Fee Structure

Draw First . . . Cut Once! fees are based on three different methods of calculation, as follows:

1. Direct Hourly Billing

This is the preferred method; it assures that all time and materials put into the project will be covered, and that all important issues can be addressed.

2. Fee Based on Gross Square Footage

By establishing a limited scope of work, this method provides the client with a closely estimated final price at the initial meeting, and a final price at the design confirmation meeting.  This price includes a contractor’s set of plans and the normal and customary expenses associated with producing that set.  Because of fixed costs associated with all projects, this method cannot be used to calculate fees for projects under 1,000 sq. ft.

$1.25/ sq. ft.

  • initial and conceptual meeting combined
  • one preliminary design meeting
  • one design confirmation meeting
  • final drawing delivery

$2.00/ sq. ft.

  • initial meeting
  • conceptual meeting
  • up to three preliminary design meetings
  • one design confirmation meeting
  • final drawing delivery

3. Fixed Fee

With its detailed scope of work (discussed and agreed upon by both parties), this method provides the client with a final price for services at the outset of the project.  Additional fees will be charged for work that exceeds the original scope, and the work will not be performed until the additional fees are discussed and agreed upon.

Fees based on methods 2 and 3 place both Draw First . . .  and the client equally at risk; the client is liable for additional fees incurred by work outside the original scope, and Draw First . . .  is responsible for completing the original scope of work.  Not to exceed fees are not balanced in this manner, and are therefore not acceptable.


Building design is not an exact science.  There are many variables that affect the overall complexity of a project, and therefore the time it takes to complete it.  Some of the more obvious variables are: length and frequency of designer/client meetings; detail of client program (length of wish/need list); site conditions, and; amount of interaction with local authorities required to get the project a building permit (variances, special exceptions).  Still other variables may present themselves only after the project is started.  For this reason, although Draw First . . . tries to make it’s estimates as accurate as it can, the possibility for actual costs to exceed the estimate exists.  Hourly estimates are an attempt to get as close as possible to the raw cost, and therefore have the highest possibility of being inaccurate.  Square foot estimates include possible contingencies in their rates, so the likelihood of incurring additional fees is less.  Fixed fees are arrived at using worst case scenarios, and therefore additional fees are unlikely.


Initial Meeting

This is the first meeting between the client and designer, and is a free consultation provided no service is provided and Draw First . . . is not retained as designer.  If a service is provided and/or Draw First . . . is retained, the meeting becomes billable time for that project.

Conceptual Design Meeting

The client’s program is discussed, including all relevant information, materials, and philosophies.  The direction the initial design process should take is determined.

Preliminary Design Meeting

Preliminary schemes are reviewed, changes are discussed and agreed upon, and design process course correction is agreed upon.

Design Confirmation Meeting

Major changes agreed to at previous meetings will be confirmed to have been made correctly.  Only minor changes may be requested – subtle shifting of doors or windows, slight changes in door and window sizes, etc…  Final square footage is confirmed.

Final Meeting

This should be brief; the drawings may be quickly reviewed, but no new changes may be requested – only corrections will be allowed.

Billable Time

Any time spent that directly benefits a given project will be billed to that project, i.e.: meetings, research, design, drafting, phone calls, emails, and any travel time these require.  If an activity benefits two or more projects, then the time will be divided and billed based on the percentage of benefit to each.

Contractor’s Set

This is the minimum set of drawings required to get a building permit.  It includes foundation plans, floor plans, 2-4 exterior elevations, and 1-2 building sections.  These will show building dimensions and call out structural element sizes and materials, as well as window & door sizes.  No cabinets, hardware, fixtures, finishes, or built-ins will be detailed or specified.  All this will be worked out between the client and their contractor, hence the name “Contractor’s Set”.

Gross Square Footage

This will be determined by the outermost dimensions of any new structure, and/or the outermost dimensions of the affected/remodeled part of any existing structure.  Basements and attics are to be included only if they are designed for specific uses.  Garages, porches and decks shall be included in gross square footage for the purposes of Draw First . . . fee calculations only.


The Draw First . . . Cut Once!hourly rate is $80.00; normal overhead and supplies are included in that rate and are therefore not invoiced.  All other items are reimbursable at cost, such as large format plots, model supplies, etc….  Mileage and tolls for travel will not be invoiced; however, travel expenses incurred outside the state may be billed, depending on extent.

Normal and Customary Expenses

These are simply the average amount of typical costs incurred while completing a project and may include:

  • Several sets of check plots for office use
  • A set of plots at each client meeting
  • A final set of plots for the client to reproduce
  • Several calls between client and designer to answer questions, set meeting times, etc. These calls should be kept to a minimum of both length and frequency – 15 minutes or less for most issues and 2-4 calls maximum between meetings.
  • 1-2 site visits if the site location is different than the meeting location
  • 1 hour maximum travel time one way to site or meeting locations
  • Field measuring existing conditions for additions and renovations
  • Miscellaneous expenditures unique to a project but determined to be customary (by Draw First . . .)


Payment for time and expenses accrued to date is due at each meeting, unless an alternate payment schedule has been determined.  The invoice will provide an itemized listing of current expenses, past invoice amounts, total project costs to date, and any payments or credits applied to date.  A retainer paid at the initial meeting is preferred, the amount of which is determined on a case-by-case basis.