A Contractor Hiring Guide

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So you’ve decided to embark on a landscaping project this summer. You’ve saved up some money for it. You’ve thought about how you will spend those warm summer nights, enjoying your new landscape design. All you have to do is pick a landscaper and sign a contract right?

Wrong.

Just like any other kind of contractor, landscapers can differ greatly in both the quality of their work and the types of services that they perform. You don’t want to hire just any contractor – you want to hire the right one.

To help you, here are six questions you should ask before deciding on a landscaper:

  1. What services do you offer?

Some contractors focus only on design. They will come up with a beautiful plan for your outdoor space and then hand those plans over to you for you to either complete yourself or to hand off to another landscaper. Other contractors will design and build/install your new landscape, and yet a third category of contractor will offer all of the above plus maintenance services.

  1. May I see examples of your previous work?

Any contractor worth hiring will be proud to show you pictures of their past work. If you have a particular style in mind for your own landscape, you should ask them if they have pictures of work similar to what you are envisioning for yourself.

While a good landscaper should be experienced in many different styles, each one will typically have their own “flavour” and you need to choose a contractor whose work reflects your own sense of style.

  1. Do you offer landscape consultations?

Landscapers have good knowledge of what will work in various spaces, with various levels of sun, shade, etc. What you have in mind for your landscape may not be the best solution. If your landscaper offers landscape consultations, they can spend a few hours with you on your property providing you with ideas for your new design.

This is a good way to get a sense of their style and see if they are someone you would like to have working for you.  Do not expect this consultation to be free however as the landscaper will be putting a good deal of time and work into it.

  1. How much is the budget?

This seems like it should be an obvious question, but it is also one of the most disliked.  As a homeowner, having a budget in mind will help you figure on not only what is affordable to you, but is realistic for what you would like to see done.  To get to that budget number you should be consulting with friends and family to get a realistic view of what things cost, so in your original meeting with a contractor you are not overwhelmed with what the landscape “might” cost.

  1. Will there be additional costs

Ask the landscaper about both design and installation costs. Since the nature of landscape design can be unpredictable at times, you should also ask how any changes to the scope of the project would be handled.

While discussing costs, you might also want to ask the contractor about possible ways to reduce costs. For example, materials for decks, walkways and patios can have a big impact on cost. It may be possible to change some of those materials to reduce cost without greatly impacting the overall design.

  1. How much maintenance will be required for this design?

Every landscape design is going to require a certain amount of maintenance to keep it looking nice.  You will either have to perform this maintenance yourself or hire someone to do it for you. It is important therefore to get a good idea of how much time and/or money you will have to put into your design once it is complete.

Landscaping projects can help transform your property to make it more usable and enjoyable, but one of the keys is hiring the contractor that is right for you.  Asking these questions will help you to make a good choice.