No Two Gardens Are The Same
Projects vary hugely in size and budget so it impossible to give an exact ready reckoner here of garden design costs. In addition clients require a range of services from a simple consultation to a full garden design and beyond to project management and consultancy work. All figures given below are for a complete redesign of a garden with full documentation, rather than partial redesign.
Three Methods of Charging – Which Is Right For Your Garden?
There are three main ways to charge for design services: a percentage of the projected build cost, lump sum, and time charged. Since most clients prefer a fixed fee, a % fee is often the client’s preferred method, although this does not necessarily make a design cheaper, indeed if a project is relatively upmarket with expensive materials, but no harder to design, it may be cheaper to work on a time charged basis. On larger and more complex projects, it is usually fairer to both parties to work on a time-charged basis with detailed timesheets submitted fortnightly or monthly. Although I do provide a very detailed fee estimate at the outset of a project, this is the way I now most commonly work.
Garden Design Costs Relative To Build Costs
On most gardens, the design fee for all documentation to tender stage will be 7.5 – 15% of the project build cost, with the percentage being larger the smaller the project sum. Project monitoring fees, where the designer acts as the customer’s agent to oversee the construction works on behalf of the customer, are quoted in advance in a Fee Proposal and are typically 5+% of the project sum, allowing for a weekly site visit, site report and daily phone liaison. I allow for one to two site visits per week on small and medium projects, with sometimes more on very large or complex sites. After each site visit I write a brief report for the customer and contractor’s reference.
Small Garden Design Costs
The smallest gardens take longer to design (proportionally) than larger sites so the fee relative to the build will be higher, starting at around 15%. The design fee for the smallest of gardens with a construction budget of as little as £15,000 will therefore start from a little over £2k, with project monitoring an extra. A suburban garden with a construction budget of around £30,000 will have a design fee around £3500, and again project monitoring or additional consultancy are charged separately.
Larger Garden Design Costs
On a larger country garden, where the build cost may be anywhere from £100,000 – £1m depending on the scale of the intervention required and the materials used, the design fee will usually be around 7.5 – 10% of the build cost; project monitoring on long complex builds is a significant cost as can be consultancy for dealing with issues such as planning, tree removals, hydrology or technical issues such as installation of underground fuel tanks or swimming pools.
Don’t Compare Apples and Pears
Lastly, if you are getting quotes from more than 1 designer, make sure you are comparing like with like: a full design service should include all the services listed on my design process page. Anything less is not a complete design. Typically, concept design will be around 40-50% of the total design fee, with 20% each on construction and plant detailing, and 10% on tender documentation – although these percentages will vary a little on each project.