What is a Design Retainer Agreement?

by | Feb 21, 2023 | Remodeling Considerations

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 renovated/built exactly as it was designed. We work closely with you not only on the design of your renovation, but also on every decision and selection item involved in it (the pretty stuff, such as plumbing and lighting fixtures, tile, cabinetry, and countertops). By doing this we can enter a contract with the exact cost of your renovation.

design retainer agreement design selectionsMany contractors will use “allowances” (place holders for the cost) of things. If your design or choices of selections cost more, then you are up charged. We spend more time up-front to save you money during the remodel, and eliminate delays during construction, because all decisions are made in advance. This means less disruption during construction. The cost of our design retainer agreement simply covers the cost of time spent with you and working behind the scenes on your design and estimate.

What if I already have architectural drawings?

architectural drawingsYou may wonder if a design retainer agreement is necessary if you’ve already paid an architect to produce your plans. Great question, and the answer is yes. Reason-being, even if drawings and elevations are produced, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and decisions to be made to actually build it.

For example:

  • Which window manufacturer and window style will you be using?
  • What kind of hardwoods are being installed?
  • What is the brand and finish on your faucets?
  • What are the exact dimensions and style of your cabinetry, cooktop hood, and appliances, and where will they be?
  • Are the architectural details exactly as you want?
  • Can the drawings provided really be built as drawn?

While the basic design is there, ask yourself if all the design considerations have been decided and if every selection has been made. From brick and shingles, to flooring and built-ins and fireplace, and the decisions go on and on. If the architect did not do this with you, you will want someone to fully develop the plan and present you with options that suit your design aesthetic and budget.

abstract sketch design of interior kitchenA 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.

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