Imaginary scenario question.


The city you live in has raised plenty of money to design the exterior of their public bus transport system.You have been selected to do the exterior concept design work, model the bus in 3d and provide many 3d renders of the bus (not an engineering 3d model but still dimensionally accurate).

Government + many private sector have already committed lot of $s. Your work will be used to further promote the project and sell it to even more investors and be shown at expos for next 2 years. Your design is basically the face of the project. People involved will profit hugely.

If you find yourself in such a situation, what would be the minimum you would charge for such a project?

Not fair asking a question if I don’t answer it myself. So for me, anything less that $20,000 would be underselling myself!
How do you see it?

A new exterior ID, not just a livery? Research, initial concepts, review workshop, refined concepts, initial feasibility assessment, production strategy, design CAD, CAD renders, 3D print ~ 80,000 - $120,000

I was going to say $100k too.

Yeah $120K, minimum. I’d add money because its the government and things will move slowly and require more presentations and reviews and revisions.

good point. That is what I would charge by the way. If I was at a big consulting firm (you know which one) there is no way that would be scoped out at less than $800,000, they would probably start it at $1.5 mil and work down. Got to run, but I’ll add the phase cost break down tomorrow if I have time.

Shit man, that amphibian firm would start off with a nice lunch and then ask “why does it have to be a bus?” and then ask for a mil.

I have heard that government and non-profits are the worst clients. They love to be too involved and the deadlines are never critical, so projects can drag.

Here in Montreal, in my opinion, these projects are essentially subsidies to big design firms. The contracts stipulate that you need a huge staff just to bid, which limits the pool of consultants to 2 or 3. When the products fail, they just hire another firm to try and fix it. Ugh.

Good money though, if you can get it!

Full exterior (minus interior).
Thanks for the replies. Very helpful.

$20k would be nothing in that context and also in my experience, you are looking at a lengthy process full of discussion and iteration. A concept design for a bus already needs to take into account many engineering as well as legal requirements right from the start, you can’t just throw it over the proverbial wall to an engineering department post-hoc. Starting at $75k would be a realistic pricing for a small firm, if you ask me.

any update on this, Nitro?

Hi Yo
Yes I got the project. My initial post did not have 100% accurate information about the project to protect my and client’s identity but the information you guys provided was extremelly helpful and I could translate/scale it directly to my project.

I am a one man outfit and the project is lot smaller than my initial “imaginary scenario” post, so some of the figures that were mentioned were too high for my real life context. I am satisfied with the money I got from the client for the work that I have to do.

So my advice on how much to charge if you are a one man outfit-

I would take it for 30-50k
Kind of satisfactory amount- $50k
Fair Amount- $70-85k
Good Amount- $85-100k
Excellent- Above $100k

Syd Mead was also a one man outfit don’t forget! Glad you got the project though. Have fun with it!

Probably $100k - $120k.