How much money do you intend to spend on your building project?
This is one of the first questions I ask in my initial consultation with clients. The reason for asking this question is to ensure that the design is buildable within budget. It would be a total waste of time and money to have a design fully documented only to find out that you can’t afford to build it. You would then need to have the design re-done at extra cost and extra time.
In the past I have found that some clients are a bit guarded and reluctant to let me know what their budget is. It might seem a bit personal to ask someone how much money they have, but it is important from the designer’s perspective to be aware of the budget in order to steer the project in the right direction. Just to reassure any prospective clients, my fees ARE NOT based on a percentage of the build cost. My fees are based on how many hours it takes to do the job. I provide a fee estimate after the initial consultation once I am aware of the scope of works, (refer to my step-by-step procedure).
So, in summary, at the start of the project, have a budget figure in mind and let the designer know what it is. If you have no idea about build cost, ask the designer for some guidance. A frank discussion about build cost at the start of the process will avoid ugly problems later.