Charging for SU work

Please discuss how you might charge clients? It appears everyone has different criteria.

More Specifically a converting a full set of CAD plans for a house remodel. i.e. 3 floors interior with finished cabinets, all the exterior elevations, a finished kitchen, garage and site plan?
Any input would be appreciated.
Thanks, Billy

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Except for one client, I charge for my services by the hour. If they tell me it’s a small job, I tell them there’s a four hour minimum. It’s never a small job. :wink:


So it’s by the hour and a penalty for early withdrawal. Sounds like another business I’m familiar with but I just can’t put my finger on it.


An hourly rate is probably the most acceptable way to go, but you may want to consider imposing a “maximum upset limit” to provide a level of comfort to your client by ensuring that the cost will not exceed a certain amount.

If you are confident in assessing exactly what tasks are entailed in the work, then you may consider establishing a fixed fee contract that covers your costs to produce the product as well as a specific profit margin.

Be aware that most clients prefer to know the anticipated cost involved in the work they are undertaking.

I mainly use SU for creating models from which I save scenes and turn into illustrations and visualisations.

On the odd occasion a client asks for the .skp model file itself that I produced to create the ‘agreed’ image…

The agreed cost does not include the model file.

Can anyone advise me on what I could charge for the model itself? The model is often rough, with tolerances of accuracy depending on the accuracy of the clients’ plans, and I only model parts which are easier or faster to do so in SU than they would be to produce in the post modelling/image making phase. Sometimes however it can be quite detailed if I think it’s necessary to make a pretty picture.

I already charge for the time taken to create the model, because it’s effectively creating the image’s proportions and viewpoint and shadows etc…

I’m not asking for specific costs, but rather a guide as to a percentage, or something like a method with which I can feel happy with releasing the model. Any pointers would be great.

Thanks in advance

Since my first post, my skill have increased to the point where it is feasible to guesstimate the days in a reasonable amount of time in advance. But first after getting some samples from the client as to what they are looking for, (which is usually for a customer while the client may be an architect or contractor), I’ll send a few samples of my own, demonstrating the difference between rendered and unrendered work. Most people don’t even know what they are looking for in a finished result, mainly that it will help communicate to the client in 3D what to expect in the oncoming construction. I have found that prices don’t always match expectations because this is a relatively new type of business apart from being a full timer that might be working for a firm that has additional resources and files to contribute. Therefore the results don’t always meet the expectations. Like any business one need to manage expectations without making it to complicated.

My background is in illustration and fine art where copyright is likely a bit better understood.
When you sell the actual 3D model, you need to first recognize you own the copyright to the design (if it is your original design).

When you sell the model, the client will have the ability to leverage that content in many ways:

  1. edit it and reuse
  2. publish it (with or without credit to you)
  3. develop a variety of 2D representations based on it (could be taken to a 3rd party for rendering)

All these have value, and depend on how valuable your design work is in the market place.

In the advertising illustration field, selling the total copyright is a percentage of the job it was commissioned for - in the 50% range.(100% or more is common too).

You can also sell partial copyright, although that could be difficult to police.

The client often needs to be educated as to why there is a copyright cost at all and they will likely prefer to keep it a secret as to their plans for your model.

Attached general copyright info (Canada).

A guide to copyright - Canada.pdf (316.9 KB)

If people want the original file, most likely they have plans to use it and expand on it.
Please keep in mind the model is your original art work so the price can be anything that is value to you or you may put a clause in the sale that says it can’t be used without your consent that may be of a cost.

Thanks for the replies…

The model is my creation but it’s not my design… so I am an illustrator also… So my question is about what that model is worth when it’s only purpose has been to help me create the perspective drawing / visualisation of the client’s design…

First, I would consider the original designers copyright - make sure you are not charging for their design and or selling without copyright permission / assignment.

Second, you indicated you have already charged for the hours spent on the model - maybe your client already owns it?
Also, do you need to develop goodwill with the client for potential future work.

Yes @GSTUDIOS that is the unspoken assumption that has been the default agreement… Thanks again.

I do a lot of work hourly. But I also do a lot of work for a stated “per square foot cost” or fixed fee. If the scope of work is clear I prefer the fee.

If someone pays me to create a model they get the model. If they are paying for design and documents or in your case illustrations then those are the deliverables and the model is simply a tool you use which belongs to you.
In any event your deliverables should be specifically outlined in your agreement.

“that is the unspoken assumption that has been the default agreement”

Every lawyer on earth that reads this will bust out laughing. :joy:

I’d say the choice is between an hourly rate and a flat fee. The hourly rate means there is no risk to you, but the client may feel uncomfortable unless you can estimate the likely number of hours. Having to do that creates a notional cap in the client’s mind and you might find it difficult to go beyond it.

Clients really prefer the flat fee because they know exactly where they are and it’s more like a normal shopping experience (in the West, anyway). But then the risk is yours to get the work done within a certain time.

The choice depends on how well you can estimate the time the job will take. If you are pretty sure you can do it in 13 hours but work the fee out at 15 for safety, a flat fee would do.

Then there’s the question of the degree of competition and how much you need the work, but that’s another story.

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I’m just a hobbyist, but I think consumers might usually prefer a fixed cost. For example, imagine a shelf full of products each with a fixed cost. Now imagine the store changes their policy to an hourly rate. So identical items cost different amounts based on the hours put into them. Even though hourly rates are common in design work, I think most consumers would prefer a fixed cost. But what do I know? I’m just a hobbyist. :sweat_smile:

Thanks for your imput. In this case, yes, it’s the tool which I am wondering whether I give a away free. I’m still not sure.

That’s lawyers for you… :stuck_out_tongue: