7 Things You Need To Know Before Choosing Someone to Design and Build Your Garden
24 November 2020
Can I get a free garden design?
For a designer to visit you, take a brief, survey your garden and put together a design requires a significant amount of time. They will be employing years of experience, expertise and creative flair. What calibre of garden designer will give that away for free? To have your garden design made real you are going to make a substantial investment. You will want to spend that money to best effect. If the design is poor, the quality of your garden and enjoyment you get from it will be disappointing.
But what if I already know what I want
That’s great because that provides a good brief for your designer who will take those ingredients, mix them in the right proportions, maybe change one or two of them, add some more and bake you the most amazing garden ‘cake’.
My needs are really simple I don’t need a designer!
A designer may open your eyes to opportunities or ideas you haven’t thought of, but yes you may not need one. An experienced professional landscaper will be happy to give a little free informal guidance and a free quotation. This may work for straight forward ‘garden feature’ projects, less so for whole gardens unless it is quite simple. A ‘rule of thumb’ a design-and-build contractor might use is “if I can agree the scope of the project in a short conversation on site and then present a quotation describing it clearly via the written word only then is a free quotation all that is needed”.
Isn’t employing a garden designer expensive?
You are engaging a professional with expertise and experience and a love of their craft all of which will show in what they produce for you. They will typically be spending ‘days’ of their time in creating your design. As a percentage of your overall investment the cost is small and good design means that the ‘build’ spend is used to best effect.
So how do I go about choosing one?
There are broadly three types of professionals you might consider:
A Landscape Architect
This route may be appropriate for very large projects and is often used for commercial or civil schemes, less so for a private garden. Some landscape architects are not attuned to working on a domestic scale. They will typically use a formal tendering process if asked to get involved in selecting a contractor to build your garden. Costs are liable to be higher than engaging other garden design professionals.
A Garden Designer (who doesn’t build)
They will typically have a formal training and knowledge of both hard landscaping (the built elements) and soft landscaping (the living elements) . They need to earn their living from their design fees and this will be reflected in charges. It is important to be able to discuss budgets before a design is commissioned. The end goal is a viable design not a nice drawing! A good designer will have an idea of the costs of the actual landscaping and sufficient technical knowledge to specify the build so that their design is ‘buildable’ and works. However because they don’t build them themselves, some wont. The garden design colleges produce a fresh crop of new designers each year so don’t rely on a qualification alone as the badge of a good designer. Your designer may recommend a contractor they have worked with successfully in the past to undertake your project.
A Design-and-Build Contractor
A design-and-build contractor will offer a complete service from design through to construction. You will deal with a single company which can make for less hassle. As well as being able to design they will understand the costs and technicalities of the ‘build’ which enables them to design well to a budget and create something that translates successfully from the ‘drawing board’ to the ground. They may or may not have formal design training but are likely to understand what works and look great, having done it for real, often for many years.
Ok, so what next?
Consider what kind of service you are looking for, design only or design and build? Then, anyone offering a professional garden design service will have a website. This will set out their approach, ethos and the scope of their services, so start there. The website will showcase examples of their past projects so you can see their work. Also seek out reviews/testimonials. First hand from friends, family or colleagues are great but may not be abundant. Written testimonials may be found on the designers’ website or on Google reviews. Also check out their Facebook profiles, these will often feature more informal fly-on-the-wall information perhaps showing projects under construction with comments from clients and others. Some may have YouTube channels with interesting and informative videos which may be enlightening. Next arrange a visit from one or two that you feel may be right for you. Some will charge a modest fee for an initial consultation, others will do this without cost or obligation and only charge when you have commissioned them to prepare a design for you.
If you are interested in discussing a garden design with a professional Kent based design and build company, fill out our contact form here or call us on 01227 733447