Architect on a Budget: Our Best Money-Saving Tips


We’ve all heard the saying: to make money or save money with philip thomas interior design. What we often don’t hear is that it’s possible to do both! Between drafting and designing, there are plenty of ways to cut down those costs and work on a budget.

Check out our tips for cutting back on professional fees and finding free (or near free) software for your architecture firm below!

1. Print and frame your receipts. 

You can use this valuable space to post your budget, estimations, and all other relevant information. The framed receipts will be an attractive addition to your office or home no matter what shape it’s in.

2. Don’t sign up for that irritating monthly software service. 

Instead, consider ways to use free software or do without a third party package altogether.

Free Software: How much is your time worth?

For small firms, a premium publication might suffice (and look nicer). But for the rest of us? It’s a good idea to investigate using some form of online access as much as possible (i.e., you won’t be disappointed!).

3. Invest in used furniture.

Whether it’s an old filing cabinet or an antique desk, used furniture will help your business look more professional and add character to your office. This is a great option for firms that want to get started quickly and are willing to save money and shop around. Whether you are starting up or growing, look into buying used furniture for your office. You can find some incredible pieces out there, and it’s always fun to show off a good piece of workmanship to clients visiting your space. Just make sure it is still in good condition!

4. Get creative with your drafting fee structure.

Instead of charging by the hour, which is expensive for clients and time-consuming for you (after all, who is timing those hours anyways?), charge by the project . A small flat fee guarantees that both parties know what they’re getting into from the outset and can be more deliberate about their options while saving fees along the way.

5. Use your office space as a means to attract clients.

Instead of spending money on a fancy presentation, do it yourself in your space! Make sure your confidence and professionalism shine through the details: clean, organized, and comfortable. Even if you don’t get clients right away, the right one will come through eventually. If you don’t have a space of your own, use shared spaces that allow for a professional look, such as membership in local co-working spaces or incubators.

6. Look into water-soluble marking pens for drawing on fabric (such as paper and fabric).

You can use these for quick lines on fabric or paper drawings to avoid ink stains, erasing mistakes and reworking sketch lines on your computer later. Waterproof markers could be fun, too! Bonus: you can use them on your jeans!

7. Use a clipboard!

Simple, versatile and useful. A clipboard can be used for storing paper, keeping receipts on hand or even holding a cup of coffee while you’re working. One of the most expensive pieces of equipment you’ll buy, a clipboard can cost up to $50-$60. Instead, invest in some inexpensive clipboards (anywhere from $15 to $30) and you’ll be amazed at the savings they bring.

8. Use what’s already on hand.

If there are multiple colors or textures on your computer desktop, don’t waste time and money by purchasing a different color of paper or toner block. Instead, just buy another sheet of paper and keep it for future use. This small cost will save you money later on when you try to replace the original paper that could have been reused but was thrown away out of laziness.

9. Negotiate hourly rates.

Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor how much they charge. This will at least give you a general idea of what to expect. Instead, request a flat fee and negotiate with your clients on what the cost might be.  You’ll be surprised at how many times you can get them to agree. When they do, offer a discount for future jobs or past work as a way to thank them for their business.

10. Use photography for inspiration and mock-ups for client presentations .

If you’re looking for new ways to promote your business, look into getting some photos of your office space. Photoshop professionals will create a mock-up of the space for you to share on social media that looks as good as the real thing. Photography is one of the best ways to get inspiration from works of art around you, especially if you are working on a similar concept or style-appropriate job.


While these tips might be a little on the boring side, many are absolutely practical and save you both time and money along the way. What other ways have you discovered to save on your architecture fees? 

Chances are, if you’re working on a design for someone else (rather than for yourself), there is no budget. That doesn’t mean that you can’t-or shouldn’t-work on one.

In fact, budgets are a great tool not only for keeping track of your costs and profits, but also as a tool for communicating with your clients.


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