5 Compelling Reasons you should hire a Landscape Lighting Design-Build Specialist for Your Project

5 Compelling Reasons you should hire a Landscape Lighting Design-Build Specialist for Your Project

By Mike Gambino

Hiring one company to do both design and construction can simplify the process. Here are pros and cons for deciding if it’s right for you

For property owners who are looking to get a landscape lighting project under way, a specialized landscape lighting design-build company can streamline the process. Using a specialized landscape lighting design-build service may have pluses and minuses, depending on the scope of work and goals of the project. Specialist Design-build companies are typically landscape lighting companies who design and install landscape lighting systems as their only business ( they will not perform work on any other aspect of a landscape or other project) who package a design service with installation.

What is landscape lighting design-build? Design-build is a process by which one company provides the landscape lighting design and installation services for the project, instead of those services being split among separate companies.  A company that provides design-build services is also called a design-build contractor or design-builder.

Here’s what you need to know about how the process works and the pros and cons of using a specialized design-build service in lieu of hiring a separate designer and landscape lighting contractor.

  1. You work with one company.

Pro: One obvious advantage of the design-build process is that the client works with one company for all phases and aspects of the landscape lighting project. This means that your project may move more quickly from concept to installation than if you had hired a separate design company and installation company. There is some efficiency for dealing with just one company that can manage the process from start to finish.

Con: The whole project is under the direction of a company with a single perspective. Make sure your vision and goals are aligned with that company’s goals before hiring them to do the work.

  1. The design process is simplified.

Pro: A design-build firm rolls the design services and installation into the full project cost. The design fee is usually listed as a lump sum in a line-item estimate for the work.

Con: A design-build firm may provide a design plan that is not properly detailed. This is a problem if you wish to get several contractors to provide a price estimate on a design plan from a design-build firm. When you pay for a design plan, you own the drawings you will use to get the project built. Watch out for companies that have you pay for a design but do not transfer ownership of the drawings to you, or for design drawings that are not accurately detailed.

A properly detailed landscape lighting design plan is to scale with dimensions and materials noted. It also includes a list of specific lighting materials, quantities, locations and specifications. This ensures that you can take the same plan to another contractor for an estimate or bid and be comparing the same scope of work.

  1. Specialist Design-build firms have detailed knowledge of construction methods.

Pro: Specialist Design-build firms are typically owned and operated by licensed landscape contractors who have years of experience dedicated to installing landscape lighting as their only business . They are well versed in efficient building processes and the workflow for staging the project installation. They also have a wealth of knowledge about the best construction methods to complete the work and are not sidetracked by having to worry about any other aspect of a landscape project other than the lighting. This gets 100% of their attention.

Con: It is rare for design-build companies to be exceptional designers. It’s just not the true focus of their work, because the main profitability for their business is the installation process.  Most contractors are not great designers, though they may have a qualified landscape designer on staff. This makes it even more important for buyers to do their due diligence and view the previous work of any landscape lighting designer- builders in consideration for your project. Good designer- builders will have extensive collections of their work viewable on line or during an onsite consultation with a portfolio book.

  1. Design-build firms are well connected to manufacturers and sellers of landscape lighting products

Pro: Landscape lighting specialists who do design-build regularly order landscape lighting products. As a result, they are acutely aware of the latest and most up to date and best product offerings in the marketplace. Looking to get your project built ASAP? A design-build firm will know exactly which landscape lighting  materials are available in large quantities for your project right now. In the case of my company , Gambino landscape Lighting, we warehouse, in our shop, our own proprietary product line exclusively manufactured for us and assembled in the USA by the same team who installs it on your project so product availability is rarely ever an issue.

Con: Because they know exactly which materials are easy to procure, they may source the easiest — and sometimes cheapest — materials for your project. You should always be able to inspect the quality and construction of the lighting material samples being specified before agreeing to hire any landscape lighting designer-builder.

  1. The cost is simplified.

Pro: Utilizing a design-build process reduces the design cost for the project, because the design is rolled into the overall project cost. Furthermore, the design-build process ensures that the entire project cost is estimated early as part of the design phase.

Con: As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. You can absolutely get a well-constructed project by using a design-build firm, and some of the top-notch firms also have great designers on staff. However you must assume because landscape lighting is their only business that automatically you will get the best results which is what you want.

Hiring a Design-Build Firm

Interview questions. The screening process for design-build firms is similar to that for hiring any other trade design-build company. There are additional questions to ask when discussing your project with landscape lighting design-build companies, however:

  • How many projects do you work on at once? Larger companies can handle a greater number of projects at once, because they have crews and staff to work on each. Ask how many projects are managed at a time to help determine if the company has a high volume of projects, or if it is more selective in the projects taken on.
  • What is your anticipated timeline for completing a project of this scale? A design-build company, like most landscape contractors, pays special attention to labor budgets and can tell you an approximate number of hours or days required to build the project, and can include the time required for the design process.
  • Who will design the project? Is that person a qualified designer with previous design experience and training? This question is important if you are concerned about the quality of the design. As previously mentioned it is crucial that you view the work of this company to see if their design style is in line with yours.
  • How do you charge for revisions to the design plan? Revision costs might be included in the lump-sum design fee or charged at an hourly rate. With my company, Gambino Landscape Lighting, power cable is laid above ground and all equipment connected. System is powered up for the client to view. Any changes or alterations within reason which do not result in extra or different fixtures being used before cable and conduit are dug into the ground will not incur change orders or extra fees.

Is a design-build specialist right for your project? There are times when design-build is perfectly suited to residential and commercial landscape lighting projects. These instances include project scopes that are already precisely defined, Design-build is also a great idea for property owners who want to drastically simplify the design process. Perhaps you have been in the midst of a major home renovation and don’t want to put more time and energy into a landscape lighting design. A design-build specialist can efficiently lay out and install high quality systems in a relatively short amount of time.

This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 28 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to www.Gambinolighting.com . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

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