How to Choose the Best Landscape Design Contractor
When choosing a landscape firm to partner with, there are a number of factors to consider. Often times the cost of an outdoor landscape project is similar to doing a new kitchen or family room. There are many factors that go into the design, building, and maintenance of your new investment. By hiring an experienced contractor, you can be assured that all the aspects of the design and installation have been considered. Who wants to get to the end of a project and find out that the contractor has missed crucial steps in the process or not installed things according to proper standards? This often happens when inexperienced and “budget” contractors are chosen, leading to frustration, costly re-work and possibly legal action. Who needs that! Follow these recommendations to ensure your project is done right and the only hassle you have is carrying all the food out to your new grill area for your first neighborhood barbecue.
The Value of a Trained Designer
The first step in any building process is to sift through all the possibilities and make the best outdoor spaces possible. Here is where a trained designer is worth their weight in gold. By putting your ideas down on paper and combining them with new ideas, the project can easily be thought through in terms of space utilization, flow, visual elements and material selection. Don’t settle for a contractor who draws an illegible sketch on a napkin or who tells you how your yard renovation will look using a lot of arm-waving and gesturing. Let’s face it. The process is very abstract taking concepts from ideas to reality. We recommend hiring a company who can give you colored drawings that you can easily understand and use to visualize the finished product. The major benefit to drawing out all ideas on paper is that you can change your mind easily and also let one idea lead to the creation of another. The client can “try on” different designs and let them percolate over time eliminating the awful potential of being at the end of the project and saying “I wish I had thought of that BEFORE the job was complete.” The landscape design, to quote Frank Lloyd Wright, “Is the cheapest but most important part of the job.”
Do Subcontractors do the Installation Work?
If you have ever had any construction work done at your house, you know the delay game. The general contractor explains his delays and the fact that there is no one working on the site that week as “waiting for subcontractors.” This often drags out the project and can create installation quality problems due to the finger-pointing of mistakes and miscommunication.
It’s much better to hire a company that can do all the work in house. That way there is no subcontractor excuse game being played. A high-quality landscape firm should be able to do all the grading, walls, patios, lights, irrigation, plants and fences themselves. It is usually the case and is perfectly fine that these companies sub out asphalt driveways and large tree removal.
How the Installation Process Unfolds is Crucial for a Great Outcome
Make sure that the landscape company that you hire has a site foreman or project manager that is communicative and asks a lot of questions during the installation process. Make sure the designer doesn’t disappear and is on-site regularly to guide the installer and to handle any issues that may arise. Communication with you the homeowner is critical all along the way. The lack of keeping you in the loop often leads to rework and potential conflict.
A major root problem in most construction projects is poor communication on the part of the contractor. Our approach is the opposite of most contractors who prefer that the client is not involved. We, on the other hand, love keeping the client involved, our foremen are strong communicators that engage with clients proactively when unexpected changes must be made.
Choose Experience: It Matters
Find out how many years the company has been in business and how much experience the designer, project manager, and foreman have. Also, did they go to school for landscape design and construction? Or are they inexperienced and lacking fundamental construction knowledge. The worst thing is to entrust your
expensive landscape project to a poser who does not know or care to do things the right way. Experience matters. Seek it out when deciding on who to work with.
Is Your Contractor Insured?
Usually, an established company will have two points covered in the insurance area. Firstly, they will have an overabundance of insurance coverage for property damage or worker injury. Secondly, a good company will never have to use its insurance because it is a well run and safe company. Often times small “Truck and Shovel” companies or people just starting out in the business will not have insurance. The problem with this is that if there is an accident on your property, you and your insurance company will have to pay not the contractor who will usually disappear and not answer their phone.
So remember to ask all these questions if you live in Norwood, Westwood, Needham, Canton, Newton, Weston, or Wellesley and are looking to do a landscape renovation project.
“Land Design Associates was very professional and their labor crew highly skilled. They provided exceptional advice and created a landscape design based on our vision. The management team was patient and very helpful as we made numerous changes prior to the final drawings. I highly recommend Land Design Associates and their great crew to any potential client.” – Homeowner
Looking to Upgrade your Outdoor Space in the Greater Boston Area with a New Landscape Design?
If you want to stun your family and friends and truly fall in love with spending time outside in your own backyard, come talk to us. We’ve been providing landscaping services to Westwood, Norfolk County, and southern Middlesex County for over 25 years, and we’re proud of what we do.