Garden designers are being encouraged to break from tradition and introduce a formal, paper contract at the start of their projects.
They usually rely on trust, but Society of Garden Designers (SGD) chairman Juliet Sargeant will tell garden designers at the Landscape Show in September that it is good practice to have a contract by promoting, for the first time since their creation 18 months ago, JCLI homeowner contracts.
These are a series of three user-friendly contracts created by the JCLI Contracts Forum specifically for domestic garden design projects. They put in writing what is required from each party in a garden design project.
Forum members include the SGD, the Association of Professional Landscapers, BALI, the Institute of Chartered Foresters and the Landscape Institute.
Sargeant said: "Traditionally, garden designers have felt that if we have this relationship with our clients it's not very trusting to then slap a contract onto the table. But it's professional practice to have contracts. It just clarifies what the responsibilities are for each of the parties - namely the designer, the contractor and the client."
She added: "The SGD has realised that members need a contract that's more suitable for domestic projects. The existing contracts in use were designed for larger projects, were cumbersome and were often off-putting for clients."
Sargeant said the new contracts ensure clients know it is their responsibility to ensure contractors are able to access site at agreed times to do their work.
They also outline payment terms and times, what services are to be offered by the designer and where additional services may be required - such as surveyors, planning consultants and structural engineers.
The contracts also have tick boxes so that the client can easily see what the designer will do and what other professionals may need to be brought in - "so there are no surprises".
There are three versions of the JCLI homeowner contract:
- One between client and contractor where the client is not using a designer to oversee the work on site.
- One between client and contractor where the client is using a designer on site.
- One between client and designer.
For details, see www.sgd.org.uk.