I like to start with a conversation about what my customer is looking for including the best estimates of dimensions and details that are known at that time. I reflect on what I have heard and sketch out ideas and send back some drawings for customer review. Usually this generates a whole lot more questions and discussion! Once we have covered everything I will confirm all the information I need to produce a specification, final drawings (if needed), an initial costing estimate and an estimate of total production time. I always follow up with a final price that I will not exceed unless the requirement changes.
Once we have agreed the design I will order timber. I will normally ask for an upfront payment of 40% of the quoted price. During the construction I supply a regular update with pictures so that everyone knows what progress has been made. It is also common to make small tweaks in design as the "real thing" starts to take shape. If these tweaks are sufficient to alter costing then that too can be agreed as progress continues.
For example ...
My customer needed to accommodate at least six people at the breakfast table whilst not overcrowding her kitchen. I started by drawing up the floor plan of her kitchen and we discussed the optimum size of table - with the help of full size mdf "mockups" of the table top. As a result we settled on a circular table (dia 52"). European Oak was chosen for the table with a finish of polyurethene varnish.
I was very keen that the customer understood my design for the table legs hence the addition of a rough scale model to the design process. It isn't always necessary.
Please click on the forward/back arrows to see the table emerge into reality