Tips for hiring a landscape contractor
By Mechele Agbayani
June 16, 2017 at 3:24 p.m.
A beautifully landscaped lawn can be tricky for a do-it-yourself project, and some of us need a little help. If you are thinking about hiring a landscape contractor, BBB serving Central East Texas has a few tips to consider to help ensure your curb appeal is not one you want to conceal.
"Your lawn is the first thing people notice when they pull up to your house", said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President of BBB serving Central East Texas. "So it's important to perform thorough research to make sure you hire the right landscape contractor for the job."
Better Business Bureau offers the following tips:
• Research. Check bbb.org for a landscape contractor's Business Profile before hiring them. Always ask for references and check the company's affiliation with national franchises or associations.
• Know what you want. Do you need fertilizing, weeding, mowing or aerating? Ask prospective companies about the products used.
• Ask for a lawn inspection and free estimate. Quality companies will offer an estimate only after they see what they are working with. Lawn care companies that quote a price without seeing your lawn can't be sure what you need. A landscaper will need to measure the area and consider access to the yard.
• Check for documentation. Check with the state that the landscaper has the proper licenses and insurance and make sure everything is up to date and in good standing. If the job requires any subcontractors, make sure they are also licensed and insured. You often can't file certain complaints against contractors who are unlicensed so it's important to check their documentation. Finally, check that the landscaper has proof of Workman's Compensation, which protects you in the event the landscaper has an accident.
• Get everything in writing. Once you hire a landscaper, make sure all details of the job are included in a written contract. The contract should include the start and completion date of the project, the materials used and all the costs and fees broken down. Ask the contractor to provide a lien waiver, especially for larger projects, to prevent you from being held responsible to pay the supplier when you have already paid the landscaper in full. Read everything thoroughly before signing and never sign a contract that is partially blank.
• Be home when the work is being done. It's a good idea to be on site when the actual landscaping takes place, especially if it's a bigger job. Oversee the work and keep in mind that if you become concerned that the job is not what you had originally contracted for, you have the right to tell them to stop whatever it is that they are doing.
• Remember the rule of thirds. If you're getting a new patio, deck or major landscaping, consider paying a third of the contract amount to secure the contract, a third when the work is half done and the final third only after the job is completed and you are satisfied with the work.
• Shop around. Get written estimates from at least three different companies. Keep in mind that the cheapest estimate is not necessarily the best option. You may have to invest a little more for higher quality products and services.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.