It’s that time of the year again when spending time outside is finally tolerable. Before you can unpack your patio furniture, take the time to look around your property. Make note of any patchy grass, rotting wood, and crumbling cobblestone – these are all signs that it’s time to hire a landscaper to breathe new life into your backyard. We know this is a big undertaking, so we’re going to help you get this project underway. Here are 5 tips for hiring a landscaping company.
1. Base Your Choices on Project Scope
Landscaping is a broad term and encompasses many different kinds of projects. Landscaping businesses will typically specialize in anywhere between one and ten tasks. This is why it’s important to determine the scope of your project prior to reaching out to businesses. Depending on your current landscape situation, you may only require pre-season maintenance. However, if you’re considering more extensive yard work – anything from adding trees to hardscaping and water features – you’ll need the help of pros who specialize in these areas. Luckily, HomeStars has all kinds of pros, including interlock specialists, arborists, and experts in lawn maintenance.
2. Research & Ask Questions
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again – always read customer testimonials before even reaching out to a business. Using HomeStars, you’ll be able to read reviews from past customers and see photos of past projects. Look for the verification badge for more assurance that the company is legitimate. Once you feel comfortable moving forward, it’s time to reach out and start asking questions. Confirm that each landscaping company you meet with is fully bonded and insured to avoid hefty payouts in case of an emergency.
As previously mentioned, you should verify that the company has specialists that are equipped for and experienced in the specific tasks you’d like completed. More importantly, confirm that the specialists are properly licensed for each of these tasks. For example, landscape pros require specific licences to install certain retaining walls, paving projects and of course, water features. These licenses are a testament to the company’s longevity, legitimacy, and commitment to the protection of the consumer.
3. Ask About A Guarantee
One important subject to broach with a company prior to hiring is their guarantee. If a company refuses to guarantee their work, it means they aren’t confident in the longevity of their work and you shouldn’t be either. Note that the length of a project’s guarantee will vary based on the kind of work done. For example, within the paving or wall installation industries, it’s best practice to offer a minimum of a two-year guarantee on completed projects. However, other kinds of work may come with a guarantee of up to five years. Be sure to speak to your specialists about what kind of guarantee they offer.
4. Compare Quotes
While your budget is certainly an important consideration when hiring, we never recommend going with the cheapest quote you can find. It’s important to find a contractor that you can trust who will do the work for a price you can afford. One way to make the most of your budget is to avoid disclosing what you’d like to spend before getting a quote. Some contractors will up the projected project cost if you’ve told them you’re willing to spend that amount. Instead, give a detailed list of what you’d like and have them quote based on that.
Keep in mind that every quote should be accompanied by a detailed breakdown of what exactly your money will be spent on. This is especially important for landscaping projects that incorporate a number of different tasks. Compare breakdowns from multiple companies and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you see inconsistencies. Verify whether the quote includes the cost of permits, and whether the cost is final or an estimation.
Finally, don’t forget that a well thought-out and well-executed landscape design can add around 15-25% to the value of your home and property. Don’t be afraid to spend a decent amount of money on the initial installation of your landscape design – you’re likely to make the money back upon resale.
5. Review & Sign Contracts
This last step is especially important. Do not let your project begin without both parties having signed (and read through) a valid contract. There are a number of items to look for in your final contract:
- Exact start date and project timeline
- How any pricing changes will be addressed
- Payment schedule including the deposit
- Project guarantee or warranty
If the contract is missing any of these items, have the contract amended. No matter how legitimate a company may appear, you’ll feel much more confident in the outcome of your project with an official contract in place.
With the help of this guide, we have no doubt that your property will soon be living up to its full potential. Even better, if you start on step one now, you’ll be able to spend your entire summer outdoors in the comfort of your beautiful new yard. Head to HomeStars to find the best pros in your neighbourhood.
Cover image courtesy of Homedit.