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Hiring a Landscape Contractor in Brainerd Lakes Country
         

Hiring a Landscape Contractor

If you are hiring a landscape contractor to do all or a part of your landscaping, your role essentially becomes manager of the project. To achieve good results with a minimum of surprises and setbacks you need to put some time into supervising the project. And, remember, the contractor is your employee and should abide by any rules and policies you set. This can be in regards to smoking, not parking in the grass, etc. Following a few simple steps will help to insure that you have a good working relationship with your contractor and your contractor’s staff.

  • Decide what you want the contractor to do. This may be just part of your project, such as retaining walls, patios or walkways. You can save a substantial amount of money if you do plantings yourself.

  • Hire cautiously. Ask about the contractor’s (and others on his staff’s) training and experience. There seem to be more and more people who throw a wheelbarrow and a shovel in their truck and call themselves a landscape contractor.

  • Ask for references and go out and view landscapes the contractor has worked on, don’t just look at photographs. Look at several examples and ask if the current crew members are the ones who did the work.

  • Confirm that the contractor has the appropriate insurances, liability and workers compensation, etc. If the contactor is installing low voltage lighting or irrigation systems, ask if they are state certified. Some contractors actually get around this by having a certified person sign off on their work. This is only okay if that person is on site and watching the installation.

  • Agree on a written contract. This can be a brief one page document, but will let you know what the contractor is responsible for doing and should include guarantees on plants and hardscaping materials.

  • Understand what the guarantee is for. Some contractors will guarantee plant materials for an entire year, others will guarantee only for the current growing season. There is a difference between the two! If the contractor is building a wall, patio, walkway or other hardscaping feature are they willing to guarantee their workmanship or just the quality of the materials?

  • Make sure you know the timeframe of the project. When the work will start and how long it can take to finish. Bad weather and equipment breakdowns can delay projects. Know what your options are if the project is delayed for an extended period of time – can you get a discount, refund of any downpayments or cancel the project without being penalized. (Most contractors require some sort of downpayment up front, generally 25%, and then another payment as the work progresses, with the final payment due when the work is finished.)

  • Monitor the project’s progress and review the finished work. Remember, clean-up is part of the job! Ask questions about anything that concerns you. Insist that the supervisor or firm’s owner walk through the project with you upon its completion. Be sure that the project is completed to your satisfaction before making final payment. Past experience has shown that there are contractors who will not go out and fix things, make minor adjustments or clean up their mess if they have already received their final payment.

 



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