Information Provided

Even if the designer tells the homeowners that the plan is free, the time spent to prepare the design is most certainly built into the total project cost. Design Philosophy Potential clients should also be acquainted with the designer’s “design philosophy,” or the underlying principles and values that the designer applies to design projects. Often, these plans are drawn on a piece of company stationery with a list of plant materials and a price quotation. These firms typically provide excellent-quality design because that is their specialization. These include (1) design, (2) con­struction (dealing with structures such as terraces, decks, and fences), (3) installation (dealing with plant materials), and (4) maintenance (dealing with the ongoing care of the landscape after it has been built and installed). Professionals charge for their advice, consultation, and services. Available Services Advertisements, brochures, Web sites, and so on should inform potential clients about what services the design firm offers. However, there are other so-called free plans whose cost should in fact be billed to the clients. The extent to which this information is presented varies widely depending on the media used, the targeted audience, available space or time, and budget. However, the designer must inform clients about fees at some point in the process. One other concern is about whether or not to charge any design fees. These are the plans that take a substantial amount of time to design and prepare and then are offered as “freebees” for the sake of luring potential clients into signing a contract for the project. These diversified forms of communication are intended to arouse potential clients’ interest while also providing basic information about the designer or design firm, such as (1) available services,
(2) design philosophy, (3) design process, and (4) fees. Many homeowners don’t fully un­derstand what is required to prepare a master plan for a residential site or the various steps that are employed. It is very helpful for the designer to provide an outline of both the necessary design process steps and the relative time it takes for each. Design philosophies are those concepts and feelings that pervade a designer’s work. Each design solution is a customized, functional, and aesthetic synthesis of the clients’ needs with the site’s problems and potentials, all of which is made possible through the expertise of a design professional. Design Process Potential clients should be aware of the design process that will be employed in creating a residential design solution. Although most potential clients benefit from this information, some design­ers are skeptical about providing it because they are afraid that fee information might scare off clients or might give competing designers or firms the ability to undercut them. Potential clients might be exposed to the following phases of the design process: (1) site analysis, (2) design program, (3) functional diagrams, (4) preliminary design, and (5) master plan. It is important that clients understand the tasks involved in the process. A free plan is likely to influence the clients’ perception of the worth of the de­signer’s professional advice. Ideally, potential clients should find designers with design philosophies that match their own set of values and attitudes toward landscape design. A residential design company that offers design, construction, installation, and maintenance services is generally known as a design/build firm or full-service firm. This can usually be accomplished by providing a general fee based on either an hourly rate or a typical lump sum for a mas­ter plan. Thus, although the clients may think they have received something for nothing, they in fact have not. Both of these fears are legitimate. Some de­signers do not charge clients directly for a design fee if the clients sign a contract for implementation of the design. The designer should attempt to define his or her design philosophy in a concise statement of two or three sentences. Advertisements and job signs provide the smallest opportunity to communicate this information, whereas brochures and Web sites offer the greatest chance. Surely the time spent designing is worth more than nothing, and clients should be made aware of that and charged for that time. Any wise consumer would look at something free as being worth nothing to the one giving it away. The advantage of this type of firm is that it can offer a coordinated package of services to clients and ensure a smoother flow from one phase to another. Fees Last, most potential clients like to have some information about what it will cost for a master plan and its implementation. This same wise consumer also realizes that something “free” is a clever way of enticing them to buy something more expensive. The previous methods for communicating with the public are alternative ways of in­forming potential clients about the designer or design firm.

Updated: 29.10.2014 — 22:25