Entries in outdoor living (3)


rooms outside the house

 Building structures beyond the walls of your home is a great way to expand and enhance your living space. The possibilities of life outside the home are only limited by the imagination. When you're searching for a designer to work with, look for one who understands that a great space is not defined by the objects or elements within a space, but by the simple quality of the space itself. Any designer can design a space with a long list of landscape elements that will keep you up and running with the Jonses, but a great space requires a seamless integration of landscape, art and architecture and a sensitivity to use landscape elements purposefully.





establishing a budget for your landscape project


After a client has determined their needs and desires for their project, the next step is to discuss a budget or price range with the designer. Some clients have the luxury to work through the design process without establishing a budget, because they want what they want, they have the means to achieve it, and they don’t want a budget to disrupt the design process. But for most of us, establishing a budget is a prudent course of action. Without it, your designer will be guessing how much you are willing to spend, and most likely compromising what the value of your project should have for both your home and lifestyle.

While it is totally understandable that a client may have no idea what a project will cost because they have not done anything like this before, it still makes sense for the client to establish the maximum cost they can afford for the project or at very least a price range they are comfortable with. I have presented numerous designs with proposals for installation of projects, where budget was not revealed, and have heard, “I didn’t think it would cost that much. We only wanted to spend this much.” Unfortunately, as a result of not revealing the budget, more time and money is spent on revisions. Revealing the budget would have opened up a discussion of budget analysis. If your price range is inadequate for achieving your goals, then your designer can work with you to either modify your program, or suggest materials and design strategies that might be used to achieve your goals. In this scenario, many of my clients will install their projects in phases in order to achieve their objectives. This course of action still requires budgeting and planning but it is based on what you will spend for the first phase and over time.

Look at it this way, when you purchased your home or your new car you gave the agents the amount you were able to spend. This obviously allowed them to show you what you could purchase within that range. Without this information they most likely would have wasted your time and their own showing you houses and cars that were either above or below your means. Similarly, with a price range in place for your landscape project, a good designer will be able to evaluate your needs and bring them together in a concise plan.


If you build trust with your designer, and allow them to display their talent, you are on your way to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. The relationship, while supporting the designer, will also provide you with a purposeful plan. If the plan is competently installed, it will at its best, achieve the full potential of your objectives and add meaning and value to your home and lifestyle.




“Good Design Does Not Cost – It Pays.”


Good Design = Lasting Value. When your hard earned dollars are being spent on an installation you want to make sure that the final design provides the foundation for a project that will contribute lasting value to your home and your lifestyle. 

             Most design/build companies, in one way or the other, charge for design. In the landscape industry, I have come across three ways that design build companies will charge for design services.

 1. Establish a design fee with the client. After meeting with the client and evaluating the scope of the project the client is presented the cost of the design or given an approximation of the cost.

 2. Offering free design. This seems too good to be true and frequently is disingenuous. With this arrangement the designers cost is either incorporated into the company’s overall pricing or directly backed into the proposal.

  3.  Rebate the design fee. This is dependent on the condition that the company designing the project will also install the project. When you contract for installation there's a good chance the cost of your design is already incorporated into the proposal. If you decide to not proceed with the installation then you are directly billed for the design. 


            One way or the other the costs of a designer must be covered.  If the design service is truly not covered - how much time will the designer really spend thinking through the design process? Herein lays the central problem with the promotion of free design. The designer, not knowing if he/she will be installing the project, commonly rushes through the design to create something that they can sell you. The resulting design is product driven and not process oriented. And let’s be honest – there is a lot of really poor landscape work being done that contributes little if anything to the value of one’s home or lifestyle.

 There are several reasons for establishing a design fee with a client. It establishes an honest and valued relationship between the designer and the client. It allows a designer to be process oriented – not product driven. The designer is working with you and for you through the process. It provides the means to investigate and understand design problems, rather than chasing after solutions, or simply force fitting old solutions onto new problems. It should reduce design compromises saving you money. And finally, you are most likely investing allot of money in the project. Would you begin a renovation of your home or kitchen or bathroom without a solid plan in place? You're outdoor environment should be no different.