Question on residential design/contracts (long)

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by DavidDixson, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. DavidDixson

    DavidDixson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 1

    My wife and I have just started a "side" business where she does residential landscape design (the "garden" type) and I build the furniture and other wooden garden "accessories" should the customer desire them. She's been in the green industry quite a number of years with various job titles.

    Until recently, she worked for other companies where she did designs, presented them and if the customer accepted the design, a contract was signed and an installation performed. Occasionally, they would provide a customer with just a design and charge a flat rate for doing just a design. They did not require a contract to perform this work and there was one incidence where a customer got a good understanding of where the design was doing, then "decided" they could do it themselves. In other words, the customer got the design concepts, then opted not to pay for the design or have the design work completed. This resulted in the company not getting paid.

    My wife is now doing designs on her own where she'll be working strictly with reasonably affluent residential customers who wish to do their own installation, but need someone to do the landscape design. We've been discussing how to insure she gets paid for the design work without running into a situation described in the previous paragraph.

    What we'd like to know is what most landscapers do in a "design only" scenario. Do you folks get a signed contract or do you simply do the design, then get payment on delivery? Do you provide an estimate the customer agrees to by signing?

    Also, what is the typical method you use to charge for design work? By the time it takes to do the design or a flat rate charged based on the design difficulty? Not sure if this helps, but she's doing designs that involve plants that the standard homebuilder contractor does not use, but that folks who want their yards to be a "garden" want to have.

    Thank you for your assistance,

    Dave
     
  2. Equipguy

    Equipguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 370

    Getting paid for the design and not the install can be a challenge. What we do is a free site visit @ which time we explain our "design concept". They get nothing in writing or drawing. If they want us to continue, we do a drawing that is part of the total package. If the home owner wants to do his own install after the fact we let them know up front the design fee starts @ $250 depending on the amount of detail they want. Good Luck
     
  3. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Posts: 4,041

    Hi DavidDixson,

    If you need further advice, you can send of a question to our business consultant and he will respond back to you.
     
  4. JRAZ

    JRAZ LawnSite Member
    from NW
    Posts: 143

    We charge 65.00 for an initial consultation which gives the client up to 1 hour. If there is time for a concept sketch to be provided then we will do a quicky. Design is billed at 65.00/hour, pretty fair rate if you ask me. Our designs generally range in price from 300-1000.00 or more. All designs we do come with a contract. For designs that will likely exceed 500.00 1/2 down pymnt is required. We will never turn over a design w/o the balance paid first. Every design we have ever done we also do the installation.
     
  5. cgrant711

    cgrant711 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 315

    I know this is like an ancient post and you already have figured out what to do, but in case you haven't thought of this yet I'll say it.

    Check with local landscape companies that don't currently do any design work. Ask them if they would be willing to subcontract you to do design for them and then they install.

    I have a lawn maintenance company and am looking to start doing more landscaping and installs, so I will either have to learn the skill my self or I could sub it out to a designer for say $40-50 an hour and then bill the customer $60-70 per hour. If I land the job I give the customer my markup off. Once I advertise cad drawings/designs on my trucks, cards, brochures and everything else. I should be able to give someone a pretty large amount of work.

    If y'all haven't contacted any companies, I would highly recommend because offering those extra services would land create more work for you, install for them and new maintenance contracts as well. It's a win/win/win!
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  6. jc1

    jc1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    You have done some deep digging to get this one back to life.
     
  7. cgrant711

    cgrant711 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 315

    Do you offer landscape design?
    Posted via Mobile Device
     

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