Your project has a budget. Maybe it's a tight budget. (Let's face it, it is always a tight budget.) You can't afford a lighting designer, right? Not so fast...
There seems to be a perception that a lighting designer is a project luxury. Why?
Every project has a budget. Even though you may have to bite a bullet to pay a design fee up front, you should think of that fee as part of the overall lighting budget. Whatever total dollar amount you have in the bucket to pay for lighting - tell your lighting designer. They can design to that budget, including their fee! With this model, you have the added transparency of knowing exactly what part of your money went to design costs and what part went to product costs. Design costs aren't hidden in the cost of light fixtures sold to you.
Remember, no one is designing lighting for free. They may offer "free" design, but the cost of their service is wrapped up in the cost of the products they are selling.
A lighting designer will be there from start to finish of project, solving any problems that arise along the way, keeping costs in control by knowing product prices and preventing unnecessary overages, keeping change orders in check by being your advocate during construction. Lighting designers are worth their fees in gold. They know which products perform best and at what cost. They design more efficient solutions that save you money - initially or over the life cycle of the product. They inform you of rebates and tax deductions you can use to help pay for your project. Remember, no one is designing lighting for free. They may offer "free" design, but the cost of their service is wrapped up in the cost of the products they are selling. The only product an independent lighting designer is selling is the best solution for your project. Don't you want someone with your best interest in mind?
Lisa J. Reed, lighting designer and Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC