ACD provides a cost assurance service within our standard fixed fee, which provides for a review of tendered prices if they are received over-budget. The principle reasons for higher than expected costs are the requirement for multi-phase installations, where mobilisation costs become high, or unseasonal planting, where all stock is container grown and requires additional maintenance. Generally, we design on the basis of the following inputs:
Briefing Schedule – once instructed on a project, ACD will issue a Briefing Schedule for completion by new clients, or liaise directly with existing. This will request the background information for the project and, most importantly, the budget set for it.
Client Preferences – ACD keeps a record of client requirements, which is issued to all landscape architects for information. It includes the need for high or low specification and is referenced for anything that may impact on budget.
Costings – We try to keep an up-to-date review of current prices, both from suppliers and contractors, both for soft and hard landscape.
If tenders are above the allocated budget, we will need to see the contractor’s bids and ideally have contact with them, to establish where they think the high costs are located. If high costs are associated with particular plant sizes or varieties, we can substitute an alternative that still achieves the design objective.
Costs can be cut by reducing plant sizes or lowering densities – it is generally a client requirement for instant effect, not the LPA’s, as their requirement is for the eventual landscape, not the immediate one.
The one exception to this is tree planting, where an LPA (particularly in an urban location) will want larger trees for immediate impact and to withstand potential vandalism. Trees in hard landscape areas can be a design requirement as well, particularly in parking courts, and the industry standard is now for planting-cells, with a very high unit cost. A small tree, with the appropriate topsoil volume, in a tree planting cell can be as much as £2.5k – remove a zero for a soft landscape location!
We generally design to satisfy planning requirements, and if sales uplift is needed, a budget in addition to this may be needed, but we can design accordingly.