15 Simple Steps to Eliminate Risk When Landscaping
So you’re ready to change your Home Outside. How do you get the lovely vision in your head to translate to the actual yard outside your home? https://www.blossomandoak.com/landscaping-gilbert-az companies, and landscaping in general, encompass many skills and services. In your search for a landscape contractor, you will find that some companies specialize in specific areas (i.e., maintenance or paving) whereas others perform a myriad of landscape services. A good place to begin your search is with referrals from friends and neighbors who have used a professional landscape contractor. You may consider contacting a property owner you are not acquainted with, who has an obviously pleasing, professionally landscaped property, for a referral.
It is important to remember that landscaping, particularly landscape design and installation, is not a commodity for which a price tag can be easily attached. Purchasing landscape design and installation services might better compare to purchasing art. Landscapes that are pleasing to the eye, functional, and of lasting quality require professional design and installation. This is why many people choose to landscape their properties over a period of time, rather than all at once, so they can budget adequate funds to complete their work properly.
If you expect to hire a professional landscape contractor, you need to employ the techniques of a professional buyer. Follow a few simple steps and you can improve your odds of getting the services and products you’re contracting for.
1. The number one secret to getting a great landscape is…Don’t Hurry! Too many mistakes are made when you set arbitrary deadlines. Allow yourself enough time to do it right so you don’t have to do it over.
2. Read books and magazines to know what you want and to get smarter about what options are available to you. Decide what you hope to accomplish with the proposed work and approximately what you think it will take, ie: lawns, plants, walls, etc. Make the core decisions on amenities, priorities and desired budget. Later, you can refine these choices to fit the plan and budget.
3. Ask friends and relatives and co-workers what they might like to change about their landscape. (You can benefit from their mistakes or successes). Find out what they did that worked well, who they used and for what. You will find features and people you want to avoid if you listen carefully.
4. Hire a professional designer to review the site and assess your needs and give you options to consider. A small sum spent with a professional designer can save thousands in re-dos and mistakes.
5. Make a landscape plan or design.
Without a design you are sure to take too long, spend too much, and redo something. With exact specifications such as placement and type of plants, patios, walls, fences, etc everything is very clear. When you have clear, written specifications, listing exactly what services (and how often), or products you expect for your landscape dollars you are sure to get them. Have a list of the items or services you expect a bid on, (Specifications) ready to give to all bidders so they are all bidding the same thing. Contractor “A” might say “sprinkler system” in his bid. Contractor “B” may say ” Three ¾” champion brass anti-siphon manual valves and piping with Rainbird 1804 pop-up spray heads with 15 foot nozzles spaced no more than 15 foot apart to cover approximately 2,200 square feet”. Are you getting the same thing from each? There is no way to tell unless the contract specifically lists what you are getting. If the contract doesn’t list it, Contractor “A” is free to make cheaper substitutions or leave things out if they so desire because there is nothing in writing to bind them to the agreement with you. A plan with specifications will eliminate communication errors and getting bids from contractors that are not comparable.
6. Set a budget even if you are not 100% sure what to expect price wise, it is always best to have a starting point to work from. Check out the pricing on the larger portions of the work, such as large trees, cement work, block walls, etc so you are not surprised when the price is delivered. Be willing to discuss your budget with the contractor to see if it is reasonable for the work you expect. Setting a budget is made infinitely simpler when you have a landscape design or plan. Consider phasing your work to fit it into your budget.
7. Do your homework by contacting professional organizations for the professional landscaper, such as PLANET (Professional Land Care Network) or local state contractor’s associations, CLCA (California Landscape Contractor’s Association for example) for advice.
8. The next step is to check them out.
Most states have a state branch that licenses contractors and sets standards for contracting laws to protect homeowners. Many states require certain insurance or bonds to license contractors and set maximum amounts that a contractor may collect up front on a contract. Check out your state’s licensing rules and regulations that protect you.
9. Expect that each company is to give you a bid with specifications attached or per your plans and no verbal alterations to these specifications. If they are offering something different than you first specified, make sure you get everything in writing AND that it is to YOUR advantage (not theirs) to make the change. (gosh, we’ve got a sale on 5 gallon mahonia now…”) It’s the only way you can be sure each company is giving you a price that includes the same services or products. Later, this information will be invaluable to you if you suspect you are not getting what you bought.
NOTE: Yellow page listings are no guarantee a company is reputable and licensed. A past search for a contractor to do some roofing work sent me to the contractor’s state licensing website to check out prospective contractors found in the Yellow pages. Of 4 half-page ads for roofers, two companies had their license suspended and one of those had been suspended for 5 years!
10. Ask for references. Any ethical professional contractor will be happy to provide you with a few recent references for you to contact or even written testimonials from past clients. Talk to their references and go look at the jobs.( Keep in mind that the other customer’s budget and taste in landscaping might not match yours, so their landscape may look different than the one you are contemplating installing.)
11. Another way to ensure professionalism and a quality job is to inquire if your contractor has any advanced training or licenses in their industry such as Irrigation Auditors or Licensed Pest Control Applicators, or CLT Certified Landscaping Technician. Many certifications and licenses holders are required to take continuing education hours every year to keep their licenses and to keep up with new and innovative techniques, products and regulations.