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Greg_B
08-30-2007, 12:26 AM
I've read through the past years worth of threads and while I think I could install the lights, I would not have a professionally designed system. I had my landscaper recommended local professional quote and was somewhat put off by his demeanor (he sounded like the Al Gore of LV lighting - he invented the way its currently done :confused: ).

Plus his quote of $5200 was shocking for 13 lights - he uses Aurora Lights and guarantees the system for life, bulbs have a 1 year warranty and he will come at the end of the year and replace all bulbs giving me another year warranty. I already had conduit run under the pool decking while all the trenches were open for pool plumbing so there was very little digging involved, primarily to access a couple pipes for a hub system as opposed to as currently run for a daisy chain.

My son's Scoutmaster is an electrician and could do the install if I desired and I have run my plan (12 lights - (1) 50w on a 35' Royal Palm and (11) 35w on a mix of foxtail and coconut palms. I was going to use two hubs - one on each side of the pool and calculated voltage drop using the Cast calculator. Pool area also has 6 propane tiki torches which would be lit for parties and family evenings by the pool but not as often as flicking a switch for the lv lighting.

My plan only encompassed the pool area but we are also going to have the front yard relandscaped so it makes sense to all for system expansion.

http://www.aimooimage.com/Greg_B/img200.jpg

http://www.aimooimage.com/Greg_B/img198.jpg

I'm not adverse to reducing the number of lights to start with but prior to researching, I was expecting something in the neighborhood of $2500 - $3000.

Thanks to all for any recommendations you can provide.
Best regards,
Greg

David Gretzmier
08-30-2007, 12:42 AM
greg- what your talking about seems about right, I'd love to do your install for around the total you are talking. you could do that job with a 600 watt transformer, but knowing you are thinking future upgrades, a 900 or 1200 would be better. if the customer specified that I'd be a little over 3 grand, maybe 3200 or so, but still, limited digging, pull wires in conduit, this seems like a good job. but I have not looked at it in person, so just my guess and opinion.

JackTorsed
08-30-2007, 12:53 AM
I've read through the past years worth of threads and while I think I could install the lights, I would not have a professionally designed system. I had my landscaper recommended local professional quote and was somewhat put off by his demeanor (he sounded like the Al Gore of LV lighting - he invented the way its currently done :confused: ).

Plus his quote of $5200 was shocking for 13 lights - he uses Aurora Lights and guarantees the system for life, bulbs have a 1 year warranty and he will come at the end of the year and replace all bulbs giving me another year warranty. I already had conduit run under the pool decking while all the trenches were open for pool plumbing so there was very little digging involved, primarily to access a couple pipes for a hub system as opposed to as currently run for a daisy chain.

My son's Scoutmaster is an electrician and could do the install if I desired and I have run my plan (12 lights - (1) 50w on a 35' Royal Palm and (11) 35w on a mix of foxtail and coconut palms. I was going to use two hubs - one on each side of the pool and calculated voltage drop using the Cast calculator. Pool area also has 6 propane tiki torches which would be lit for parties and family evenings by the pool but not as often as flicking a switch for the lv lighting.

My plan only encompassed the pool area but we are also going to have the front yard relandscaped so it makes sense to all for system expansion.

http://www.aimooimage.com/Greg_B/img200.jpg

http://www.aimooimage.com/Greg_B/img198.jpg

I'm not adverse to reducing the number of lights to start with but prior to researching, I was expecting something in the neighborhood of $2500 - $3000.

Thanks to all for any recommendations you can provide.
Best regards,
Greg


Alot of money was obviously invested in this backyard. Why are you being pound wise and penny foolish when it comes to lighting it?

ar-t
08-30-2007, 01:26 AM
I have never used a 50W bulb for anything. I would suggest using a number of fixtures, spaced out evenly, to more fully light it. The total wattage would be about the same (as a single 50W), but I think that you might be happier with the results.

Granted 35' is a way up there, but you are not going to be lighting the very top of the tree. (OK.......maybe close to the top! Those things don't grow here. My experience stops at windmill palms.) In any case, 50W right on the trunk will most likely wash it out.

As for 35W bulbs........I can probably count on one hand all of the times I needed that much light from one fixture. Yep.......probably not far off from 35 ft.

(They make photometry charts for this stuff.......you might be surprised that you won't need as much as you think you do.)

Price........around here.........maybe $4k. That figure may not be that far off for your part of the country.

Greg_B
08-30-2007, 07:48 AM
Alot of money was obviously invested in this backyard. Why are you being pound wise and penny foolish when it comes to lighting it?

Jack
I'm carefully researching my options so that when I get other quotes I can be informed. At $400 per fixture, I thought the price was high so I decided to learn all I could before having anyone else quote. I still might go with the same company, however, when someone else quotes I will get a detailed spec sheet so I know the differences if they are using a Ryco transformer vs FX vs some of the other high quality units.

Lighting is obviously one of the last things to go in and was not really budgeted for at the onset of the project, so I am getting myself up to speed on what will be the most efficient use of my remaining pool budget. I got 3 quotes on the pool and went with the company I felt was most capable of doing the job (the middle quote which was $7000 more than the low).

The quote I received felt like the guy with the high pool bid, "I'm the best, I pretty much invented the way low voltage lighting is done today." So I was a bit put off by this perceived arrogance. The rest of the backyard was carefully planned so I see no reason not to take the time and see what other alternatives are available. I don't think that is poundwise and penny foolish.

Thank you for all of the responses. I appreciate your taking the time to educate a consumer.
Greg

NightLightingFX
08-30-2007, 10:56 AM
I don't live in the Florida area but I think $400 a fixture is extreme. Listen to what Chris J says he should be chimming in any time. He is out of Tampa Bay.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

NightScenes
08-30-2007, 12:05 PM
Ned, Chris J is actually in the Jacksonville area which is quite aways from Tampa, just for clarification.

Greg, I see that you are in Jupiter Florida. May I suggest a couple of lighting professionals that might be in your area?

Fred Lansing
Enlightened Designs, Inc.
2829 W. Birds Nest Drive
Beverly Hills , FL 34465
Phone: (352) 527-9111
FAX: (352) 527-9118
E-Mail: enlight@tampabay.rr.com

Dan Allen
Dan Allen Landscape Lighting
816 102nd Ave N.
Naples , FL 34108
Phone: (239) 514-0803
FAX: (888) 464-1037
E-Mail: ksjhox@earthlink.net

I think these guys are close enough to you to help you out, I could be off though. I grew up in Sarasota and I have an aunt that lives in Jupiter.

Both of these contractors are members of the AOLP (Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals). The AOLP has a standard for installation that members are supposed to follow when installing and maintaining systems and therefore, do a very good job.

I hope this information is helpful to you and good luck with your lighting project. You have a beautiful space and you should have some great lighting to bring it all out at night.

Greg_B
08-30-2007, 12:09 PM
Thanks for the names but Windermere is near Orlando and St Augustine is not too far from Jacksonville. Closest major city to me is West Palm Beach to the south and Ft Pierce/Port St Lucie to the north.
Greg

NightLightingFX
08-30-2007, 12:09 PM
Sorry Chris J, boy do I feel stupid
~Ned

NightScenes
08-30-2007, 12:11 PM
Update that other post. I remembered that Jupiter is on the southeast coast.

Greg_B
08-30-2007, 12:14 PM
Update that other post. I remembered that Jupiter is on the southeast coast.

Getting closer but they're on the Gulf Coast. :)

NightScenes
08-30-2007, 12:16 PM
Ok, I'll try one more. I know he's on the southeast coast.

Michael Crimmins
Lightsmith Landscape and Architectural Lg
5621 NE 16 Avenue
Fort Lauderdale , FL 33334
Phone: (954) 568-1551
FAX: (954) 568-4929
E-Mail: mikecrim@bellsouth.net

NightScenes
08-30-2007, 12:19 PM
The one in Naples might come to you as well. I cover a 100 mile area, so to drive from Naples to Jupiter would be no big deal. It's been awhile, but I have an aunt in Naples as well and I drove from Jupiter to Naples visiting family and I don't think it took that long, but you know how time goes, as we get older, time gets forgotten.

Greg_B
08-30-2007, 12:21 PM
Are these recommendations people you know or just names from the AOLP directory?
Thanks again,
Greg

NightScenes
08-30-2007, 01:26 PM
I know almost all of them. I am the secretary of the AOLP, so I know a lot of members.

Eden Lights
08-30-2007, 02:19 PM
Ok, I will admit I didn't read anything but the OP. I will fly down, swim in the pool after dark, sketch out a design, get the equipment drop shipped in a couple of days while I hang out at the pool, Install and aim the 13 lights, finish the sketch with a design build document for maintenance, explain maintenance and design intent to pool boy, collect $5200, and fly back to Music City. I just did the same thing for some vacation homes and I need to do more of it. What's the nearest Airport?

NightScenes
08-30-2007, 04:54 PM
I'm with you Eddie!! I think the project would look much better with some small wash lights on that fence and a couple of nice path/spread lights though. Maybe another $400 each would cover some margaritas and fajitas?

Chris J
08-30-2007, 06:22 PM
Greg,
Eden may or may not be kidding, but you are all not that far from me. As I was reading you post, I was thinking that you are getting ready to be taken for a ride. If you even consider paying that kind of money for 13 lights, let me know; I'll be more than happy to accomodate you. I vacation regularly in the Keys, so you would be a rest stop on the way.
Your back yard is beautiful, and I am certain we could turn this into a nighttime retreat like you have never invisioned. This is one of those jobs that we professionals look forward to doing so we can bring our photographers in to get the shots for the high-end magazines.
Contact me if you wish, but you can probably do better than what you have mentioned.
Sincerely,

Greg_B
08-30-2007, 10:43 PM
Greg,
Eden may or may not be kidding, but you are all not that far from me. As I was reading you post, I was thinking that you are getting ready to be taken for a ride. If you even consider paying that kind of money for 13 lights, let me know; I'll be more than happy to accomodate you. I vacation regularly in the Keys, so you would be a rest stop on the way.
Your back yard is beautiful, and I am certain we could turn this into a nighttime retreat like you have never invisioned. This is one of those jobs that we professionals look forward to doing so we can bring our photographers in to get the shots for the high-end magazines.
Contact me if you wish, but you can probably do better than what you have mentioned.
Sincerely,

Chris
I'll give you a call in the morning.
Greg

David Gretzmier
08-31-2007, 12:25 AM
I'm with Chris on this one. Although when Florida plays arkansas in Basketball or football, my southern hospitality goes out the window.:hammerhead:

It would be my hope if someone came on here asking for lighting help in arkansas- folks on here would reccomend me, I'd make a contact and perhaps help someone out and get a job.

It's not why I'm here, but I'm ok with it.

David Gretzmier
08-31-2007, 12:46 AM
I was never good looking enough for the girls to chase me- I had to do the chasing. I don't seem to chase much Christmas light work, it comes to me. but landscape light work, I have to chase that stuff...playing hard to get won't work for me.

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 08:23 AM
greg- what your talking about seems about right, I'd love to do your install for around the total you are talking. you could do that job with a 600 watt transformer, but knowing you are thinking future upgrades, a 900 or 1200 would be better. if the customer specified that I'd be a little over 3 grand, maybe 3200 or so, but still, limited digging, pull wires in conduit, this seems like a good job. but I have not looked at it in person, so just my guess and opinion.

Aurora lights are $$$.. very high end fixtures. I think you guys are missing the gross cost of matierals on this one is at LEAST 30-50% higher than alot of lines. Ask about some other lines such as Unique or Kichler or Cast. You still wont be disapointed. He is not to far off his price for auroras. I got a feeling I know who your using. Ask to be requoted with something more in your budget. Auroras can add considerable cost to a job. David you cant quote a pool job without seeing it and seeing how the wire needs to be run. Also you need to stick with a trans under 15v in my opinon being that close to the pool area.

Instead of doing a 50w on the palm why not hit it with multiple 35's and get better coverage and less hot spots.

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 08:41 AM
On another note I would probably be a tad less without seeing it If I used a different but also high quality line (bores ? easy place to get all the wires in ? insane hard ground or nice soft sand ? Distance from trans???) I would also be using more than 13 lights tho. Just from these pics I would probably be somewhere closer to 18-20 fixtures. PRobably someplace around 4700-5k dependant on the above factors and the control system you wish to utilize.

Greg_B
08-31-2007, 08:50 AM
On another note I would probably be a tad less without seeing it If I used a different but also high quality line (bores ? easy place to get all the wires in ? insane hard ground or nice soft sand ? Distance from trans???) I would also be using more than 13 lights tho. Just from these pics I would probably be somewhere closer to 18-20 fixtures. PRobably someplace around 4700-5k dependant on the above factors and the control system you wish to utilize.

There is conduit already run underground to most locations and everything is accessible with direct burial in a sandy soil on the far side of the pool. Each of the planter beds has a minimum of one pipe already in it.

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 08:59 AM
ok so doesnt sound that bad from installation standpoint. Get a requote with a more affordable brand if you cant go with auroras. I will tell you this... his price is not all that far off for the fixtures he is proposing. I just looked at my pricing and they are $$$ You could definatly shave some off that price or add alot more lights for that price if you went with one of the other lines I suggested. All of them are really high quality with great warranties.

Aurora lights are not for everyone. I have a feeling he was trying to sell you a Maybach when your looking for a corvette or cadillac. I think its also important for you to mesh with your contractor of choice. If you didnt like him or his arrogance by all means select another one or you may not have a good working relationship with them. Every contractor is not for every client. Some may appreciate his confidence while others may feel that contractor will do things his way vs taking the clients opinions into consideration. Dont be offended tho when a designer offers thier proffesional opinion.

Often times when there is a conflict on design we ask the client to let us install it our way and if they still dont agree we will do it thier way to thier likling. Never once have we had to redo it thier way.

ar-t
08-31-2007, 09:01 AM
I can see that many, easily. More fixtures (than 13), using less wattage per, spread out (to prevent wash-out and hot spots)........yep, probably path lights, too. Etc.

Average back yard that I have done.......a bit less exotic, maybe not quite as large, but similar in most respects: 20 lights at a minimum.

Greg:

Be open to other suggestions on lighting styles/techniques. Judging solely on cost might not be in your best interest in the long run. Yes, done properly, this job will be $$$$$$$$$$. Please take your time selecting a contractor based not just on price, but design as well as quality of install.

Good luck, and I hope you pick the right one. You will have to live with it for a long time.

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 09:50 AM
:clapping: I am mearly looking at a few so so quality photos. Im sure with an actual property visit we might be able to go with many more depending on the overall layout and such. Also keep in mind this does not include illuminating the back of the home or patio which may or may not benifit from some accenting as well. Anything else in the back such as a dining area ?

Pathlighting could be an option depending on the amount of light placed in the landscape. It would definatly add some depth. This lighting project should be rather breathtaking if done properly and with more than 13 lights. Greg should definatly keep in mind we cannot see whats behind the camera and on the other sides of this yard. It could take 30 to 40 lights to do this job in a satisfactory manner. Chances are he will be pleased with 13 lights... but he will be WOW with a few more.

Thoes palms will take a min of 2 each... Im guessing 20w on the smaller ones and 35 on the larger. Possibly 3 lights on the one palm depending where you can place them to get the best coverage

Greg_B
08-31-2007, 09:55 AM
I am mearly looking at a few so so quality photos. Im sure with an actual property visit we might be able to go with many more depending on the overall layout and such. Also keep in mind this does not include illuminating the back of the home or patio which may or may not benifit from some accenting as well. Anything else in the back such as a dining area ?

Pathlighting could be an option depending on the amount of light placed in the landscape. It would definatly add some depth. This lighting project should be rather breathtaking if done properly and with more than 13 lights.

Based on the sticky at the top of the page, I didn't want to post too much information, like I was looking for free design stuff. I thought the pricing seemed high and I wanted to find quality people for alternative suggestions. I'd be happy to take more pictures and post a couple more along with a link to a photo gallery.

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 10:00 AM
Based on the sticky at the top of the page, I didn't want to post too much information, like I was looking for free design stuff. I thought the pricing seemed high and I wanted to find quality people for alternative suggestions. I'd be happy to take more pictures and post a couple more along with a link to a photo gallery.

The price is high... but not for what he is proposing as far as brands. You should be able to get a quality system for less. Call Chris J.... im due for another vacation:laugh: Maybe I can meet him down there for some margaritas and fajitas and do this right. In fact its a lawnsite lighting contractor party and Greg B's!!! (not mocking you just having some fun).

Bottom line is you can get alot more bang for your buck with another line if you feel aurora isnt for you. I will tell you this and without revealing pricing that many aurora lights cost double what another quality brand might go for. Do not think you can get 13 lights for half that price because installation costs... wire... and transformer cost will still be the same but you could definatly come down over 100 per fixture less than your $400 a light.

Greg_B
08-31-2007, 10:12 AM
Well, the kids gave me a Margaritaville Margarita Machine for Father's Day...

To add: if the $5200 is reasonable based on Aurora Lighting but I need more than 13 fixtures, at 20 lights (per some of the posts above) I'd be looking at $8k for Aurora Lighting.

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 10:41 AM
Well, the kids gave me a Margaritaville Margarita Machine for Father's Day...

To add: if the $5200 is reasonable based on Aurora Lighting but I need more than 13 fixtures, at 20 lights (per some of the posts above) I'd be looking at $8k for Aurora Lighting.

quite possibly... On other hand you can get a high quality line like unique kichler cast or hadco at 20 fixtures for prolly between 5 or 6k depending on the lights specified.

Again alot depends on the install. We did 14 lights this past spring for $5575.00

The install was a pita and took 2.5 days and included 2 rolls of heavy ga wire. Price was on target and no it wasnt aurora lights.

Did 20 lights on another project... half a day to install... small amount of wire for about 4k. Projects cannot or should not be based soley on the number of lights. The skills of the designer/contractor should also be considered. Chances are you have NEVER regretted spending a bit more for something of really high quality.

Whats that saying ? The bitterness of poor quality will linger much longer than the joy of a low price ?

Again this guy is trying to propose the rolls royce of lighting. If your shopping for something more modest ask him (if you are willing to work with him) about his other offerings. Just dont base it off price alone with someone using "joes lighting co" brand of fixtures. You wont be happy with the outcome and you will definatly regret it in the future.

Greg_B
08-31-2007, 11:22 AM
I've done what I can to make the install easier - conduit is run. As far as product - I'd like to see the various options. Does Kirchler or Hadco make a cast bronze or brass product? So far the lights from Cast Lighting have the most appeal to me. What kind of warranty does each offer?

I think the guy down here only works with Aurora and I'm sure a lot of his placements are based on experience but he walked around with his assistant and stuck 13 flags in the ground in about 15-20 minutes.

The landscaper speaks highly of him based on the lifetime warranty.

ar-t
08-31-2007, 11:51 AM
OK, he spent time to place 13 flags where he feels the lights need to go.

Did he offer to do a night demo? Before asking you to commit?

It is one thing to place flags in the daylight, and a professional lighting installer should have a good idea in the daylight.

But the homeowner/prospective customer/committed buyer is not an expert in this. I simply can not imagine him not offering to do a demo when he first showed up.

A good night demo is essential to completing a sale. It can trump negatives, such as "Gee, does it really have to use so many lights? That is a bit above our budget."

Yes, price and quality of fixtures should be a concern of yours. But the main one should probably be what it will look like when completed. If your contractor won't do a complete night demo, I am sure the members here can suggest qualified contractors who will. Especially for what appears to all of us as a "high-end" job.

Please.........go with someone who will do a complete demo. I think that you will get a better feel for things when you see a single 50W fixture, as opposed to a few 20W or 35W fixtures. Yes, using more will drive the price way up.

As it will the aesthetic beauty.

Greg_B
08-31-2007, 01:39 PM
Chris
I'll give you a call in a few days after I calm down. We were having the last two palm trees put in and they were being lifted over the fence with a crane. The crane operator took out one of the tiki torches and a section of my fence. :hammerhead:

Greg

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 03:53 PM
A demo is not always needed. This is a pretty straight forward installation. Perhaps a few fixture demo to show the diff between the single 50w and the multi 35w.

Only time we have installed anything over 35w we were lighting a very large building shooting 4 stories up. It was also a commercial project with blinding ambient light in the parking lot. SamIV's choice in 75w 12 degree was absolutly perfect in that application. Same project we also lit some rather large windmill palms with 35w lights. Plenty of bang

But back to the original demo idea. I do them and others do them but I would think a portfolio shot of a similar application would be enough to squash and doubt.

Greg ... do you have a problem spending this amount of money for it to be done properly with more fixtures ? If not also ask your contractor of choice about doing it in stages. We often do this.

NightScenes
08-31-2007, 03:55 PM
OK, he spent time to place 13 flags where he feels the lights need to go.

Did he offer to do a night demo? Before asking you to commit?

It is one thing to place flags in the daylight, and a professional lighting installer should have a good idea in the daylight.

But the homeowner/prospective customer/committed buyer is not an expert in this. I simply can not imagine him not offering to do a demo when he first showed up.

A good night demo is essential to completing a sale. It can trump negatives, such as "Gee, does it really have to use so many lights? That is a bit above our budget."

Yes, price and quality of fixtures should be a concern of yours. But the main one should probably be what it will look like when completed. If your contractor won't do a complete night demo, I am sure the members here can suggest qualified contractors who will. Especially for what appears to all of us as a "high-end" job.

Please.........go with someone who will do a complete demo. I think that you will get a better feel for things when you see a single 50W fixture, as opposed to a few 20W or 35W fixtures. Yes, using more will drive the price way up.

As it will the aesthetic beauty.

I have to disagree with this strongly. I can't remember the last time I did a demo and I like to think that I do some pretty good work. I also close well over 90% of my design/proposals and have a 100% client satisfaction. What about their portfolio? Do they have one? Do they have some local projects that can be seen? What I am saying is that most of the lighting designers that have been around awhile use their portfolio and local projects as demos instead of staying out half of the night several nights a week. I know it's been well over 3 years since I did my last demo.

On the design issue, I think it would take quite a few more than 13 fixtures to do this space justice. Kichler does make bronze and brass fixtures as do most quality manufactures. This is really needed in the coastal areas of the country.

Just my .02

ar-t
08-31-2007, 04:40 PM
Paul:

I'm sure that you do work that is top notch, and I will even stipulate that it is better than mine.

Having said that, I did a job 2 months ago that would never had closed without a demo. Portfolio or not.

The customer had several yaupon holly trees that needed to be lit. I don't know if you have them where you are, so let us assume that you do not.

They have a mass of very tough, fibrous roots that go everywhere. Cutting any roots was not any option. The trees already had their root systems stressed. The customer would not abide cutting any more. Any place that you cut a root, it will send up suckers. I think that you will agree with me that having a sucker obscure the fixture is not a plan.

So, a demo sorted out all of the problems. Yes, it involved putting each and every light in a spot that I would not have chose on the fly.

In addition, the customer, by their own admission, is very "OCD". They had to examine the placement of each and every fixture before they would commit to anything. From every possible angle and seat in their back yard.

I don't know about you, but I would rather get all of that out of the way up front, than to get called back 3 days later. And 2 weeks later. Etc. The landscaper that I work through, who normally has the patience of Job, could not deal with this customer any longer. (He had his fill on the landscape part of the job!) But, I hung in there, did a demo (without him to make sure I curtailed my sarcastic nature), and did the install.

I also took a larger than usual cut for my efforts.

A related question, but directed at no one specifically.

A lot of the jobs I do are in gated communities. As I am only a sub-contractor, I do not have direct access to the customer. It isn't always practical to get night shots for a portfolio. Anyone else have similar situations, and how do you handle them?

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 07:21 PM
in my opinion demos are a tool... like all tools they have thier time and place.

We dont advertise free demos. Some pros and cons

Pros: allow a designer to preview a unique area to be lit before anything is permanatly installed

Allow the property owner to see the designers vision (rememeber clients cant always picture things like a seasoned contractor can!)

Aid in the upsell of multiple fixtures where the client refuses to use 2 or 3 fixtures and requests a single light because some other pea brained designer says its ok.

CONS:
Your out in the evening crawlings thru bushes wresteling with lights when you should be home with your family.

Your sometimes working for free.

Often times its not needed or requested and your creating work adding to your already cumbersome workload.

Another time a demo is a powerful sales tool (especially for landscape maint companies) is asking permission to demo part of a property for your portfolio. Be sure the client gets a copy of the good pics and sees the work. This is not a high pressure sales but it is opening a clients eyes to the wonderful world of quality lighting.

I wouldnt feel this project would need a demo. If he is that skeptical he shuold ask his contractor about if the offering of one is avalible or ask the install be performed above ground the 1st day so a preview can be made that evening then burial the 2nd day. This has worked well for us in the past. Its pretty straight forward and I think the multiple opinions to the fact the trees should be lit with multiple fixtures here should show Greg that it will be that much more inviting.

Eden Lights
08-31-2007, 07:24 PM
Your time is your most valuable asset and unbillable time is one of the most common reasons that good people fail at business. I remind myself of this every day it seems. My portfolio needs work to, but it is the only thing that we should be sharing for free. Yes, several companies are good at doing demos, but the demo guy is usually on commission and is working for free, many times they have nothing to do with the install crew at all. Yes, I lose work because I don't do demos. Our work load has nothing to do with being profitable I am afraid.

ar-t
08-31-2007, 08:00 PM
I would say that undercapitalisation is the main cause of failure.

I view a portfolio and local references as a calling card to bid on the job.

Yes, I probably do work for free, at night, when I would rather be elsewhere. I would like to think that experience allows me to place the demo where the final placement is almost all of the time.

So......I suppose the big difference to my method and the good suggestions posted above is that I do the install a few days after the demo. As opposed to the next morning.

Every demo I have done has closed. So, maybe it is a semantical point as to whether I end up working for free.

OK, enough of us installers........

I think we all agree it needs more lights. Some sort of dress rehearsal would be beneficial.

Eden Lights
08-31-2007, 11:10 PM
Paul:

A related question, but directed at no one specifically.

A lot of the jobs I do are in gated communities. As I am only a sub-contractor, I do not have direct access to the customer. It isn't always practical to get night shots for a portfolio. Anyone else have similar situations, and how do you handle them?

Different things work for different people, but as a general rule there is no middle ground on the topic of demos. So I am going to leave it alone unless everybody really wants to debate this out AGAIN.

Well, I have been where you are before on customer access from time to time when working for other professionals. I decided that wasn't where I wanted to be. So about two years ago I decided that to promote my designs and myself that I wouldn't work with anyone that wouldn't allow me to have a one on one with the homeowners. Average job invoice for these clients doubled and everyone was much happier in the end. Another example was a huge fountain design at the request of a Architect, when in the end the client said they didn't want any light on the fountain at all and never did.

extlights
09-01-2007, 12:22 AM
If you are unsure with a certain contractor I'd definately recommend asking for some references. Maybe take a night and drive by some homes that he has installed a system on. Don't go by pictures alone....anyone can take a photo and make it look good....pictures of lighting projects are not truly a good representation of ones work. You can get an idea from a design aspect, but it's really hard to tell the true quality of the workmanship.

Whatever you decide, just make sure you are comfortable with the contractor. Ask about maintenance programs...also what kind of turn around time he generally has when service is needed. We guarantee service within 48 hours....it's usually the service after the install that seperates a decent contractor from a great contractor.

Pro-Scapes
09-01-2007, 09:19 AM
well said Dave.

I will also add. If a client is not truely dedicated to the project a demo may sell the job but... if a client is serious they should have no problem with commiting you you as thier contractor of choice prior to doing the demo. After all they should feel comfortable enough with you and your workmanship and just wish to nail down the details of the project. They should even be comefortable enough to sign a design release specifying if anyone other than you installs your design/demo you are due a xxx.xx design fee. We typically charge $349.00 for this. We were paid the design fee via the release on 1 project and it made the 2 hours of demo and all the research and desk work worth it.

On the other hand a really dedicated client should have no problem with issuing at least a $100.00 deposit at the time of demo to be applied twoards to project if they are not ready to move ahead now. All clients are unique and should be treated as so if you really intend to satisfy your clients.

I think we have also made it clear there is a huge geographical difference in clients and contractors. What may work here wont fly elsewhere.

Greg_B
09-02-2007, 09:25 AM
well said Dave.

I will also add. If a client is not truely dedicated to the project a demo may sell the job but... if a client is serious they should have no problem with commiting you you as thier contractor of choice prior to doing the demo. After all they should feel comfortable enough with you and your workmanship and just wish to nail down the details of the project. They should even be comefortable enough to sign a design release specifying if anyone other than you installs your design/demo you are due a xxx.xx design fee. We typically charge $349.00 for this. We were paid the design fee via the release on 1 project and it made the 2 hours of demo and all the research and desk work worth it.

No demo was offered or suggested but the guy seemed arrogant to me as well. I'd feel more comfortable with most of those who responded than with the guy who was here. He has a great warranty but the cost is a major point of contention for me. As many of you noted, the job should have probably 20 lights and that is just for the backyard, what happens when we relandscape the front of the house? Say 10 more lights and I'm into this guy for $12k. I would not have a problem with a design fee or a deposit.

If I thought the original $5200 was sufficient for the backyard, I might have had a better feeling about it but I knew there was no path lighting only uplights on the palms.

End result on Friday's debacle: the fence is fixed (fence contractor is the single best contractor on the whole job - greatest comfort level with him), the tiki torch broke at the valve so I replaced it and the system will need to be pressure tested. I will need a new torch but can straighten the damaged one until a new one arrives. One frond on the tree that hit the fence broke, unfortunately it was the one that made the tree look perfect by hanging over the pool. Not sure what the landscaper will do but the crane operator is supposed to cover damages.

Thanks again for everyone's help and I'll be giving Chris a call since he is somewhat local.

Pro-Scapes
09-02-2007, 09:38 AM
Good plan. Seeing as how we potentially saved you from a disaster I feel strongly that you should have several of us down and break in that margarita machine and provide a charter boat for our fishing pleasure :)

Glad to help. I dont think you will be disapointed with Chris J.

It may still take more than 20 lights... As for redoing the landscape out front we have seen no pictures but 10 lights in a front yard is a VERY small project. We just put 12 on a 1300 sq ft house.