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My first paying job

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by jnewton, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. jnewton

    jnewton LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    I just finished my first lighting project for a paying client. I’ve tried to do my homework with tons of reading (here and Nate Mullen’s book), experimenting with my own home, and taking a few manufacturers’ classes. I have a full-time job that I can’t leave (for now) but I'm lucky because I feel like I've got some time to develop my design before I make any permanent decisions.

    This job ended up being 22 fixtures in all, with 16 uplights, two downlights and 4 path lights. The homeowner wanted me to focus exclusively on the home, but I think they’ve gotten enough positive comments from neighbors and friends that they’ve aleady started talking about lighting selected trees, foundation plantings, etc. The home is in a very visible location and, this being a smaller town, I’ve gotten three requests for estimates. One demo has been in place for 3 nights and that couple has already called with the green light to proceed.

    The photos make everything look quite a bit hotter than it looks in real life. I’ll have to re-read some of Steve P’s Photoshop advice and tone them down. Anyway, thanks to you guys for sharing your knowledge. I have tons to learn, but I’m getting a little more confidence every day. This stuff is fun.



  2. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Nice start.

    I would probably have emphasized the trees a bit more and the house a bit less...

    Also, does your state require any kind of contractor's license or other qualifying experience or certifications to do this work?

    Are you following local codes throughout? Have you ever talked with an inspector to see how they interpret codes that might apply?

    How about liability insurance... do you carry any?

    Just a few things to consider....
  3. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    Very nice JNewton!! Looks great. I think emphasizing the house and downplaying the landscape was a good choice. To many times the House gets left out and in reality that is what the customer paid all the money for! I love the approach of lighting the home first and the landscape second. Although I feel those trees will look great with lights, as a starting point working with the home was the right choice!

    Keep up the great work and let me know if I can help in anyway!!
  4. jnewton

    jnewton LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    Thanks for the suggestions, Greg. I'm certain that there's no state licensure requirements, but I'll visit with a city inspector and make sure I'm not running afoul of local codes. Insurance is another issue. I carry a big personal umbrella, but I have no idea if it will cover me in situations like this. As for the overall lighting design, I agree, but the client was insistent about the house being the sole focus of the lighting. I explained to the couple the concept of creating a scene that gradually ramped up the light level so that the eye is led to the focal point of the home (in this case, the outcropping with the three Mission-style windows). But that's probably something that's better demonstrated than explained across the dining room table. Maybe that's why they call it a demo? :)
  5. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    I will tell you that if you were able to light that big canopy that is behind the home in the picture on the left you would provide a tremendous amount of depth to the home! Just FYI
  6. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    I think that is a GREAT JOB! I agree with Joey. I think it is good that you focused on the house. If you have nice architecture I always address that first. I would like to see more pics when it is darker out.
  7. jnewton

    jnewton LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    Thanks, Ned and Joey. I struggled with one thing: the area directly above the front door (far left side of the house). I chose to leave it dark, because 1) unlit, it seemed to add some depth to the scene, and 2) there's not much to see there; just two double-hung windows. I still kind of debate it, but I think it would have been fine either way. Joey, the canopy on the back left would be spectacular, I agree. I hope to be able to work that in when Phase II comes around.

    One fun thing: It was one of those beautiful, cool, summer nights when I finished and brought the homeowners outside to show them the finished product. In the half hour we stood out there and talked, we must have had 15 cars slow down or literally stop in the street and gawk. One guy pulled up and said, "Which one of you did the lighting?" I kind of raised my hand, and he said, "That looks awesome, man. Nice job." It was a pretty good moment, and I think the homeowners felt good about hiring me. You guys probably experience this all the time, but it was a first for me and I'll remember it for a long time.
  8. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    It is a great feeling when you finish something you put your heart and soul into and it looks great. And then the owners are blown away by it, and then they write a check for a finished job. It is all a good feeling
  9. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    Thats the feeling we have all had at some point or another that made us want to be lighting guys. It is a great feeling!!! You go home feeling like you have really done something worth while!
  10. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,173

    Uh oh! Someone is getting the "lighting" bug. Nice job, good pics too. Keep up the good work.

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