OK guys. I am thinking of redoing the back yard. Well, let me restate. My wife tells me I am thinking aboiut this. In any case, I am getting information.
How would you guys go about it? It seems when we had the pool put in we just didn't do it artistically and think it through. And we keep peicemeal chipping away and getting it nice. Would you hire an architect and then hire indicidual contractors for the parts? or what?
Chip in with ideas.
I just redid my backyard in April. I went with a contractor who designed the layout, hired the concrete/mason, and did the general supervision while the "day-laborers" did the rest. The backyard turned out beautiful, but it was a nightmare dealing with this guy. He would never show up on time, lied to me on several occasions, and demmanded final payment before the job was completed. Unfortunately, it seems par for the course for most construction type persons in AZ.
If it were me, I'd get a good landscape architect, and find a landscape contractor you could trust to do the rest.
Thanks. I am leaning towards an architect. Then I can sub out the individual tasks and get each done right and without some loser who pretends to be a foreman but is probably a drink with a working problem.
The wife likes big companies though.
They cost more but at least the good ones do stand behind their work.
Still open to ideas and leads.
I am a landscape designer by trade. An actual designer, rather than a sale person who designs. I have been doing it for over seven years. I have worked for 1 large company, 2 medium and 3 small companies. I really enjoy what I do, but the industry is full of yahoos. So, your weariness is definitely legit.
As far as using a bigger company, it is really luck of the draw. You may end up with the best designer or a guy who just started a few months ago. Also, the guy that sells you the landscape, usually isn't the guy who installs it. Much gets lost in the transition.
Unfortunely it is the same for the medium and smaller size companies as well. You really need to get several bids to get a feel for the various sales persons. Also get the same sized companies to do the bids. It is no use getting a small mom & pop shop to bid the same thing a big company does. They will be drastically different. But usually so will their work & warranties.
Landscape architects are very over rated and over priced. They usually specialize in large commercial landscaping, such as malls, hotels, upscale residential landscape and housing developements. They typically have very little practical know how, especially when it comes to residential landscaping. Don't mistake what I am saying, they understand planting, irrigation systems, footers specs, etc. But they don't actually do any installation, so much of their design is theory rather than practical. Many times they will spec in material and concepts that are overly expensive.
The absolute best way to do it is to buy a plan. The number one mistake a do it yourselfer makes, is they don't start with a good plan. They run off and start without a overall concept or thinking it through. So they end up with a hodge podge of ideas all grouped together.
A good plan will have the overall concept done to scale with all the quantities specified. It will give you an overall picture of locations of hardscape (bbqs, fireplaces, etc.) and softscape (plantings & lawn areas) items. That way, all the different items work together to form a completely intergrated look as well as function. The plan will also give you various quantities, such as square footages of sod, granite, decking, etc. With these quantities you will be able to have exact numbers to order and install or have bidded out.
By having a plan in hand, you can get it bidded out in whole or in parts. This gives you several advantages. First, sales guys will bid slightly lower since all the initial work is done. They don't have to put 5 hours into putting a bid together or pay a designer/draftsperson to put together a plan. So you will get a cheaper price by a few hundred up to a few thousand. 5% off a $20k job is $1000.
Also, you will get the same exact bid from the various people bidding on the job. You will get an orange for orange comparison. If you allow the contractors to use their own design to bid the job, the quantities, sizes and material will all be different. To the point where a some of the cheaper bids may be more per item, they just put less or smaller items in. Since you aren't knowledgable, you won't catch the differences the add or save money in a job. For example, you can use 1 gallon plants vs. 5 gallon plants on certain plant species because the grow quicker and actually have a higher survival rate.
Weather your bidding it out or doing it yourself. I hope some of my tips and info help you. Hurry up, the cool weather will be here before you know it. And when it cools down, everybody wants there landscape installed. Some contractors & suppliers will be backed up several weeks or even months. Good luck.
EXACTLY. We did not have a PLAN. This is what I am trying to avoid repeating. Problem is, anyone with the title archtiect charges a fortune. And the "design" of easch vendor always looks great at first. But they always focus on what they have done before and not how to integrate your yard.
Where is a good place to get a good design for a reasonable amount?
Edited cause I want to know who YOU work for and how you charge. Drop me an email or IM. I am in a hurry cause I leave for a long time next week and wanted to start the process before I left (start the desing process not the actual work).
That is what I need. Thanks.
IHON is right. As a developer (commercial and residential), I've seen (and done) everything he's described. Spend time with each other. Go look at homes (together) with landscaping that you like. Invest the time with him so he will understand what you really want. Go look at things he's designed.
Oh, the part about a plan....I've redone my yard 4 times in 12 years. Two were redone almost down to the dirt. The last time was done with a design. Yogi Berra was right. If you don't know where you're going, you probably won't get there.
Only problem I face is I am leaving in a few days for en extended trip. My wife is here but I prefer having some control over spending and selection of how to remodel.
I guess if I can find someone on Monday that can come out, look about, complete the design and reach an agreement via email then I am good to go. Otherwise I will have to start the process in November. Or have the wife unit start it and not close until I see everything.
Worst case it doesn't get done until early next year.
Oh, and I don't think there is actually much in landscaping. The job is (in order of significance):
1) Spa/jacuzzi (we already have a pool)
2) Move existing pool pump
3) Redesign and build any walls, beehive fireplaces/firepits,
4) Integrate everything with new decking and such
I am betting there won't be much in the way of new plants.
But, the process is just beginning.
Good luck, man!
Thanks. Truth is - there aren't any plain old designers I can find. Checked yellow pages and internet. They are all associated with a landscaping/decking company in some way or another.
I found one I think might work. They do landscaping and decking and firepits/beehives etc but not spas. So if they do a good plan I can hire out the spa first, then have them roll in and do the rest.
Best I can find so far.