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Estimating and Design Proposal

The following excerpt was taken from comments posted on JLC’s website ( in response to “Getting Paid for Preconstruction Advice,” 10/12.

Great article. I am glad to know that I am not alone. There are professionals out there who tell the potential clients upfront that we (the professional contractors) get paid for our work, including the work we have to put into designing, estimating, and planning a project. I have a document that’s similar to the author’s PSA (professional services agreement). I call mine an E/D (estimating and design) Proposal. I explain our process — which is detailed on our website — to the potential clients when they first call about their project. I ask if it sounds reasonable, and if they say yes, then we book the initial meeting. There’s no charge for the initial meeting, but I get a chance to explain to them in detail about our design and estimating process.

I have had huge success in selling more jobs using our E/D Proposal, and if a client is willing to go through our process then I can prepare a proper lump-sum price for the work. For a typical master-bathroom remodel, the cost to design the project is about $2,000. The clients pay a deposit and progress payments as the design goes forward. If they decide to hire us, we discount the design fee. If they decide not to hire us, they pay the balance of the design fee and are issued a package that they are free to use at their pleasure. We rarely lose a job because of our final price, because we walk the clients through the process and they can see that the clients are more in charge of the cost of the project than the contractor is.

Thanks for the article. More contractors need to charge for the professional services they are giving away for free. — svandyke