Frequently Asked Questions
. . . Is there a cost to have a designer meet with me initially?
Yes. The first site visit starts at $200. There are some areas that are even higher because of distance, such as extremely rural areas. The initial site visit fee may be waived if the design contract is signed at that visit. (NOTE: There are areas we don't do go to, such as the upper SF Peninsula and the South Bay Area.)
. . . So how much does a landscape design cost?
This is a bit difficult to truly answer to your satisfaction because it will really be based on a few factors including the following;... the size of your yard, complexity of measuring your yard, the physical elements that will be included in the design of your yard, the scope of work the design will need, etc.
But to give you a typical range of what you can expect, for lets say the average suburban home, I would say a front yard usually ranges from about $1,500-$2,500, and about $2,500-$3,500 for a back yard. For combined front and back yards you would get a combination discount, so you can probably see a range of about $3,500-$5,500.
. . . I'm trying to save money and a design is costing just that! How is this helping me?
Saving you money is one of the great benefits of using Hall Landscape Design for this process! Here are just a few ways it will save you:
- Plants. Especially for you DIY types! Our ability to get you wholesale pricing on plants for your yard will more than cover the costs of the design alone!
- No ambiguous bids based on ambiguous ideas. We can give you the measurements of items in the designs. I can not tell you how many contractors will round off numbers way high when estimating square footage of a patio, driveway, or perhaps a lawn area.
- Apple-to-apple bids based on the same principal of getting a clear plan with clear items for you to get bids on. Each contractor bids off of the same design.
- As Hall Landscape Design designers, we are on your team and will be working with you with your budget to make sure your yard doesn't end up being a fantasy with no chance of getting installed. A redesign on our time is in order if we have missed the mark based on your budget.
. . . How much is the designer involved after the design process?
This falls in the Additional Design Modification category. We are definitely available to oversee the installation of your project. A site visit or two a week, consultation with the contractor, or upon your request is great to ensure your yard will truly meet the vision developed in the plan. Our fees for consultation, coordination, or onsite work (such as plant placement) is set individually and agreed upon by you and your designer. Please note that we are not able to do any labor beyond plant placement prior to them being planted by you or your contractor.
. . . Since we want a pool in our yard, should we contact a pool company first to do this?
NO! The design of your pool is an integral part of your yard and needs to be balanced with all of the other elements in your design to ensure your yard flows aesthetically and practicality wise. Pool companies have fantastic designs but they generally have already been used in other yards (and used often!) and not done to be customized to your unique property. Personally, with my vast experience in pool design, I'm sure I have designed more customized pools than most pool companies out there. Working with your designer to create the pool that is perfect for your yard will also give you the opportunity to get multiple bids on the same design to make sure you get the right contractor that makes you comfortable both in personality and budget!
. . . So how much is this landscape going to cost me to install based on what we talked about?
The big question! ...and believe me it's a tough one to answer on the spot. As you work with your designer, a lot of the cost of elements should be discussed with them during the design process. We never know the actual cost, but can give you an idea of ranges. One way to approach this is that once the design is bid on, any of the elements in the design can be changed to a lesser costing material - for example, retaining walls that have mud facia with stonework and cap stones are more expensive than a plain mud finish with no further detail ...or it could be changed to a rock wall, etc. Those changes can be directly done with your contractor.
Truth be told if you get your landscape installed by a contractor it is not going to be cheap... but if installed by the right contractor it will be worth it! Over time I have acquired a simple formula through very reputable contractors that can be of some assistance to get you an idea of what you may need to be thinking about for a budget range to landscape your yard professionally. Simply take the square footage of your yard space in question and multiply it by $7.00 and again by $10.00... the two resulting numbers is the range your yard will most likely end up in for a full installation of plantings, structures, patios, irrigation, and drainage. The more hardscapes you have and probably the smaller your space the closer you will be to the $10.00 or even higher a square foot range. Of course the price is determined by materials chosen, so be sure to go over this with your contractor.
. . . I just heard an ad on the radio that I can get a free design if I go with XYZ company... so why should I pay for a design from you?
I promise you right here and now that the "free" design is not anything close to a full landscape design. The remedial level of expertise, creativity, and lack of any consideration to your local environment and architecture of your home is the equivalent to purchasing an RV to live in instead of your current valuable home. And on top of that you will be paying for this design in the price of your installation as this is usually a marketing scheme to lock you into a contract with that particular company. That 'free' design will just lead to a disappointing concept and high pressure to get locked in with that installation company.
A true landscape design by Hall Landscape Design will save you headaches and money (see the 3rd question above) and the end result is incomparable to what you will get with the amateur work.
. . . I am wondering if I need a permit for any of these things that I want to put in my yard?
Great question and one that your designer can usually answer for you when discussing your install. A fantastic website you can go to to find out for your particular project is www.permitservices.com. Bear in mind most larger outdoor structures, pools, electrical work, and patio covers may need a permit of some type. All permits must be obtained by you or your contractor.
. . . So with a design I will never need an engineer or architect, correct?
Wrong!! A designer can do items such as structures and certain retaining walls in concept only. A contractor would then assume the liability for the structure in question which very well may need to be engineered... this would especially include items such at pools, retaining walls of a certain height (depending on the county), decks, and larger overhead patio covers and anything tied architecturally into the main residence itself. Designers don't have the liability to do the schematics for drainage, gas, or high voltage electric plans - they can only indicate them on the design. Designers can however do lighting and irrigation schematics.
. . . I just got a few bids based on this design and one seems extremely cheap compared to the others...shouldn't I sign with the cheater company?
First of all, be very careful and make sure that bid is as detailed as the other bids you have received. You don't want that money you think you are saving on this ambiguous bid to be made up with change orders during the process of the installation! Are things accounted for such as landscape fabric in your planting beds? ...drainage for your yard? ...amendments added to your poor soil? Do your due diligence and please go to the consumer page of the contractors board to ensure your contractor has a clean working record~ http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/ .
. . . Ok, I know I am sick of paying that water bill for watering my lawn... are there any other benefits to getting rid of this feature to my landscape?
Absolutely! The design can remove your front yard lawn and make it into the envy of the neighborhood with a gorgeous water saving planting plan. So, save on your water bill (along with a very probably rebate from your water company or city!) and get some gorgeous curb appeal that will be low maintenance to boot!
. . . Do you have any contractors you can suggest for us to work with?
Aw yes... Indeed we do! We have multiple trusted contractors in the areas we design in to give you bids to get your job done to perfection.