Site Landscape Plans

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by lawnspecialties, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. lawnspecialties

    lawnspecialties LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,524

    I'm looking at plans prepared by a landscape architect for a commercial property about to be built. A good friend will be the builder and he wants me to do the installation. I've done some pretty big residential installs but nothing commercial with drawn out plans.

    First question: How precise does the installation have to be compared to the plans? Example: Where they've drawn 80 hollys two wide, do they expect all 80 spaced exactly like the drawing or 80 hollys proportionately spaced and planted? In other words: very similar to the drawing but not precisely.
    Second question: Simliar to the first question, they have some of these hollys directly under some trees to be planted. In the drawing, they go right up to the trunk. Do they really want this? The plans call for 80 hollys and that's what they have drawn, but that seems like poor placement.
    Third question: In the areas of grass seeding, do I really need to plant (and prove) the type of seed it calls for? Not very wise choices in my experience, but then again: that's what the plans say.

    I guess if I had to sum all this up; if this install looks just like it's drawn (to the naked eye), is that what they expect? Or will they come out with rulers and protractors making sure I didn't go "off plan"? Would love to hear from those of you who've done this and your experiences. As always, thanks for everyone's help.
  2. cgland

    cgland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,929

    All architectural or engineered drawings are to a scale. It could be a 20 scale or 1/4 scale or whatever. You have to look at the plans and find the scale then install per the scale. You should be pretty precise. Find a benchmark on the drawings and measure from there with either an engineers scale or architect scale. Some will even show elevations for raised beds and such. You really need to know what you are doing in these situations. Just remember friends and business don't mix real well, especially when he is trying to make money and keep a schedule and you are holding him up trying to figure out the drawing.


  3. baddboygeorge

    baddboygeorge LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,249

    They draw strictly by the blueprints an are sometimes unaware of different elevations,size of actual landscaping beds,as well as number of plantings needed .As an installer you would go by the blueprint for the proper look the architect is trying to achieve an sometimes you have to move plants accordingly due to different situations that the architect was unaware of .Sometimes you have to be the judge so that the finished product is acceptable by the architect.All in all there not perfect an its hard to determine whats needed on site when you sit at a desk all day an guesstimate!! see ya george
  4. lawnspecialties

    lawnspecialties LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,524

    Thanks to you both. Excellent information. I definitely need to sit down with my friend (the builder) and discuss these issues as well.

    By the way. Who grades (as in approves) this work when all is done? The landscape architect company is close to 200 miles away. If the builder is the one, I KNOW he won't care if it's precisely planted. Thanks
  5. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    You bid on exactly what is in the plan to be done exactly as it is drawn on the plan. When something does not fit, you point it out, write up a change order for approval (basically an ammendment to the contract which approves the extra charge for the change), and make the change when it is approved.

    There are a lot of contractors who make a living of this, rightly or wrongly. That is what your competitors on large scale commercial work do. They look at the plan and the spec's and purposely find as many technical holes in it as possible.

    For example, if there is no spot elevations along a walkway or cross section showing that the soil is to be level with the walk, they will not include the fill and grading work in their bid. This gets their bid lower than someone who plans on doing it right and they get the job. Then as the job is under way, they'll say "there is a safety concern along the walks. They need more fill. We can write up a Change Order to take care of it.". That is how they beat you on the bid and still make more money than you do.

    It takes some big nuggets to play that game, but that is how it is done. I know because I have been on the receiving end of that before. That is why there is often what seems to be overkill on plan details and spec's.
  6. lawnspecialties

    lawnspecialties LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,524

    I've seen similar on even lawn maintenance bids as well. The old "low bid always wins" sure can cost a company (and fair landscapers) a lot of money. :hammerhead:

    It seems on these plans, the only changes I would recommend so far would actually reduce the cost (eliminating a few plantings).
  7. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    when i bid off these blueprints, i use them as a guide. I do not get out the tape measure and make sure the plands are exactly spaced as drawn. They are close, and look good to the eye.

    on a lot of commercial sites the LA has never been to the site. They are drawing from some other town or even state. The are using a siteplan to draw from.

    I have seen LA's spec fescue here.. ( will only grow here when hell freeze over)
  8. lawnspecialties

    lawnspecialties LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,524

    That's exactly what my approach is going to be. To the average person, it's going to look just like the plans. If someone breaks out some kind of surveying equipment, ooops. And yes, the plans call for fescue, also. OK, we're not at the beach, but some of it does contain varieties I'd never recommend.

    Curious though, who will be the final judge of the work I do? The builder, landscape architect, some inspector, etc?:confused:
  9. CutRight

    CutRight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 257

    i find this discussion interesting as i am studying to become a landscape architect. I think I could make myself a better professional by serving to what you guys are saying. Being available as the LA to discuss and intrepret my work for you to understand and also to use plants and grasses that make sense for the use. who would like that? But from what I see, the placement of things is probably very specific by the LA in terms of design (thats if hes a good one) but I hope to do more than just design mondane flower beds.

    UNISCAPER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,426

    "when i bid off these blueprints, i use them as a guide. I do not get out the tape measure and make sure the plands are exactly spaced as drawn. They are close, and look good to the eye."

    Before you do it that way, feel the job out and make sure someone is not comming in behind you to measure plants all check the as built. We had one of those a time or two. Problem was that nurseries measure tree calipers 6" or 12" above the root ball, 99.9% of the time. This city inspector measured tree calipers 4' off the root ball, so every tree we installed was smaller than what her spec said they should be. We butted heads and finally won, but in the mean while, the city held a $75,000 bond from the owner, and the owner held $8,900.00 or our money.
    In the commercial game, if you are a sub contractor, you are little more than an additional credit line to the GC. What I mean is, they pay you after they get paid. They also hold in many cases, a 10-20% retainer for the final sign off. Some don't, but that is how it's played. The question you have to ask is, can you afford to be someone elses bank? I.E. can you make payroll from the time you start the job, and, can you afford to buy supplies for the job? And you need to ask when the GC typically makes their pay out and at what point do you need to have your invoices ready and are there any forms particular to that GC that need to be filled out which would cause a pay delay.

    The last and final point. DO NOT under any circumstances sign a waiver of lien, or lein release until money is in your hand. If they want you to sign off, then next to your signature you put this contingency.

    "This waiver shall be null and void if payment in full is not recieved by_________ and then date it. Sign next to the line and if you can get someone from the GC or title company to do the same. Any way you do it, so long as that is there you should be convered by placing the contingency on the form.

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