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Are you considering a new landscape construction project? At some point you will have to make a decision: Do you call a landscape architect for plans or do you call a design-build landscape contractor?

It’s an important decision because investing in your commercial landscape construction project can have a serious impact on your wallet and we all want to make sure we are getting the best value for our money.

Both are valid options, so how do you know which landscape construction project is the best fit? Here are the two common options and an alternative.

Option 1: Design-build

Design-build is a tradition that goes back to the times of the master builder. It’s a landscape construction project that can provide a lot of benefits.

You select a landscape contractor and that contractor provides a turnkey product. With one point of contact you gain fewer communication issues, which should lead to a streamlined process and ultimately a product that matches the design intent.

Often times a design-build company will offer “free” design, which means your money is going to work where you want it, putting plants in the ground. Sounds great, right? Realistically you end up paying for design through embedded fees in the material, which leads to higher than average installation costs.

Or, if the landscape contractor truly isn’t charging you for design, they are not putting a great deal of thought into a solution for you. You can end up with a half-baked design on a napkin that doesn’t show exactly what you are getting.

At the end of the day the finished product can look completely different than what you envisioned the landscape construction project would look like.

Option 2: Design-bid

If the first landscape construction project option doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there is the more traditional route of hiring a landscape architect and then selecting a landscape contract through the bid process.

A good landscape architect will take your project through the design process. Through this process you will take a concept and work through steps that will ultimately get you to a very clear plan of what you are going to get. The design process should also be a time to really think through the best solution for your landscaping project and make sure all options are considered and taken into account.

There is no substitute for a good plan, but a good plan takes time and time is money. If you go this route you may save some money by getting a solid plan and then bidding it out to find the lowest bidder, but you will also spend a lot of money to get there.

The biggest downfall to this option can be the “over design”. There is no doubt that a landscape architect can put together a plan that will look great, but often landscape architects are not good at designing to a budget. What happens when a project is over budget? It is time for revisions, which by the way, you are going to pay for.

The alternative approach

Is there an alternative? The answer is yes! We believe the best scenario is a hybrid of the two approaches above. What does that mean?

It means hiring a landscape architect and paying for the design process and thorough plans. Realistically a well planned project takes time and money to develop; there is no way around that.

However, if the same landscape architect is also responsible for building the project at the end of the day, guess what happens? You get all of the benefits of using a landscape architect and going with the traditional design-build company.

In this redefined idea of design-build, you should pay slightly less for design through elimination of unnecessary revisions and construction administration fees. And at the end of the day you should get a product that is on budget and fulfills your vision at a fair market price.

Highgrove Partners can help you with all of your landscape construction needs. We welcome your call at (678) 298-0550. Let’s get the conversation started!


This post was written by Sam Sampson, Highgrove Partners’ land services manager

Image credit:  lissalou66

Last modified: August 6, 2013