When it comes to outdoor space and landscape design
, being an informed customer can make a big difference. Establishing an open business relationship with your outdoor living space expert of choice can have major benefits for the success of the design project itself.
Here is an interview with Kirk Bianchi, master landscape designer and pool design expert
based in Phoenix, Arizona, answering the questions of the educated, ideal customer.
How do you work?
As a design professional, I first provide conceptual drawings that are client-oriented with the goal of discovering the perfect layout and what the square foot and linear foot and quantities are for the amenities, from which we can get a general cost verification before proceeding further.
After the design, I introduce the client to my construction team and we will often tour several projects so that they can get a comfort level and a first-hand feel for our level of workmanship. We proceed with construction contracts, and I then delve into creating more detailed construction / shop drawings that speak to all of the various trades that will be working on your project.
Once under way, the pool contractor and the landscape contractor drive the daily scheduling and installation of the project while I support them with details on finishes and color schemes, etc., and stop in at milestone events to answer questions and verify that all is going well.
I would like a comprehensive master plan design from one person. Can you provide that in one stop or will I have to coordinate several parties (and their conflicting opinions) myself? From this master plan I will select my priorities.
I provide the master plan that integrates architecture, landscape, pool and patio elements harmonized together as the framework for the entire project. When we need specialists to elaborate on individual components, we will use this master plan as our guide to work from, so their input furthers our vision.
Who is your team for building and what is your relationship with them? How and why did you select these players over others?
I have the best team I have ever worked with in my nearly two decades of experience, chosen for their exacting levels of workmanship, thoughtful project management, and costing that is properly proportioned to the appropriate levels required of each project. It includes a landscape contractor and a pool contractor. The pool contractor manages all of the trades that relate to the pool. The landscape contractor is also a capable designer himself, and he manages all of the elements that go beyond the pool.
Do you participate during construction to make sure the vision we articulated in the beginning actually comes to fruition?
Unlike most designer/salesperson/contractor scenarios, where the designer is practically banned from the job site, Bianchi’s team is a three-way level of supervision, namely my two primary contractors and me. This means you have three advocates bringing their expert eyes to bear, each adding their insights.
Once you have authorized construction contracts, I then translate the conceptual drawing into construction drawings for both the pool contractor and landscape contractor to scrutinize and add their feedback to before we break ground.
The quality of work that you see in our portfolio
is a team sport and a collaboration!
What visuals/communications do you need from me so that I can articulate my needs, desires, and personal tastes?
First, I have homework for you. Cut out, scan, or flag as many images as possible to convey what you like AND what you don’t like about outdoor environs. Show me features, finishes, textures, favorite colors, etc.
Second, for each image, what emotional reaction do you associate with those pictures? The emotion you associate with a color or texture or shape is what you are truly after.
Third, I need a dream list of functions and amenities that your perfect back yard will allow you to enjoy.
Fourth, what are the positive and negative features of your site that need to be enhanced or mitigated?
Fifth, what is your “like to spend”, “willing to spend”, and “not going to spend” budget for the overall project?
Sixth, send me pictures of your property taken from key vantage points, from within looking out, panorama from when you first step out, and looking back from preferred areas.
Seventh, send me any drawings of the site and home that record existing conditions.
Eighth, send any architectural review committee guidelines that need to be followed.
Ninth, read my language of design booklet to familiarize yourself with “designer speak.” Offering precise feedback as to why you like something or not is what allows me to adjust the design more perfectly to your tastes.