Custom Bocce Ball Courts, Custom Fire Pits, Custom Water Features, Deck Design, Design Consultation, Drafting, Drought Tolerant Landscaping, Edible Gardens, Garden Design, Gazebo Design & Construction, Hardscaping, Landscape Design, Landscape Plans, Organic Gardens, Outdoor Lighting Design, Patio Design, Pool Landscaping, Project Management, Shed Design & Construction, Site Planning, Swimming Pool Design, Custom Covered patio design, Custom Outdoor Fireplace Design, Decks, Patio
Clackamas, Damascus, Durham, Garden Home-Whitford, Happy Valley, Johnson City, Lake Oswego, Metzger, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Portland, Raleigh Hills, Stafford, Sunnyside, Tigard, Tualatin, West Linn, West Slope, Boring, Camas, Maywood Park, Vancouver
2004/2005 YGP Show - Best of Division/Garden 2007 YGP Show - Best Use of Space/Garden 2009 WALP Grand Award w/JPStone Contractors 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 H&G Show - Gold 2014 H&G Show - Silver
We first met onsite with this client on March 14, 2020. That morning it snowed but, we were excited to meet with them and chat about their unique project so we kept the appointment. We contracted with them on March 18th and a couple of weeks later...the Pandemic hit. They let us know they wanted to hold off due to the uncertainty of the situation. They had not put a deposit down on the project, which is common practice to hold their spot on the schedule and to start the project. By the time they were ready to move forward on May 19th the schedule was full and I explained to them the process will take longer than originally stated but, they wanted to go ahead anyway.
2020 was an unusual year in many respects for so many people. Fortunately our services as Landscape Design and Construction were deemed 'Essential" and in turn, it has been the busiest year in about 6 years. It was a challenge pivoting and following the new rules but, we were able to put protocols in place such as meeting outdoors when possible and wearing masks, keeping our distance etc.
We were able to get them conceptual drawings of their unique and complex site in a month (typically it takes about 2 weeks). Their concept drawings included 2 pages of the overall layout of their large property as well as elevations of features like a brick wall where they could display "travel bricks", bricks they had collected from their travels. Other features were fences, pathways, paver and stone patios, arbors, fountains and a large wood storage feature which I employed my metal fabricator to help design.
Their style for each feature was clearly Craftsman and the brick wall was aligned with a Craftsman style bungalow they have in their back yard. We met on June 19th and I perceived it to be a good meeting. They loved the wood storage unit and the patios I had designed. They thought the original design for the wall was too ornate so I redesigned it to compliment the bungalow it was situated next to. Within 2 weeks I had contacted my metal fabricator to put together a bid, had the contractor get a bid together for the patios etc and sent them a PDF of the new wall design, more craftsman style and of the arbor for the front yard that they asked me to include. Almost immediately we received an email letting me know they were unhappy, thought there would be more collaboration and "Please do not proceed..."
Needless to say, we were taken aback and apologized for not being able to help them with their project. Yes, we did send a final bill to them because we had done work on their project that was above and beyond the initial deposit they gave me. A very common practice.
We always want to learn something from our mistakes and disappointments. Here we learned we need to COMMUNICATE more clearly the process and that it takes time to develop solid ideas. We also need to communicate more clearly the deposit is a "retainer" and the client will be billed for work done beyond the deposit even if the project is not completed. We do have that in our contract but, we will highlight that bullet point.
Before I begin any project I provide a Landscape Design Agreement that clearly outlines the design process, timeline of developing a design, what will and will not be included and my fee. This client agreed to my terms and I began the process by providing them with two very different conceptual plans. Conceptual plans are a sort of "wish list" of what the property could look like. I typically show my clients two versions, one showing everything they want and a scaled back version. In this case, after talking between themselves for a week or so, the clients decided they wanted to scale back the plans even further and informed me of what they wanted included in the final plan. So, I drew up the final set of plans based on what they said they wanted. I provide all of my clients with a PDF of the plans and several hard copies that they can then take contractor to build their new patio, sport court, vegetable gardens, fire pit and fence. With the final set of plans I send along my invoice for services rendered.
It was not until I received a phone call from the client, after the job was complete, that I found out they were unhappy. She did complain that she felt like she did not get much for her money, that she was going to pay me but, just wanted me to know that. I apologized that she was not happy and I only charged them the minimum I estimated because there was not much detail since they only wanted a simplified version. I did invest time into drawing up the conceptual ideas and several hours to finalize their ideas. They also have a set of plans that they can take to a contractor to install a new fence, a nice patio space, a sport court, vegetable garden space and a fire pit. From my point of view, I did fulfill my end of the agreement so I charged them accordingly per the agreement.
This business is a very personal business and can be an emotional experience for some people. I only want my clients' experiences to be pleasant ones and it bothers me that it was not for this client.