Having a beautiful and functional landscape is every homeowners dream. Hi, My name is John C Wilkes III and I have worked in the landscaping industry for over a decade. I achieved my degree in Landscape Architecture and went straight into the design and build sector. I have worked around all kinds of contractors and have worked as a contractor myself. Now I’m ready to share my knowledge. My intention is to help all those interested in improving their landscape so they might avoid some serious pitfalls while fulfilling their landscaping dreams.
We have all read articles similar to this one before and they all say the same thing. They encourage you to get three estimates, check references, and consult the BBB for each contractor you are considering. That’s all fine and dandy, but I’m here to explain how to deal with any contractor and get the results you want.
First, you want to choose the contractor that’s right for you. One popular theory says that there are three aspects to consider. Those are timely service, quality work, and pricing. This theory states that you can’t get all three aspects with the same company. That is you can’t get great quality work, fast, at a competitive price. There is some truth to this theory. That being the case you should decide what’s most important to you.
Do you need the job done fast or is it ok if the contractor takes a few weeks to complete? Are you only interested in top quality work or it it ok if it’s a little rough in places? And are you willing to pay top dollar or are you looking to get more for less? You should consider these aspects thoroughly and then follow your instinct.
Once you have chosen the contractor you want to work with you should handle your payments to him very carefully. After all that’s really all that’s motivating the contractor to come to your house and do the work. Most contractors will demand a deposit of 1/3 or 1/2 of the total job cost to put you on his schedule. You can go ahead and put down this deposit, but you need the agreement in writing which includes all specifications of work to be done and the time frame in which he will start and finish.
Even if the contractor mentioned some work he could do during consultations you had with him, if it’s not in the contract then don’t expect it to get done. Even something as small as pruning some shrubs or clearing an area.
Also make sure the contract has real time frames. If he says he can start in a week and complete within two weeks then get it in writing. Ask for a penalty clause that says for every day that goes by outside of the time frame set he will deduct $100 from total job cost. Contractors are familiar with this clause and should agree to it.
Once a job is halfway completed, some contractors will ask for another payment. If the payment schedule was broken into thirds and the work is going well then go ahead and pay the contractor so he can complete the work. If things have gone very badly to this point then don’t pay and excuse the contractor from the job.
When the job is almost completed the contractor will ask for the final payment. This is where you have to be strong. Make a list of all the details that have not been finished and tell the contractor he must finish the list before you will pay him the final payment. If you are comfortable you can pay him the majority of the final payment, but withhold 10% or so until the finishing list is completed.
Do not pay the contractor the total final payment if he is not totally finished. Remember he is working for the money no matter how well you are getting along. Once he is paid he will go looking for the next paycheck from the next client.