Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If, after thoroughly reviewing this web site, you like what you see, and want to hire Lowenoak Landscape to help you develop your landscape, then this is how you should proceed.
- Call and schedule an initial consultation at Lowenoak’s office to discuss your project. 419-425-8500
- Begin assembling pertinent documents and information, such as surveys, house plans, pictures, etc., that will be useful to our designers which a list of such things will be mailed in our welcome package.
- Hold Initial consultation at our office to discuss your project; remember to bring pertinent documents and information. There is no charge for this meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to make a final decision with regard to hiring Lowenoak to help you design and develop your landscape.
- Sign the Design Agreement and pay the retainer.
- Begin the design process.
- Eventually settle on a plan/approve the proposal.
- Sign and Accept the Installation Contract to do the work; make acceptance payment.
- Begin construction and installation.
- Finish project ~ Enjoy
- Maintain what you have. Lowenoak will help if you want us to.
The process of building a good landscape involves three distinct steps: design; installation; maintenance. Failure to consider any one aspect can affect the success of a landscaping project. An extremely well conceived landscape cannot succeed if it is poorly installed, nor can a poorly designed landscape be redeemed by good installation procedures. Development of the landscape throughout its history requires high maintenance standards.
The design process begins with a thorough design analysis, consisting of a site analysis and a review of people’s needs. Until the needs of the property and the people using it are known, they cannot be met. As a part of the site analysis, the land itself must be studied to determine if alterations are necessary to provide drainage, usable areas, and a more comfortable environment. A general study of these land features, as well as those requiring alteration is best; they are refined later, as plans are completed.
After all factors surrounding the land and its occupants have been studied, the designer can begin to illustrate his design concepts. At this stage of the design process, only a general design is drawn. Specific materials are chosen later by the client with the designer’s guidance.
Again, it is best to determine the size and shape of sidewalks, drives, patios, and so forth, without specifically determining the surfacing to be used. Exact decisions come later.
After all general determinations have been made about area sizes, shapes and functional purposes, the specific design factors can be considered. More detailed choices can be made at this point by incorporating the customer’s likes: a trellis or a tree for shade; a wall, fence, hedge, or mass planting for a screen; and so forth. All elements in the landscape can be tied together effectively in a unified design to form not only a functioning outdoor living space but landscape that is also visually pleasing.
The experienced designer will consider the separate parts of the design process simultaneously as he proceeds. The designer continually shifts his attention from one factor to another, ensuring a seamless design.
Before answering this question, let’s first define “estimate.” An estimate is an approximate price for completing a well-defined job.
If we receive a complete and accurate set of landscape plans, detailed construction documents and/or project specifications for a project that we are interested in and qualified to work on, then “yes” we will sometimes provide an estimated price for completion of the project at no cost to the customer. We only provide such services to existing and potential clients who have expressed a genuine interest in wanting to use Lowenoak as their landscape contractor. We also only provide such estimates on projects for which we can realistically schedule commencement of work in a timely fashion.
Most of the time when people ask us if we give free estimates, what they really mean is do we design landscapes for free. Our estimate or price must be based on a plan and a detailed set of specifications, which are the end product of the design process. It is impossible for us, or anyone for that matter to give a meaningful price without a plan that was created through the design process. To do so would be purely guessing. At Lowenoak, we charge for our assistance in conducting the design process and in generating plans and specifications needed to develop the landscape.
So, the usual answer to the above question is “no” for the same reasons other professionals (i.e. Doctors, lawyers, financial planners, etc.) do not provide their services for free. The landscape design process is both time consuming and testing. It requires skill, creativity and the ability to communicate successfully with others using several different types of media. In order to be effective, designers must form a partnership with their clients; all parties must be committed to the project, and trust each other. Such commitment and trust is easier when the designer is formally working (under contract) for the client. Free plans generally do not have the client’s best interests at heart; they are usually at best a guess as to what the salesperson thinks they can get the potential client to buy – this is salesmanship, not design.
Although most of our projects tend to be within a 50 mile radius of Findlay, Ohio, the unique thing about Lowenoak is we can provide design and often times installation services anywhere and have done so in many other areas, cities, and states.
Typically Lowenoak charges by the hour for most design work. Historically speaking the fees paid for design work usually fall somewhere between 5% and 7% of total project investment.
At Lowenoak, it is practically impossible to go through the entire design process and generate a plan that the Client doesn’t like. This is because the design process cannot go forward without constant input and effective communication between the designer and the client. The preliminary drawings/plans produced during the design process are based on existing site conditions and information given to the designer by the client. Revisions/changes can be made to the design(s) after being proposed by the designer and reviewed by the customer to meet their approval.
The design fee is to be paid upon receipt of prints and/or pictures provided by the designers. Should you or the designer decide to end the design process at this point you pay for all hours accumulated and in return are given possession of the prints and are left with no additional obligation.
Generally, no. We feel that the best landscapes are designed and built by the same responsible party. We think this connection is important. Our entire company is set up to manage all aspects of a project from beginning to end. However, if the client chooses to do all of the installation or general contracting of the project on their own we will certainly work in a “design only” capacity. We simply will not handle only “parts” of the general contracting/project management duties. Our stance on this can be further discussed if needed.
We feel it represents a solid commitment to the design process on the part of the client, and this is necessary for success of the project. Furthermore, it shows that the client has confidence in us and our abilities, which is also important for success. The retainer is credited against the total design fee upon invoicing.
Phasing the work is a great way to develop a landscape, especially the larger, more intricate and expensive projects. At Lowenoak, we are glad to phase projects for those customers that request it. Sometimes phasing a project is the best way for a client to afford it.
Phasing a project cannot be done haphazardly. It must be done in such a manner that work completed in an earlier phase is not affected by work done in later phases. Compare the phasing of a landscape with painting the floor of a room having only one exit; you must start at the furthest point and work towards the exit, otherwise you will get trapped, or ruin your work trying to get out. In general, construction work (i.e., hardscapes) must be done before planting work.
Each project is unique and has its own logical phasing scheme. Once a landscape plan is developed, it is easy for the designer to define a phasing plan to suit the needs of the client. It is important to note that often the landscape element the client wants most, or that is the main focal point, cannot be included in the first phase, because doing so would make completion of later phases impossible or prohibitively expensive. Phasing requires design experience and patience.
In addition, larger projects are sometimes better designed and installed in phases allowing both the client and designer the luxury of seeing reality come to life a step at a time versus trying to imagine the final result all at once.