It's totally legitimate for a professional to charge you for a design, at least in some situations. If the contractor has a book of ready-made designs and just pulled one out to show you, then you're right that s/he shouldn't charge you. But if someone does a design that conforms to your room's dimensions, with the features that you want, then that person has invested time in creating a work product. Some contractors and architects think that's just the cost of doing business, but many others consider that their time is worth something, and they charge for it. You just need to let contractors know that you're not looking for that kind of custom work, and not willing to pay for it.
Everyone wants to save money, but when you start by questioning material costs or markups it can indicate that you may be under budgeting for the project, or will question every choice the contractor makes in the hopes of saving $100. Time is money and when you have a customer who may cause interruptions because they want to buy something themselves to avoid "markup" it can cause major delays. Many times a customer ends up getting the wrong material anyway. This again slows down a contractor that may already be too busy.
I just renovated a 6X12 bathroom. Old cast iron tub removed. Removed and saved existing vanity and vanity top. Removed the toilet and replaced the existing rotten flooring and added on to the existing partially rotten floor joist. Removed the drywall and tile from around the old tub. After the new flooring was in I had to modify the existing plumbing to accommodate the new tub and shower surround. The hot and cold water lines had to be raised to fit the surround because the new tub is taller and the drains had to be installed and moved to fit the new tub. Drywall was finished and painted. New faucets,New tub,Tub Surround, and flooring materials were purchased by the home owner. Labor cost was 4,584.00
It's so competitive out there. I am a Long Island contractor and I be realized lately that clients give you an impression when you give them there costs that you are doing something wrong. I've been in this Busines about 20 years and that avg cost is right there. Also homeowners should also realize if us contractors are using subs for our plumbing and electrical our costs are hire than the guy doing all the work himself. I only used licensed contractors for all my remodeling work.
The more luxurious the materials for a bathroom remodeling project, the higher your budget will be. Using marble for your counters, custom cabinetry or handpainted ceramic tiles for your new shower walls in the master bathroom will look terrific. But it will also raise your material costs considerably more than installing a laminate countertop and low-end or mid-range tiles.