Help! Am I Paying Too Much for a KD?
I really need help figuring out what to do next on our kitchen (and deck) renovation and whether to hire an interior designer at a high price (she wants $8,500 as a fixed price or $150/hour as an hourly rate (which means she expects around 55 hours for this job, including up to 4 site visits during construction, but that's misleading because her business partner charges the same thing and they would visit us together, so she thinks fixed price is a better value for us), and I'm in NYC but still, I've got sticker shock (understatement)). This is for a NYC brownstone job In a small kitchen (about 7’x12’ for the kitchen part, and 7’x15’ for the dining room part ��" it’s one big open space and there will be an island, and possibly a column or two supporting the header between the rooms) in a 100 year old brownstone and it's going to be a squeeze. As for budget for the deck/kitchen, I hope it costs well under $100,000 total including hopefully under $50,000 for the kitchen part (including under $30,00 for cabinets, countertop, backsplash and appliances plus contractor labor). So this designer essentially wants around 15% of kitchen construction, I think. I'd hired an architect on an hourly basis to design the kitchen/deck and he did a basic layout (I love the deck he designed), we got permit approval, used his bid package to get bids (which excluded the kitchen cabinets, appliances, countertops, backsplash, since those were not determined yet), I've got a front runner contractor. But we have paid our architect $12,000-plus already and the kitchen hasn't even been designed, and the architect will definitely have construction administration during the work. Our architect sources Conestoga cabinets at a 12% discount (not assembled, so we have to pay the contractor to assemble them, like IKEA) and I think his firm’s kitchen design fee would be less than the ID's, but I don’t have a sense of what the design would be like or what it would cost (and I’ve asked him). The interior designer candidate also would design Conestoga cabinets, then a cabinet-maker could assemble and install them. What appeals about Conestoga is that it’s real wood and fairly customizable, and also that these designers know how to order this brand.
I don't think $150/hour is unreasonable for a KD, but what I don't like is paying so much for professional help - and it feels like I'm paying twice in some ways! I should mention that I’ve been to IKEA, I’ve looked at Home Depot and Lowe’s (but not met with a KD there), I’ve gotten a quote from a good and mid-range kitchen design place that would supply us with Medallion cabinets (I liked that designer, it’s still an option), I’ve gotten a design I disliked from another kitchen store, I’m waiting for a design from a third and would be happy to order from them (subject to their design), and I met with a 4th kitchen design store and think their designer would be good (I’d order Kemper through them, which I liked a lot). But this interior designer was more holistic than anyone else. so I'm really leaning toward paying a higher (too high!) design fee for design of Conestoga cabinets for someone to assemble, so at least the cabinet price is not too pricey and it's basically custom, but instead of custom price for the cabinets, less than half the price is cabinet and the other half is design time. Is this crazy? It feels crazy but I just want to get to the next step of our renovation and keep coming up with dead ends. Thoughts?