Well for starts this actually does not involve hardscaping, as much as it does complete outdoor living. However, since this section will have the most contractors that are familiar with five figure jobs it goes here. The situation: 2 million dollar home on 10+ secluded acres. I actually worked for the developer, notice I did not say builder, on this house about 5 years ago, but he fired everyone and brought in his own latino force after his first offer fell through. Took six months and lawyer threats to get paid. Anyhow it was eventually bought. Wife 25, the husband 45+/-, middle eastern. They wanted a pool, but wanted to save money. They decided to play GC and brought in their own latino forces for the job. (I am not hating on latinos, I am trying to paint the picture of a carload of masons rolling up in an 85 camry with out of state plates.) Well the job should have easily been six figures. I have no idea what they paid. We are talking pool, waterfall, pool house, outdoor kitchen with Viking grill and fireplace, etc. And this is where it ends. Due to the lack of foresight there are now numerous problems like no conduit for lighting and limited access, etc. The existing workmanship is mediocre to poor at best. The patio will fail in a few years based on what I can see, the stone work looks amateur, and the waterfall looks like an industrial concrete sculpture rather than a natural woodsland waterfall. How it went down: I get the call, "we are looking for a design, we have this pool, waterfall, etc." OK so I establish what it is that they are in need of and find out they are wanting basically a free design, and intend to shop. I am told that they had already received 1 free design. Keep in mind we are not talking about a basic foundation planting that you can whip out with no real harm, we are talking about several thousand square feet of varying terrain in need of everything. I explain that we do not offer free designs, and she tells me that she has no intention of paying for one when contractors are handing in their free designs left and right. For some crazy reason I agree to show up anyways and look at the project. I get there and she tells me that she will meet me in the back. OK no harm. She leaves me standing there for over 5 minutes. In that time I saw all I needed to see. It was worse than I expected. There was zero preparation, and there are several major planning oversights that will take thousands to correct. IE they need 80 yards of topsoil on the far side of the pool and patio with only access over the patio. They forgot to install the pool house toilet drain pipe when they had the ground open. They forgot to give the lawn guy access to the back acre except through a 48" gate. (note 48" mowers do not fit through 48" gates) So I tell my self that we are not here to judge, we are here to assist in completion of their outdoor living project. Of course they do not know this. All they want is plants and they want it right away. While we were talking her husband was bitching at the head latino cause he forgot yet another thing that should have planned for. The wife then went into a rant about how she hates all contractors, we are all idiots, etc. Keep in mind this girl is only in her mid 20s. The situation becomes really uncomfortable. I cut the meeting short after they were not able to give me any usable information and we were going nowhere. Less than 15 minutes on the sight in the end. So in that time I lay on them the entire outdoor living experience, complete with home automation, outdoor audio, nightscaping, softscaping, and deal with all the issues that need to be addressed around the area. Now to date I am the only one that has addressed anything other than installing simple plants. This seems to be working against me. To be honest I have no interest in just throwing in 10k in plants to appease them when I know that half of it will need to be ripped out, moved, or damaged when the other stuff they are not realizing are done. They are getting free designs and prices that are not even on the same planet as what I am talking about. I am providing a complete solution. I have not even given a design, because they are not willing to commit to my designers charges. I am offering to take over their frustrations, fix the issues, and return a complete outdoor living experience. We have the network of people to make this happen we just need the go ahead. So I know I obviously should run, and I also have very little chance of getting any work since the rough budget I mentioned was 5 times their highest quote. Of course they were not even for remotely the same thing. They have not responded to my emails, and in the 2 phone calls we have had since I have gotten the old "I check with my husband" response. In fact they couldn't even be bothered to fill out a simple questionare in assisting to find out their wants, needs, favorite colors, etc. My problem is I can't turn away. I have a unique chance to throw down a 50-100k detail job, and most of it can happen over the slow late fall to early spring season. They are not very receptive, but I know they want this. The designer glasses, hideously annoying escalade in the garage, and the over spending on a poorly designed landscape tell me they are the typical young artificial type, and want nothing more than to point out to their friends how they can monitor the pool temp, control the outdoor audio, and adjust the lighting from their Ipad poolside. So how do you sell these types? My line would have hooked the older, more refined, business man looking to enjoy the fruits of his labor. With these folks I am lost. About the only thing I did not do is get inappropriate and point out that they want this stuff to be the envy of their friends.