top of page

Estimating the Cost of a Home Organization Project

One of the topics that comes up all the time with professional organizers, especially those starting out is, “How do I accurately estimate a job for a client.” There is truly nothing worse than having a client come back and say that the project was more than they were hoping to spend or that they are unhappy with the final invoice. It only has to happen once for one to quickly implement changes to ensure that never happens again. Here are some of our greatest lessons learned and top tips we employ when estimating jobs so that clear expectations for cost are clearly communicated with clients from start to finish.

Be transparent as you can about cost. 

You don’t want clients to feel like they are being nickel and dimed, but it is important to be upfront about costs. Don’t budge on your rates. We are experts and as we own our value (in a kind way) we uplevel the entire industry. Say things like… 

  • “I know this is an investment.” 

  • “Would you like to start with a smaller space first? Sometimes it is helpful to start with a smaller scale project and once you experience the transformation and how life changing it is, we are confident you will have us back for more projects.” 

  • “How much are you wanting to invest in this project.”


How do you estimate a home organization project?

My primary way of estimating projects has always been to identify the number of organizers I think it will take to complete a space in one work day. This takes a little bit of practice and knowing your team, but being able to look at a space and think, that is a ‘3 person job’ will become easier over time. Labor costs are the first step to estimating a project.

In my professional home organizing business, we have simplified invoice line items to:

Labor Costs

Product Costs

Project Management and Design Fee

Having these three line items simplifies things for the client, but it doesn’t mean we are not tracking all time spent on the job and charging the client accordingly. Our labor costs include all the time the organizers spend organizing in the home, AS WELL as any time loading and unloading product into our van and taking donations to a donation center. This load/unload/donate rate is billed to the client at a lesser rate, but we are still able to recoup the cost of paying our organizers for their time spent doing these tasks.

Our product costs are pretty straightforward. We charge the client the retail amount of the product and an additional 11% to cover any shipping costs and taxes.

Our Project Management and Design Fee is determined by the size of the project and covers all costs associated with designing, planning, walking through the space, shopping, receiving product, prepping and pulling product for the job, and possible returns.

I used to have a chart that would help me quickly be able to give a labor estimate, but Ashley, our CFO, designed an estimator tool that has been a game changer for me. While I am on a call with a client I can look at the space virtually and type in a few numbers and the estimator tool will pop out an estimate. It is incredible. I type in the number of organizers, number of days the project will be, number of hours I think it will take each day, and a rough product estimate (or a percentage of labor costs). If I have no idea on product costs, I will put 40% as my percentage of product costs in comparison to labor costs and the majority of the time that is spot on. I also input a few other details and the program spits out a proposal complete with an appropriate Project Management and Design Fee. 

We can talk about accurately planning products for jobs another day because that is a very involved process that has taken years to dial in ;). I did want to note that if, after planning the product for the job, we see that the product order is significantly different than what was quoted in the proposal, we will communicate with the client. We plan ahead and try to be strategic about the product we bring in and use while also coming prepared and ready for the unexpected.

However, being able to give clients a very direct and clear number early on makes it so much easier throughout the entire project process.

Do you sweat when you go to send a large invoice?

Don’t! I was very uncomfortable with large invoices for a long time, but when you have accurate estimates and proposals, your clients know exactly what to anticipate and you are WORTH IT. If your client wants to break up the project (like a whole home organization project) into smaller chunks, that is great, but if you have estimated a large sum and your client has signed a contract and payed a deposit, my advice is OWN IT. And celebrate a little once that invoice gets paid!

What do you do when you estimate a job and it goes over budget?

We have had this happen to us through the years and nothing feels worse for the client AND you than feeling like expectations were not clearly set and/or met. Why does this happen? In our experience this has happened in the following instances:

  • Client changes scope last minute

  • Lead organizer is eager to please and is caught between wanting to please the client when they ask to do “a few more things” and what the set budget is. 

  • Lead organizer not totally aware of budget/estimate because the initial conversations were with someone else.

  • There is unanticipated micro-organizing that take a lot of time (sheet music, files, small crafts, tangled string and jewelry)

  • The client brings items in from other spaces that were not mentioned in the consult

  • The client does a HUGE shopping trip before the project

Our number one priority is always the client. I believe that good communication can easily resolve any misunderstanding. If you are on the job and you see the project going over the estimated time/budget, COMMUNICATE. Explain kindly that there is more to organize than anticipated. Own that you underestimated. Explain that the scope has changed. Whatever it may be, talk to the client as clearly as you can without placing blame on them. Come up with a plan of action. Ask the client if they want to swap out products for less expensive options, if they want to help with some of the micro-organizing, if they want an updated proposal, etc.

If you realize the job has gone over budget AFTER the project, the advice is mostly the same. Communicate with the client before an invoice shows up in their inbox that is radically different from their proposed amount. Sometimes we will give a discount or a discount on their next project with us. 

Schedule time with yourself or your team when this happens to identify what can be improved so these experiences are not repeated. Create processes that prevent the same thing from happening. 

We hope you have found this information helpful. We love sharing the lessons we have learned (oftentimes the hard way ;) ) so other organizers can find success in running their businesses.

If you are interested in learning more about our Estimator Tool and working with Ashley to have it customized to fit your business model, you can find out more here.


Jen Martin

From a young age, Jen Martin, always loved organizing. As she grew older and had a family of her own, her love and value of an organized home just continued to grow. With four kids of her own, she knows how important organizational systems are to the foundation and well-being of a family's day-to-day life.​ Jen started Reset Your Nest in 2020 to bring her organizational skills to the rest of Utah. Her team of trained organizers has carefully and lovingly transformed the homes of over 500 homes. Jen has been featured on numerous television shows, podcasts, blogs, and books including Organized Living by Shira Gill, KSL Studio 5, AG Clever, and more.


bottom of page