Be Wary of Lawn Service Solicitations - Unlicensed Contractors are Surfacing!

  
     
March 27, 2012

BBB has been informed that Jesus DeLeon has been soliciting his landscaping business by leaving cards on homeowners' doors in Yakima, WA. Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has confirmed that neither Mr. DeLeon nor his business are properly licensed to do landscaping work in this state.

As we approach the spring and summer months, be very cautious as lawn services begin soliciting your business. BBB offers the following tips when choosing a trustworthy landscaper.

Top 10 Tips for Hiring a Landscape Professional

Make a list of questions to ask, and remember that how the contractor responds may be as valuable as the answers themselves.

1. Ask how long the company has been in business, what kind of work experience and training the crew has, and if the contractor is willing to stand behind the work and service provided. Question what procedures are in place to handle problems if they should arise.

2. Ask for copies of licensing, if required, and insurance certificates for workers' compensation and liability. If the company is not properly insured, you could be liable for any accidents that occur on your property.

3. Ask for references and visit the site of the job to see the finished result. Also visit a job in progress so you can examine the crew's appearance and the quality of workmanship.

4. Get the contractor's cell phone number and home number in case of an emergency, and beware of contractors who are repeatedly difficult to reach.

5. Ask if the contractor will enlist licensed electricians and plumbers for jobs such as irrigation pump installation, which may necessitate special hook-ups. Ask if the contractor will hire the subcontractors, and if he or she will be on hand to direct the work.

6. Ask about the company's experience with and use of pesticides.

7. Ask how much of a down payment is required. If the requested down payment is more than 50%, you may want to proceed with caution.

8. Ask the company for a written contract. This contract should include an outline of all the work you want done. For example, you should know when the work should start and end, the total costs, the materials used (including the depth of rock, heights of walls, etc.), and when and what work the company will do if you want them to continue the upkeep. Before signing, read over the contract a nd make sure any warranties or guarantees are clearly outlined, and that you understand all of the information.

9. Ask for instructions on how to maintain and care for the landscaping if you wish to do the work yourself. If you have any questions, call the landscaper before you begin. If you fail to maintain the yard and garden work properly, the landscaper may not be able to fix the damage and may not be liable for the damages.

10. Check out the company and business owner with the Better Business Bureau to see complaint history, customer reviews, and other background information.

We recommend checking with www.bbb.org when choosing a new company. If you have any questions, feel free to call your local BBB at 509-455-4200. If you wish to report a fraudulent or unregistered contractor in Washington state, call the 'Report-a-Fraud' hotline at 888-811-5974 or visit Labor & Industries' website at www.lni.wa.gov.