A client, finishing up our initial consultation last night, said to me fearfully, "But, you know we are talking with other people? We are getting other prices." Which since then has set me off in wonder as to what other professionals do in their "consultations." I'm left asking, "Am I doing this wrong?"
1. "Architect/Design&Build." On the one hand, I see myself affiliated with Landscape Architecture, only "Design/Build" is a different process to arrive at an end. I am paid to build something that begins in the imagination as a dialogue between the client and myself. I am paid for an end product and it is my work to deliver it from imagination to concrete object. This may be different from a pure architect's process as they generally work in the imagination, communication, and theoretical phases and then collaborate with skilled labor to build the project. At the end of the day, the end value of the project is the same only the value has been created and paid out in different ways.
2. "The Process." I think where I get concerned is that my client was surprised and didn't understand why I would spend an hour consulting with them. I explained it may take a week for me to get back with them with more thoughts, ideas, and rough budget numbers which would allow me to have a conversation to then imagine what we may together decide to be the final scope of work. Design - or the creation of a work scope - is a back and forth process. It takes time. I provide consult, ideas, possibility, budget guidance, all to create a scope of work that we then agree to a price or value of. The value of my consult and design is embodied in the value of the project as opposed to separated between architect and skilled labor.
3. "The Lawn Guy." A contractor is an organizer of production, machinery, and skilled labor. This is who would work with an architect (Note: I am surely capable to move into the role of "contractor" and collaborate on projects with an architect. My concentration here is on the client's process to receive consult). If you know exactly what you want, find a contractor. If you don't know EXACTLY what you want, you need (might choose to find) consult.
And so, with my client, there was "The Lawn Guy," who they suggested had a different point of view than I - he said "to just make everything lawn" - which may not be wrong but a contractor is just selling work. He didn't spend an hour and won't do four hours work to prepare for the next conversation. A designer or architect is collaborating with a client to represent your interests and wants, not to move units.
This isn't to say contractor's don't have value. I am just demonstrating a conceptual spectrum of consultation ranging from pure consult to its opposite extreme - sales.
4. Anyway...I've a lot to say about this but can't yammer on forever. I hope this becomes part one of a larger conversation. It is targeting this place I am often speaking of with others - "where is the value of the designer, be it floral, landscape, graphic, etc, located and how do we receive compensation for our life expended?"
Landscape designer and Proprietor of Buffalo Horticulture