View Full Version : Landscape Architect

06-18-2004, 11:18 AM
I'd like to meet with landscape architect to design stone patio/walkway at back of house and stone walkway and stoop at front of house. I live in Manassas, VA. Any recommendations are welcome. Thank you.

06-18-2004, 10:40 PM
I would like to ask why you feel like you should limit your search to landscape architects when there are so many talented contractors that have a great deal of expertise in designing this type of work and will also build it for you.

I am a landscape architect that was a contractor long before I became an LA. I can tell you that as a contractor I had several such plans by landscape architects that were great and several that could not be built as designed. I can also say that as contractors we would usually pad the estimate to cover the time that we would might have to waste waiting for inspections, approvals, and input from someone that had never built anything. Often times materials specified were out of catalogs or magazines and were not locally available.

My suggestion is that you find some similar built work in your area on the type of property you have (and of similar value) and find out who did the work. That person. being local, knows what is available, the local regulations, local conditions, and will have a short commute. He will most likely be in your price range if the property is of similar value to yours. You know that you like the look and quality of his work. He also will earn his pay by selling labor and material. Design, while probably not free, is part of his marketing rather than his sole method of making a living.

Or you can get a name of a landscape architect from someone you never met on the internet. Pay him at a rate that covers his wage and all of his overhead (he is not going to make it up by selling a crew's labor and materials). Then you will have to find a contractor to build his design and pay for labor and materials.

I don't get it. But here I am, a faceless person on the net giving you advice. Mine is no more or less trustworthy than the next one.

06-21-2004, 01:57 PM
My thought was to go into this project with a design to build concept however, I was disappointed with design results.

Basically, I paid a design/build person to come out to my home, discuss my ideas, take measurements and scheduled meeting at his office a week later to review on paper. When I met him at his office, essentially we discussed what we talked about when he was at my house and he proceeded to sketch it out in colored pencils. In my opinion, he should of been better prepared when we met. Perhaps a few sketch variations done in advance...not the case. Very disappointed.

Decided to meet with a couple more design to build contractors...free estimate. Okay, so they come out to the house, look and measure, 3d grader pencil sketch and that'll be $24K. I don't think so.

I want to see some fidelity in sketch...detail. Did I say detail? Yes, all the detail. To include itemized material/labor.

If you tell me you design to build, show me an acceptable design. If we can't establish consensus on design, the build could take on a life of it's own. I want for the project to get off on the right footing and not risk the chance of callbacks to correct a potential problem later on down the road OR a misunderstood design concept in the mind of the contractor that wasn't part of the approved design.

At the moment, I've been doing exactly what you stated in your 3d paragraph...keeping my ears open to design/build contractor referal from someone who I know and that I can see their completed work.

D Felix
06-21-2004, 08:11 PM
If you want more than just a sketch, fork over the dough. That's the only way you should be able to get details that you want.

Free estimate doesn't mean squat when it comes to installs.


06-21-2004, 08:48 PM
I would suggest driving around and look at landscape construction you like and knock on the owners door and inquire about who did the work. There are plenty of good contractors out there in the Md , VA area. As far as a design , dont confuse it with an estimate , designs cost and estimates are generally free.
The biggest question is what price range are you in for the landscape? I have customers that want designs for $ 3000.00 landscape jobs , but dont want to pay for the time to meet , and draw the landscape . If you are in the range of $ 15,000 and up I can recommend a few great contractors in your area. As far as an itemized estimate breaking down materials and labor , that probably wont happen, you will recieve a contract stating the plant material and a complete description of the work , you arent paying for materials plus labor , you are paying for the completed job.

06-21-2004, 10:26 PM
I see what you are saying and there is a wide variety of skill level and customer service out there in the landscape industry. Keep in mind that that is the same in the design only end as well.

You certainly did not leave me with the impression that you were not willing to pay for design, by the way. You would not be looking for an LA otherwise.

Since you have tried the design/build route without finding the right company yet, you might want to contact a few civil engineers and ask them who they recommend for your project (whether a contractor or LA). As you are looking into that, you might want to continue shopping the contractors. You might find the right one.

06-21-2004, 11:04 PM
Find some work that you like, find out who designed it or start looking at portfolios from contractors. Expect to pay an initial fee for "detailed" designs and materials. Remember the materials suggested are part of the creative process unless you have already limited your designer. Too many people take the designs and shop around, eventually finding someone to underbid the guy who came up with all of the ideas. Remember to ask questions, drill them. Find out over the phone what to expect with their designs. Actual samples to touch, water-colored pencil sketches, aerial, 3/4s, CAD.

The Good Earth
06-22-2004, 08:57 AM
E-Mail detailed pictures of the area to be designed and also a plot plan if you can get one. I'll have it reviewed and have a price for you within 48 hours. If you want it done, great, we'll get it designed for you. If not, just as well.

We'll help you out all we can.

06-22-2004, 10:33 AM
Although new to LawnSite forum, I've learned much from other forum members from different parts of the country whose topics are similar to mine. This thread is just one fine example of great counsel and advice. Thank you.

The Good Earth...I want to offer to you the information that you requested. My start of work window for this project is Sept-Nov. This works best for my schedule and budget. As soon as I get a free moment, I'll forward pictures and plot plan.


06-22-2004, 07:30 PM
Post the pics and plan, let's see what kind of new ideas we can drum up for you

06-23-2004, 12:32 AM
I liked AGLA's post.

There are several people that can do good designs. If you take the office worker experience type, pick one that has many years into the profession to make up for lack of hands-on experience.

One thing - you might want to see the plans from designers. I suggest going to see them to save their time. Ask to see a sample design.

There is a reason for that. Either you will install, or it goes out to bid. You want a plan that is easy to read.

I'm holding a plan done by another designer, given to me by someone that wants a bid. I already told them I need to charge them for the estimate, because there are so many lines, and lines, and liines, that it will take hours to figure out the plan.

The plants were great. One of the better plant lists I've seen. But the only way I'll do a free estimate, is if the owner or designer, colors in the plant groups to distinguish which clustered bunch is separate from another clustered bunch. This doesn't happen too often.

So there is more to this than knowing plants.

06-23-2004, 12:35 AM
Ill do something with Pro landscape with the pictures :)

06-25-2004, 01:22 AM
"Thank-God" I was going to charge on that blueprint.

I handed it back to the lady a block or two from my install that I finished. She got the other landscapers bid at $15,000 to $20,000 for the 20' x 45' back yard. Said it was way out of her range.

Now there are going to hash over the plan to see what they can afford or how to change it. And that's exactly what I did not want to get in the middle of without them paying for it.

She said her landscape designer gave them no inkling of what kind of money they would dish out to install that, nor did the designer ask them what they could afford.

The other landscaper's price was within reason due to certain expensive elements and dismantling and rebuilding of a manor stone block wall to curve it.