understanding the residential design process...

Why hire a landscape architect on a residential site?  Certainly not all sites need the services of a landscape architect.  Not all homes need an interior designer or architect.  Not all weddings need a wedding planner, and not all floral arrangements need to be done by a floral designer.  Hiring a landscape architect on a residential project provides the homeowner with the insurance of knowing that his design will be comprehensive in thought and that his best interest will be in the forefront. Many nurseries are perfectly capable of providing quality planting plans for homeowners.  Swimming pool contractors can provide nice pool designs, but neither of these entities takes into consideration the interaction of the other, nor is he familiar with how his work could influence the overall design and needs of the client.  By hiring a landscape architect, you are hiring someone who, by degree and experience, is trained to incorporate every facet of site planning into a single comprehensive design.  Pools, patios, paving, walkways, cabanas, pool houses, entertaining areas, lawn, planting beds, trees, lighting and electrical, retaining walls and fences, and the house location are all elements controlled by the landscape architect's design.  In fact, we often will turn down residential work when our office cannot be in charge of the overall theme of the site. Your best interest....and our reputations are at stake.  Retaining our services as early on in the thought and planning process is critical for success.  

 

With that being said, we are proud that we have developed residential sites across seven states and have work featured in numerous national and international publications, as well as on internet sites such as Pinterest and Houzz.

 

Hiring a landscape architecture firm for residential design is very similar to hiring a building architecture firm to design a house.  To arrive at a product that you want and that our office is proud of, our services take some time and are performed in a dedicated step-by-step basis.  In general, the process works this way:

  • Introductory Meeting: 

    • We like to have our initial meeting at the project site.  We will look at the site, take pictures, and discuss budgets and goals.  We ask that the owner has a scaled survey of the property to give us, as well as a list of their goals and dreams.  This survey, or "plat plan" is often provided when a property is sold or refinanced.  In lieu of a plat plan, an architectural blueprint of the proposed residence will save us valuable time in field measurements, and will help to convey design themes, proposed materials, and general layouts.  Then its our firm's time to do serious brainstorming sessions.  You hired us because we are different...brainstorming involves exploring the various scenarios and possibilities in a very loose format.  We generate loose drawings and sometimes pull imagery to help convey our ideas.  

 

  • Conceptual Plan Presentation:

    • Follow up design meetings will generally take place in the KDC office.  The first office meeting will consist of reviewing the initial conceptual design.  This is intended to be a very informal design in which the relationship of design elements on your project are presented in a loose graphic form.  Specific plant material species are seldom discussed at this stage, as we are trying to get the client to concentrate on the design itself, and not on specific elements.  This meeting is very critical, as it sets the design process in motion.  The client needs to study the design, perhaps take it home and give it additional thought.  Forms and features can be moved, added, or deleted to satisfy the end goal of the project.  You will receive a bill for our minimum services of 8 hours after this meeting.

 

  • Follow Up Concept Development Meeting:

    • Secondary conceptual development meetings will be held to further develop the design and make sure all parties are comfortable with the overall concept.  We will start discussing some preliminary budget estimates and plant material concepts at this meeting.  You will receive a bill for any additional professional services time after this meeting.

 

  • Design Development and Construction Drawings:

    • Once the concept is agreed upon, the firm will refine the drawings and begin developing them to the exact scale relationships.  Plant material selection will be finalized, construction materials will be selected and dimensioned, and building techniques will be specified in the construction detailing of the project.  Once the design is completed, we will further refine the budget estimates in order to give you as accurate overall estimate as possible.  You will receive a bill for our professional services time after these drawings are complete.  We typically will not release plans until services are paid in full at this point.

 

  • Bidding:

    • When all the construction documents are completed, we will bid the project out to qualified contractors that have a developed track record of being able to construct and install projects of similar scale.  

 

KDC Associates has several options regarding the handling of our professional fees for our services:

 

  1. Fees calculated as a percentage of the owner's set construction budget.  This is the standard way of estimating fees for our services.  On residential work, this fee will usually amount to about 10% of your overall budget.

  2. Hourly fees can also be used for billing.  This method utilizes billing the client for all the time spent on the planning process.  This will include time for meetings, field measurements, the design process, document production, cost estimating, contractor meetings, site meetings, ect.  

  3. Fixed fees are occaisionally used on simple residential projects.  This is a single lump sum fee that includes all services. Fixed fees are rarely used on more complex projects, as it is risky for both parties to estimate all of the events that may be involved during the duration of the project.

  4. KDC Associates has a minimum charge of all work performed in our office.  A minimum charge of 8 hours design time will be applied on all work requested by our client.  This includes time for meetings, measurements, drafting, first conceptual plan presentation, and printing.  For many residential clients, this amount of design work will provide them with the catalyst to move forward and talk to landscape/pool contractors.  More involved projects will require additional time and will be billed accordingly.

  5. Some clients don't have the time, resources. or interest to manage projects.  For those clients, we offer KDC SiteWorks, which is an affiliate of KDC Associates.  KDC SiteWorks is a turn-key construction management company that offers clients a one-stop shop for designing projects and having them built.  If an Owner chooses to utilize KDC SiteWorks, all aspects of the construction process run through SiteWorks.  The client never has to deal with any aspect of the contractors, materials, or scheduling for their project.  This service is on a Cost + 16% basis.

 

Contact our office to discuss fees for your particular project.