Your Wish List
At the end of the initial design meeting, we present our clients with a typed written proposal which includes our fees and a range of cost for the design work. We base our costs on your wish list, as obviously larger projects require more time. Larger projects have more moving parts, more details to finalize, more features to properly marry together. Smaller scope projects require less time and typically fewer features we present a list of programming elements, which lists all of the items that were discussed in the initial meeting. The design is based off of these programming elements, and it helps us ensure that we encompass all of your wants and needs. This list can be changed throughout the design process, as we understand that your thought process and your desires can also change as more ideas are presented and researched.

Measure and Photograph
The project site is accurately measured before any actual design work can officially begin. We take photos to document the existing site. From the on-site measurements, grade shots and photos, we generate an existing conditions plan for our landscape architect to begin the design.

Initial Design
With all the site information we can begin our initial design, which usually takes the form of rough pencil-on-paper sketch. As a designer myself, I tend to focus broadly at first and then narrow down my field of vision once I have particular features located. I look for primary circulation paths and anticipate how people will move through the space or to a particular location. The scale of the various features and elements is critical at this stage. Of course it all hinges on the size of the property and the space we are working with. Then the list of programming elements are considered and factored in to the design one by one. In this phase of the design I’m constantly asking myself two simple questions; Why? How?

Design Development
Why is this patio located here? Why is it this particular shape? Why am I choosing this material? How does this particular feature relate to other aspects of the design? How does it relate to the house? How is it accessed? Why is it accessed in this manner? These are just a few examples, which may amount to the very peak of the tip of the iceberg when you’re talking about all of the questions a designer asks him/herself over the course of a design production. We don’t put a patio in for the sake of putting a patio in. There has to be a good reason for why that patio is there, and how it contributes to the overall function and vision of the project.

Digital plan
The first round design is presented on a digital plan along with with 3D renderings (if applicable) and a complete ESTIMATED budget. We will get more in depth on the renderings and budgeting in other posts. But generally, 3D renderings help bring the plan drawing to life. Plan-view drawings aren’t always easy to read and understand, so the renderings allow our clients to clearly see what the designer is proposing. The estimated budget is actually more important than the design itself. A beautiful design is worthless if it doesn’t meet the client’s budget.

Love it or revise it
Once we have a completed design and a rough budget we will reach out to you and schedule our first design meeting. The design phase usually lasts one or two rounds, perhaps longer depending on the project. We convey our thought process and our ideas to you and present our drawings and renderings. This first round is not necessarily the final design; changes are common once the client sees their initial vision on paper along with estimated cost. We welcome a critique of the design and we apply any revisions to the next round of design. If you decide you love what we have initially produced then we move on to construction, and your project can begin to come to life!

Stay tuned for our next post on the budgeting process…