Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 64 total)
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    Jay Smith

    I’ve often wondered what the difference would be in working for a design-build company owned by a Landscape Architect vs. one that was not.   There are some very specialized Landscape contractors around who do some pretty nice work. 


    Jeez, I thought the unemployment in South Africa was bad (I was unemployed for more than a year after graduating), it seems that the Landscape profession in general is struggling at the moment and heaven only knows when it will change, I was considering applying for international jobs, but chances of actually getting one seems to be slim.
    I’m fortunate enough to have a job at a design/build company in Cape Town, but would like to get my MLA in the hope of finding more rewarding work or work that actually pays a descent salary, but browsing the forums is kind of discouraging me from even thinking of going that route (not even taking into account the substantial financial investment I’ll have to make), and rather cling to what I have and hope for a more prominent position with my current employer.
    Best of luck Catherine!


    I’ve worked for design-build…not just a nursery. That company was owned by an LA but he was grandfathered in, and second generation owner…draw your own conclusions. I’ve found that db firms with LA owners are doing it all themselves, not wanting to take on another designer, lower overhead.  I’ve also found that the MLA and LARE doesn’t necessarily get you better salary or prestige within the working community…that seems to only hold weight with the civilian clientele…
    I also dont trust craigslist…I’ve been scammed before 🙁

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I agree that LA owned design/build (in the true sense rather than contract administration) is generally a one LA shop. I went to work for a BLA (not registered) owned exceptional design/build as an RLA. What I never saw coming was that after the first three months of selling design followed by selling the build, he put the brakes on me. Why? Because he could only manage so much build effectively. It has to be a large contracting company to support one full time LA, never mind bringing it an intern. Went out into the construction to maintain my job, but I was over 40 with some chronic labor related injuries and got hurt bad enough to go part time and went back to working for civils full time.


    Craig A Raines

    Design build is tough, i would say impossible unless you tap into a high end residentual market. I had my own design firm for some years and even with a partner it in itself was brutal both physically and emotionally as i was working 14 hour days 6-7 days a week with a young family.


    Personally from a artistic point of view i would never do design build…what i would do though is in my contracts with the client put in a zilllion hours for cm and establish a very linear line of communication that is to be strictly followed by the contractor……..I would also spend a lot of time at the range getting getting your game on.




    Heather Smith

    I don’t necessarily agree that design/build is impossible unless there is a high end market. The area we live in is nowhere what I would call high end…but we have done more then survive for a couple years in our college town. Yes, it is stressful…but for us…with a young family there is nothing more stressful then not having enough money to live on. If that means working a lot…well then you work a lot.

    Also, artistically…again I think it comes back to selling the product. My husband was hesitant to tell a client what the cost of one of his ideas was and then we remembered that it was up to the client. If they liked they idea they could pay for it…and they did like it and still want it…to his surprise. For us we are finding that a lot of our ability to sell our designs is based on our belief that it is worth something. I think the struggle for many design/build firms is that they low ball themselves, don’t charge enough for profit and overhead and then are mentally stressed and constantly scrabbling for the next job. Maybe it is just dumb luck but we have had a couple clients that like what my husband did and then have provided work for 2-3 years…and we aren’t talking super cheap projects.

    I do agree with Andrew in regards to design build being a one LA gig…I can see it becoming hard to manage multiple crews…but I think it could be done with the right team.

    Since we both have the same degree it has been extremely frustrating waiting to see enough jobs come up…they just haven’t. We have children and student loans…part time jobs dont’ cut it and we feel so much better building our own business at this point versus sending out resumes and portfolios to no avail. That is pretty hard on the psyche. At least for us.

    I wish you the best of luck!

    Heather Smith

    Also, wanted to add that I totally  understand not wanting to get stuck! We have really fought against being “stuck” and it has been very frustrating. My husband graduated in ’08 and I did in ’09…we have been here for six years. NOT part of the plan. We are beginning to realize this is our home. I would take another look at So. Ca and perhaps not think of it as being stuck. I would love to have the market you are in and the climate! I told my husband about this conversation and he said, “Think of all the crappy landscapers you could put out of business!”. haha.


    I have no idea what word land 8 censored for me? I did not swear there…haha. I think I said it was pretty hard  on the psyche.

    Craig A Raines

    For where ever you are at design build may work… in LA in my estimation it does not……There are so many landscape design build firms here that your head swims….a lot of them do good work. Also with the cost of living and business cost being so high you have to make some serious coin. 


    Another reason I do not like design build is that it really is geared for residentual and after 26 years of design I am done doing peoples houses.  With that said A lot of muncipalities are going to design build contracts but generally not for design build for landscape. There are some huge design build here ( ValleyCrest/Enviromental Industries) that dominate the design build  commercial market…..


    Also here in LA everyone here thinks highly on themselves and most market themselves quite well. Also I wouldn’t get too bent on this as if you love what you doing that all that matters…….I just wouldn’t do it for myself…..

    Heather Smith

    No worries Craig. I just wanted to throw another option out for other entry levels like us that haven’t been able to find work. I am sure that regionally there are big differences in regards to marketing, etc. Being in Northern Idaho…the market of So. Ca sounds amazing! haha. Well, that and the plant palate. haha. 🙂

    I am sure you have great advice from your years of experience. If you ever read some of our older posts…this was not our intent…but these are the doors that have opened (or opened?) for us…so we are just trying to make the best of it.

    Craig A Raines

    Happy easter….The important thing is to be passionate about what you do and you guys sound like you are.


    I do miss northern idaho and still count the area as a inspiration.




    mark foster


    Here is another one:  There is also a design build group on land8.  Kind of small and inactive, but if you want to geek out on the contracting business or anything diesel powered…Ha!

    I also sent Jon an email discussing some other things.


    Rick Spalenka

    I owned a design/build business in Va Beach, VA.  It was very successful.  There is a threshold problem.  Gross under a million and you make money, between 1 mil and 2 mil and you find mgt and administration issues, over 2 mil and you start making money again.  Too many headaches so I sold out and moved to Colorado.  I chose Western Colorado.  Wrong decision.  It’s the Outback here where you need to carry your own water and watch out for kangaroos.  If I had to do it again I would choose Colorado Springs.  The US Army is expanding big time there, the Air Force Academy is there and it’s true culture compared to here.  A friend of  mine moved from here to there last year and he is doing great.  That is if you like mountains.  Another concern though.  There is soooo much public land here that many people don’t see a need for creating their own little paradise in their back yards so the residential design market is handicapped. IMMHO


    Colroado Springs, eh?


    The army may be expanding, but last I heard they were shutting the streetlights out at dusk and cut the parks dept.



    neil travis mayes

    Where are the jobs? In a different market, maybe a flower shop with mothers day coming. I used to work at a flower shop and they make bank if your in a good location.  Think about all the holidays, wedding, deaths, graduations, birthdays, etc why doesn’t Landscape architecture have special days like this, like earth day you think people would think about getting their yard converted into a sustainable ecofriendly moneysaving landscape design.  May be they do but it doesn’t show like selling a dozen roses for $80 on valentines day. 


    I have been laid off since 08 a year after I graduated and I love what I do but it just isn’t paying me enough to move on with my life.  I’ve been self employed as a designer and sometimes a builder if I believe I can handle the installation.  Was bartering alot on craigslist to get my name out there and some good has come from bartering and also a few headaches.  Lets see in the last two years I have bartered just for plans a few cool items that sounded like a good idea at the time such as: a 22′ catalina sailboat (which i eventually gave to a buddy for a thirty pack of coorslight) I bought a bigger boat and didn’t want to pay rent for two slips, a flat screen tv which I use as my pc monitor,  two dentist (one rootcanal and the other cleaning and whittening), a mountainbike (which I gave to my buddy, I have too many bikes), business advice coaches, advertisement services, and a sailing charter before I had a sailboat and thats about it for the cool stuff.  All through craigslist I was trying to get more jobs and get my name out there as a designer.  i believe it takes a real passion for this profession to deal with these homeowner so if you don’t like dealing with them then I would keep looking for a firm position.  As for me I have seen alot more of my ideas come to life working for myself and have made a name for myself and my designs but I would like to have that firm steady income job and be working on the biggest and best projects. But those projects are scarce and limited to those firms with 30plus years in the business.

     So I guess the point of all this is to make a name for yourself and your designs and the jobs will come. 


    Stay up from Cali,


     I want to own a flower shop.


    Cara McConnell

    Landscape architecture is a dead end job! I’ll be surprised if the profession is still around in 50 years. And that’s my optimistic view. Yikes!

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