Consulting Fees

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by tadpole, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. tadpole

    tadpole LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,216

    I have been asked to consult on a out-of-town project by Email and telephone. I realize that I should charge my usual hourly rate. My problem is....exactly how should I compute the time involved. I can see problems with quoting a flat fee for this.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    I am sure that this will include plans and diagrams, etc.
     
  2. NarNar

    NarNar LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 489

    Are you a regestered landscape architect?

    I would suggest provide your rate, quote a timeline for job completion, and insert a "do not exceed amount". In your proposal be clear on what work you are doing and what your employer can expect from you.
     
  3. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    It is easier to sell consulting if you can put a flat number on it, but you can also get screwed with endless work. The trick is to make a detailed quantifiable explanation of what you will do and then have an hourly rate for time spent outside of the contract. That gets you an ability to declare that you met the obligations of the contract if someone tries to not finish paying you. But, more importantly, the client almost always is more prepared when he calls you and does not waste your time because they don't want to get into those hourly rates (keep the rate high). I do this with landscape design and it works very well. I often go a little over and do not charge extra because I get more out of the good will. The best thing is that the people who know they want to screw you will not sign the contract.
     
  4. tadpole

    tadpole LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,216

    As I stated in the original post, this will be remote consulting. The Project site is about 450 Miles from my location. All consulting will be done by Email or phone. It will involve the construction of a fairly specialized Water Feature. I don't feel that a standard contract is practical in this case, but more of a weekly or maybe bi-weekly payment schedule based on time expended. I feel that this will protect me and also the client. Am I thinking correctly on this?
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2010
  5. NarNar

    NarNar LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 489

    Regardless of compensation pattern you should still have a contract. You can outline your terms, rates, and compensation method. And like AGLA said, if they don't want to sign an agreement, chances are you will get screwed. Most professional companies that contract out consultant work, like the one mentioned, has probably done so before and most consultants out line everything and get it in writing. However you proceed good luck. We are here to support you. I just don't want to see you get screwed. Especially with the economic state today, a lot of people is putting the blame on the economy so they don't pay you. It has happened and will continue to do so.
     
  6. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 812

    It depends.... are you going to be doing full scale drawings of a full install, or are you simply bidding a patio or one landscaped bed?

    I think that if I will spend more than 2 hours doing a design, pricing out, and presenting; I should have a charge for any work rendered.

    A flat rate could work, but don't make it ridiculous, and state in a contract that it only includes x-amount of changes, before x$/hr will be charged. If they agree to something like this, they will probably have you work with them until the plan is perfect for them, then they'll probably hire you for install, since someone else threw something together in 15 mins...
     
  7. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 812

    Also, I would not charge for a design or consult if it is a service that I don't have much experience in; for example, I'm trying to get into water falls, and ponds, etc... I first off market a discounted price on my website; second, since I don't have much completed work to show them, I do design and pricing out for no charge....I'm working on a project like this for one of my clients right now. I've changed design plans 3 times, and I'm working on my final design and cost. I can't complain though, because I don't have as much experience as someone who may have the design perfect on the first try, and has several photos and recommendations for that kind of work...

    There are several important factors to think of before charging for a design or consult. If I'm bidding sod, a patio, mulching, plant install to a small area, and etc, I already know what I'm going to use, and how much I need to charge to make money...Its easy to design, and I can literally spit a number in a few minutes.

    Also, customers might pride you for helping them along the way of design changes, etc, that you could maybe include what you would charge them for the design/consult in the install...
     
  8. tadpole

    tadpole LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,216

    Thanks guys for all of the response and valuable insight. Because of the fact that this is a project located at such great distance completely eliminates any 'Eyes-on' or 'Hands-on' as regards site inspection and/or survey and personal inspection of Project progress, I don't feel that a contract is practical in this case. It is going to be a DIY with some possible subbing involved. There is evidently no-one in the client's area that has the skill set to attempt this project. That is why they contacted me for assistance
    I am going to require a (Good Faith) down payment.Then I will bill based on time.
     
  9. NarNar

    NarNar LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 489

    Contractors can't build without a design plan... Though you are far away, your really not, with our advanced technology.
     
  10. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    You should at least outline how you are going to bill them and sendthem an email on it, so you have a record of them getting it.

    Good faith is all well and good, but lack of an outline is a recipe for misunderstandings. The more communication in writing, the less the chances of someone misunderstanding their own or the others obligations and responsibilities.
     

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