EMPLOYING A LANDSCAPE OR GARDEN DESIGNER?
Employing a garden designer isn’t as straight forward as it may first appear. The level of competence, experience, skills, knowledge and professionalism, varies hugely depending on their qualification and how long they have been practicing. A qualified landscape designer or garden designer should be able to offer an almost identical service to that of an architect.
Employing a garden designer isn’t just about getting a pretty garden plan and some planting suggestion. After this, the designer’s main role should be to get the best possible price for the landscaping job. This is where most fail, due to inadequate training and a lack of confidence.
Two-thirds of what a professional garden designer does, involves producing construction and specification drawings, contracts, planning, building regs and tender documentation. Yet amateurs are unable to offer these services.
We work with our clients throughout the design, estimating and build process to bring a project in on time and budget. If our landscaping team is not building your garden we can still manage the tender and project for you.
Why employing a garden designer for several thousand pounds is better value than an amateur for a couple of hundred?
At first glance, an amateur garden designer seems to be much better value. BUT Here is a real life example…..
We recently went out to competitive tender to 3 landscaping contractors for a project our landscaping team couldn’t fit in to our schedule this summer….
Instead of just sending the contractors the garden plan showing the size and shape etc we produced a detailed tender package detailing the construction method along with a complete design package. We included, all materials, drainage, pipework and electrical layout. In short, a very detailed breakdown of exactly how and what we wanted.
We called several contractors to confirm they were interested in quoting, (including the client’s preferred contractor) and sent out the tenders. Three weeks later we got back the three quotes and were shocked to see the difference in prices.
The cheapest was £55,000 and the most expensive was £98,000 for exactly the same project. AND the client’s preferred contractor was the priciest. With just one small part of the property renovation project, we had saved the client thousands, much more than our total design fee.
Image how vague and inaccurate quotes would be without the right information and a couple of plans/pages (often not to scale)!
Most professional garden designers should be able to provide a full tendering service, planning, and building Regs documentation and in addition, some may offer other specialist skills including:
Preliminary cost estimates
Specialist design elements such as water features, lighting and garden furniture
Photographic visualisation, renders and illustrations
Contour plans, land drainage, and land manipulation
Contract administration and monitoring through to completion
Choosing your Designer
Employing a garden designer will usually mean finding someone within a 25-mile radius (1 hours traveling time). Whilst some designers will work nationally or even internationally, but expect to pay a premium, as travel and the designers time will be factored into the quotation.
The majority of our projects are in the South East of England, we do work nationally and have worked internally, usually off-plan and virtually.
Sometimes clients may be happy with the first designer they speak to. But most clients will interview several designers before making a decision. Expect any good designers to make a charge for this initial visit. If over an hour from their studio, most will charge travel and consultation time, a set fee of between £50 and £250 is not unusual.
Once you have chosen a designer, they will guide you through the many options to achieving what you want. They will agree with you, what service they will provide. The most common service is producing an agreed design. To include all necessary construction drawings/planting plans, finding a contractor, and monitoring the works to completion.
Each designer will advise you on how much they charge and these charges may vary from designer to designer. They will only be able to give you an exact fee when you have agreed on the exact scope of the work.
Fees can be charged in different ways. Examples include an hourly or day rate (£60-£100 per hour). A fixed percentage of the total contract value (A sliding scale of between 18% down to 8% depending on contract cost) or an agreed fixed fee. Some designers follow fee guides provided