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Educational Consumer Tips

Hiring a Landscaper

Author: Rachel Willard
Published:
Category: Home Improvement

A beautifully landscaped lawn is both appealing and environmentally friendly, but it can be tricky for a do-it-yourself project. Hiring a landscape contractor will give homeowners the professional help needed when dealing with the area surrounding their home. It is important to be attentive and do thorough research before hiring a landscape contractor.

Tips for Hiring a Landscape Contractor:

Ask for Suggestions.  Talk to friends, family members, or neighbors whose landscape you admire for recommendations. Check out landscapers at bbb.org to find one in the area that are accredited, in good standing, and has little to no complaints. Understand the specific landscaping job that must be done and look for landscapers that are well versed or specialize with the type of work needed.

Get at Least Three Estimates.  To provide the most accurate estimate, have the different landscapers go to your home to check out what the desired job requires. Don’t feel pressured to hire the contractor with the lowest estimate. Landscapers with more experience or higher quality materials may charge more for the job.  

Ask for References.  Ask the landscaper to provide a list of references from previous jobs. Call a few of the references and ask if you can check out their landscaping. Ask the references about their experience, if the job was done to satisfaction, and if the estimated cost reflected the final cost.

Check for Documentation.  Check with the state that the landscaper has the proper licenses and insurance and make sure everything is up to date and in good standing. If the job requires any subcontractors, make sure they are also licensed and insured. Ensure the landscaper is licensed to do the specific work you are looking to be done.  You often cannot file certain complaints against contractors who are unlicensed so it is important to check their documentation. Also check to see if the landscaper has proof of Workman’s Compensation which protects you in the event the landscaper has an accident.

Discuss a Payment Plan.  A landscaper will usually ask for a 30% deposit before the project is started.  Be cautious if the landscaper is asking for a 50% or higher deposit. In most cases, the payment plan will have homeowners pay roughly 30% down, 30% once the materials or products are delivered, and the rest when the project is completed to your satisfaction.

Maintenance and Warranties. If you are not up for the job of maintaining the landscaper’s work ask them for maintenance recommendations. Sometimes another division of their company offers maintenance or they can recommend a company they have worked with in the past. Landscapers should offer a warranty on their work and the plant material as it shows they stand behind their product. Be sure to fully understand what is included under the warranty and for how long.

Get Everything in Writing.  Once you hire a landscaper, make sure all of the details of the job are included in a written contract. The contract should include the start and completion date of the project, the materials being used, and all of the costs and fees broken down. Ask the contractor to provide a lien waiver, especially for larger projects, to prevent you from being held responsible to pay the supplier when you have already paid the landscaper in full. Read everything thoroughly before signing and never sign a contract that is partially blank.

About the Author: Rachel Willard is Communications and Marketing Manager for BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Find Rachel on Google +.

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