Q. Do you charge for estimating and/or design services? How do you calculate the fee, and is it rebated to your client if the project gets built?

A. "I don’t charge to estimate small remodeling jobs, but I do charge for big remodels and new houses. The fee is modest ($250 - $350) and only pays for a fraction of my time, but it heads off window shoppers. I’ve found that serious prospects are understanding about the fee and more than happy to pay it."

— Byron Papa

I use a three-step fee schedule: ‘Services at No Charge,’ including initial meeting, site visit, and rough cost estimate; ‘No Cost if Selected,’ with an hourly rate and a not-to-exceed sum; and ‘Services to be Paid by Client,’ with specific services, such as architectural or engineering services, tied to specific costs. This last step requires a 50% deposit to initiate work, with the balance due upon completion."

— Bill Gaver

"We’re a design-build company, so estimates and designs are two of the products I have for sale."

— Mike Weiss

"I charge a fee for design and estimating, and I don’t rebate this money. My fee is 3% to 4% of the projected budget."

— Peter Feinmann

"I’ve tried, but no one in New York will pay."

— Randy Polombo

"I charge $50 per hour for design. If I sell the job, I roll that expense into the project, but offer the client a rebate. Most estimates are free, but I charge when the client is speculating on a real estate investment."

— Steve Klitsch

"We charge for our design service, and it is not refundable or credited back to the project. I also include a nonrefundable fee for the preconstruction conference in my proposal."

— Bill Medina

"I don’t charge for estimating yet, but I’ve been charging for design for several years on design-build contracts."

— Chuck Green

"We don’t charge for projects when we know we have the job and we’ve worked for the client before. But we do some consulting work, including helping with the permitting process or feasibility studies. Our fee is $60 per hour with no rebate if we get the work."

— Glenn Farrell

"I charge for design. I collaborate with an architect because I believe proper proportion and detailing is important, and architects know design better than I do. The fee is based on the project cost, but we bill hourly and try to stay within the budget."

— Sue Cosentini

"I don’t charge for estimates, but the time is always figured into the price, so I only lose if I don’t get the job. I’ll do minimal sketches for permits for free, but I charge for detailed plans. And I only provide them if I’m going to do the work."

— Rick Stacy

"I wish I could charge for estimates, but no one expects to pay for an estimate, and all of the contractors in the area are willing to do it for free."

— Howard Ferree