A well-designed landscape can increase privacy and enhance curb appeal which ultimately increases the property value of your home.
Realtors estimate that up to 95% of home buyers just drive by if a home has no curb appeal. With the right landscaping, you can increase the value of your home and get all or more of your investment back when you sell. Landscaping your yard will also enhance the general livability of your home and a well-chosen landscaper is essential in making the whole project go smoothly.
Landscape contractors can offer a variety of services including: plant material, hardscape installation including patios, walkways, decks, retaining walls, water features and irrigation systems, design services and maintenance services. Whatever your preference, a number of factors need to be taken into consideration when searching for your ideal painting contractor. Below are 4 tips toward finding a good, honest contractor.
1. Prepare beforehand- Before you begin your contractor search you’ll want to get a good idea of what you want. Decide what areas of your lot you want to landscape and what you would like to see. Consider your lifestyle. Do you need a flat open area for children to play in, or a fenced-in area for gardening? Do you want to increase privacy from the street or neighbors? Sketch out a plan that meets your wants and needs. You also need to be familiar with your budget and prioritize your wants and needs accordingly.
2. Find a contractor- Once you have armed yourself with a good plan and a set budget it’s time to find a contractor. Websites like goodhonestcontractor.com are devoted to matching people like you with their ideal contractor. You may also ask friends, relatives, colleagues and neighbors if they have any recommendations- or just as importantly, for the names of contractors that they wouldn’t hire again.
A contractor's reputation among former clients is the best gauge of his or her work. It's also a good idea to look at the work a contractor has done for previous clients. If they have a website where you can look at projects they have completed, even better. Landscape contractors have a vast range of skill and experience depending on how long they´ve been in business, their level of training, and the types of projects they´ve completed. While a landscape contractor may have design and construction skill, they are not landscape architects. For larger or more complex projects requiring more design skill and knowledge of site planning or natural resource conservation, a landscape architect should design the plans which the landscape contractor executes.
3. Interview prospects- Set up appointments and interview at least three landscape contractors. Here are a few ideas of questions to ask a prospective contractor: Have contractors visit the site and review the terrain. Give each contractor a written description of the project. If you have an actual plan drawn, give each of them a copy. Discuss your proposed design with the landscapers. Consider their suggestions, particularly if you're uncertain about the layout you want. Here are a few questions to ask potential landscape contractors:
- How long has the company been in business?
- May I visit a site you're currently working on?
- How early will work start in the mornings, and what time will workers leave each day?
- Who will be the contact person if I hire this company?
- What kind of payment schedule will you expect?
- What kind of insurance does the company carry?
4. Get estimates- Get estimates from your prospects. Estimates should be free and you may even come away with good ideas that you would like to implement in your bathroom, even if you don’t end up with that specific contractor. You’ll also want to make sure to obtain copies of appropriate licensing and certification, liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, and bonding and call to verify. Also get written guarantees on all work.
5. Conduct a thorough prospect background check- Once you have narrowed down the list of potential candidates, it’s important to do your homework. These people are going to be at your home and involved in a large financial investment so check them out thoroughly. Here are a few things to take into consideration:
Gather References- A professional will easily give you a list of references and volunteer this information from the beginning of the process. If certification is a requirement in your area, make sure to see their credentials. If they are unwillingly to supply any of this information it may be a red flag.
Call References- Call references directly and ask them the following questions:
- Did they complete the job within the timeframe they originally estimated?
- Did you run into any problems during the work and if so how did they correct them?
- Did they clean up well when the job was finished?
- Did you feel the workers were respectful of your home and property?
- Did they show up and leave on time on the days the work was being done?
- Did the contractor replace any plantings that died?
Check with the BBB- Search the Better Business Bureau website at "http://www.bbb.org" to locate your local bureau. Enter the company’s name on the website to see if they are BBB accredited and if they have any complaints against them.
6. Contract- Execute a contract specifying the work to be done, price, payment schedule, start date and estimated completion date. Make sure that you completely understand all aspects of the contract before signing.