Should I Charge Clients for Delaying Projects?

Should I Charge Clients for Delaying Projects? 


As an interior designer, handling project delays, rescheduling, or client no-shows can be challenging. Such disruptions not only impact the specific project but can also affect your business operationally and financially. Based on an engaging discussion on our Instagram community, this post delves into whether charging clients for these interruptions is a viable strategy.

Member Query: Managing Delays and Client Expectations

A common dilemma for interior designers is whether to impose fees on clients for delaying projects, rescheduling, or failing to show up. These disruptions can cause significant operational hiccups and financial losses due to the additional time needed to manage these changes.

Insights from the Design Community

In response to frequent project delays, Nina implemented a “pause clause” in her contracts. She explained that disruptions typically require at least 20 hours to address, equating to a substantial cost when calculated with her hourly rate. This clause helps clients understand the consequences of their actions, not only on the timeline but also on the project’s budget and resource allocation.

Vanessa highlighted another critical aspect: opportunity cost. Delays mean rejecting other potential projects to maintain commitment to the current one. By charging for these delays, designers can mitigate the financial impact of lost opportunities.

Estela suggests specifying a remobilization fee in the contract. This approach is akin to practices in the construction industry, where such fees are common to deter delays and ensure that clients understand the financial implications of their decisions.

Implementing Delay Charges: Practical Advice

1. Transparent Contract Terms

Ensure your contracts clearly outline any fees associated with delays or rescheduling. Transparency from the start helps set the right expectations with your clients.

2. Documenting Interactions

Maintain thorough records of all communications and project timelines. This documentation is crucial if you need to justify additional charges.

3. Reasonable and Justifiable Fees

Fees should be commensurate with the costs incurred due to delays. Whether it’s a flat fee for rescheduling or a percentage of the hourly rate for the extra time spent, make sure these are justified in your contract.

4. Client Communication

Educate your clients about how delays affect the project. A well-informed client is more likely to understand the need for these fees.

5. Flexible and Fair Policies

Consider exceptions for genuine cases where delays are unavoidable. Balancing strict policies with empathy can help maintain positive client relationships.


Charging for delays can be a practical approach to ensuring that your time and the integrity of your project timelines are respected. It’s about finding a balance that protects your business while maintaining fairness and transparency with your clients. We encourage our community to share their experiences and tips on managing client-induced delays. How do you handle these challenges in your design practice?

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