Choosing the right landscape contractor for your needs is a big decision. There are lots of factors that go into making that decision, and it’s important to know how to ask the right questions when meeting with potential contractors. To help you decide, we’ve broken down the process into three simple steps and included questions you should be asking yourself along the way.
STEP 1 – DO YOUR RESEARCH
The first step to finding the right landscape contractor is, of course, to do a little research. Just googling landscape contractors Ottawa will come back with thousands of results, so try being more specific. Search for a service you need like lawn maintenance, and then narrow down your search by which companies offer the additional services you seek.
It’s also not a good idea to just click on the first website you see since a lot of companies these days pay to rank highly in Google. Dig a little deeper and take the time to look through a contracting companies website. Read what they have to say, and don’t just skip right to their gallery of images. What is displayed there will be their very best work, so it’s important to look at the bigger picture to get an understanding of their style and reputation.
While on the topic of reputation, online reviews can be a good source of information, but like with anything, take them with a grain of salt. Just as glowing reviews can be a good indication of which company to hire, a bad review or two also adds legitimacy. After all, no one is perfect all the time, and if a company’s reviews say otherwise, beware. A negative review can actually show that a company has grown, and that they deal with negative feedback professionally rather than trying to hide from it.
STEP 2 – GET A CONSULTATION
Once you’ve found a company that you think fits the bill, call them in for a consultation! Usually, a company will offer consultations free of charge. This is a professional sign of good faith, and a company that offers free consultations is expressing confidence that they have what it takes to get the job.
Before bringing them in for a consultation, make sure you have a clear idea of what work you want done. This will make the process quicker for you and your contractor and will give them an idea of what to expect. If a contractor comes prepared for your consultation, is another good indication of how they will conduct themselves once the project gets underway.
When you are doing a consultation with a contractor, keep the following questions in mind:
- Were they on time? If they weren’t, that’s an immediate red flag. One of the biggest complaints against contractors is running over schedule. If the contractor you’re consulting with didn’t even show up on time, then in all likelihood, they won’t be able to deliver a project on time either.
- Are they paying attention to what you have to say? A lot of companies are more concerned with what they think you should do, then what you really want to do. A contractor should be listening to your needs, not just cutting you off and explaining what they think should be done.
- Are they asking you questions? To fully understand your needs, a contractor must ask questions, and lots of them. This also shows that they are genuinely interest in you as a client and want to provide you with the best possible experience.
- Are they answering your questions? Probe them a little to see what kind of answers you get back. Asking about decking material, landscaping techniques, and for their recommendations is a great way to get a sense for their experience and level of professionalism.
- Are they taking measurements? If your project requires measurements, like building a deck, then your contractor better be taking measurements as you go along! How will they be able to provide an accurate quote, if they don’t know how much material they will need?
- Do you get a good vibe from them? Finally, use your gut. Liking your contractor is just as important as getting one with plenty of experience. After all, when it comes to long-term projects like property remodels, you want to like the person in your backyard!
STEP 3 – HAVE A THINK
Once you have received a quote from a contractor, make sure you sit down and really go through all the details before signing on. Look at everything they are offering for that price, and make sure you ask questions if anything is unclear. It’s not always as simple as picking the least expensive option. Often, what you will get for just a little bit more money, is worth much more than the difference in price.
Remember, it’s not about getting the cheapest price, but getting the best value for your dollar.
On that note, it’s not a good idea to negotiate exhaustively either. Your landscape contractor is running a business, and though the price for your new deck may be X.XX $, that is not what they are taking home. After paying for equipment, labour, material, design time, consultation time, back and forth, and administrative fees, your contractor isn’t walking away with a ton of profit. Rather, they are probably making as much as they need to keep their business running — and that’s assuming there are no hiccups along the way. You want your contractor to be motivated and do the best job possible on your property. Negotiating over every cent and dollar isn’t conducive to a happy relationship.
Hopefully, this article has provided insight into how best to pick a landscape contractor. As expert landscape contractors ourselves, we like to think we know a thing or two on the topic!
If you’re in the Ottawa Valley region, NeighborScape offers professional landscape design, construction and property maintenance services tailored to our clients’ needs. We would be happy to consult on your next project or property needs, free of charge. Give us a call at 613-692-7051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.