Planning out a landscaping project for your home is not always as simple as people may think. Often times, there are many variables that are not so obvious to the average homeowner.
Whether you’re planning a complete backyard renovation to turn your backyard into a gorgeous staycation resort or backyard paradise; or you simply want to update your front yard landscaping, you need to be aware of the pros and cons of landscape contractors.
Are you worried that the design ideas that you have in your head won’t be taken seriously? When you meet with your sales consultant and/or landscape designer, are they responsive to your ideas? If they are attempting to push their own agenda or designs onto you, be aware.
This typically means that they are not actually listening to what you want to achieve, and are more interested in building something they want for their portfolio. Even worse, they may be attempting to use up materials that no one else wants.
It is always advisable to ask about sub-contractors at your initial landscape consultation. There are certain landscaping jobs that will always be done by sub-contractors. For example, landscape companies do not typically install asphalt, so this part of a driveway job is usually outsourced to a sub-contractor.
Keep in mind though that the more sub-contractors that are involved in your project, the potential for delays increases. Instead of just having the landscape contractor answer your questions, you are now at the whim of their sub-contractors. This can not only cause delays but can potentially create confusion, and increase the project’s budget.
Worried that you won’t be able to talk to your landscape contractor on your terms? You need to be aware of how many people you’ll be talking to during your project. Do you have one point of contact, or several? It’s always advisable to only deal with one person. This way, communication is clear, and your one point of contact handles the discussions with other parties involved.
Starting a conversation with a sales representative that turns you over to their designer for a discussion can cause confusion, and increase the price of your project exponentially. The designer will be more than happy to add anything and everything you ask for to the design, however, you have already set a budget with the sales representative, which the designer may not be privy to.
Always be clear when discussing your project with additional people that you are not willing to change the budget, unless of course you are willing to increase your budget.
Is Your Landscape Contractor Insured?
It may seem obvious that most companies you are looking to hire will have insurance. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Typically, larger, more experienced companies will have extensive insurance while smaller companies may or may not be insured.
This is a topic that should be raised in your first discussion with a potential landscape contractor. Not only that they do have insurance but how much coverage do they have?
For example, if your project somehow accidentally floods your neighbour’s backyard or basement, does the contractors insurance cover this, or do they only cover what happens on your property? In the worst case scenario, if your landscape contractor only covers damage to your property, now your home insurance is on the hook for damage to your neighbour’s property too.
Again, this seems quite obvious. The more years a company has been in business, the more trustworthy they must be, right? Not necessarily. A company could have changed ownership or management several times over, keeping the name but continually changing staff. How do you know if their staff has been with them for years, or are just starting to learn their trade now? These are questions you should raise in your initial landscape consultation.
An experienced company will have their own in-house landscape designers, estimators and skilled tradesmen. Do they outsource your design? Who does the estimating? Do they have their own skilled and licensed tradesmen on staff?
If not, you are now dealing with several more people in the chain that are not necessarily interested in pleasing you. Keep in mind that the more ‘outside’ people working on your project, the more expensive it gets. Everyone wants to make money off of you, so for each level of sub-contracting, the more money it will cost you in the end.