Hiring a landscaping contractor is a big decision, and it’s one that you want to get right the first time. It can be hard to tell the difference between the options beyond what’s written in the estimates you’ve received.
Price is important, but since companies can drive down prices by cutting corners, it’s critical to balance cost with quality.
It is a good idea to get multiple estimates, but we also recommend getting to know more about each company before signing an agreement or putting down a deposit. Doing so will allow you to eliminate risk and guarantee a smooth project. Here are some questions that will help you make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when choosing your landscaping contractor.
1.) Are you fully licensed and insured?
From our perspective, no license should mean no contract. Working with an unlicensed contractor can open you up to all sorts of possible problems while leaving you unprotected. NOVA Landscape & Design holds a Class A Contractor’s license, the highest contractor’s license obtainable in the State of Virginia.
Here’s a state-by-state listing of contractor licensing requirements.
Insurance is just as important as licensing. Any time you hire a contractor to work on your property, it’s essential that you verify their insurance coverage. A properly insured contractor can help protect you from issues in the case that something goes wrong. Be sure to ask about both liability and workers comp insurance. We maintain both at all times.
2.) Do you have any special certifications related to landscaping work?
While certifications aren’t vital, they reflect a company’s commitment to quality, best practices, and ongoing education. If you’re undertaking a particular type of landscaping project, a certification in that area is a great sign that you’ll be dealing with a reputable company that stays up-to-date with developments in the industry.
We hold the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s Concrete Paver Installer Certification, as well as Segmental Retaining Wall Installer Certification issued by the National Concrete Masonry Association.
3.) Do you offer any warranties?
Without a doubt, you want to hire a landscaping contractor who stands behind their work. Warranties can be offered on both materials and labor, and they ensure that, even if something unexpected happens, the quality of your project will be maintained.
At NOVA, we offer a one-year warranty on all plants and trees purchased from and installed by us, as well as a one-year labor warranty on all hardscape installations. We also work exclusively with pavers and materials that are backed by manufacturer warranties.
4.) How long have you been working in this industry?
Anyone can assemble a team and start laying down patios. Expertise and credibility are built over years of experience. Look for an established team that’s done work in local conditions for several years. Read reviews and testimonials to make sure that other local clients have had positive experiences working with a company before you hire them. Better yet, ask for a list of references with contact information. When former customers are willing to take calls about their landscaping contractor, they must feel strongly about the services they’ve received.
5.) Where can I see examples of your work?
Any reputable contractor will have plenty of examples to showcase past jobs. Whether they’re displayed as videos, case-studies, before-and-after pictures, or photo galleries, these examples will give you a clear idea of a contractor’s style, thoroughness, materials, and workmanship. If you’re lucky, the examples might even provide inspiration for your project. From our perspective, prior work examples go hand-in-hand with testimonials. If a company can’t show you their work, you should be questioning their capabilities and follow-through.
6.) What are the payment terms?
The estimate will tell you what you’re getting and how much it will cost. Before you sign on the line, be sure that you understand how payment works in relation to delivery. Is payment in full required up front? Are any financing options available? What kinds of changes can cause the price of the project to go up? Having this conversation will help to set clear expectations and rule out surprises in the realm of payment – a topic that’s crucial to both parties.