The Benefit of Hiring a Qualified Designer

hire a landscape designer

What is the cost of hiring a qualified designer? Is it worth the investment? Should I pay for a design or should I use a free design/build service? These are all great questions to ask yourself when getting ready to start a project. While there are “free” or “cheap” designers out there, are you, the Client, really saving money by using them? And, what is the benefit of hiring an experienced and qualified designer when you can get it for free? These are the things I meditate when dealing with clients.

At Matthew Murrey Design, our goal is to bring value and a high return on investment to each one of our clients through our design process. While there are many benefits to hiring a qualified designer for your landscape project,  there are 3 common benefits that stand out the most. I have put together a list of the three most common potential benefits of hiring a qualified designer or landscape design firm for your residential project, as well as an example of how this can translate into savings that go far beyond the cost of the initial design fee.

3 Most Common Benefits of Hiring a Qualified Designer

Landscape Plans

  1. Multiple Contractor Bids: save up to 10%

One of the advantages of hiring a qualified designer for your landscape project is that you get a well prepared landscape plan that you can keep and present to multiple installers to solicit a bid. This is an area where most consumers end up paying for their “free” landscape plan provided by a design/build company.

When a design fee is not paid, the plans cannot be used for soliciting bids to other installers, as they remain the intellectual property of the producer. In providing a “free” landscape plan, contractors know the client has no option to solicit other bids, and therefore these companies typically increase their install pricing to cover the cost of the design materials. In my estimating experience, using a qualified designer and soliciting bids typically generates a savings of 10% or greater on each project.


change order

  1. Reduction in Construction Change Orders and Revisions: save up to 20%

As a landscape designer, my goal is to create and document plans that leave nothing to the imagination. We focus on every detail and mentally walk through every scenario and question we can imagine arising during construction. By providing clear and concise detail, our office is able to minimize (if not eliminate) change orders.

Change orders during construction can be extremely expensive once you calculate the cost of stopping and restarting construction, and paying a rush delivery fee for the necessary materials, not to mention the valuable time that is wasted in the process. When the contractor has the proper information during the bidding process, the contractor is forced to include all items in the original bid vs making assumptions only to come back at a later time and markup the product. This can be one of the most significant savings for the client in choosing to work with a qualified designer for their landscape project, which is often overlooked.


value engineering

  1. Maximizing the Budget: save up to 5%

Value engineering is the term designers use to explain the process of cutting cost or finding alternate methods or materials that can save money. An experienced and qualified designer can maximize your budget through creativity and resourcefulness. Generally speaking a designer with more experience, knowledge of current construction costs and materials, and design creativity will most likely be able to propose cost saving design solutions without sacrificing design intent and integrity.

 Potential Savings for Hiring a Landscape Designer

Example of Savings Potential

Assumptions: Typical Dallas, TX Home

Property Value: $2,500,000.00

Budget: $250,000 (10% of home value)

Landscape Design Fees: $25,000 (10% of Budget)

Landscape Contractor Design Fees for Conceptual Plan only: $0.

Potential Benefits and Savings using conservative estimates.

  1. Multiple Contractor Bids @ 10% Savings = $ 22,500
  2. Reduced Change Orders and Revisions @ 20% of budget = $ 45,000.
  3. Maximizing the Budget: estimate savings @ 5% = $ 11,250.

Total construction costs savings: $ 78,750

Landscape Architects Design Fee (10% of cost): $ 25,000.

Potential Return on Investment: $ 53,750.00!


The above example uses fairly conservative estimations of the three most common ways in which hiring a qualified design professional has the potential to save a Client money on their project. The cost savings from these three areas alone more than validate the expense of the design fee.