“What would you say is a ballpark budget, for our project?” – the most common phrase spoken to me at the end of the initial consultation!

This is where I usually begin my, “Huh, well, it’s like this…”.

Let me explain it this way…

Let’s start with defining what the word means and you’ll discover what happens.

Definition of Budget: the amount of money that is available for, required for, or assigned to a particular purpose (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

So when a client says, “Our budget is X” – what they are really saying is, “we wish to assign X as our budget”. This amount is either an amount they hope to acquire it for, or as mentioned in the first part of the definition; what funds are available.

Rarely does the assigned budget come close to the amount of funds required. So much so, that doubling whatever is assigned, is all to common. Now I expect about now you are shrinking a little at the thought of that, however, there is no point sugar coating the truth, or I would be selling you a delusion.

How are you, the non-industry participant, supposed to know what is the right amount to assign to a budget to achieve what you wish for your garden?

And let’s talk about your designer:
Your designer is a creative being who wants you to have the garden you dream of.

An experienced designer, who is familiar with construction costs, has some control over the design in terms of budget. But to be fair, how do they add elements knowing it will be in budget?

Your designer has to complete the design at least to a stage where all elements are drawn to scale. This would include walls; paving; plants; etc. They would for example, have to know the paving area is 68m2, before they can estimate what that element might cost. And then calculate the next element, and so on…

A designer has to balance two aspects, which are sometimes opposing priorities, the dream & the budget. They want to give you the dream but they also must work within what is required for the budget.

A contractor also has to work on an amount that is required to achieve the purpose. And let’s be honest, for most clients the funds available are rarely told to the designer, because he or she will just spend it, right?

This is why budgets don’t work; the designer and contractor work on what is required, and the client tends to work on what is available or assigned.

So how do we solve this chicken and egg style equation?

I believe there is a better way of approaching this, and it involves educating the client to spend a little time balancing these two opposing factors: Dream v’s Budget.

Please contact me for more information on how this can be done.