March 11, 2016

How to Decide on a Contractor for your Landscape Project

In a previous blog on how to prepare for a contractor, we stressed the importance of doing your research and educating yourself on the possibilities for your landscape project. Now that you have done your homework, you are prepared to meet with a contractor. However, where to find them and how to hire the right one is another important step to ensuring the success of your project.

Simply make sure you have a handful of contractors to meet with and compare notes. Never settle on the first one before you are able to compare them to others on your list.

  • Meeting with the contractor: Here are some things to look for when meeting with contractors:
    • Lead with showing the job site and guide them through your question list
    • Listen to how they answer your questions: if you have difficulty communicating now you will most definitely have the same issue later
    • A good contractor gives a detailed answer with enough information to help you understand limitations and possibilities
    • Make a list of the suggestions, issues and possibilities each contractor gives you and use them to compare notes.
  • Ask for an itemized estimate. blocks, materials, labor should all be separated so you will be able to see where you can make changes to better fit your budget. 
    • While you research for products, be sure to look up information on estimating your project using tools and Apps designed by the manufacturer. Do your own estimate and compare. Call the customer service line to seek help with your product estimate if needed.
  • Ask the contractor if his bid is an estimate or a fixed price.
  • Be sure to collect some background information on each contractor before he leaves. A good contractor will give that information during the introduction or before they part. If in any case they got carried away discussing the project be sure to ask them for this information: 
    • Length of service
    • References
    • Insurance
    • Main suppliers
    • Crew size
    • Managing waste at job site, equipment storage, material staging etc…
Make as many notes as you can to use when comparing prospective contractors. Once you decide on a contractor be sure to have them provide you with their terms / contract. Read it carefully and make sure you agree on all the terms before you sign. Always have a backup plan in case your first choice does not come through.

Good Luck! 

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