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Paid Office Design: Pros & Cons

Office Design

Are you planning an office fit out or refurbishment, and wondering whether paid or pitch office design is the best model for your project? Perhaps a design & build company has suggested paid design to you, and you want to know what the benefits and drawbacks are.


At Zentura, we regularly speak to companies who are interested in the paid office design project model, but aren't sure if it's right for them. In this article, we’ll explain the differences between paid and pitch office design. We'll also walk you through 5 of the key pros and cons, and help you decide which model is appropriate for you.


What Is The Difference Between Paid & Pitch Office Design?

The most common office design & build model is pitch design. This involves briefing several design & build companies on your project. They then separately create a design, scope, and project programme, pitching to win the project. Once you have awarded the project to your preferred contractor, they will work in more detail with you to finalise the design. You then move to the build phase. The design costs incurred by your chosen office fit out company are included in the overall project contract.


The paid office design project model has become increasingly popular in recent years. With paid design, you work with one interior designer or design & build company to create the perfect design for you. You then tender this to several design & build contractors, either formally or informally. Once they have all submitted their build proposals, you can choose the contractor best suited to build your project, and get started. Unlike pitch design, the design contract and the build contracts are separate, so there is an upfront cost to the design phase.


Paid Design Benefits

Designer Collaboration

A key benefit of the paid office design model is the increased access you have to your project designer. Regardless of whether you are using a design & build firm or a specialist designer, you can work much more collaboratively together. This is because the designer is focussed on creating the best design for your needs, rather than a design that will enable them to win your overall project. By demonstrating your commitment to the project by paying for the design, your designer isn’t minimising the time they spend on your project in case it doesn’t go ahead.


Reduced Time Commitment

By working with one designer, creating your perfect office design is much more time efficient. If you are using the pitch-to-win model, you could have up to 5 companies designing your project simultaneously. Briefing, following up, comparing them, and answering all their questions will take a huge amount of time. With paid design, however, you are only working with one designer. As a result, you can afford to spend more time with them, making sure the finished design is as good as possible.


Contractor Comparison

The paid design model also makes selecting your contractor much easier. With the pitch model, you will be looking at up to 5 completely different layouts, design concepts, specifications levels, project scopes, and programmes. Trying to decide which design & build company has the best overall offering is almost impossible when the options are so different. As a result, it often comes down to the easiest comparison method: cost. However, deciding on cost alone is very dangerous, as the cheapest contractor may have cut corners on the specification or workmanship in order to be the cheapest. With paid office design, you are purely assessing their ability to build your chosen design, which is much simpler and safer.


Paid Design Drawbacks

Less Design Variety

One drawback of paid design is the reduced variety of designs that you will have to choose from. Different designers will have different areas of expertise. Even if your designer produces several different options, they will be less varied than concepts produced by competing design & build firms. By committing to one designer early on in the process, there is a risk they might not be the right designer for you. At this stage, your options to change designer will be limited.


Upfront Cost

The main reason many companies decide not to go ahead with paid design is the direct costs involved with the design phase. There is a risk in committing to the investment of paid design before you have any indication of what designs they will provide you with. This is especially off-putting for companies who are not sure if they want to go ahead with the project at all.


However, it is worth saying that paying for design separately does not mean you pay more. In many cases, you pay less than you would with a pitch-to-win project. This is because your contractor does not have to cover their losses from other projects they didn’t win. While the design costs may be more visible with paid design, pitch design merely rolls them into the overall project cost, so they seem a lot smaller.


Is Paid Design Right For Me?

Neither paid design nor pitch design is the best for every company regardless of their situation. Whether paid design is right for you or not will depend on several factors. If you are constrained for time, then the reduced duplication of paid design will work well for you. For companies mainly concerned about successful delivery of their project, paid design is also better, as you can make easier comparisons between contractors without the added factor of design.


If you are not certain whether your office design project will go ahead, paid design may not be right for you as you will incur costs regardless of whether you go ahead or not. If you want a wide variety of design concepts to consider then pitch design may also be best for you.


To learn more about choosing a designer for your office fit out project, read our article “Designer vs Design & Build: Which is Better for Office Design?”. There, you’ll learn about the differences between the two options, their respective advantages and disadvantages, and which is best for you.

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