Unfortunately, there are many necessary evils in this world, and it seems like there are even more when you are trying to run your own interior design business! One of the biggest necessary evils? covering your butt. You'll want to cover your (cute) butt with a letter of agreement (LOA) or contract.
A letter of agreement or contract should describe your services, payment terms and will serve to resolve any disputes or liability issues. Here are a few tips for writing your own contract for your interior design business:
1) Keep it simple
If you're a smaller interior design firm, there is no need to use any "hereto, forthwith's" in your contract/letter of agreement. Keep it short and simple, with easy to understand language and make it as clear as possible using numbering and headings.
2) Scope of work
Define what services and/or products you will be providing, with estimated due dates. Be clear and detailed to avoid any disputes. Include the rooms/spaces you are being paid to work on. Defining the scope in detail also allows you to provide added value services when the inevitable project scope creep occurs.
3) Price and Payment terms
Include the amount and when payment is due. Consider adding interest or penalties for late payments. Also consider splitting the payments into sections (like a payment schedule) on large projects so you don't get stuck for months without a paycheck (eg. 50% due upon completion of _________).
4) Agree on a way to resolve disputes
If you are clear in the body of your contract, you shouldn't have any trouble with disputes. But, to cover your butt just a little more, try to think ahead to any possible disputes and solutions for them.
Don't forget to review your contract with your client and have them sign it! A contract is worthless without a signature. You can prepare your contract/letter of agreement and then upload it to your online interior design studio and have your clients digitally sign off with a date/time stamp or you can use a printed copy. The Mydoma Studio platform allows you to upload multiple contract templates for different types of projects (e.g. consultation contract, kitchen contract, etc.). By uploading contracts you and your clients can easily reference your terms!
When writing this post I couldn't find any "pretty" examples of interior design contract or letter of agreement documents, so I referenced a few examples and made you one. Keep in mind it's only a template, please use at your own risk!
This is only one example of a contract and depending on your business you may need additional sections such as warranty, intellectual property and communication. Rather than beating this thing to death, I suggest you use our contract as a template and continue learning about the exciting process of writing interior design contracts and letters of agreement by visiting The Interior Designers of Canada and American Society of Interior Designers because both have excellent resources.
P.S. Did you know you can use Mydoma Studio to have contracts digitally signed by your clients with date and time stamp? If you're not already doing so, sign up below!