I got a call from this guy who lives in a very high end residential neighborhood about 50 minutes away from me. He bought this house as a fixer upper and was looking to rehab the front patio. After seeing it myself and having my mason take a look, we both agreed that rehab was pointless and it all needed to be ripped out due to cracks in the footer, etc. To make a long story short, he tells us that his maximum budget is 10K, he wants to do it in Pa Flagstone, square cut random, wet laid and reuse the existing wall stone and scale it down. He wants to maintain a raised front landing area 10x10 and a walkway 4'x28' with 2 steps. Existing stone needs to be chiseled and cleaned. Removed concrete can be dumped on site. When talking to him yesterday, he says he doesn't want to pay for a design. After thinking about the project, I called him yesterday and told him that I could not do what he wanted and stay under 10K. I told him that for that price, he could only get a nice walkway and nice set of steps, all masonry and he would be looking at another 2 or 3 grand for the large landing because of the labor in cleaning and reusing the stone, the 3 foot footers and the craftsmanship involved. He sounded surprised by this, saying "someone" told him he could get it ripped out and replaced for under 10k. I told him he could without a doubt find someone to do it for that price, with no insurance and no warranty. He then tells me he's having a hard time visualizing it and wants to see options. If it's worth the extra money, he'd consider it. I said no problem and got off the phone, then realizing I forgot to mention the design would cost money. Questions: 1) Would any of you touch this for less than 10K (considering the travel time and high end area)? 2) Should I call him back a third time and tell him I'll draw it up, but it will cost him, (at the sake of seeming unprofessional) or just give him free quick sketch? 3) When a customer throws out a maximum budget and you feel you can't perform the job within that budget, do you take a risk and propose something over budget hoping your salesman skills will work, or change the design to accommodate? I decided to call him right away and let him know, but this seemed to annoy him. All in all this was a genuinely nice customer and a worthwhile project. Just need a little advice on how to handle. Thanks in advance! ~H.E.M.