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  • Writer's pictureArvind Dang

"Designing Robust hardscape" and External development works around buildings

The design scope includes roads, paved areas, pathways, drainages, water bodies, fountains, entry drives, gates, pavilions, recreation areas, gazebos, boundary walls, external lighting areas, signages, terraces, etc.

Characteristics of a Robust hardscape & External development work design can be measured vis a vis two (2) aspects as below

Aspects in coordination with architects &Interior designers

·      Designing for tasteful and functional paving  

·      Raising playgrounds at the appropriate level

·      Providing outdoor recreation and Physical activity  

·      Preservation of historical heritage

·      Designing all external works that conform to sanctioned/regulatory approvals

·      Designing for Efficient utilization of space in the landscape area

·      Designing of Patios, deck designs, fencing, boundary walls, pavers, concrete

works, pebbles, and safe Driveways

·      Designing Lawn Furniture which is weather-proof

·      Provisioning of swimming Pool and Spas

·      Designing of Patios, Fencing, Driveways,

·      Designing for Ponds and Water bodies


Aspects in coordination with MEP designers

·      Designing Ponds and Water bodies that are scenic

·      Create Swimming Pools and Spas that meet statutory/safety requirements

·      Designing Outdoor Kitchen  

·      Proposing sustainable solutions in favour of the environment

·      Regeneration of polluted areas

·      Designing Storm-water management  

·      Providing solutions for cleaning the soil and water

·      Use of lighting as a powerful tool

Inputs that contribute to making a good design of Hardscape (landscape) include:

1 Proposing the right choice of materials in terms of specifications while optimizing costs for the following:

Types of materials for use

Key specifications of building materials (as required by customers and National/international Quality standards)

Stones/Marbles, Paving material etc


Natural or synthetic, Overall dimensions -size, commercial name, country, thickness, color, hardness, grain size, texture, polish ability, chemical properties, and so on

Paving material 

Shape, size, thickness, compression strength, coefficient of friction to prevent skidding

Types (e.g., Asphalt, Concrete, asphalt mixture, asphalt binder etc

Structure steel, low alloy steel, Stainless steel, etc

Tensile strength, yield strength, elasticity, hardness, ductility, strain, toughness, and so on


size, colour, luster, grains, content, hardness, density, shear resistance, and so on


strength to weight, air tightness, heat deflection, corrosion resistance, appearance, and so on

Plastics materials

Strength, fire resistance, weather resistance,durability, size, color, chemical resistance, thermal resistance


Material type (steel, aluminum, plastic, glass etc), size, strength, type of lights, colour, language etc.  

And so on

as appropriate

2.     Incorporating, in hardscape-related design & drawings, good practices for construction or & installation of the following as per applicable Quality standards:


·      Construction of irrigation & drainage system, subsoil drainage.

·      Construction of sculptures, water bodies

·      Laying of turf

·      Developing Golf areas 

·      Installation, testing & commissioning of signboards, streetlights, night lighting unique

fixtures, etc.

·      Constructing external walls

·      Controlling vehicular traffic

·      Paving slabs

·      Surfacing of gravels

·      Laying of Kerbs and stones

·      Construction & erecting structures

·      Providing inputs to the Architects, softscape architects, Interior designers, and MEP designers for integration of all designs across the project  

  This may require using design software such as Idea Spectrum Realtime Landscape Pro, NCH software Dream Plan, Smart Draw, etc., and other software options

 Five stages for developing the design of hardscape/external development  


Design activities vary considerably from company to company but generally, there are 5 stages to designing the hardscape as below. Whatever designing processes and software are used, designing must result in developing Robust designs by accomplishing the following:

·       Build designs that are comprehensive, accurate

·       Contributes to building quality in construction by incorporating national and

international quality standards in BOQ/material specifications and construction.


·       Integrates statutory and safety requirements (if applicable) in the designs and drawings 

·       Optimise project costs

·       Enables efficient delivery of designs & drawings

·       Incorporates maker-checker step in each design stage through the implementation of

segregation of duties concept


The 5 stages are:

Usually, there are 5 stages for designing hardscape/external development works as below.

·      1 Develop Concept designs                                   

·      2 Develop a Detailed design

·      3 Develop Tenders (Technical design aspects)

·      4 Estimating Costs

·      5 Issuing As-built drawing

This may require using design software such as AutoCAD, Autodesk Revit, etc., and other software options.

Since each Design team may follow it's protocol/SOP and software for developing various design stages, the focus in this article is primarily on those activities that can adversely impact the design

In the below-listed activities, those marked *reflect those that can have adverse statutory implications.


Stage 1 Develop Concept designs  -Activities that can adversely impact business


·      Not obtaining or and not incorporating inputs (like visioning for different types of

rooms, halls, recreation areas, gazebos, restaurants, paved areas, pathways, water

bodies, fountains, entry drives, gates, pavilions, boundary walls, lighting areas, signages,

terraces) from functions into building Hardscape design

·      Using unlicensed software while developing a concept design for Hardscape.  

·      Not vetting the concept and detailed design/making compromises while vetting

Hardscape, in collaboration with, inhouse or outsourced Hardscape consultant, by

skipping or compromising on important designs and drawings aspects such as below

vis a vis Hardscape Features:

· Tolerance on material specifications and Workmanship

·       Statutory code-related requirements for Hardscape. *   

·      National and international standards for quality    

·       Raw Materials (hardware, glazing, stones, claddings, etc.) sizes and


·      Quality requirements and suggestive gauging

·      Hardscape safety requirements*   

·      Bribing mandatory Agencies that approve the Hardscape relevant for issuing compliance *       


Stage 2 Develop a Detailed design-Activities that can adversely impact business

·      Design intent not aligned to approved concept design.

·      Hardscape detailed drawings, not comprehensive vis a vis site plans/drawings with

dimensions, gradings, material, soil depth, drainage, water features, etc. or not accurate

·      Material specification incomplete


Stage 3 Develop Tenders (Technical design aspects) Activities that can adversely impact business


·      In the tender, the designer/architect includes names and brands of specific materials

only for pre-identified /preferred vendors of the designer/architect in return for

commission/kickback from such vendors. * 

·      The designer/architect recommends only a single source for many BOQ materials and

thus leaving very few options with the project materials team to negotiate prices

aggressively in return for commission/kickback from such vendors

·      Tender drawings not incorporating applicable quality standards for all works.

·      Tender drawings not incorporating applicable statutory requirements vis-à-vis

applicable national/international codes w.r.t safety. *


Stage 4 Estimating CostActivities that can adversely impact business


Computing Hardscape costs based on thumb rules rather than on the first principal basis vis-à-vis following, leading to underestimating or overestimating project costs.

· Skipping a few BOQ input/raw materials costs for some of the areas, such as roads, paved areas, pathways, drainages, water bodies, fountains, entry drives, gates, pavilions, recreation areas, gazebos, boundary walls, external lighting areas, signages, terraces, etc

·       Inaccurate estimates of Cost elements such as BOQ materials used for civil works, steel, equipment, etc., both for in-house and those in the scope of the Contractor, including labor components, construction, installation, etc., for all types of Hardscape elements


Stage 5 Issuing As-built drawing-Activities that can adversely impact business

·      The landscape designer /architect issuing “As-built drawings” for hardscape drawings

aligned to earlier approved drawings by the project head but at variant vis-à-vis actual

completed physical construction (regarding approved plans and construction materials used etc).


You can read more about the 21 activities that can adversely impact business in Chapter 1 of my handbook ETHICS in the real estate and hospitality industry, Volume 1- Architectural, Interior design and MEP services “

This book is available on Amazon as per following links

Amazon link: India-


Amazon link-Global-


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