Estate Living Magazine Investment - Issue 34 October 2018 - Page 42

The bill of quantities is the mechanism through which contractors can fairly price against one another when it comes to the tender process. It details all the elements – what kind of light fittings, for example, or the nursery bag sizes and/ or height of each plant. Together with the site drawings and artists’ impressions, the bill is important, because it provides the client with a detailed picture of what to expect when the job is complete. In bigger projects, the landscape architect is usually an integral member of the professional team. Throughout the building phase of a project, they will adjudicate tenders or the quoting process, provide project management services, assess contractors’ invoices, and issue certificates of payment as each section of the work is completed. Depending on the size of the project, this usually means working with other professionals like architects, engineers, surveyors and quantity surveyors, and with contractors other than the landscapers because the builders, plumbers, electricians, and other artisans on site may be required to complete works in the outdoor environment prior to the arrival of the ‘soft’ elements like trees, shrubs, groundcover and lawn. In the end, though, it is the landscape contractor – or landscaping company – that does the actual planting, and in smaller projects, the landscaper may be the only contractor on site. There is a talented and professional corps of landscapers capable of designing and constructing world-class gardens and outdoor spaces. But, since the barriers to entry for landscape contractors don’t include the professional qualifications required of landscape architects – and if your project isn’t big enough to warrant bills of quantity – selecting a contractor may be a little trickier than selecting an architect. This is where the South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) comes in. SALI members, who are individually screened before admission, offer many services, including design, irrigation, and commercial and residential landscaping. And choosing a SALI member as a contractor means they are backed up by a responsible and professional institute. The decision Whether you choose an architect or a landscaper, there are some basics that remain the same regardless. • Listen carefully to the questions they ask (are they more interested in price and payment than in producing a great garden?). • Find out if they have the practical experience of the kind of work you want them to deliver. • Find out if they know which plants are suitable for your area. This is vital in South Africa, and especially in the fynbos biome, where soil and microclimates can change from kilometre to kilometre. And the plants lived happily ever after Whether you choose to work with a landscape architect and contractor (they go together like the old horse and carriage), or with a contractor alone, every garden or outdoor space will always be a living thing – ‘a work in progress … forever’ – so it’s a good idea to consider your project’s future even before you start. Some companies do both planning and ongoing maintenance but, if you contracted a design specialist for the installation, the relationship will come to a natural (and hopefully amicable) end, after which you will need to find a good maintenance landscaping contractor. Because, no matter how big or small your budget, your garden’s going to grow. Just like a good investment should … Martin Hatchuel 40 | www.estate-living.co.za