As an interior decorator, I ask my clients alot of questions. It comes with the territory. But there's one question that generates the uncomfortable (cue tumble weed) moment more than any others put together. You've guessed it. It contains the B word. Budget.
The "what's the budget?" question, more often than not, creates an uncomfortable fidget or a shuffle. Usually followed with a mumble. It's the question you rarely get a clear answer to. Responses such as "Well you know, middle range" are common. The 'more elusive the better' approach is very popular. But it's not the best approach at all.
It wasn't until a recent conversation with a colleague that I realised how uncomfortable people really get when you ask that fated question. He recently received a very turse response, suggesting he was being impertinent and rude even asking it when pulling together the design brief for an extension.
Why do designers ask about budget? Because it is key to the design brief. I can design a kitchen that costs $15k, equally I can design a kitchen that costs $100k. If I don't ask the question then I run the risk of designing something you are not willing to pay for. A situation that doesn't bode well for all involved.
This situation seems to be caused by a misunderstanding on why we are asking the question. When designers ask 'whats the budget?' we don't want to know how much you earn, what your house is worth, or how large your savings are. We are not making any assumptions whether you are keeping up with the Jones's or what your relationship with money is. We simply want to know how much money you are willing to spend on a particular project or item. This is not necessary how much money you can afford to spend. Some with little spend a lot. Some with a lot spend little. Let me emphasise we mean "HOW MUCH MONEY YOU ARE WILLING TO SPEND". End of.
Regardless of how much money we have, we all have a budget. An amount we are prepared to pay for something. If I was a client I would be more concerned if a designer didn't ask me the B question. So rather than feeling insulted or embarrassed, be pleased and relieved that you're in good hands.