How to Make the Most of Your First Meeting with a Landscape Contractor
Clients are typically overwhelmed when consulting with a potential landscape contractor for the first time. They’re virtually flooded with ideas! But there’s no reason to worry. This purpose of this meeting is just to, well, meet and talk – no need to explain your dream landscape 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 done a similar job in the past? 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.
> How do you bill your clients? This can be an hourly rate or a lump sum depending on the size of the job. Some contractors will charge a percentage of your total construction costs.
> Will you be able to provide client references? But don’t stop there; call these people. Ask about professionalism and reliability. Were they on time for meetings or when returning emails or calls? 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 is a good way to get hints on how they might approach your project.
Defining Your Budget
Some people find it hard to talk to their contractor about costs, but it’s better to be straightforward about this right from the beginning. This lets them work around your financial limits rather than exceeding your budget, which they probably never even knew until you complained.
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 main factors that will dictate your project costs, and your contractor should be be aware of it right from the start.
Finding a Fit
Finally, take advantage of this first meeting to gauge whether there is chemistry between you and the contractor. Landscape projects usually last at least for weeks, which means you’ll be spending quite some time with them. Choosing someone you don’t personally like can give you less than satisfactory results.