Today’s post explores the average cost of hiring a landscape design architect for your company. Some architects build homes, offices, bridges, and skyscrapers. And some architects specialize in a more specific part of a building: the landscape. Whether you hire an architect or a designer, either will work to optimize your outdoor space and ensure that the house’s exterior, interior, and surrounding environment complement each other. The landscape should be perfectly compatible with the homeowner’s preference and the home design.
Landscaping rates & pricing
Landscape design architects charge for their services based on various pricing structures. Some of the most common are as follows.
Flat fee or lump sum
For the “design only” service, a landscape architect may be willing to charge a flat fee. At the lowest end of the spectrum—that is, a simple project in a reasonably small space—the cost is around $1,200. The design work for a complex landscaping project covering a large area and with a tight deadline can cost you $10,000. Bear in mind that the cost does not include the actual construction.
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If you need the architect to provide supervisory services until project completion, chances are they will shift to an hourly rate pricing once they have completed the design structure. As long as you know how much time it will take to get the job done, the hourly rate helps you manage the expense well.
Percentage of construction cost
During the planning phase, some architectural services use the estimation of total construction cost to calculate their fee, which is quite commonly anywhere between ten percent and twenty percent of the total project cost. In a project estimated to cost $40,000 with a fifteen percent fee, the architect earns $6,000. In a high-end project, the percentage tends to be smaller. For example, if an architect charges a ten percent fee for a landscaping project worth $300,000, they will earn $30,000.
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The average hourly rate for a landscape architect is between $70 and $150. If the design firm’s principal architect handles the project, the cost can increase to $200 or more. The hourly rate for a designer is from $50 to $150 since hiring an experienced drafting & design specialist is more expensive than a junior architect’s fee for the same landscaping project. To make homeowners feel more comfortable with the pricing structure, the professional may add a not-to-exceed clause in the contract/agreement. The clause limits the project’s price, preventing the cost from going out of control.
Rate per square foot
Most architects do not use per sq. ft. pricing, and homeowners should only agree to use it if they know the exact measurements of the work area. Despite the name, landscape design architects and designers will always consider the project’s complexity.
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A simple rundown of a per sq. ft. fee based on the scope of work looks like this:
|Landscape Architect Fee|
|Complexity||Cost per sq. ft.||Estimated total cost||Design service|
|Basic||< $70||< $50k||< $1,500|
|Mid-range||$70 – $140||$50 – $100k||$1,500 – $3,500|
|High-end||$140 – $230||$100k – $400k||$3,500 – $10,000|
A basic low-end landscaping project includes simple 3D yard design services that does not use exquisite materials. On the other hand, a high-end or luxury project tends to cover patios, in-ground pools, decks, an addition, and perhaps an outdoor kitchen.
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The initial consultation is often charged by the hour at $50 more than the average hourly rate. Part of the consultation is a preliminary analysis of the work area. Based on their observations, the architect can determine the best lighting schemes, designs that complement the main building, the layout of the design elements, construction methods suitable for the soil type and condition, and overall project complexity and the expected completion date.
An estimate should be available not long after the consultation and site visit. An early estimate may include many pages depending on project size, especially for commercial architectural services or municipal buildings. For residential landscape, five to six pages should be more than enough to describe:
- The design approach (filled with information regarding styling ideas, environmental concerns, types and volume of materials, and land use)
- Professionals involved in the design and construction phases: a landscape architect may work with a designer and contractor
- Scope of services
- Fee structure and estimated cost
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Landscape architects typically ask for a retainer fee or deposit up front, and the deposit is required to obtain project scheduling. A retainer fee can be a fixed percentage of the expected cost, as stated in the estimate.
Landscaping project process
A project’s actual progression varies according to the homeowner’s requirements. Typical progress runs as follows:
- Discussion: the part when homeowners or clients have an initial consultation with the architect
- Concept: the architect produces an early estimate along with design ideas, timeline, and professionals involved
- Development: the architectural detailing expert provides the client with a detailed plan of the design and construction process
- Documentation: contractors and builders start their involvement when they receive construction documents
- Procurement: contractors make bids for the project unless the architect (or homeowner) already has a trusted professional
- Installation: construction begins. The architect oversees the progress and troubleshoots any issues that may arise.
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The estimated total cost is comprised of fees incurred for every service provided. The client should receive a fee schedule that will inform the client about what services are included and how much each will cost. A proper fee schedule should list the hourly rate (or any pricing structure implemented) for every professional involved in the project. Other expenses, including travel and compensations, are listed as well. The client receives this document during the initial consultation when working with an architectural firm.
What do landscape architects do?
A landscape architect is not a landscaper. As far as a landscaping project is concerned, the architect-in-charge does not plant trees in the ground and install the sprinkler system. The architect’s role remains the same as in other architectural projects: they offer architectural sketch design services, making plans and transforming ideas into blueprints. The actual construction jobs are left to contractors, builders, or landscapers.
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A person may only obtain a license as a landscape architect by earning either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the landscape architecture major, working for several years under an already licensed professional in the related field, and (in 49 states in the U.S.) passing a national exam. A licensed landscape architect has the required mastery to create project plans, designs, and construction documents and oversee their implementation on the worksite.
A complete range of services includes:
Mention anything that can be possibly installed as part of a landscape, and the architect will come up with the proper design approach for it. Most concepts feature a blend between natural elements (such as trees, grasses, and rocks) and rigid structures (for example, trellises and arbors). In addition to gardens and irrigation features, a landscape architect is most comfortable designing open-air constructions, such as designing swimming pools, drainage systems, pergolas, retaining walls, pathways, driveways, fire features, and outdoor kitchens.
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The architect presents the proposed overall design layout to the client during the concept phase, following a consultation and site visit. Initial sketches and perspective renderings, along with planting areas, are included. Assuming the construction requires input or approvals from consultants, such as electrical and structural engineering specialists, the cost is billed to the client.
After the first site visit, a landscape architect will perform a detailed inspection of the work area to take measurements. Any recent survey of the property (if available) will be used only as a reference; the architect needs to do another review to ensure the accuracy of the plan.
A detailed landscaping plan that provides a clear layout of the retaining walls, drainage, lighting, and all structural elements comes next. The project is submitted to the local authority for permit purposes if necessary. Since the requirements vary from one municipality (or county) to another, the architect or the contractor is responsible for filing the paperwork.
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Some architects select the materials and finishes as part of the 3D landscape rendering design service, while others leave all those details to the contractor. If the architect does not provide such information in the plan, homeowners may ask them to include the service for an additional fee. Either way, homeowners must clarify the matter before construction.
Budget is an ever-present constraint in any design work. An experienced landscape architect can tell if the homeowner’s preferred architectural design is plausible with the determined budget. When the design is outside of the budget, the architect can modify the design and craft a realistic plan. An architect may need to consult a general contractor to produce a precise cost estimation.
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The homeowner decides whether the project is handled by a pre-selected contractor or should undergo a bidding process. Either the homeowner or the architect has the option to choose a trusted contractor. The next stage is construction, where the architect performs a supervisory role. Much like any other project, the fees to have your landscaping done by a professional vary depending on the scope of work and unique challenges due to location, terrain, design, and deadline. The cost to hire an architect or landscape designer is roughly similar (but not the same) despite their differences. A landscape project led by a designer tends to run longer, although the decision to determine the timeline is for the homeowner to make.
How Cad Crowd can help
Cad Crowd offers a full range of architectural design services for designers and clients. From freelance drafting to residential, commercial, industrial, civil, landscape design, and interior design, our professional designers in our global network are ready to take your project to the next level.
Take the guesswork out of hiring an architect, and let us help you find top-tier professionals. Get a free quote today.