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You have successfully passed the interview stage and finally got selected as the landscape architect for a client, congratulations! That's one more project added to your portfolio, but before you start work officially, you need to have a landscape design contract in place. The agreement protects you and your client, and it clearly defines the scope of work, compensation, ownership, and sets expectations for communication. Landscape agreements can take several forms, and there are essential clauses you must understand when drafting the document.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) said in one of its presentations on contracts, "You get what you negotiate- not necessarily what you deserve." Hence, you must negotiate to your satisfaction and hire an attorney to ensure every aspect of the agreement is put in writing if you are new to creating a landscape design contract. Also, an attorney will ensure your agreement is compliant with necessary state laws in the region where you will be working.
If you are new to creating contracts, checking online sites, or using the American Society Architect’s Standard form contracts, it may be a good starting point. A good landscape design contract would cover every aspect of the project and answer questions about the cost of landscaping, scope, and the date of completion. Here are essential sections to include in the agreement.
A landscape design contract must identify the parties involved in the agreement. At least, the document should include name, email, contact address, and phone number of both the design architect and the client.
The agreement should also include the location at which the landscaper shall perform landscaping services. It must warrant or represent that the client owns the property or holds the authority to engage a designer for the services requested.
Include your terms and work condition, whether a one-time job or recurring service, stating the period or appropriate timeframe. Your landscape design contract terms should also state the requirements for termination.
Your agreement should outline the services you will render on the site. You may enter each activity as a line item to make it clear and easy to comprehend. You may also state what happens to the work if your client changes the scope of the work.
Ensure there is clarity in this aspect of your landscape design contract. You may state that “in consideration for the landscaping design services, the client shall pay $amount per hour plus the cost of materials." That is valid when you bill per hour but ensure you clarify your billing method if fixed and whether you receive upfront payment.
Add the date when the agreement was created and include other relevant information like payment due date and duration of the project.
You must discuss with your client the right to take and use photographs of the client's property for self-promotion of landscaping services. Also, ensure that the landscape design contract states that the client agrees to indemnify, defend, and protect the landscape designer from and against all lawsuits and damages pertaining to the landscaping services. It should also protect the landscaper from any damage resulting from false information delivered by the client regarding the property in question or failure to give the landscaper all the necessary information to work.
A good landscape design contract should give no room for modification except the projects meet some underlying conditions agreed upon by both parties, which must be in writing.