We recognize that there are many Contractor choices to select from and you as a potential Client will have to choose who will do your work; however, the decision you will have to make can be really quite easy. To aid you in your decisions;below is an industry professional formula and general advice for your consideration; intended to save you a lot of time and frustration, prior to making that big decision, regarding your property enhancements:
Determine which ONE factor is THE MOST important to you and then prioritize in order; the other two- Quality, Timing, Price- and base your search for a Contractor accordingly. If a bargain is what you seek; then choose a Contractor who is small or with less experience. If quality is what you seek; then choose a Contractor with experience and a proven track record. If timing is the most important to you; you may have to make concessions on either price, or quality- to get your Project done within your timelines- definitely a position of disadvantage.
Soliciting and contacting a larger quantity of potential Contractors is not necessarily going to minimize the odds of getting the “perfect one” for your project any more likely.
You also shouldn’t bring multiple contractor candidates out to your site for ideas and advice. Generally, that approach only makes matters more confusing and costly.
Instead, research in advance the candidates who are of interest to you. Hiring a landscape contractor, or a contractor of any sort for that matter, is no different than hiring an employee at your business. Read the applicants information, what they have to offer, screen them, eliminate some and email only the top 3 picks, expressing your interest in conducting a telephone interview with them.
When they call you back, be honest, thorough, clear and comprehensive in stating your project work scope and your goals. Find out how they operate and get additional information for any unanswered questions from your initial research.
Take your time with the conversation, be thorough, make notes, ask questions, give honest answers and request to have critical information emailed to you to aid your decision making process.
Don’t be afraid to ask technical questions, to help inform yourself in your evaluation and final assessment of the Firm you will ultimately choose to work with.
Find out the hourly and force account rates of the various specialists, professionals and tradesmen you may need on your project.
Find out how Work Scope Changes are dealt with and what the administrative surcharges are in the event one becomes necessary.
Inquire about how the Progress Payments are expected.
Request a personalized Workers Compensation Clearance Letter.
Get a copy of the Contractors Liability Certificate of Insurance.
Ask for the Office location and if it is possible for you to come by for a visit (even if you have no intention of doing so- it will enhance your confidence and give you some assurance you are dealing with someone legitimate)
Ask for a draft-copy of the Contract, so you know what is supplied in writing and what to expect at the time you book your Project.
Of course; get past Client references and call them; to ensure the Contractor is capable of giving you what you expect.
During the first phone interview, be judicious but not excessively selective at that point.
Remember, “A stitch in time, saves nine” and hiring mistakes are not only costly; they can be disastrous!
Once you have interviewed all 3; silently eliminate the most obvious one who didn’t fare well in your phone conversation.
From there, choose the Firm from the remaining 2 that you feel is best suited for your Scope of Work.
Call him and confirm an appointment to come out to visit your property, for an on-site consultation with all the decision makers of the household.
Go through the entire project work scope and have an extensive on-site discussion.
Discuss what you envision investing into your property upgrades, openly. It is not a good idea to keep money-matters a ‘deep, dark secret’, as nobody benefits from shock- after the fact.
Make the determination then and there, whether or not you can work with him. If not, thank and discharge him with your explanation and start the process over. If you believe you can work with him; hire and book him on the spot with a financial retainer and signed contract.
Make sure your ongoing communications are clear, concise and ideally; in writing, through email; that way there is always a written record, and no “he said, she said” later on, if something goes poorly, or not as originally planned.
Request the definitions for terms, words and phrases, which maybe unclear or unfamiliar to you.
Wherever possible, make Design changes before the construction and build contract is signed, to avoid excessive and costly Work Change Orders.
Get a clear understanding of what is being proposed and what you are to receive and conversely, be clear on what you expect.
Review and receive on paper at regular intervals, all the Designwork, updated documents relating to the Scope of Work, Budget, Estimate, and any amendments to the contractual agreements; to avoid conflict and misunderstanding.
Demand quality and insist on the best you can get within your financial guidelines, budget, or comfort level.
Exercise patience for quality work to be completed and expect some inconvenience and minor sacrifice while it is being done.
Ensure accountability through regular, clear and concise; but not excessive, email communication.
View and amortize your expenditures as a long term investment in net worth wealth- not a short term unrecoverable expense.