There are many certifications available, which are great for a resume and furthering education, but a certification is not a license. To become licensed by the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board (LCB), a company must prove itself first by passing a stringent test. To become eligible to take this test, a person must have experience in the landscape industry as an apprentice for a number of years or have obtained schooling experience pertaining to the landscape industry. Make sure the company you use, has an active LCB number, by verifying at www. oregonlcb.com, before moving forward with any conversation. The company you hire must understand construction and horticultural requirements of the landscape; therefore having their LCB is a must.
Making sure you will be covered in the case of an unfortunate event is imperative. After you have made certain that the company is fully licensed, the next step is to schedule a meeting by phone or in person. Here are some questions you should ask the contractor:
How long have you been in the landscape business? We recommend a minimum of 5 years in business; however, more is preferred. The main goal here is to make sure the company has significant experience and will be dependable for many years to come. This is important in the event you develop warranty issues with your landscape that only the installer would be qualified to handle.
Is your landscaper bonded, if so what amount? A $10,000.00 bond should be adequate to ensure you receive money back if the contractor fails to complete the project.
Is your landscaper insured? The minimum insured amount should be $100,000.00. If the contractor installs a faulty landscape (for example, a retaining wall fails), you need to make sure the landscape will be covered by the contractors’ insurance, not yours.
Does your landscaper warrantee the project? What are the terms? A one-year warranty is typical, although some companies offer 2-4 year warranties. Usually, certain sections of the project are warranted for varying periods of time. Read through the warranty and make sure it’s comprehensive in covering all parts of your landscape.
You have now covered your bases and have made sure you are protected should an unfortunate event occur.
It is important to make sure the landscape company conducts business in a professional manner, and they have a good rapport with you. The sales person, designer, or architect is the head of your project and will make many decisions throughout, which you will live with for many years. So, it’s important they respect and understand your goals. Be aware that there are landscape companies that will treat you and your landscape as a one-time transaction and not think about how their decisions affect you. When you have chosen a company and representative, ask yourself if you feel they will respect your vision and goals in the long-term.
Before consulting your chosen contractor about the project details, make a list of what you want. It is important to be direct and present your ideas to the contractor in an organized approach.
Items to think about:
Type of landscape
Do you have a specific preference of materials? For example: Would you prefer natural looking materials or are you okay with cultured materials? Do you want to significantly change the landscape, or do you want to make small alterations?
Having a budget in mind is very important. There are so many different types of materials and designs that are available that greatly influence the bottom line of your estimate. In order to give your estimator a place to start, you should have a max budget in mind. Not having a budget is similar to having a realtor searching for a house without knowing your budget. Often, your landscape contractor will be able to help you divide the project up into more affordable phases if necessary.
Do you like to garden? Or do you plan on having the landscape company perform maintenance after installation? This will dictate how much time and money you should budget to maintain the landscape.
Having these points answered will clear up any confusion and greatly enhance the detail of the design as well as shorten the design process.
After the design has been completed and approved; the contractor should provide a contract.
Do not accept a lump sum contract outlined as “Total Landscape Installation =
$” with no itemized account of the costs. To prevent costly misunderstandings and disputes, the estimate should be broken down into different phases of the landscape, each one having a detailed description of what that phase will include, and itemized costs.
If you follow the 5 Things You Should You Know Before You Hire A Landscaper, you will have an informed and enjoyable experience.
Now you’re ready to start the process of attaining your dream landscape!