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Renovation Education  April 06, 2006

ALLENDALE, N.J. - For design/build landscape contractors, renovation projects can be just as exciting - and profitable - as start-from-scratch installations.

In fact, according to Joe Tuttle, landscape designer, Borst Landscape & Design, Allendale, N.J., "whether replacing foundation plants; adding a new sidewalk, deck or water feature; or installing a swimming pool, a design/build firm can offer a single source solution for every aspect of the project from concept to completion."

Handling a renovation project can be very similar to a traditional design/build one on a new home site. First, a landscape designer must assess the client's needs and establish a rough budget, Tuttle says. Then the designer produces a plan that addresses these needs in a unique way.

The challenges are also similar. A landscape design professional will have to work with hilly, rocky or odd-shaped pieces of property in their designs to make the entire space usable.

In addition to these site considerations, there are also municipal regulations that may influence the final design. A designer will research local zoning ordinances, which can vary widely from town to town and impact the design process. Time will be spent analyzing their impact on the design to meet local zoning criteria. This could be as simple as a fence regulation or as complex as a zoning review for a new swimming pool. Because the approvals for more complex projects may take several months, it is a good idea to start the design process early, Tuttle says.

"The best advice I can give to landscape designers is that they need to develop a plan that considers all aspects of the design criteria as well as municipal requirements," Tuttle says. "This will ensure a smooth transition from concept to creation, resulting in a finished landscape that far exceeds the look of the most detailed plans."

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