Keep your Clients Happy & Avoid Landscaping Disputes
Your Landscape Journey – Industry
Avoiding Conflicts & Disputes with Clients
It is always desirable to keep your clients happy and avoid landscaping disputes.
As a landscape architect, I see my clients at two stages. One is the at beginning of their landscape design journey, and the other is at the end. The question is why would you need a designer at the end? It should all be finished and lived in.
The stage at the end is always the most distressing for my new client, because their journey has gone ‘’pear shaped’’ and they ring me asking for help.
You should research the rules and regulations of council and state legislators as an initial step in the design process. Because without this vital information you cannot discover the ‘constraints ‘of a site, and you cannot turn them into ‘opportunities’ to move forward with the design process. This initial fact-finding mission will save your client wasted time, money and frustration in the long run.
How can we design the solutions if we don’t know what the problems are? It’s like a diagnosis from a doctor. Would you have any treatment without knowing the diagnosis?
You should begin with your research of the council and state DCP/LEP/SEPP/Tree Management Plan / Bushfire / Heritage / Environmental planning documents. A lack of research prior to the design process is responsible for many disputes.
Tips to help you keep your next client happy:
- Research relevant Council, State DCP/LEP/SEPP/Tree Management Plan / Bushfire / Heritage / Environmental planning documents and Australian Standards, ensure your designs adhere where applicable
- Request a survey of the property to be designed
- proof of your qualifications, current insurances and professional affiliations.
- past client references examples of your work (perhaps your website, photos, videos or plans)
- a formal contract for the job so you’re all on the same page
- Provide your clients with a client brief questionnaire to complete
- Establish a collaborative relationship so that their wishes and concerns are heard
- Keep their budget in mind
- Be upfront about fees and costs
- Understand when to advise your client to engage an engineer (for example stormwater or structural engineers)
Additional information you should furnish your clients with if you’re a Design/Construct business operator:
- Current structural landscape license?
- Formal TAFE qualifications?
- Up to date with current Australian Standards and Council Regulations?
- Do you have Home-Owners’ Warranty Insurance for jobs over $20,000?
- Ensure you can bring the job in on budget, don’t push your client out of their financial comfort zone
- Ensure the client meets the person who will be doing the work and not just the head of the company
AILDM Resources Exclusive to Members
When you are a member of AILDM you have access to some valuable and important documents. Listed below is a selection, of some of resources available to you, however, the website contains more. It’s recommended that you take some time, if you haven’t already, to review all the resources and information made available to you by AILDM.
Some of the following documents are essential reading to protect your right to membership, and others may also prove useful, particularly, if you are just starting out as a professional landscape designer. Use your AILDM Member Login https://www.aildm.com.au/members for access to the following:
- AILDM Code of Ethics
- AILDM Environment Policy
- AILDM Guideline for Establishing Fees & Charges
- AILDM Guideline for a Proposal Form
Dispute Case Study:
(All names have been changed to protect those involved)
Mr & Mrs Pear contact me, as they were completely unhappy with the work completed by ABC Design and Construct.
ABC Design and Construct was engaged to design and construct their project. The main issues I discovered were:
- Plans were deficient – planting plan, planting schedule or no construction details were NOT included as part of the package. The designer did not communicate the design intent!
- Construction was installed without Council approval and was not to National Construction Code standards (NCC).
In summary, ABC Design and Construct demonstrated no due diligence and appears to lack a planning procedure for their projects.
Landscape Dispute Resolution
Does this case study sound familiar? Or maybe you’d just prefer to get your ducks in a row and hone your professional skills? Angela can help you find your way through to a mutually beneficial outcome for both you and your clients.
Angela Maroney of Your Landscape Journey looks forward to helping you to improve your design process, or dispute resolution and mediation should you need. To arrange a consultation with Angela email email@example.com or visit https://yourlandscapejourney.com/industry/
About Angela …
Angela Maroney, of Your Landscape Journey has over 30 years’ experience, with extensive qualifications in Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design, Horticulture, Consulting Arboriculture and Construction. Angela has a Practitioners Certificate in Mediation (IAMA) and is a member of AILDM.