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Halting Progress By Penny Pinching

It didn’t really seem like it would EVER be a possibility, but the more we talked and the more questions we asked, the more we realized that we could actually do it.

In December 2017, we signed on the dotted line and purchased our first building and property at 5030 West Lake St. in the 60644 Zip code. Topiarius World Headquarters was official!

And this is when we learned a profoundly valuable lesson that can benefit you, too: Penny pinching was painful and it halted our growth.

Our hunt for the perfect property began in 2017, and we made lots of visits to different properties in the city. Based on our budget, we knew we’d need to renovate the space no matter where we landed. This was actually quite exciting because the idea of customizing the build-out after 14 years of fitting into other office/production/yard spaces sounded divine.

(Spoiler alert: We were wearing rose-colored glasses.)

Buying a building and property made sense because we are not your typical landscape company. As we have evolved over the past 20 years, we’ve become a construction team with expertise in outdoor space architecture. So we were not only in need of office space, we were also in need of indoor space for construction production, welding, painting, and housing tools and materials. Plus, we needed quite a bit of outdoor space to house all the plants we buy for clients.

As I reminisce about our big purchase and how exciting it was, I am also reminded that it was 9 months of really hard work to do all of the renovation OURSELVES (which is not the way we’d ever do it again).

Through this, we learned that aforementioned profound lesson: Penny pinching was painful and it halted our growth.

Why?

1) We didn’t ask for a large enough construction loan because we didn’t know we could. So we stretched every penny, looking for the best and cheapest deals in order to get the reno done. Bottom line: This takes extra time and a lot of extra energy.

2) We took team members out of the field and solely dedicated them to the remodel. If we had kept them working at clients’ homes, we would have been able to complete more projects, thus injecting more income into our business.

We lost out on exponential growth because we assumed managing it and doing everything ourselves would be the more affordable option.

Similarly, this is why we advocate that you don’t pinch pennies when investing in your landscape architecture design, installation, and maintenance. Quality and correct construction the FIRST TIME is WORTH the investment. (And there are creative approaches we can help you think about, like phasing in parts of the project!)

It’s not a surprise to us that lots of clients don’t know what they should expect to budget for quality landscape architecture. There’s hardly any information out there on the interwebs, which is why we’ve developed a matrix to help you (below). Keep in mind, if you’ve invested in quality, long-lasting products for your interior, you’re not going to be satisfied if your exterior living space is any different. And since exterior products need to withstand use and weather, they are potentially going to cost the same or more as interior items.

Here is our recommended cost matrix. It is just a starting point and every project varies. Consider these starting percentages/budget amounts based on the value of your home.

If your home is valued at $2 million or less:

  • 10%: if you’re looking to upgrade an existing space or maximize an underused area.
  • 15%: if you’re dreaming of a roof deck or a remodel for your backyard – or even a makeover for your front yard and parkway.
  • 20%: if you’re ready to transform your entire landscape and create a design that truly stands out.
  • 25%: if you’re doing everything you want and getting all the perks you desire.

If your home is valued above $2 million:

  • 5%: if you’re looking to upgrade an existing space or maximize an underused area.
  • 10%: if you’re dreaming of a roof deck or a remodel for your backyard – or even a makeover for your front yard and parkway.
  • 15%: if you’re ready to transform your entire landscape and create a design that truly stands out.
  • 20%: if you’re determined to indulge in all the luxuries and perks that you desire.

We finished our remodel of Topiarius World Headquarters in September 2018 and moved in as the paint was drying, with grayer hair and high stress levels.

We definitely consider having our business located in our very own space to be a success –  we’ve got parking for 50 employees, production space for projects and training (5,000 sq. ft. inside and 10,000 sq. ft. outdoors), and office space (10 cubicles, 5 offices, 4 production desks, 2 conference rooms, 1 kitchen) – but we have slowly been upgrading as we have been here over the past 6 years.

So, check the box on some more lessons learned. We’re stronger and smarter for it.

My hope is that our lessons learned can inspire and help you make a decision about moving forward, using Topiarius to develop and transform your outdoor space into something you are excited to enjoy (with none of the stress of a DIY renovation)!

P.S. Want to see more of our world headquarters? Check out our Instagram. Stories are coming!

P.S.S. Curious about more #TopiariusTurns20 history? Click here:

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