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Paid Design Vs Pitch Design – Which is Best For Me?

Updated: Jan 2

Office Design Models

Office Design Costs

Are you researching several design & build companies to tender on your upcoming project? Are you unsure how you can get the best design at the best possible cost? These are questions faced by everyone planning an office design.


One thing that many of these people don’t consider is their office design model – whether they should use pitch design or paid design. This choice will have a major impact on the quality and cost of your design, so it’s crucial to get right. Neither is the absolute best – which is right for you will depend on your circumstances and priorities.


In this article, we’ll explain exactly how the paid and pitch design models work, and how they differ from each other. We’ll also explain their key benefits and drawbacks. By the end, you’ll know all about both options, and you’ll be ready to choose your office design model.


What is Pitch Design?

The standard office design process follows the pitch-to-win model. Once you have defined your project brief and budget internally, you reach out to several office fit out companies who may be able to help. Following initial conversations, you then narrow the list down to 2 or 3 different companies. You work with all these companies separately to create an initial design package. This is often accompanied by a budget quote.


Following this, you refine the 3 different packages until you are happy to make a decision on which company is the best option. Once you have made your decision, your chosen contractor will develop the detailed design and finalise the quote. When you are happy with the final package, you sign the project contract. Your design & build company will then deliver the project as per the design package.


Pitch Design Benefits

The main benefit of the pitch office design model is that there is no upfront cost. This doesn’t mean that the design is free – as it will be included within the main contract. However, you are able to work with the designer on your initial concepts and costings before incurring cost. This means you can ensure you are happy with the design.


Another benefit of pitch design is that you get to work with 2 or 3 different designers. These designers all have different portfolios, perspectives, and ideas. As a result, you get completely different designs. This variety gives you a great cross-section of ideas for your office. It also gives you more confidence you are getting the best design possible.


Pitch Design Drawbacks

However, pitch design is far from perfect. The drawback of having completely different companies create different proposals is that you create a lot of duplication. This can become very time-consuming. You may also find it very difficult to keep track of everything. Without careful management, your dream office project could turn into a disorganised nightmare. 


While the variety of designs can be helpful, it also creates an equal variety of costs. The result is that you have 3 completely different designs with 3 completely different costs. The 3 companies will also have varying levels of competence to deliver on their designs. Needless to say, choosing the best company for your office fit out quickly becomes very difficult.


What is Paid Design?

With paid design, the design and delivery contracts are completely separate. You work with one design and build company to create multiple concept designs. Once you have chosen your concept design, your office fit out company will create a detailed design package. This will include everything from CGIs to drawing packs. They will also create a detailed scope of works, detailing all the work required. Having finalised your package, you can then request several contractors to quote on that package.


Opting for a paid design package does not mean you pay any more for your office design. 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. Unlike pitch design, however, you pay upfront for this design package, completely apart from any works commitment.


Paid Design Benefits

The biggest benefit of paid design is that it makes choosing your works contractor much easier. You have already finalised the design, so you are purely assessing which company is best able to deliver your project. That decision is not only based on cost but on competence to deliver the design. By paying for each package separately, you remove the design/ delivery trade-off that makes the pitch-to-win decision so difficult.


Another benefit of the paid design model is that you get to work much more collaboratively with the designer. 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.


Paid Design Drawbacks

The drawback that prevents most people from using the paid design model is the upfront cost. You are committing to a financial investment 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.


Another drawback of the pitch design model is that you only get to work with one design company. Even if they have multiple designers working on your project, or if one designer develops multiple concepts, you are unlikely to get the variety of styles that you would with completely different companies.


Which is Right for Me?

Now you know how both office design models work and their respective advantages and disadvantages, it’s time to decide which is best for your company. If you are looking for a variety of perspectives on how to improve your office and are confident about managing additional complexity, then pitch design may be the best for you. If you are not sure whether you want to go ahead with the project, then the lack of upfront cost pitch-to-win offers is appealing.


However, paid design is best for most companies, due to the simplicity and collaborative design process. You can do a like-for-like comparison on which contractor provides the best value for delivery. You also remove the design/delivery trade-off that often makes office design & build projects so difficult.


To learn more about the pros and cons of paid office design, read this article. To get ready for your office design & build project, download your Definitive Office Design Guide. It walks you through everything that you need to about office design before you reach out to any office designers. It includes process, cost, and common mistakes. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to decide if you need an office redesign, and if so, where and how to begin. Download your Definitive Guide to Office Design Here.



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