Landscape Design and Construction Services

Rainscape Design, San Francisco

Whether you have a small landscape entry project or would like a plan for managing a large parcel, we can help you with our hourly consulting on a specific issue or with a full scope of services for designing and building your dream project.

We use our technical and artistic talents to plan and design open spaces. We formulate graphic and written criteria (including drawings, construction documents and specifications) that govern the allocation, arrangement, and construction of land elements and water resources. An example of this might include developing a plan for a landscape water budget around a sustainable drainage system that includes a detention pond or other kinds of rainwater harvesting systems.

Typical landscape architecture plans for residential and commercial projects might include a site analysis, the location of buildings and other structures, design of driveways and walks, patios, water features, and selection and arrangement of plants on your property. Detailed plans prepared by a landscape architect could also include grading and drainage, irrigation systems, runoff pollution and erosion control measures, recycled landscape materials, lighting, trellises and shade structures, fire safety zones, and other landscape features.

Contract Preparation and Start-Up

Rainscape Design works with you to develop a Scope of Services for your project that will be described in the Contract Agreement. The Contract Agreement defines our mutual responsibilities and obligations. It probably will include a specific fee and budget, but these may be established after we have entered into initial consultation and discussion of program and design. Work will begin once all parties are satisfied with the conditions of the Agreement and a deposit has been received. Project start-up may include Rainscape Design contacting other professionals, as needed, who could be retained as additional consultants to form a Project Team for handling all the administrative requirements associated with your project. The team’s composition will be based on the expected needs of your project and may include, for example: a surveyor, a civil engineer or a structural engineer.

Four Phases of Design Process

There are four phases to the landscape design process: Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents and Construction Observation. Following is a brief explanation of each phase.

Schematic Design and Permitting

In the first design stage, Rainscape Design develops a series of alternative design sketches that address the planned use of your site. To illustrate these designs, we select representative images of similar gardens and landscape elements for you to review. We provide a preliminary estimate of probable cost for elements in your design. We review these designs, cost estimates and images with you and obtain your approval before refining the concept you select. At this point, Rainscape Design may participate in the Design Review process for your project with local regulatory agencies. If required, we can assist you in obtaining the necessary approvals and permits during this process, but ultimately permit approval is dependent on municipal agencies.

Design Development

Once you approve a preferred design and budget, Rainscape Design refines that design. Materials are selected, details related to colors and finishes are determined, and a more detailed cost estimate prepared. Additional drawings are prepared, as needed to communicate all aspects of the design to you. Again, we will meet with you to review these completed drawings and obtain your approval before beginning the Construction Documents. After this approval, if you wish to make changes to the design, or budget, we can integrate them as an additional service.

Construction Documents, Bidding and Award

Construction Drawings and Specifications are used to construct your design. These are legal documents that must be technically accurate, conform to industry standards and governmental codes, and be approved by the various licensed professionals involved. They are detailed representations that inform our builders of every item to be installed. Rainscape Design can build your project or help you review the bids of independent contractors to build your project. Contractors submit bids for the cost of all the construction based on these plans.

A typical Construction Document package includes dimensioned layout plans, grading and drainage plans, planting plans and construction details for all items in your project. Additional drawings may include irrigation, lighting, civil and structural engineering plans. These drawings are supported by written specifications that describe all the components and their installation. The detailed clarity of these plans helps the contractor understand your project, resulting in more realistic bids, and helping to avoid costly mistakes during construction.

Construction Observation and Maintenance

One of the most important steps in the process of landscape design is Construction Observation. If we build your project then construction observation is inherently a part of that process, but if you choose to have an independent contractor build the project then, typically, numerous site visits are required to ensure the work being carried out is constructed according to our drawings and your intent. This can help avoid costly mistakes in time and materials. During the site visits, we review design implementation and make adjustments accordingly. When work is substantially complete, a specified maintenance period is determined. At the beginning and end of this maintenance period, Rainscape Design may prepare a written list of items that need adjustment by us or the independent contractor, who remains responsible for the work. The project is officially complete after all the adjustments are made to Rainscape Design and your satisfaction.

Rainscape Design prioritizes creating landscapes that require low maintenance, but all landscapes need some long-term maintenance. If requested, we can prepare a maintenance manual to ensure proper care that allows your garden to function and evolve, as designed, for years to come.