Many clients feel overwhelmed when meeting their prospective landscape contractor for the first time. They’re practically overflowing with ideas! But no worries. 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, this is a chance to get the feels for whether they are a good choice for your project. You can talk about your dreams and plans after you’ve signed a contract.
To maximize the use of this meeting, be sure to ask the following:
> Have you worked on a similar project before? An experienced contractor is not all you want. They should have experience with projects that are similar to yours, and show work samples as proof.
> What billing method do you use? This can be an hourly rate or a lump sum depending on the size of the job. Some contractors may also bill you a percentage of your project’s total cost.
> Can you give me client references? But don’t just ask for references; call them. Ask about professionalism and reliability. Were they punctual when coming to meetings and returning communications like calls and email? Did they deal with clients’ concerns in a professional manner?
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 perfect way to determine what they may have in mind in terms of your project.
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 of the Project
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? Obviously, this is one of the biggest factors that can impact your costs, and it’s best to let the contractor in on this from the very beginning.
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. Choosing someone you don’t personally like can give you less than satisfactory results.