Health, safety & welfare; three words that are universally associated with licensed professionals such as architects, landscape architects and civil engineers. Why are these issues important and what expectations are we setting for our clients?

“Landscape architecture is one of the forty most commonly regulated professions, with over 95 percent of the United States population living in a jurisdiction with state regulation of the profession. Statutes regulating architecture, landscape architecture and engineering collectively enhance the safety of the built environment as a place for people to live, work and move about. Landscape architecture is a distinct, mature member of the design professions and its regulation is an essential component of statutory schemes to protect health, safety and welfare.”

– Produced for the American Society of Landscape Architects – Regulation of Landscape Architecture and the Protection of Public Health, Safety, and Welfare, Alex P. Schatz, J.D. – 2003

Our industry involves the development of outdoor environments (luxury pools, hardscapes, landscapes, etc.) and it’s a continually evolving and fast growing multi-billion-dollar market. If we are to be the stewards of the landscape and collectively raise the bar within our industry we should be responsible for visually interesting designs as well as providing responsive, complete solutions to our client’s expectations. It’s our moral obligation. What does this mean? It is probably safe to say that most individuals would not have a back surgery without having an initial evaluation and a CAT scan by a licensed professional nor would someone schedule a complicated

procedure outside of a hospital setting and not consult with someone who was a registered doctor or surgeon. Then why would we encourage our clients to build very expensive, custom designs without a survey, geotechnical report or enlisting licensed professionals such as architects, landscape architects, civil and structural engineers?

The projects being developed in the luxury outdoor market are often one of-a-kind custom designs that ultimately should always require construction documentation and associated specifications beyond the initial concept sketch plan or 3D model. These requirements are especially important for projects within jurisdictions that require planning submittals or building permits. Often this is not the case–designs are frequently only developed at a very rudimentary level then left to arm-waving in the field and constant supervision to ensure a plan is built to the client’s expectation. The due diligence to involve other licensed professionals is especially critical when mistakes or mishaps in communication lead to project failure.

Aligning your company with a licensed professional should always be a consideration when working with unique and very complex projects. Licensed professions have an accredited education, are qualified to prepare construction documents & specifications, regulated by state agencies, required to have professional liability insurance and are capable of sealing and signing drawings for permitting. Not all organizations or their certifications are recognized by municipalities or state agencies and therefore are not a comprehensive safeguard for public health, safety & welfare.

As a licensed landscape architect, I take my job very seriously, therefore I am constantly working with our staff to be cognizant of new construction methods, technologies, codes, materials and finishes. Moreover, our firm doesn’t hesitate to utilize other licensed professional services.

Kurt Kraisinger, PLA, LEEDAP