Why is a Design Retainer Agreement Important to You?

by | Mar 7, 2023 | Project Planning, Remodeling Considerations

As stated in What is a Design Retainer Agreement?, let’s discuss why it is critical for you as well as for us. Design Retainer Agreements, otherwise known as “fees paid in advance to procure future work and services”, are a standard and important part of doing business with many design/build firms, including ours. We have learned over decades of experience that they are a vital aspect of ensuring that not only what you envision is what is designed, but that it will be built exactly as it was designed.

Why a design retainer is in the best interest of you and your contractor.

  1. COMMITMENT: It shows commitment to the extent that you (the homeowner) are really interested in going ahead with us, and that our designer and team are committed to working with the you. Typically, once a client has taken this first step of agreeing to a design retainer, the trust between the client and the remodeling company has already been sufficiently established to take the next step.
  2. design plansVISUALIZATION: We are living in the great age of technology and the use of it in design-build companies allow us to create renderings, including product selections. This will give a very close 3D drawing of how your remodel will look before we even pound the first nail. You may think you know what you want in your design, but when you see it with your own eyes, it takes on a whole new dimension. Perhaps you will love it, or perhaps something does not look quite as functional or as you had imagined. We can make changes during this phase rather than during construction, which saves both time and cost.
  3. RELATIONSHIPS: The design process is a great time to build relationships and get a better understanding of how well you work together. Our objective is to develop not only a relationship, but an understanding of you, your style, and how you plan to function in the space. Our designers will communicate and work with you closely to bring your needs and visions to reality. In my opinion this is the most enjoyable part of the process, and in many cases the relationships with our clients continue past the remodel with dinners and get togethers…and more remodels.
  4. TIME: During the design phase, your designer spends time with you as well as many hours behind the scenes working on your project. Measurements are taken before the design starts to know exactly how much space we have to work with, as well as any obstacles to work around. The design is finalized (sometimes after a few revisions), and drawings are made to know the space available for installing all the pretty finishes and how it will be constructed. Your designer will go with you to various showrooms and assist you in choosing your selections (cabinetry, countertops, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, tile, glass, flooring, etc.). They will keep you on track, attempting to keep you on budget (at times difficult to determine the wants from the needs in budgets). For every hour they spend with you, there are at least 5-7 more that they spend behind the scenes working on your project. All of this takes time, and the larger and more involved a project, the more time that will be needed to get your design and your pricing accurate.
  5. MONEY: Your designer is seeking to work within your given budget. It is best that you be up front as to what you want to put toward your remodel right away, because in the world of remodeling, price can vary just like anything else. Be realistic in your budget if it is set in stone. Designers are not mind-readers when it comes to budget, and for them to design to your liking and to what you are willing to spend, you may want to remind them to design to your budget. Many of our clients may be willing to spend above their initial budget to get exactly what they want, and this just needs to be communicated. Remember that every decision you make to increase the price, also includes how it affects the costs of increased labor, material, and time. It is a waste of everyone’s time and energy to design to a budget that is not yours. Once your designer has a budget in mind, then your design can be made to budget, and the costs included in the estimate will be much more accurate. There are times when someone will want to do a remodel, and really has no idea what the price may be. Your designer will bring reality on cost. In addition, during the design phase, we often see what we call SCOPE CREEP. A few examples are buying all new appliances when you initially planned to reuse the existing ones. Or rather than changing the flooring in only the kitchen, you decide to redo it throughout the first floor.
  6. SEAMLESS TRANSITION: When you are working with Corinthian, you are working with expert designers who know their 3D technology, as well as the entire design to construction process. We are familiar with every facet of your job and understand construction as well as design. Corinthian has architects we work well with, or we can work alongside your architect if you’ve already been working with one. For a typical kitchen and bath remodel, we are very qualified and knowledgeable in designing and can potentially save you architectural fees.
  7. design selectionsACCURACY: Since our designers have been with you from the beginning of the design process, they continue to work closely with the Production Manager and Jobsite Superintendents to ensure they are building everything exactly as designed, with no decisions made on the fly in the field. They continue to be involved until the final nail is pounded and will continue to communicate and meet with you throughout.
  8. FUN: Yes, it is FUN to work with our designers who will hold your hand through the entire process of remodeling your home! It is really fun to watch your project go from your mind to the designer’s paper, and then carefully constructed through the hands of experienced craftsmen.

A Design Retainer Agreement will ensure you and your remodeling contractor get and stay on the same page which is why we work with our homeowners in this way. Using a Design Retainer Agreement to fully develop your project can deliver you peace of mind BEFORE you start!

Wondering what comes after the Design Retainer Agreement? Glad you asked. That would be the Scope of Work that details every aspect of your project. We’d love to talk with you about why it’s important.

Create the Home of Your Dreams