Professional Boundaries for Landscape Contractors

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE Professional Boundaries for Landscape Contractors

This topic contains 1 reply, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Rick Spalenka 7 years, 9 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 30 total)
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  • #160315

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    How will you approached him if/when you don’t like the way something is built and he needs to take it apart and redo it? This discussion is all just about how to aproach him to discuss his suggestion about lighting?

    #160314

    Heather Smith
    Participant

    This last part is what I am confused about.

    #160313

    Cheryl Corson
    Participant

    Different issue. When something isn’t done quite right, the contractor and I have easily discussed the problem and they have provided a suitable remedy. His lighting suggestion was a sales pitch, not a design, and it was not to me, but to the client.

    #160312

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    But is not the course of action to communicate the same? Why would it be easier to tell someone that they did not build something right than to discuss not upselling clients. I don’t see why there would be an increase in discomfort. If anything, it would seem a lot less confrontational.

    Why do you feel that it is different?

    #160311

    mark foster
    Participant

    Cheryl’s situation seems pretty clear-cut–same project with contractor pitching an extra service is a no-no. I believe this would be true if it is sub or referral relationship.

    Unfortunately, there are other grey areas.  What if the client contacts the contractor directly in the future for an expansion of the project beyond the original scope, or a new project altogether?  I have worked on projects where this has happened, and the client does not prefer to involve the original designer (I always suggest it).  How long does the “chain of command” exist– forever? 

    I once provided contracting services (as a sub) to a designer.  We bid the project and that was the end of that–for a few years.  Then someone totally unrelated to the original bid process referred the client to me with the same set of plans in hand.  Is that client now mine, or should I refuse to look at the work?

    A further complication:  there is some “portal abuse” going on in D/B.  The designer (LA or not) will present themselves as an honest broker to the client, but will put some pretty outrageous mark-ups on the subcontractors bids for “contract supervision”.  Most of these are hidden from the client, but they sniff them out pretty quickly and go looking for other contractors.

    I have even been asked to mark up my bid proposal and kick this money back to the designer.  Totally unethical in my view.

    #160310

    Cheryl Corson
    Participant

    That’s a good question Andrew. I’ll have to think about that. The closest thing I can quickly say, is that in the case of work that’s not quite right, I’m an advocate for my client, which is a situation I find easy. In the case of the contractor upselling the client (with the potential to change or distort my design without my knowledge, etc.), I must be an advocate for myself, which apparently feels more difficult.

    #160309

    Cheryl Corson
    Participant

    Good comments Mark! You are right, these are grey areas, and interesting examples. In decades past, the designer/client relationship was much more long term. That’s no longer true. I like to think that there is an educational component in my work, so that (residential) clients get not only a design from me, but a way of thinking about their property that will empower them to make solid future decisions. Should they wish to continue their project without me in future seasons, that is their choice and I would not feel they, or any contractor was obligated to involve me.

     

    Having just studied for Section A of the LARE, it is clear from the ASLA code of ethics that the designer is not supposed to accept funds from more than one party without full written disclosure to the client, and if the client objects they must either drop the practice or that client.

    #160308

    Rick Spalenka
    Participant

    Having just studied for Section A of the LARE, it is clear from the ASLA code of ethics that the designer is not supposed to accept funds from more than one party without full written disclosure to the client, and if the client objects they must either drop the practice or that client.

     

    Holy moly, are you licensed?

     

    Of all comments so far Heather has it right and most ignore what both she and I wrote.  If the client ops out of hiring the designer to provide turn key then the drawings and project belong to the client.  What happens during construction is the client’s perogative because they are the project manager and not the designer.  Cheryl has not stated she was hired to provide turn key.  If she wasn’t then the project belongs to the client and changes are their choice and responsibility.  The contractor, if not a sub, has every right to be a salesperson.  Come on guys.  The designer/LA offers oversight of the project but if the client chooses not to then the relationship ends.  What if the client decides to do only a portion of the design (remember Master Planning) and doesn’t contact the designer years later when the other portions are constructed does the contractor not have a right to upsell?  This is so simple it’s ridiculous.  Was the project turn key or not?

    #160307

    Jordan Lockman
    Participant

    I think the biggest problem is being undermined by the contractor. The designer has the relationship and knows that the clients budget this year is to have x done and lighting in the future. It comes accross really unprofessional to have a contractor contradicting or stepping on the toes of the designer. Since even if it is a sub, to the homeowner you are one unit and the contractor is an extension of the designer and the reverse is true also. So a designer should also not rip the contractor in front of the client either. You need to solve these things on your own and present a polished unified front to the client so they are comfortable with the group and not second guessing the whole situation, that will lead to phase two getting done by someone else.

    #160306

    Cheryl Corson
    Participant

    Absolutely. In this case communication with the client was professional. I do not believe in throwing any contractor under the bus if it is someone with whom I have a relationship. But I did feel badly that the client was being put on the spot to do more when I knew they could not.

    #160305

    Cheryl Corson
    Participant

    I was hired to oversee construction, representing the homeowner’s interests while they were out of town. There is an ongoing relationship, in fact, planting is tomorrow and I’ll be on site. Actually, what the homeowner owns is technically a one-time use “license” to the designer’s drawings. The designer retains the legal right to the drawings. The homeowner cannot resell the design, for example.

    #160304

    Rick Spalenka
    Participant

    “I was hired to oversee construction”

    Were there specific construction documents drawn up?  Did the contractor bid on those documents?  Were you involved in the contracting?  Since you were hired to be the project manager two things happened.  The “contractor” overstepped bounds and the “project manager” didn’t oversee very well if you had complete control over the contractor.  This sounds like a great learning experience.  I have been guilty of this more than I can count.  Hell, I even had problems when I was both designer AND client on the same project.  It rattles my ego when I’m away and come back and find some change to a detail (and it looks better than I designed it.)  There are reasons why contracts and specifications are so detailed.  Murphy’s Law.

    #160303

    Cheryl Corson
    Participant

    Rick, Yes, yes, and yes. No changes were made to the design and it looks beautiful. I agree, it is a good learning experience. As we’re getting ready to plant tomorrow, my contractor phoned just now to ask about some plant substitutions. He asks about one I don’t care for, and it’s 15 gallon pots. It means his guy has to drive to a second nursery. I persist. He is amenable. One of the things I love about this work is precisely the collaboration with all sorts of contractors. I learn so much. “Complete Control” is an illusion anyway. Cheers, C

    #160302

    Heather Smith
    Participant

    Thanks for the original question. This is why this forum is so helpful. I just learned a lot!

    #160301

    Cheryl Corson
    Participant

    Thanks everyone for a good discussion. This is the first time I’ve used Land8Lounge as a forum and I have found it quite helpful, especially being a small business without lots of colleagues within earshot to bounce ideas off of.

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