1. I’ve never worked with a designer before. How do I get started?
The more information you can have on hand for your first appointment, the better for us to help you, especially if you have examples of what you like. Go through magazines and books. Examine photos that appeal to you to see exactly what it is in the picture that you can relate to. Realize that your life will change so make sure that you are thinking about the future. Make a list of both needs and wants. Have an idea of how much you are willing to spend. 10% -15% of the value of your property is usually a good place to start. Be realistic. Just because something looks good in a magazine, if you never go outside to use the space, it probably isn’t a good idea for your project. We don’t want you to waste money on things that you won’t use. For example, if your kitchen is only a stone’s throw away from the back door, you probably don’t need an outdoor dishwasher, unless you do a lot of entertaining. So the more information we have to start with, the better we can match to your desires.
2. How long does it take?
Creating a plan that works for you can take anywhere from a couple of months to longer depending on the complexity of the project. Planning spaces that you will enjoy for a long time takes a lot of thought and effort on both the part of the designer and the homeowner(s). Don’t rush it. These decisions that you make you will have to live with for a long time. If there is one thing that I hate to see a client do is waste money. Just as having a master plan to work from, doing parts of a yard or interior space in piece meal costs you in the long run. It’s important to think things through: for example, the electrical line that is necessary for the fountain that is sitting on the other side on the new concrete can’t be an afterthought…
3. What if there are concerns with the design?
This is where communication is key. You need to be able to trust us to do things right. We all need to make sure that we are on the same page in terms of what you are asking for. We are happy to make changes to plans but not necessarily in the middle of the project. We want to be able to catch things early on before any mistakes become costly. If you change your mind and decide that you want to add that pool after all, we are happy to do that, but there will be charges for the additional design work. Some design changes are minor and those are easy to make during the project. Big changes have a domino effect and need a lot more thought to make sure that everything is in place before we proceed.
4. We think we can handle the project ourselves. Why would we need to hire you to manage the project?
If you have a lot of experience dealing with contractors and understand the construction of hardscape and have lots of time on your hands, then, go for it. But if you and your partner work long hours and are unavailable to be home to oversee what is going on, you need to have the people that helped you create the design to stay involved to make sure that what is on the blueprint is what is there after installation. Shortcuts are never a good idea. We make sure that the contractors are following through with what we have designed. We are there to answer any questions and help solve any problems that will arise. Communication is key.We want to make this a pleasurable experience for you, not one fraught with frustration. We plan on being on good terms with you when we are finished. We live locally and our relationships go far beyond the job. I still receive Christmas cards from former clients five years after their job has been completed. We have a lot of repeat clients and you don’t get that return without doing a great job in the first place.