Sam Hassall gives advice on accurately costing a garden design
The main thing you want to avoid when attempting to predict the cost of building your garden design is a nasty shock – both for you and the client. If you come up with a design that the client loves, put it out to tender and get quotes back three weeks later that are way beyond the budget, it reflects badly on you and disappoints the client. You then have to spend time reworking the design, producing an inferior scheme.
The first way to avoid any nasty surprises is to coax a budget out of the client as soon as possible. Clients (and even designers) often underestimate how much gardens cost and are reticent to give a budget for a variety of reasons, but it is absolutely crucial to obtain this if you are to come up with a suitable design. You can then manage their expectations before you start work.
The only way to ensure an accurate build cost for the garden is ‘granularity’ – you should break down each component into as many pieces as possible. For example, a wall can be broken down into excavation, footing, the building of the wall itself, coping and facing. A pergola can likewise be excavation, uprights, cross beams, lighting and labour.
Using a piece of costing software can really help. It can give you a good idea of what a job will cost before you present it to the client or the contractor, and you can tweak the design as you go. Not only does it help you to get the design on budget – it gives you confidence when dealing with contractors, too.
Sam Hassall is principal of landscape cost consultants LandPRO. Find out more about Hassall’s specialist cost database for garden designers at www.gardencosts.co.uk