this.
Last edited by financial.freedom on Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hayden
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by Hayden » Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:30 pm

What about the cost of all the stuff to furnish the house? Not just the big furniture items. Decorators love to use lots of ridiculously expensive decor. Without knowing how that stuff is going to be priced, you don't know the real cost.

In my area, many stores provide free or low cost decorating advice provided you buy the stuff from them.

Personally, I wouldn't spend that kind of money without being sure I would love the results. Pick a design you love.

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David Jay
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by David Jay » Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:34 pm

Let me see - their quote was more detailed and they said it would take more time. Sounds consistent. A detailed, careful company.

I would not ask them to do it in fewer hours, that is asking them to cut corners and they do not seem like that kind of firm. They may well take it as an insult.

I would tell the the truth - you have another quote at 4500 but you would prefer to use their services. Tell them they will get the order if they just match the price (difference is less than 10%)? Then you are complementing them and not telling them how to do their jobs.
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future - Niels Bohr | To get the "risk premium", you really do have to take the risk - nisiprius

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midareff
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by midareff » Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:38 pm

freedom... I offer this to you as a life certified public purchasing professional officer (CPPO).

Advise each of the companies they are under consideration and ask them to submit a last and final offer on their original proposal by a certain date/time. From that last and final feel free to negotiate changes that would you want to make to make it the proposal of exactly what you want.

You can pm me for more if needed.

mouses
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by mouses » Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:56 pm

Why do you need decorators?

EHEngineer
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by EHEngineer » Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:01 pm

financial.freedom wrote:We are decorating/furnishing a new house and obtained quotes from 4 interior designers/decorators:

1. The company we liked best quoted us 54 hours of work x $90 per hour for a total of $4,860

2. Our second favorite company quoted us 20-25 hours of work for $225 per hour, so a total of $4,500-5,625

3. The third company quoted a flat fee of $9,500

4. The fourth company charged a 30% markup on all furniture and $175 per hour, about 30 hours

The numbers seem all over the map. We like the company that charges 90/hour not because of the price but because their style seemed to fit our house best and they were much more detailed (both during consultation and a more detailed proposal). Since their quote is more hours, I was thinking of responding and stating the others could complete the job in 20-30 hours and see what she will say.

Any advice from Bogleheads?
Hi financial.freedom,

I recently hired an interior designer on a pay by the hour format. No minimum or maxiumum, I just asked that she let's me know how many hours she used each day. That way I get quick feedback that we agree on what service was delivered. If I don't like her I just stop using her.

You are comparing these quotes as if each provider is quoting the exact same amount of service, but are you sure that's true? interior decorating can be broken down into furniture, floor coverings, lighting, wall coverings, window treatments, artwork. They might also suggest minor changes in floorplans, or built-in enhancements like a built-in bookcase, or new floorings, where you will need a contractor. Additionally, you and spouse are a BIG determinant of how long the process takes. If you guys are anything less that super-decisive/super-agreeable, the process can multiply in length. PS - 20-25 hours seems shockingly fast to furnish a whole house. I have spent 20 hours working on three rooms, and we're not done yet.

My advise: Use the company who's style you like the best (bonus! they have the cheapest rate). Work on an hourly basis, not a job basis. You will quickly learn that you can impact the quantity of hours needed by having honed your style and wants before bringing in the designer.

Good luck,
Ehengineer
Or, you can ... decline to let me, a stranger on the Internet, egg you on to an exercise in time-wasting, and you could say "I'm probably OK and I don't care about it that much." -Nisiprius

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reriodan
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by reriodan » Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:17 pm

mouses wrote:Why do you need decorators?
+1. Wouldn't you like to style the place yourself, exactly as you like it?

EHEngineer
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by EHEngineer » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:33 pm

reriodan wrote:
mouses wrote:Why do you need decorators?
+1. Wouldn't you like to style the place yourself, exactly as you like it?
I can't answer for financial freedom.

For me personally, I have a hard time with unquantifiable decisions. I know that 0.1% ER is better than 0.5%. But how do I know if I like sofa x better than sofa y? They both look decent in the showroom but how will they look in my house? will they dominate the room or look too small? If I like a sofa from Five Hands, will it look good with the desk from ikea and the rug from potterybarn and the lamps from west elm? Those things are hard for me to put together in my mind, and so I pay for an expert who has experience and a track record of creating selections that meet my tastes.

In short, i buy for a pro because I don't really know how to get a result that I want.

I hope that helps,
Ehengineer
Or, you can ... decline to let me, a stranger on the Internet, egg you on to an exercise in time-wasting, and you could say "I'm probably OK and I don't care about it that much." -Nisiprius

financial.freedom
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by financial.freedom » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:50 pm

David Jay wrote:Let me see - their quote was more detailed and they said it would take more time. Sounds consistent. A detailed, careful company.

I would not ask them to do it in fewer hours, that is asking them to cut corners and they do not seem like that kind of firm. They may well take it as an insult.

I would tell the the truth - you have another quote at 4500 but you would prefer to use their services. Tell them they will get the order if they just match the price (difference is less than 10%)? Then you are complementing them and not telling them how to do their jobs.
I like this idea. Thank you!

financial.freedom
Posts: 367
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by financial.freedom » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:50 pm

midareff wrote:freedom... I offer this to you as a life certified public purchasing professional officer (CPPO).

Advise each of the companies they are under consideration and ask them to submit a last and final offer on their original proposal by a certain date/time. From that last and final feel free to negotiate changes that would you want to make to make it the proposal of exactly what you want.

You can pm me for more if needed.
Good idea, thank you!

financial.freedom
Posts: 367
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:18 am

Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by financial.freedom » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:55 pm

mouses wrote:Why do you need decorators?
We've lived here a year, still have little furniture, and the walls are bare. We work about 120-150 hours a week between the two of us and are exhausted by the time we come home. Even finding time to be home for a 2-4 hour window for furniture delivery is very difficult for us to coordinate. We also don't have time to meet with a painter, window treatment, wall paper or other contractors. We just want to get it done by a professional and come home from long days of work to relax and enjoy it.

financial.freedom
Posts: 367
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:18 am

Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by financial.freedom » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:58 pm

EHEngineer wrote:
financial.freedom wrote:We are decorating/furnishing a new house and obtained quotes from 4 interior designers/decorators:

1. The company we liked best quoted us 54 hours of work x $90 per hour for a total of $4,860

2. Our second favorite company quoted us 20-25 hours of work for $225 per hour, so a total of $4,500-5,625

3. The third company quoted a flat fee of $9,500

4. The fourth company charged a 30% markup on all furniture and $175 per hour, about 30 hours

The numbers seem all over the map. We like the company that charges 90/hour not because of the price but because their style seemed to fit our house best and they were much more detailed (both during consultation and a more detailed proposal). Since their quote is more hours, I was thinking of responding and stating the others could complete the job in 20-30 hours and see what she will say.

Any advice from Bogleheads?
Hi financial.freedom,

I recently hired an interior designer on a pay by the hour format. No minimum or maxiumum, I just asked that she let's me know how many hours she used each day. That way I get quick feedback that we agree on what service was delivered. If I don't like her I just stop using her.

You are comparing these quotes as if each provider is quoting the exact same amount of service, but are you sure that's true? interior decorating can be broken down into furniture, floor coverings, lighting, wall coverings, window treatments, artwork. They might also suggest minor changes in floorplans, or built-in enhancements like a built-in bookcase, or new floorings, where you will need a contractor. Additionally, you and spouse are a BIG determinant of how long the process takes. If you guys are anything less that super-decisive/super-agreeable, the process can multiply in length. PS - 20-25 hours seems shockingly fast to furnish a whole house. I have spent 20 hours working on three rooms, and we're not done yet.

My advise: Use the company who's style you like the best (bonus! they have the cheapest rate). Work on an hourly basis, not a job basis. You will quickly learn that you can impact the quantity of hours needed by having honed your style and wants before bringing in the designer.

Good luck,
Ehengineer
Great suggestions, thank you! Yes, I think you are right -- the company that quoted 20-25 hours mainly does staging. I think they would mostly re-organize a bit, throw in some accents and quickly finish. It will probably look better with the company that is willing to put in more time.

financial.freedom
Posts: 367
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by financial.freedom » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:59 pm

reriodan wrote:
mouses wrote:Why do you need decorators?
+1. Wouldn't you like to style the place yourself, exactly as you like it?
We have ideas, but no expertise and not enough time to implement them.

hoops777
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by hoops777 » Sat Apr 23, 2016 6:05 pm

I would make certain the 90 dollar an hour people that you like are not making anything on what they buy for you in terms of furniture and the like.Most decorators make money on your new flooring,window coverings,furniture,etc.They should not make anything if you are paying them 90 bucks an hour.
You do not seem to care but you will definitely be paying more,a lot more using their vendors.
I do not know what you are doing,but if you are putting in new flooring for example,you could probably get the same product installed for 30 pct less or more,on your own.Same with everything else.

That is the price you pay when you go this route, but that is your choice.It is a nice option if you can afford it and do not enjoy doing it yourself.

Maybe ask to pay all invoices directly to each vendor,at least that way the designer cannot charge you $5000 for $4000 worth of furniture.The vendors can kick something back but it is harder to do.You are probably at their mercy unless you have the time and desire to stay on top of it :happy
K.I.S.S........so easy to say so difficult to do.

financial.freedom
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by financial.freedom » Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:55 pm

hoops777 wrote:I would make certain the 90 dollar an hour people that you like are not making anything on what they buy for you in terms of furniture and the like.Most decorators make money on your new flooring,window coverings,furniture,etc.They should not make anything if you are paying them 90 bucks an hour.
You do not seem to care but you will definitely be paying more,a lot more using their vendors.
I do not know what you are doing,but if you are putting in new flooring for example,you could probably get the same product installed for 30 pct less or more,on your own.Same with everything else.

That is the price you pay when you go this route, but that is your choice.It is a nice option if you can afford it and do not enjoy doing it yourself.

Maybe ask to pay all invoices directly to each vendor,at least that way the designer cannot charge you $5000 for $4000 worth of furniture.The vendors can kick something back but it is harder to do.You are probably at their mercy unless you have the time and desire to stay on top of it :happy
Thank you for the reply. Yes, that company does not charge a "mark up." I told them I want to be able to purchase everything and see all of the receipts with complete transparency. They told me that is fine, but it may be easier for them to coordinate delivery etc. if they order it. For each room they will give us three options (probably more if we ask) that range in price. Even for painting and window treatments, they have their people but are okay with us using our own contractors if we desire. We do not have any major construction projects -- just one window treatment, a few walls to paint, mostly ordering and organizing about 5-6 furniture items, accents and decorating all of the walls.

hoops777
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by hoops777 » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:04 pm

Sounds like a plan.Just don't kill yourselves trying to earn that financial freedom :D
K.I.S.S........so easy to say so difficult to do.

financial.freedom
Posts: 367
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by financial.freedom » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:51 pm

hoops777 wrote:Sounds like a plan.Just don't kill yourselves trying to earn that financial freedom :D
Thank you. (I'm still at work right now) ;-)

mouses
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Re: How should we negotiate home decorating proposal?

Post by mouses » Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:32 pm

EHEngineer wrote:But how do I know if I like sofa x better than sofa y? They both look decent in the showroom but how will they look in my house? will they dominate the room or look too small? If I like a sofa from Five Hands, will it look good with the desk from ikea and the rug from potterybarn and the lamps from west elm? Those things are hard for me to put together in my mind, and so I pay for an expert who has experience and a track record of creating selections that meet my tastes.
This is why I have a tape measure in my purse all the time. Then I can measure anything that takes my fancy and when I'm home I can block out the area/volume in the room and see if it's the right size.

I tend to buy things one at a time, and with a limited set of colors, so I have a good mental picture of them when I shop for something else. If I have a scrap of fabric from things, I take that with me.

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