This is an account of my own personal experience and the experiences that have been shared with me from customers that I have personally done work for. In Dallas/Fort Worth alone there are hundreds of thousands of contractors that can perform all different varieties of work. In the state of Texas there is no certification or licensing that must be obtained to be a contractor. There are specific trades like plumbing and electric where you must be licensed but just about anyone can say they are a general contractor or a landscaper. The point I am getting at is that it is important to do your own due diligence and meet with the contractor in person and get a feel for who that person is.
I have heard of horrible stories where people hired a contractor over the phone. As a landscape contractor myself, I never give estimates over the phone. There is just too much opportunity for miscommunication when giving an estimate over the phone. Also as a home owner you cannot get a good feeling of that individual without meeting them in person. This leads me to my next point. Get the estimate or bid in writing! In my earlier days I use to just shake hands on jobs and agree to a price verbally. This creates too much confusion when the price is not put in writing. Some people hear what they want to hear. So when shopping around make sure the contractor puts the estimate or bid in writing. That is a sign of experience and it shows that the contractor wants to accurately illustrate their prices and scope of work. Regardless of the size of job or amount of work, I always write up the landscape proposal and list all materials. The estimate is itemized so that the customer can see where their money is being spent.
Now if you have found a contractor that you like and have a written proposal in hand but are still hesitant about the company then take five minutes and look up the company. Do they have a website or any internet presence? Do they have any reviews on AngiesList or BBB? Are they even listed on any review sites? That could be a sign of a fly by the night operation if you can’t find their website or any listing for them on the internet. A reputable contractor will establish themselves on the internet. With any organization you may come across bad reviews. EVERY company has bad reviews. Some people simply cannot be satisfied. Just make sure that the bad reviews aren’t consistent. If no one likes the company than you might want to pass too even if the price seems too good to be true. Also feel free to ask the Contractor for references or a portfolio. That is always a good way to verify their work and also how the company performs while on the job. I always bring my landscape portfolio for a customer to view all of our landscape installs and outdoor living projects that we have completed.
Here is another important thing to keep in mind. I recently came across a couple who were doing interior remodeling on their master bathroom. It was probably about a $40k remodeling job. They had received two bids from two reputable contractors but one was $8k more than the other. The contractor that had the higher bid worked with multiple crews, brought a dumpster to the house for debris, and also setup a plastic covering that went in the doorway of the bathroom to help prevent dust traveling into the air ducts and other parts of the home. They ended up choosing the contractor who was $8k cheaper. The work did turn out okay but they said the whole entire process was a nightmare. From day one trash and debris just sat in the driveway for weeks until they pestered enough to have it hauled away. The project went four weeks over the finish date that was promised because of poor management of sub-contractors and delayed delivery of materials. All in all the project turned out satisfactory but the experience was not very good. My point being is make sure you ask questions and figure out why one guy is so much cheaper than the other. When it comes to home improvements or landscape upgrades cheap does not always mean good.
This is the last point that I am going to make. Most landscape contractors and general contractors will ask for at least one third down to half down on a project. That is standard procedure. A professional landscape company will never ask for the entire payment up front for a project or landscape install. I have even had customers offer to pay me the entire balance up front for a job. So please keep that in mind next time. Just follow the regular payment schedule that the contractor has established for the job. If anybody ever ask you for the entire payment before any work begins that should raise a red flag.
I could keep writing on and on about the hiring and bid process but at the end of the day you will know who the write contractor is for the job. Remember, meet with the contractor in person, get the price in writing, understand the scope of work, complete any research on your own, and hire who you feel most comfortable with. Remember that person may not be the cheapest and if the price is too good to be true than it probably is.
Clients First Landscape Solutions is a premier landscape company. Mike and Zach have a combined 12 years in the landscape construction industry and have extensive knowledge of masonry and landscape systems. Clients First Landscape Solutions always provides their estimates in writing and accurately describes the scope of work. If you have an outdoor living project or landscape install that you want completed please reach out to our team so that we can provide you with an estimate. Thanks for reading and I hope this article was helpful for your next project.