How to Make the Most of Your First Meeting with a Landscape Contractor
Many clients feel overwhelmed when meeting their prospective landscape contractor for the first time. They’re practically overflowing with ideas! But no worries. The first meeting is just to, well, meet and get to know each other – no need to describe your dream landscape in detail YET.
It’s an opportunity for the contractor to check out the property and see what work may have to be done. For you part, you can assess them and whether they are the right choice for your project. You can describe your dreams and plans later on after you’ve signed a contract.
To help you maximize the use of this consultation, ask the following questions:
> Have you worked on a similar project before? An experienced contractor is not enough. They should have significant experience with your type of project and be able to show work samples as evidence.
> What billing method do you use? This can be an hourly rate or a lump sum depending on the size of the job. With some contractors, you will be billed a portion of your total costs.
> Can you give me client references? But don’t stop at asking for references; talk to them. Ask about the contractor’s sense of professionalism and reliability. Were they on time for meetings or when returning emails or calls? Were the clients’ concerns handled professionally?
Ask the contractor for photos of their previous projects and not only those you can 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 is a good way to get hints on how they might approach your project.
Setting Your Budget
Some people find it difficult to discuss cost issues with their contractor, but these should be made clear right from the get-go. This enables them to work within your financial limits, instead of busting your budget which you probably never even mentioned to them anyway.
Scope fo the Job
Do you want the contractor to do the entire project, from conceptualization to execution, or just certain parts of the job, like making a planting plan or a landscape site plan? This is obviously one of the things that can affect your costs considerably, and it’s best to be clear about it with the contractor.
Finding a Fit
Finally, use your initial meeting with the contractor as an chance to gauge whether you will make a good team together. In most cases, a landscape project will run for weeks at least, so you’re going to have to spend quite some time with them. Working with someone you don’t like can have a negative impact on how satisfied you will be with the results of the project.