Installing a new landscape is an investment of time, money and emotion. Making sure you hire the right landscape contractor for the job is important to ensure you are satisfied with the final product. These tips for hiring a pro will help you identify specific professional requirements and personal qualities to look for.
- Project Goals
Consider what type of work you want performed and how you will benefit from your new landscape. Are you looking to: Increase your property value? Make your landscape more sustainable by using less water? Create a fun environment for your kids? Having project goals in mind will help you verbalize your needs to your potential contractor and respond to project considerations you may not have anticipated.
- Determine your Budget
You should be seeking a company to partner with you to realize your project goals. Determining a budget range before you meet with a landscape contractor will give them a good place to start when discussing project scope. This process can feel a little bewildering when you aren’t sure how much to budget towards landscape. Be willing to engage in an honest conversation with your potential contractor. They will want to know: a comfortable spending range, your project priorities and your expectations in quality of materials used. Cost is dependent on: project size, features to be included, existing vegetation, terrain and state of landscape, quality of materials used and level of craftsmanship. A good contractor should give you a budget estimate but will require a finished design for final bid. If you don’t have a design, you should expect to pay for this service.
- Hire a Specialist
Any landscape contractor you hire should be passionate about their work and should have the experience to back it up. Landscapes in Colorado take a beating with hot, dry summers and cold, snowy (yet dry) winters. A good landscape company will be able design with these conditions in mind and then execute a proper installation. Education, experience and passion all play a role in a company’s ability to deliver a landscape that will last. Hire a local landscape company and expect them to be knowledgeable about our climate, installation techniques and sustainable practices.
- Track Record and References
Check out a company’s ratings and reviews. You can view their rating and complaint history with BBB as well as find candid reviews on Angie’s List, Yelp, or other online review sites. Ask for references and check them out before you sign a contract.
- Ask about Subcontractors
Landscape construction companies are well versed in different types of installations but sometimes enlist subcontractors to perform specialty work. If you trust your landscape contractor, you will feel confident that any subcontractors they choose to work with will be reputable. If possible, keep your entire project under the umbrella of a single contractor to help simplify the process and ensure the project moves along as scheduled. Ask your contractor if they plan to use any subcontractors and make sure they only hire insured companies.
Be sure to verify the company’s liability insurance to protect you against any damage. Any company you work with should also carry worker’s compensation.
- Written Contract
Never allow work to begin without a signed, written contract that includes start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done, and warranty information. Read the fine print carefully.
Product failure will often be covered by the manufacturer but you should make sure the craftsmanship and plants carry a warranty too. Usually these warranty terms are tied to irrigation requirements.
- Associations & Continuing Education
Pros often take classes and research the kinds of projects they undertake, so they are experts in their field. Ask if a potential contractor belongs to trade or business associations like ALCC (Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado) or BBB. These associations offer classes and conferences to educate their members and keep the up to date on new technology, techniques and industry standards.
- Choose a Team You Trust
In the end, you must choose a landscape contractor you trust and feel is invested in a long-term relationship. The team who works at your home should be friendly, respectful and honest. Should any issues arise on the job you want your contractor to be able to directly address the problem and possess the integrity to fairly negotiate any additional costs incurred or suggest possible solutions to the problem at hand.