Making the Most Out of Your Initial Consultation with Your Landscape Contractor
Many clients feel overwhelmed when meeting their prospective landscape contractor for the first time. Ideas are overflowing! But there’s no reason to worry. The first meeting is just to, well, meet and get to know each other – no need to describe your dream landscape in detail YET.
The contractor will take this opportunity to inspect the property and see what should be done. For you part, you can assess them and whether they are the right choice for your project. You can talk about your dreams and plans after you’ve signed a contract.
To help you maximize the use of this consultation, ask the following questions:
> Do you have experience with a similar project? You don’t just want an experienced contractor. They should have experience with projects that are similar to yours, and show work samples as proof.
> How do you bill clients for your services? This may be a per-hour rate or a fixed sum depending on the scope of the job. Some contractors will charge a percentage of your total construction costs.
> Can you give me client references? But don’t just ask for references; call them. Ask about professionalism and reliability. Did they come to meetings or returns calls, texts or emails on time? Were the clients’ concerns handled professionally?
Have the contractor show you photos of recent jobs they’ve done besides those you’ll find on their website. In other words, their portfolio, and do review it with the contractor around so questions you may have can be answered right away (sometimes, you can forget about the most important ones). This could be a good way of knowing how they might go about your project.
Some people find it difficult to discuss cost issues with their contractor, but these should be made clear right from the get-go. This way, them can work around your financial capacity instead of going overboard with your budget that they actually never knew anyway – until you’re probably halfway through the job.
Scope of the Project
Do you want them to be incharge of everything, from concept to clean-up, or just specific aspects of the job, like making a site plan or a planting plan? This is obviously one of the main factors that will dictate your project costs, and your contractor should be be aware of it right from the start.
Lastly, use this first meeting with the contractor to see whether you have personal chemistry together. Landscape projects usually last at least for weeks, which means you’ll be spending quite some time with them. If you work with someone you’re not happy with, the results of your project could be affected.