What’s Involved in the Design Process?
1. Initial Meeting and Client Brief
The first step in the design process is meeting with the client, assessing on-site circumstances and obtaining a design brief from the client. It is always helpful at this early stage, if you have a reasonable outline of your requirement, a basic list of definite 'wants' 'not wants' and an, if desired, aspirational list should the budget allow for it.
If you have not thought about it already, it is also important for the designer to know early on, what kind of budget you have in mind for the entire project. Obviously producing a design that would be outside your budget might end up being of little value to you as it may never get to the build stage.
2. Site or Garden Survey
At this point we will carry out a full survey and assessment of the site. Accurate garden dimensions will be taken, the orientation and setting, soil type and drainage issues, presence of existing features, ground services such as sewage, surface drainage, electric, phone and other cabling locations, prevailing winds, views to neighbouring gardens, houses or other buildings and finally noting of existing planting and boundaries.
A series of photo will also be tasking from various points in the garden or site. In most cases, i.e. your average suburban garden, this work is carried out at no cost to the client. However in larger gardens or sites, generally above 250 sq. metres in size, this work can take several hours to complete and may even require 2 survey technicians to carry out the assessment. If this is the case you will be informed of the cost for site survey undertakings prior to it being carried out.
3. Agreeing Design Proposal
Subject to agreement with you on design costs, The 1st draft concept plan is produced and provisional cost estimate for the build of this plan can be provided in most cases. These drawings are produced in plan form, 2D and generally at A3 size 1:50 scale. On larger sites concepts plans may be produce at A2 or very occasionally at A1. In some cases (the least intricate jobs) this is where the design process ends and there is a leap straight to the build phase or at least to tendering stage if several quotations are to be sought for the construction works.
Design cost up to this point can of course vary depending on the size of the site. An average suburban gardens can have a concept plan produce for between €240-€300. A Large suburban garden is harder to estimate but you could expect a cost of anything between €400 and €800. Have a look at our for more specific pricing based on your garden size. Subsequent to finalising a concept plan and making any necessary alterations, the next step is to proceed to the drafting of working drawings.
4. Producing Working Drawings
The next step is to commence work on detailed drawings. These are generally produced where an out-sourced landscape contractor will be carrying out the build and will generally need working drawing in order to be able to complete the work to a uniform accurate level and for you to be assured that the initial concept and your visions of the finished garden matches what the contractor interprets and produces. On occasion some clients are willing and proficient enough to take on some of the build works themselves but do not have the specific horticultural or building expertise. working drawing are a must for them. On medium to large gardens some working drawing are an absolute essential. These can include all or some of the following drawings:
Hard landscape/ construction plans
Specific feature design plans
Cross section design plans
3D visualisation plans
In addition, getting a set of working drawing produced ensures that your chosen landscape contractor is adhering to specific building regulations and is being accurate in his quantifying of building materials not to mention specifics on planting species, quantities, positioning, ratios and planting distances, so critical to the overall look of your finished garden.
You as the client have the ability to question each stage of the job when you are armed with specifications on the working drawings. As another point of interest, if you intend seeking out a number of landscape contractors to provide quotations for parts or all of the project, it ensures that you are comparing ‘like with like’. For example a contractor who has limited knowledge of plants or who is attempting to reduce his tender price, may cut back on planting quantities or use poor quality or bog standard commercial planting in order to win the contract.
Even having won the contract they may attempt to cut back their costs by scrimping on building materials or planting. Again armed with working drawings, generally, no such issues arise. Cost for producing these working drawing can be provided on a drawing by drawing basis but where a full set of working drawing are required it is more normal to charge a percentage cost of the build price. This ensures that the client will have a good idea of the overall design cost often as early as the concept stage and it is invariably more cost efficient for the client.
The percentage cost generally falls between 12% and 15% of the build price. So for instance on a €10,000 project, where a full set of design plans are required the design cost would work out at between €1,200 and €1,500. There is also a nominal charge to cover travel cost were more than 3 site/client visits are required or where the distance to the site exceeds 25km. On Large sites, generally taken to mean those above 1,000 sq. metres, there will also be an additional charge for site survey work which can be time consuming. These charges however, are in most cases, relatively insignificant in terms of the overall cost of designing on larger sites.
The drawings below show a selection of commissioned design work. Please click on a design to equate yourself with just some of the various possibilities for pre-construction plan options.