Yah, it doesn't necessarily work every time. I tried it a little at another appt. this afternoon. The place I was looking at was going to be between $20K-$40K, depending on how extravagant he wanted to go. And I wanted to feel him out for a budget because we are moving forward with the design. Neither figure scared him off. He expected to spend at least $20K this year and wasn't surprised at the $40K number. He said it didn't matter so much. He may have to do it in phases. But the more important thing was that it includes all of his wishes in the design.
So to me, that's a winning scenario too. Because now I know that he's basically at least open to spending $20K, which tells me his budget is at least reasonable. And it also tells me he's willing to do it in phases, if necessary, which is great for me. I'd rather have someone who understands doing it in phases than someone who has lofty $50K dreams but wants me to do it all - this year - and only has a $20K budget. Those are the ones that frustrate me because we often just end up spinning our wheels and then some cheapskate landscaper who doesn't know his costs gets the job.