Are you embarking on a design and construction project and feeling overwhelmed by the process? After seeing so many people struggle with understanding the design and construction process, I prepared this guide to help. Unlocking the Design and Construction Process: Your Essential Guide to Hiring a Landscape Architect The first and most important step is to find and hire your landscape architect.
You may be wondering: how do I find the right person for my project? Do I really need to hire a landscape architect? How much are their fees? What about contractors? And most importantly: what is the key, critical steps I need to take to ensure that I hire the right landscape architect, that is the perfect match for my project?
Drawing from my firsthand experiences, I will provide you with invaluable insights and actionable tips to streamline your search for the perfect professional for you. Take control of your project’s success by securing the expertise of a trusted landscape architect.
We genuinely hope that this guide proves to be a valuable resource for you, if you wish to give us feedback or ask further questions, I would be happy to hear from you!
Nothing is more exciting than creating a new building whether it’s your home or a commercial project and nothing will affect the success of your project more than the right landscape architect. Use the following 7 steps to help analyse the personality, design strategy and communication skills of your candidates. Your goal is to find the right landscape architect for your project, for your budget and for you.
Finding a Landscape Architect:
Word of mouth is a reliable way to find a landscape architect. Seek referrals from family, friends, colleagues, and even approach homeowners whose properties you admire. Additionally, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and trade-related personnel can provide valuable recommendations. Take the time to explore candidates’ websites, read their reviews by previous clients, and assess their design style. Schedule consultations to meet them in person and determine if there’s a good fit.
Understanding the Landscape Architect’s Approach
Engage in a discussion with potential landscape architects to understand how they will approach your project. Share the most important aspects of your project and inquire about their integration into the design process. For renovation projects, inquire about blending the new design seamlessly with the existing outdoor environment. Ensure that the architect’s design process aligns with your vision and requirements.
Signature Style: Who’s got it and do you want it?
Matching Your Preferences: Landscape architects often have a signature design style. While most can adapt to your preferences, consider whether their style aligns with the look you desire. Collect examples of the desired aesthetic from Pinterest, Instagram, magazines and the internet. Discuss the importance of environmentally friendly and sustainable designs with the architect from the beginning.
Meeting the Project Landscape Architect
Ensure that the landscape architect you meet during consultations will be the project leader. Building a strong rapport and effective communication with the project leader is vital for the project’s success. Share a clear understanding of the project requirements and ensure you feel comfortable working together
Signing a contract with a landscape architect representing a firm does not necessarily mean that person will be your project leader. Actually, outside of sole practice landscape architect owned operations, this is common procedure. Be sure to meet the project architect before making any final decisions. Being able to communicate freely and openly with your project leader is vital to the success of your project. You should share a clear understanding of the project and feel completely comfortable.
The full-service landscape architectural firm
Conceptual renderings and blueprints are not the only services landscape architectural and planning firms provide. Ask about other services your candidate’s firm offers. Ask about benefits of specific services to you and their corresponding costs. Ask your landscape architect if there are any additional services offered and how they could be useful to you for your particular project. If a firm doesn’t offer a requested service, they should be able to refer a firm that does.
Below is a glimpse into some additional services a typical landscape architectural firm provides:
- Project Feasibility Studies ‘’Needs and Options Review’’
- Onsite Consultations for problem solving
- Master Planning
- Residential and commercial landscape design
- Traditional and Computer Renderings
- 3 Dimensional perspectives
- Comprehensive Construction Documents
- Probable costs ‘estimates’
- Furniture, Furnishings & Equipment Specifications
- Construction Administration
Typically, a landscape architect’s fee is calculated as a percentage of the project’s entire cost. However, many firms charge a fixed fee. It’s for you to decide which one to choose. Depending on the services provided by the landscape architect, the rate could range from 5 to 20 percent. However, when you first start the design process for your project, it is difficult, if not impossible to accurately determine the final project cost.
During this initial time period (before a good estimate of the final project cost is possible) the landscape architect may charge an hourly fee or a retainer. The retainer or hourly fee will be credited towards the total fee once it has been determined. Billing monthly is the industry standard. Also, ask when payment is expected and the preferred method of payment, i.e. cheque, credit card, etc. Keep in mind that the landscape architect’s fee applies to all the costs of your project. Examples of project costs are the construction budget as well as consultant fees such as environmental impact studies or structural engineering fees.
The most important thing about fees is complete transparency. Insist upon it!
Collaborating with a Contractor
An experienced landscape architect should have a list of contractors they like to work with. Your landscape architect should be able to help you choose the best contractor for your project. You may want to get multiple bids on the construction of your project – even if you already have a contractor.
However, some landscape architects have their own team of contractors that they work with all the time. This may be another option as these people come with excellent references, and you may want the ‘’whole experience’’ to be orchestrated by the lead landscape architect. You can possibly save huge amounts of money if the landscape architect has construction experience as you may not need construction drawings to complete the project. Talking and researching your preferred landscape architect is the best way to start this process.
These tips are meant as a guide to choosing the best landscape architect for your project. You will be working very closely with your architect on what may be one of the biggest investments of your life. Not only are a landscape architect’s answers to your questions important, but how they are answered speaks volumes, too. Did they take time for details to clear up any confusion? Did you feel comfortable with them? Did they conduct business in a transparent manner? The creation process is exciting but can get intimidating at times, however choosing the right team can make it an enjoyable process. That team always starts with choosing the right landscape architect and we hope these tips will help you with that for your next project.
The Next Step
You now have the information you need to help you assess the best fit you and your project. Helping you feel confident that you are hiring the perfect landscape architect for you and your project.
Unfortunately, I can’t include every important piece of information about this most important step in the design and construction process successfully in this guide.
Actually, that would be impossible because each project is unique, and the requirements differ based on a multitude of factors. But with the 7 steps explained in this guide, you have the critical information to help you hire the landscape architect that will ensure that your project is a success.
If you are in the process of looking for a landscape architect for your project, let’s talk. Why not, schedule a free 20 minute no obligation phone consultation with Angela Maroney to discuss your project. I offer a custom need and options review where I will identify the specific requirements pertaining to your project and your available options.
Typically, the need and options review save my clients thousands of dollars and weeks of lost time, not to mention the stress and headache of getting something wrong.
To read more about the need and options review as well as the price for this service and why it is critically important to your project’s success visit my website, Urban & Rural Design. If you are ready to talk now, please give me a call.
If you are in Sydney and want an obligation free 20 minute chat about your next project please get in touch via my details below.
We have experienced Landscape Architects, Horticulturists and Consulting Arborists ready to assist you with Landscape design and Landscape construction of your urban or rural landscape, travelling to the country and metropolitan areas in NSW, Victoria and Southern Queensland.
Best wishes for the success of your project!