Job Costing for Landscape Design and Consulting Work
LCHQ is an advanced design guide for professional landscaping.
Landscape design costs include a matrix of factors. To complicate things, costs change during the different phases of the project. There is no way to produce an hourly rate or multiplier which uniformly fits every project. If you don’t include consideration of the entire work specific to each site, you could be bidding your firm into a financial hole. A design contract is a commitment to provide all the services within the written scope of a project.
A cost estimate should anticipate the hours involved for:
• Concept Development
• Public Involvement and Meetings
• Data Gathering and Development
• Environmental Assessment
• Preliminary Plans
• Land or Right of way Acquisition
• Final Plans
• Construction Services
• Contingencies and Special Studies
The anticipated hours for each type of labor for each phase should also be estimated. Hourly rates should bundle standard wage rates plus vacation, training, benefits, taxes, insurance, and holiday markups.
• Project Manager
• Senior Engineer
• Clerical Administrator
It doesn’t stop there. You need to also break down the type costs you anticipate. Rates are sometimes dictated by the agency contracting the work.
• Direct Labor
• Fixed Fee Percentage
• Overhead Percentage
• Government Contract Compliance
One more thing. You may need to break all the costs down by different types of services, like design for:
• Parking Facilities
• Sports Fields
• Hardscape Items and Furniture
• Walls, Steps, and Ramps
• Stormwater Retention
• Planting Plans
What you end up with, after calculating and inputting educated guesses, is a multi-dimensional tapestry of factors. Every landscape site has unique features and challenges. An honest evaluation of costs is needed for both profit and integrity, which makes the bidding process frustrating for good design firms. Your competition does not always have the experience or foresight to accurately deduce a solid bid. Your competition might use contract loopholes and shoddy work shortcuts to get the bid, in hopes they can renegotiate a higher price later. A good bid is a complicated weave of all the tapestry threads, the strongest of which must be profit and integrity.