Maintenance of your landscape is essential. Similarly to selecting a doctor, you want to find a landscaping professional that will be truthful with their assessment and do what it takes to reach your goals. However, knowing what you want to find in a landscaper is easy; identifying and selecting may be tricky. Here are a few tips to help you figure additional factors of great importance that are not often considered.
Know What Is Important To You
The sales-rep or designer is the manager of your project and will make critical suggestions throughout, which you will live with for many years. So, they must respect and understand your goals. Be warned; many landscape companies will treat your job and your landscape as a one-time transaction and not consider how their decisions affect you long-term. When you have chosen a company and representative, ask yourself if you feel they will respect your vision and goals in the long-term before signing on the dotted line.
Before discussing your project’s details with your chosen contractor, organize a list of what you want. Also think about how you will use your new space, be it entertaining large groups, small groups, kids and family. It is essential to be direct and offer your ideas to the contractor in a well-prepared approach.
Consider the type of landscape you desire. Do you prefer specific materials? Ex.: Do you like natural-looking materials, or are you okay with cultured materials? Do you want to change the landscape significantly, or do you want to make small alterations? Your vision matters, so make sure you express it. It is also OK if you are not sure or do not know these details.
Setting your budget is very important. Some various materials and designs greatly influence the bottom line of your estimate. To give your estimator a place to start, you should have a maximum budget in mind. Not having a budget is similar to having a realtor searching for a house without knowing your number. Often, your landscape contractor will be able to help you divide the project up into more affordable phases if needed.
“Are you licensed?”
There are many certifications for landscapers, but a certification is not a license. Every state has different rules and regulations. In Maryland, for example, the state requires a home improvement license for landscaping and sod installation. The home improvement license covers all improvements to land adjacent to a building. You must show proof of two years of experience and proof of liability insurance.
You’ll also need to pass an exam. Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation commissions the license. Also, to apply pesticides as part of your landscape and lawn care service, you must hold a commercial pest control application certification. Your business must have a pesticide business license—one year of practical pesticide application experience or a degree in a related field is required.
Legal Items to Consider
Confirming coverage in the case of an unfortunate event is very important. Once you have ascertained that the company is fully licensed, schedule a meeting by phone or in person. When speaking to the rep, here are some essential questions to ask:
Ask the rep how long they have been in business. Many reputable resources say a minimum of at least five years is good enough, but more is always better. The objective is to make sure the landscaping company has significant experience and will be a dependable company to do business with for many years to come. The importance is that if there are certain unforeseeable factors when working with your landscape, the installer would be qualified and have the experience to handle the job.
Is your landscaper bonded? If so, what is the amount? A $10,000.00 bond should be adequate to ensure you receive money back if the contractor fails to complete the project.
Is your landscaper insured? The minimum insured amount should be $100,000.00. If the contractor installs a faulty landscape (for example, a retaining wall fails), you need to ensure the landscape is covered by the contractors’ insurance, not yours.
Will the landscaper warranty the project? Ask them what their terms are. A one-year warranty is standard; however, some companies offer 2-4 year warranties. Most often, individual sections of the project carry a warranty for varying periods. Read the warranty carefully, and make sure it’s comprehensive in covering all parts of your landscape.
Before You Sign That Contract
Once your design has been completed and approved, the contractor should produce a contract.
Never accept a lump sum contract! To avoid costly misunderstandings and disputes, the landscaper should break down the project into different phases, each one having a detailed description of what that phase will include and itemized costs.
There are many things to think about when selecting a landscaper, but when you do, consider giving Hometown Landscape a chance. Let us discuss all your plans and ideas and prove why we are the right team for the job. Contact us today, or call us directly to start the conversation.