Surrounds is both a landscape architecture firm and a landscape construction firm. We build what we design. Our architects know construction and our construction crews understand design. This design-build approach to landscape architecture delivers efficiencies that significantly benefit the client.
What makes design-build beneficial to the client is that it is a seamless approach. We are responsible for every aspect of the project. Howard Cohen, Registered Landscape Architect
Consider the alternative to landscape design-build: design-bid-build. In this model, the homeowner will pass the design around to get multiple estimates from contractors in hopes of striking the best deal. There is no way for the homeowner to evaluate the merit of an individual contractor’s bid because that depends entirely on how well the contractor reads and understands the design.
Creative Partnership & Quality Control
The design-build approach to landscape architecture starts with a partnership between the client and the landscape architect. The architect is a member of the same team that is going to construct the design that they create together.
Design-build is an approach to designing and building outdoor living environments in which all participants work together for a shared purpose under a shared set of standards from day one until project completion. High-level communication and quality control are built-in. This is a significant benefit to the client—and there are many more benefits to consider.
1 Value Engineering
Another benefit to the homeowner who has chosen landscape design-build is creative value engineering ideas. For example, when the budget is near the limit, our landscape architects know where to find flexibility in the design. By modifying methods or materials, we can accomplish parts of the construction less expensively without having to go through a major redesign. We are able to do that because our architects are in touch with construction methods and understand the costs involved.
The design-build approach to landscape architecture has that flexibility built into it. We can help our clients get very close to their desired outcome and maintain reasonable control of the budget in the process.
2 Efficiency Maximizes Budget Dollars
A design-only landscape architecture firm must produce many pages of intricately drawn construction details (called sections) to make sure the selected builder will have a thorough explanation of how a design is intended to be built. Our construction crews don’t need all those detailed sections because they work with the same group of landscape architects every day. And our landscape architects are in the field checking with crews at least once a week. The benefit to the client: Budget dollars saved from reduced need for construction documentation can be allocated elsewhere in the project.
3 On Time, On Budget
The construction management component is built into the Surrounds process. It’s not an add on. Barry Schneider, President, Surrounds Landscape Architecture & Construction
The more parties there are the more potential for confusion there is. Particularly during construction, if something doesn’t appear to work according to the design, there is potential for delays, unforeseen costs and contention.
For example: Imagine that a contractor counts 15 steps on the design plan, but during construction discovers they need 17. The builder calls the client and asks them what they want to do. The worried client calls the architect. The architect visits the site and checks the design plan. It turns out that the contractor misread the plan. They started the steps too low on the lot, so ran out of steps at the top….
That’s one way the design-bid-build situation can be stressful for the client: When there is a hiccup in the process, someone has to take ownership and pay the upcharges.
That doesn’t happen in a design-build project. If we say we are going to build 15 garden steps and find out we need 17, we own it. We take care of it at no additional cost because we promised the client.
4 Direct Sourcing: Best Materials at Best Price
A design-only landscape architecture firm may specify a particular tree or type of stone in their design only to find out weeks later that these materials are unavailable—or that the price has changed significantly.
We are in touch with the current costs of plant stock and construction materials because our landscape architects and garden managers order plants and construction materials every week. We know what materials work best, what is available from our vendors, and when there is excess stock that may result in discounts to be passed on to the client.
As you can see by now, the homeowner receives many benefits due to the way we work. There certainly are landscape design firms that follow a design-build model, but few residential landscape architecture firms do so. That’s the ultimate benefit to you and your project. With Surrounds, your project benefits from the formal training and a broader range of capabilities of a registered landscape architect who will design and oversee the construction of your landscaping project. Interested? Please contact one of our landscape architects if you’d like to find out how we can help you to realize your landscape design dreams.
If you’ve been thinking about investing in a landscape design project, our eBook: Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams, is full of valuable information to help you get started.