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Archive for May, 2012

Finding The Right Landscaping Contractor

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Pay careful attention to choosing the right landscape contractor for your yard. If you’re looking for a complete landscape re-design or simple lawn care, homeowners can use these steps to find the right landscaper for their desired project.

Step 1: Envision your landscaping design.

Before finding professionals for your landscaping design, consider what you want the end result to be. For what use do you intend your garden? Thinking about a water feature or walkway or do you want a comfortable gathering place? Do imagine a garden area for fresh veggies and herbs?

Gather magazines or neighborhood photos, or sketch your own design to help show your landscaping contractor what you envision. Communicate with your landscaper about what you want – more communication means a better end result for your landscaping design.

Step 2: Research local landscaping design companies.

Talk to your friends and neighbors to see who they recommend, and gather a If you see a particular design that you enjoy, consider asking the homeowner who they used. Review online portfolios of contractors who interest you. Next, narrow down your list to two or three professionals from whom you will request a formal bid to design landscaping for you.

Step 3: Choosing a designer or landscaping contractor.

Garden enthusiasts should consider:

Certifications and affiliations. Experts who design landscaping will sometimes have special qualifications, especially if you’re looking for a green landscaping design, so check your potential landscaping companies’ certification and affiliations.

Team Approach. Often, quality landscape projects result from a team effort between the designer and contractor. Solicit input from both and don’t rely on the landscape designer to know about technical construction details or the contractor to know about best design.

Licensing and Bonding. Check with the Landscape Contractors Board about your bidders to make sure each carries the appropriate license and bond to perform the work you need. There are different levels of licensing, and not all may be appropriate for your project.

Liability insurance. Check to ensure your landscaping contractor has liability insurance. A landscaping design company that you want to hire should carry at least enough insurance to cover the cost of your home. Although this may seem extreme, landscaping work can result in costly mistakes, such as broken water mains or a tree falling on your home.

Green landscaping practices. If you are concerned about your environmental impact, consider whether your landscaper uses green landscaping practices and provides natural lawn care.

The Reasons for Hiring an Architect

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Reason no. 1: You Have Plans For Your House

The most obvious reason for hiring an architect is that you have plans to build or rebuild your house, because it no longer meets the needs of your family.

If this isn’t already a good enough reason for hiring an architect, it means you must be considering the alternatives, which are quite a few to be honest.

For instance; you yourself could plan your new house, or the extension to your house; make the drawings, do the paperwork, coordinate the contractors, get the permits you need, and so forth, – which is an excellent idea if you happen to be an architect… If not, prepare to be overwhelmed by the job and disappointed with the result.

Secondly, you might consider getting a “package deal” by the carpenter or entrepreneur that will eventually build your project; which is perfect if the company you hire have equally good qualifications with the building design and paper work, as they do with the carpentry itself. If this is not the case… keep reading.

Reason no. 2: Area of Expertise

An architect has just the right expertise for this kind of thing (assuming that reason no. 1 is the case). Taking a masters degree of 5 years or more, and X years of experience with problem solving and design, makes the architect perfectly capable of solving your project to your satisfaction. At least it is reasonable to expect as much.

Reason no. 3: The Best Solution To The Problem

Architects are trained problem solvers and can provide an optimal solution to your problem. This way you get a functional as well as an esthetically pleasing solution.

Reason no. 4: The Big Picture

A skilled architect has an eye for the totality of the project, as well as a considerable knowledge of detail and technical solutions. Gathering all relevant information and sowing it together is just up an architect`s alley, so to speak.

Reason no. 5: Long and Short Term Cost Effectiveness

An efficient and flexible solution is also cost effective, on a short and long term basis. The above list of reasons gives added value to your house on its own accord. Then add lower maintenance costs and advanced technical solutions, and hiring an architect can actually save you some money.

The architect fee itself is probably the reason why many are reluctant to hire one, but if you consider the total cost of the building project, the extra benefits you get from using an architect will make it worth it.

Reason no. 6: Communication

Architects communicate through sketching, drawing, writing and talking. The nature of architecture puts the architect in a central position in the planning process. He or she becomes the natural link between the clients, consultants, engineers, contractors, and the government.

Reason no. 7: Your Guide Through The Process

A good architect can handle the building code and knows how to acquire the necessary building permits. Your architect will be your personal guide through the paper mill.

Reason no. 8: Sustainability

Many architects today know a bit about sustainable architecture, and can help make your project eco-friendly. There are many possible directions, and difficult choices to be made, if you want to ensure that your house will not put an unreasonable strain on the environment – indoor or out.

Reason no. 9: It is FUN

Imagine working with someone who is just as involved and concerned with your project as yourself!

Reason no. 10: Make Your Dreams Come True

The most important reason to involve an architect in your building project is that he or she can make your dream a reality.