7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscaper

It’s not too early to start thinking about hiring a landscaper this year. Do you know what to look for before you sign a contract? Don’t just go with the lowest bidder. Save yourself time and money in the long-run by asking these questions up-front.

 

1. Will the people working on my property be employees or independent subcontractors?

Some landscapers misclassify their workers as “subcontractors” in order to avoid paying payroll taxes, overtime, accrued sick time, workers compensation, and insurance on them. In addition to hurting the workers, this puts you at risk. If an “independent subcontractor” is injured on your property, their only recourse may be your homeowners policy.

2. How will soil be prepared before planting or installing grass?

Most soils in urban and suburban areas have been worn down and compacted by decades of construction and foot traffic. They need additional nutrients and loosening in order to grow healthy plants or lawn. While this adds cost upfront, it’s a worthwhile investment to avoid future problems.

3. Can you guarantee that my paving stones won’t settle?

The paving industry has standards for proper preparation of the soils and gravel base course under concrete pavers, bricks, and natural stone. If these specifications are followed, paving stones should not sink. A company that guarantees its hardscapes is less likely to skimp on base preparation.

4. What is included in your proposal?

If you’re getting multiple bids, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Does the proposal include demotion and disposal? Are specific materials defined, including the brand, style, and pattern? What plant sizes will be planted? And are you signing a fixed price contract, or is it an estimate whose final price could change, even if the scope of work remains the same?

5. How long will the work take? Will there be any interruptions? 

Your contractor should be able to explain what types of conditions might interrupt work, including weather, scheduling work by other trades (electrical, plumbing, etc.), or inspections required for permitting. Do they have enough crews to do the work from start finish, or could you be left hanging while they juggle multiple projects?

6. What other services do you offer?

Your time is valuable. A company that offers design, installation, and maintenance services can manage all aspects of your project

7. Do we need any permits or bonds for this work?

Most landscaping work is loosely regulated, but some things like work crossing a city sidewalk or work attached to a structure will require a permit. Be sure to understand whether your contractor or you will take responsibility for permitting.

 

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