By: Brandon Kuehler, CLVLT, COLD
When it comes to landscape lighting there is no standard cost structure – it is not a One Size Fits All world. Pricing of lighting can and does vary from State to State, City to City, and Provider to Provider – everyone uses something different and designs very differently than another. So when looking at landscape lighting and what you think the system of your dreams is going to cost take these 5 tips into consideration.
1) Quality of Materials
First and foremost – Quality of the materials being used by a certified lighting designer over a landscaper or handyman are going to be substantially higher and of higher and the warranties will meet the demands of these designers. Lighting designers have taken the time to increase their education in lighting and the differences in fixtures and their proper uses, LED options, quality installation methods, and have mastered the fine art of tricky installs. All of this training has taught designers how to spot a quality fixture over a cheap one and they prefer to use the best quality they can get to give their customers the experience they expect, and demand. Remember fixtures are NOT all the same – many are made of plastic or powder coated aluminum, and depending on the climate where you live those materials will crumble in a few years. For example, if you are in Houston, we have salt in the air from the Bay and that salt will eat away aluminum before you know it. You should be looking for fixtures made of SOLID brass or copper – those will withstand any climate and…..yardcrew!
Are you looking for something straight forward or something with more detail? Depending on the difficulty of the design and installation your cost will vary. If you are looking just to up light the front of your house and there are only flower beds in front, well for most certified lighting designers that would be considered a straightforward installation. Now on the other hand, if you are looking to up light the front of your house, driveway with concrete, backyard with waterfall lighting in your pool and fence lights around the whole perimeter, and then add some lights into your fire pit that would be trickier and take a true expert to install so expect the cost of that to be substantially more than the straightforward up lights.
3) Special Features
Do you have a Fire Pit? Waterfall? Fountain? Putting Green? If you do and you want to highlight them to be able to enjoy them at night that takes extra time, special lighting, and special installation techniques. The end result is beautiful, but does cost more than just placing a light in the ground as a fair amount of labor goes into making these lights look like they have been there all along.
Do you have concrete in the way of where lights need to go to up light your house, along your pathway, do you want lights on your garage? Many think that because there is concrete present a light can’t go there….NOT TRUE! Now, is it easy – for a real professional lighting designer and their crew – YES! It does take a little more time but with the use of proper tools and experience, getting a light into already existing concrete is doable. Of course if you are in the process of pouring concrete and know you want lighting where it will be poured have your lighting expert get the prep work for your lights in before the pour happens, that will save you money and your lighting team time. NOTE: Not all lighting companies can do this – if you are quoted a “core” ask to see examples that company has done if they did not show you one at the time of your onsite meeting.
How large of an area are you looking to add lighting too? Do you just want the front of the house for security? Looking to have soft lighting in the front and back? Do you have a pool, putting green, dog run? Is your yard on a small plot or are you on acreage? The size of your home, property, and your end goals will really give you a better idea of what your lighting system cost will be. If you are acreage you should expect to spend more than someone in a master planned community. If you go into your onsite meeting thinking OK for my 5000 sq foot house on 1 acre with a pool I should expect a quote for $2500 you are going to be very surprised and sticker shocked when your quote comes in. Now if you go into your meeting thinking I will be looking at about $10,000 then you will be close to the ballpark. But, if you are only looking for certain areas to be done let your designer know this up front so that they do not provide you a quote for everything – you may want to see everything quoted, but don’t do this because you will just be hurting yourself in the long run and wasting the designers time as you will then decline their quote since it was more than you wanted to spend – even though they did exactly as you asked, showed you EVERYTHING when you really only wanted the front yard.
Landscape lighting can cost you $2500 or it can cost you $200,000, it is all up to you and what you want done and want to spend. Keep these 5 tips in mind when you start searching for your lighting designer. Remember hire a certified lighting designer and you will get the best product, design, and service for the right price – this is an investment, not something you should be redoing every few years (read this article to learn how to find the right expert). Nothing is apples to apples and professionals are not going to compete with your landscaper or handy man on price or materials, and there is a reason why, we know what we are doing and it is all we do!