The budget dilemma
Perth 15th September 2010
I want to talk a bit more about budgets as it is a recurring major issue in practically all our projects. Clients always want to spent less and get more, who doesn’t? My specific issue today is that we tend to always design in a “grand” way as we generally don’t get to know the clients budget until we actually come up with the costs of the design. Most of them don’t really have one and when it comes to the stage of financial decisions they look at the bottom line and not necessarily at the value for money aspect. From my experience this is mostly the result of ignorance by quantity surveyors and electrical engineers who have no clue how to cost lighting.
Today again I was confronted with a project in which the budget came out way over the figure that we had anticipated as a realistic amount the client would accept. So it is back to the drawing board to see how we can manage the costs. I want to state that managing the costs does not mean sacrificing the quality, but more at resizing and redesigning the lighting effects. It is often a fine line to balance. Quality in my opinion can be divided in class A, B and C, where A is the luxury top quality brand, B is the basic durable quality brand and C is the dodgy (not acceptable) type of quality brand. So one of our options is “downsizing” where we may have to decide to switch some light fittings from type A to B or from a Rolls Royce to a Toyota to use a metaphor. This can be done in relation to the importance of areas. Though we would love to have a Rolls Royce we may not need it everywhere…
Then there is a good relook at the lighting effects. Do we have the right balance of light, have we overdone it? Lighting design is as much about what to light as about what NOT to light. Containing our urge to put lights everywhere is generally our biggest challenge! I had a big hard look again at some of the big ticket cost items and decided that there were some alternative and more cost effective ways. Sometimes you need to go all the way before going back to find the best solution!