How to choose a Landscape Contractor
Since I do not do any construction myself, I look to others to build my projects. I have a network of contractors that I have bid my designs. This list is always being updated and revised. I will tell you the steps I use when go through how to choose a landscape contractor to bid on my work.
The first step in choosing a landscape contractor is checking out to see if they have a license and that they are in good standing with the ROC. I also want to see if the license they hold is correct for the project I am bidding. Not long ago I had an HOA contact me about a contractor they met at the rock yard when they were looking at granite samples. He gave the architectural committee his card. When I checked out the ROC number it came up as a residential license. This means the company is qualified to only do residential landscape jobs not commercial as this was. It amazes me as why a contractor would put himself in this type of position. He may have though he would use someone else’s ROC number. This means you want to know who is on the license and who the qualifying member is.
My next step in choosing a landscape contractor is meeting with the contractor. Having that face to face is very important. I recently had a homeowner that I am working with ask me to add two contractors that were recommended to him by a friend. He wanted me to email them the plan and get a bid. Before I get to the point of sending plans and pictures I want to meet the contractor and go over the plan personally with him. I want to be sure that he can read a plan and actually understand the vision. You want to be sure they know what the different materials are. I once called out for Artistic tumble lock pavers to be used. This is a particular paver made by a specific company; he thought I meant “just use a pretty paver”. Well the price difference was more than $4 per square foot. What would have happened if a less expensive paver showed up on the job site? The job would have been set back a few days not to mention how much the contractor would have lost on his mistake.
When choosing a landscape contractor, I know it’s not always possible but I rather deal with the owner or GM, I do not like waiting for someone to check something with someone else. I would much rather work with that person.
An important criteria for me when I choose a landscape contractor is response time. If you’re taking too much time to get back to me and I have not given you any money just imagine what would happen once I did give you money.
I then look at price when choosing a landscape contractor. Being the cheapest will not get you the job. Being able to justify you price may get you job. Standard pavers installed are in the $6 per sq foot range. Not too long ago I had a contractor tell me he was at $9 per square foot for standard non tumbled pavers. When I told him I wanted him to be aware that the other contractors are coming in at around $6, the rational for his pricing was that “we do a good job”. That to me is not an explanation of his price discrepancy. Does that mean that everyone else does a bad job?
Finally an insurance policy for you is the landscape contractor accepting you making progress payments. If possible pay a deposit, and then make payments as portions of the project are completed, and never give the finale payment until the project is completed.
There you have these are my thoughts when I choose a landscape contractor.