Frequently Asked Questions
Copyright 2015. Scott Mehaffey, landscape architect. All rights reserved. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: +1.312.401.4296
Q: What should I do ahead of time to prepare for a new landscape?
A: A prepared client really is the best customer, so to get the most value from your design services agreement, you should spend time outdoors really studying your property. Notice the condition of existing plants, beds and lawn areas, paving, drainage, etc. Note problem areas and priorities for upgrades (e.g. get rid of standing water, make the patio larger, etc.) Look outward as well as inward, noting surrounding views to either frame or block, noise or wind to buffer, as well as nearby landscapes that appeal to you. Next, start an ideas book using magazine clippings or web images - or create an "online scrapbook" using Pinterest, Houzz, or a similar website. Make copies of your Plat of Survey as well an any architectural drawings, grading or utility maps, or previous landscape designs that will help us better understand your site. Finally (and most import), spend time discussing how much you want to spend and when. Your project can be phased over months or even years, but as a general rule, homeowners should invest upwards of 20 percent of their property's market value - and sometimes more, if significant hardscape is required.
Q: How much will my design cost?
A: Generally speaking, landscape design should account for 10-15% of your total landscape budget, but this varies with the size and complexity of the project. Some projects also require the services of a building architect, engineer, or other specialist, and Scott always provides those costs upfront for the client's written approval. Scott works hard to provide accurate design services agreements based on the client-approved design program but as the process unfolds, clients sometimes wish to expand the scope of the project and related services, requiring an additional services agreement. Any significant changes to the design services agreement are documented for client approval prior to spending additional billable time. Similarly, construction monitoring and coordination are billed separately according to each client's needs and budget.
Q: How long will my project take?
A: A typical design process requires 30-60 days, depending on project scope and complexity as well as the timeliness of client feedback. Smaller projects can happen much more quickly. Allow 30 days for construction bidding and contracts, depending on the time of year (i.e. bids will take longer to receive during the busy season). Landscape construction and installation schedules are determined by contractor availability and existing workloads. Logical, cost-effective phasing and staging sometimes extends projects over more than one year - to accomodate severe weather and to ensure quality workmanship and plant survival. Many clients should anticipate a full-year process from start to finish.
Q: Do you provide references, and do you guaranty your work?
A: Scott is fully insured and guarantees that your project will be handled courteously and professionally, and that your design reflects the agreed-upon scope and program. Your contractors and any subcontractors should be held to the same professional standards, and should always provide a written guaranty of their work. Scott recommends specific bidders for each project based on previous experience, cost and availability. All contracts are owner-direct and upon request, Scott can be engaged for construction coordination and monitoring, or can refer you to an independent owner's representative to manage the project. Scott does not guaranty the work of others but always represents the best interests of his clients when construction issues or disputes arise. References are available upon request, as we respect the privacy of all clients.