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How do you approach these situations

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by NightLightingFX, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    -If they want it they can afford it
    -They want an illuminated yard but they aren’t educated on what quality lighting is.
    (They have probably 30 pagoda lights throughout the front and back yard)
    -Their current lighting system isn’t working well.
    (They want me to fix the current system – daisy chain system with pagodas and some cheap directional fixtures)
    -Fixing it means rewiring, might as well design a new system
    -Difficult to light – Front yard - Great architectural features but trees and bushes are too close to the house to create good architectural lighting. I feel like who ever did the landscaping did a poor job in the design. I can’t find a good pattern to create a good lighting design. Should I put in a bunch of path lights and light the trees?

  2. Bill S

    Bill S LawnSite Member
    Messages: 184

    I would price out repair and price out new (they would be very close to one another). I would then educate the client on why they should have a quality lighting system. I may then "unplug" their lights for a few nights and install some of mine on a temporary basis to prove my point. I would then go back and collect my deposit.

    How are you going to handle it?
  3. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    Not sure,
    I don't want my name on a system with pagoda lights. They are nice people and I don't want to sound like an arogant pig either. But if I use those crappy fixtures there will be more problems down the road not to mention I don't want to be associated with them. I am leaning toward proposing a whole new system.
    The landscape situation bugs me also because I don't feel like I can create anything really breath taking. I feel like all I can do is put a bunch of path lights at the sidewalk and then light the trees. And not even touch the architecture since since some aspect of the architecture are hindered by shrubs and trees. I personally try to avoid path lights. What do you think?
  4. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 849

    Ned, Have you determined why some of the existing lights are not working? Are there any corroded sockets or finishes peeling? What type of wire connections and is water wicking into the wire? I would show any of these to the customer so they are aware this is why current system is failing. Will they allow you to demo your product to show what you can do? Nothing wrong with a few new paths if they are incorporated in with some new up lighting. Keep us posted.
  5. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    Ned, Here is my take and I have had this same situation you are in. Like Keith said, you physically need to show them bad connections points and explain how it compromises the system. Explain to them about wiring methods and bring a volt meter so you can show them the undervolted lights and explain why they keep burning out all the time. My policy has always been even if you do rewire them, they will fail soon enough. The homeowners will forget about the money they saved by having you "patch up" their cheap system and will focus their anger on you. They will say "well, he should have known they would just fail again, after all he is the professional. Even though you told them that from the start, they will forget and you will get the blame. A referral from excellent work travels at a moderate pace. A negative comment about a contractor travels like wildfire. Propose a new system, Explain in detail why they need it. Walk them through a new design. Drop a Big Bang into their hands and compare the quality. If they have the money all you have to do is show them the value in it.
    I can see some pretty good opportunities for some arch. lighting there. It will be minimal but it is also a small house. I don't think you can get away without a small amount of pathlighting too. The front deciduous tree could be uplit as well as the conifer on the corner of the house. I would light the columns and the spaces on either side of the two front windows. I can't tell if it is a 2 or 3 car garage but you may consider core drilling the driveway and uplighting the garage with some ingrade Novas.
  6. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    I show them the difference. Perhaps the demo is in order. Looks to be a rather small system anyways.

    Explain to them you will not be doing them any justice by allowing them to invest money in repairing a system that will not last. If they cant see the difference between your systems and what they got your not doing the education part of your job.

    Show them photos of high quality lighting on homes about thier size.

    On the plants too close to the house... if they are small then with the owners permission move them. If they are large they will likley cause damage to the home at some point and we get back to the education section of your job. I often move smaller plantings out of my way when I am lighting something. Just today I moved 2 small palms to close a gap and better hide a remotely located transformer.

    Tim I gotta disagree with your nova idea. The driveway is graded away from the house too much to flush mount a nova in there unless you have some magic trick I have yet to see... Orions might be a decent option then either a downlight at the peak or ????? I would even see if I could tuck some lightolier recessed in the sofits of the returns. You would be surprised where you could get a wire with a glowrod and diversabit.
  7. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    Billy, you are right. That driveway does angle a bit doesn't it? The lightoliers may indeed be a better choice.
  8. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    Here are my issues with the design why I feel I shouldn’t do any architectural lighting starting from the left (I can’t move any of the plants - no where to move them too):
    1)an evergreen crowding in the corner
    2)a small j. maple under the window – there is no room to put a fixture any where without being hot. Also, the bottom of the window has a ledge that sticks out.
    3)another tree right by the left entry column – when the tree gets leaves on it will be a mess with hot spots on the tree if I try to light the column
    4)There is no space between the green bushes and the house to up light the structure. Also, same kind of ledge under the window.
    5)I feel that if I can’t light the structure in a balanced way don’t touch any of the architecture.
    6)I am going to accent the evergreen, the tree next to the left column, try to light up the little water feature just in front of the green bushes on the right. And accent the weeping evergreen, and also light the pear tree in the middle.
    7)How would you guys light the pathway?
    It is hard to create a lighting design via pictures, but do you guys think I am way out in left field on my approach?
  9. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 886

    Tim and Billy said everything I would have said. You may also look at how they found you and whether your marketing is getting you in front of the right people. A demo is in order when they are not up to speed with the quality. I don't rewire. I tell them that I cannot guarantee the used components and would explain why. This job cries to me that it is not my market and maybe not my customer. I would do my best to sell the job, but move on if I get any push back on price. Ned, I think you are on the right track with your first assesment: tough landscape to make pop, some architechural elements but with challenges.
  10. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    They found out about me from Christmas lights. They basically begged me to do their Christmas lights. (She wanted me cause her neighbor had me do Christmas lights for them - Kind of keeping up with the Jones syndrom) She didn't have any problem paying a good price for Christmas lights. Like I said if they want it they have the money. I am sure she will be surprised at what a real lighting system cost. After the initial shock I should be able to do something. Kind of a touchy situation because I will be doing some work for their neighbors. Their neighbors house I can make look good. She might want to know why I didn't take the same approach with her house as I will for her neighbor's

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