Why would you pay for a landscape plan and some good ideas when some contractors are doing it for free? That is a great question and one I love to answer. It is important for our clients to know what they are getting before we install their landscaping. Plans are not equal whether they are free or have a cost associated with them. There is no industrywide standard or cost structure for this process, and there probably never will be.
After 34 years in the landscape design/build field, I can tell you, unequivocally, that you’ll have more success and be more satisfied with your final project if you pay for your design than if you don’t. When paying for your design, there are some minimums you should expect. The landscape plans need to look professional, drawn to scale with colorful graphics and proper labeling. If the project is small, it can be on an 8.5-by-11-inch or 11-by-17-inch sheet of paper, but at least on graph paper instead of notebook paper. Designs are often conceptual, and every construction detail is not called out on the plan. It is a good idea to see sample plans from your designer, so you know what to expect.
We charge for design because we value our client’s time and our time. If we chase leads who are trying to get three free designs from three different landscapers, it is time potentially wasted and that time could be used to serve our clients.
What happens when you choose to participate in the “three for free” design/build process instead of working with a company like ours and pay for a design? When homeowners call multiple companies to get a free plan, they’re taking the first step into a time-consuming and often frustrating process that usually does not end well.
Let’s say you call five companies for an initial consultation.You will have to schedule appointments when you and your spouse are available. The appointments can take up to two hours or more. Next, let’s assume you like three of the companies, and you ask each of them to provide a plan and proposal. A few weeks and multiple phone calls later, you finally line up another meeting with all of the companies to review their plans and quotes. You may like the design from one contractor and the price from the other contractor, but neither of them can start the project right away. The third contractor can install your project immediately, but the plan doesn’t meet your expectations. Each contractor goes back to the drawing board to make revisions. Several weeks later, you schedule your third round of meetings with each of them. Although they are closer to what you want, you’re still not satisfied. You can send all of them back to the drawing board, again, hoping that at least one of them comes back with what you want. The other option is to pick one of the contractors now since the clock is ticking and you want to get on somebody’s schedule. For argument’s sake, let’s say that you choose to sign a contract now instead of scheduling the fourth round of meetings. A few months later your landscaping is installed, and unfortunately, you’re unhappy with the results.
Getting three free plans and quotes will occupy a tremendous amount of your time, cause stress and you may not be happy in the end. Considering that the cost of landscape design is only 3-7% of the project cost, it is worth paying for a plan.
So, the reason we charge for our designs is that we want to protect you from the above scenario. We understand what it takes to design and build the perfect landscape for you and your family. We get to know you, your likes and dislikes, and how you use your landscape. We want to develop a perfectly designed landscape just for you. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that you don’t just like your landscape but LOVE it!