Monthly Archives: September 2016

What To Look For In A Landscaping Company

When choosing a firm to do landscaping work on your property, it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. It is not just about eliminating the worst choices, but is also a matter of separating the lackluster from the truly outstanding, ensuring that you get the best return on your investment.

One key trait to look for is being are pro-active with ideas and plans. Whatever your own design, a good landscaper will have an opinion, positive or negative. Remember that ideally, they will have years of experience in this field and should be pointing out opportunities and pitfalls in your draft plan. If they are not asking questions, then you should be asking yourself if they are the right people for the job.

Another factor is whether or not they have a roster of experienced permanent staff who will be completing the work on your property, rather than subcontracting. The main advantage of permanent staff is that they will have greater control over the process of crafting your design. If, however, you are noticing that the workers have a high turnover, it could be that:

a) they are using temp staff, which means that the people handling the actual work of the contract are not professionals and you are not getting your money’s worth or
b) they are using day laborers who will almost definitely be uninsured, potentially leaving you open to legal liability in the event of an accident.

Another positive trait to look out for is active participation from managers whilst the work is ongoing. Ideally, they should be keeping up to date with developments at the job site and have an interest in keeping things on track. If there is no real contact or participation from managers and if the head tradespeople are not turning up to monitor progress and update plans, then you have a problem.

bewareAdditionally, they should of course be accredited and well-reviewed. The firm should have a stable of certifications and a verifiable portfolio of their past projects as well as good customer reviews on 3rd-party sites. A lack of references or any reluctance to provide proof of licenses and qualifications is a red flag. There is a vast difference between operating a professional landscaping business and running a simple grounds keeping service. If they are unable or unwilling to prove their skill level, simply look elsewhere. Furthermore, there are many professional associations that can provide recommendations for tradespeople in your area, be they regular landscapers or more specialized trades such as tree surgeons or conservation specialists.

Lastly, it is worth considering whether you require a landscaping service for your property in the first place. Oftentimes, a conventional gardener with a team of laborers can make short work of transforming a more modest garden from an overgrown mess into a space to be proud of. As such, it is best to consult with and get quotes from multiple sources before investing in a landscaping project.

How to Spot a Bad Contractor

It is an unfortunate fact of life that a small minority of people advertising their services as contractors are untrustworthy. Whether this is due to criminal intent on their part or simple negligence or inexperience, it can have dire consequences for the person who hires them. Thankfully, there are some glaring warning signs that – if properly identified – will help us avoid making such a mistake.

One of the main red flags that something is amiss is if they don’t want to put a cost estimate in writing and offer unusually cheap rates. Although unbelievably cheap work could be down to inexperience, it is fly-by-nightmore likely that they are trying to entice you into buying a service they have no intention of providing with any degree of diligence. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If they cannot provide any verifiable references for the quality of their work, then walk away from the deal.

Another major warning sign is if they are unwilling to provide you with a business address, landline number for their office or any kind of paperwork proving their identity/business status. ‘Rogue traders’ rely on their victims having no way to track them down in order to take legal action and as such will try to remain anonymous by using disposable mobile phones as their primary point of contact.

If they ask for payment prior to completion of work, be very wary. A reputable tradesperson will not do this, preferring instead to use their own accounts to buy materials and tools whilst on the job and simply billing you upon finishing the project. If a client refuses to pay for work completed on a contract, then a legitimate tradesperson will simply be able to take legal action against them. There is no trustworthy reason why a contractor should demand payment in advance.

Exercise caution if a tradesperson appears overly eager to rush ahead with the work and start as soon as possible. Although not a sign of malicious intent, a lack of caution and planning is indicative of inexperience. In this case, it may be best to sit down with them to go over your plans before starting any work. Another possibility is that it could be an indication that they are looking to shrug off losses from an incomplete or failed project elsewhere. If this is the case, it may be best to look for another provider.

Lastly, if they refuse to sign a contract or attempt to pressure you into signing one, do not give them any business. You are under no obligations to work with someone who conducts themselves in such an unscrupulous manner. If an individual refuses to sign a contract, it is typically because they are looking to exploit you and provide a shoddy level of service. Similarly, if a contractor is attempting to strong-arm you into signing a contract before you have had ample time to consult with a family attorney, then they obviously do not have your best interests at heart.