by Dwayne Regehr
Seven things I recommend to make sure any landscaping project ends with smiles all around:
Depending on the size of your landscaping project, your landscaper and his/her crew will be hanging around your yard and talking to your kids for anywhere from two days to two months. It takes a lot of trust to have someone coming onto your property like that. So, as much as you want to hire experienced people who are creative and technically competent, you also want people that you trust and, even better than that, people you legitimately enjoy being around. If you pick a friendly and respectful crew, you might even be a little sad to see them go when the project is over.
If all you want is a simple rectangular patio at the bottom of your deck stairs then you might get by with a quick sketch on the back of an envelope, but for anything more than that, an accurately scaled, detailed drawing is your best assurance that you and your contractor both now what you want. It can be a challenge to visualize clearly and a professional drawing really helps, and it keeps everyone on the same page as far as expectations go.
So you have a detailed landscape plan, and your designer has provided some 3D renderings of the plan (ideally). Now its time to get the details in writing. I'm not suggesting you need to get the lawyers involved to draw up an exquisitely detailed and exquisitely expensive detailing of each element of the plan, but you do need more than:
Install deck, patio, and plantings: $15,000.00
A useful patio contract should specify:
If plantings are part of the plan, then the contract should specify the numbers of plants along with their size and type.
The proper level of detail protects both you and your contractor. You know what you are getting and your contractor knows exactly what is expected. So much of the success of a project is just making sure that everyone has the same expectations. No one likes to feel nickle and dimed.
Most reputable contractors will require a deposit of 20% to 50% of the total project cost to hold your place in their summer schedule. The balance may be divided into two or more progress payments depending how long the work is expected to take. Milestones should be clearly defined so you and the contractor both know when payments are due. To give you an idea of what's typical over here at Earthworks, a mid-sized job that will take us 1 ½ to 2 weeks to complete would have the following payment schedule:
At this point we would do a walk-through to review the project and make sure everything is done to your satisfaction. If there are more than 1 or 2 small deficiencies that still need work it would be reasonable for you to hold back 5% or 10% until all details have been resolved.
While every contractor is happy to be left alone to do what they do best, this is your project, so you have every right to ask as many questions as you want as the work progresses. If anything is not what you expected or you are feeling uneasy about something, we definitely want to hear about it. When working with a smaller company like us, you can take comfort in knowing you can direct your questions to – and get real answers from – a single person from first contact to final details. No handing your account from salesman to designer to project manager. The buck stops with one person (me), the same person you'll deal with from start to finish and I always welcome your input.
If all goes well, your detailed plan and contract will flawlessly guide the construction process, but as your new landscape takes shape you may want to make small changes to the plan. Be sure to document all changes and know how they will affect your budget. Surprise charges at the end of an otherwise successful landscaping project are no fun for either side.
Daily pictures of your developing yard make for a record of what has been done. And, when all the equipment is gone and you're enjoy your first fire in your new fire pit, you'll be glad for the before and after pictures to share!
We'd love to be your contractor for your project! If give me (Dwayne) a call, email or text anytime.
We had many contractors come to give estimates and we chose Earthworks. Dwayne's estimate on when he could do the project was incredible and he charged us what he quoted. We had done some changesRead more … after the initial meeting and within 24 hours we had a revised estimate sent to us for review and he made additional suggestions to us for consideration. He actually was able to start before the estimated date and we couldn't be happier with our new backyard space. I was most impressed when emailing questions that he would answer them very quickly. Not only was the workmanship excellent but the professionalism in returning questions and offering alternative solutions exceeded our expectations!!!!
We are very happy with our new yard. They were able to come out earlier than expected and were happy to accommodate us when we made some changes to the original plan. I will definitely callRead more … Earthworks Landscaping for future projects.
Dwayne came to our home about a month ago, saw what we wanted done, gave us a quote and indicated it would be around 6 weeks before they could get to it. In about 5 weeks he called to indicate thatRead more … they would begin the next day at 8. They were on time, did a great job, in extreme heat & humidity and the end cost was as quoted. Needless to say I enjoy working with people who are on time, honest and do professional work - Earthworks Landscaping covers off all of these important points for me.
Very happy with the experience. The thought and care given to the creative side of our sidewalk and patio design was much appreciated and impressive. Dwayne took time to find out our style-then madeRead more … great suggestions on how our cobbles could flow to create the look we wanted. This was very important to me. The job came in on-time, on budget, and is gorgeous. I also very much appreciate the follow up from Earthworks to ensure the flagstone has remained properly seated. I highly recommend Earthworks if you're looking for excellent craftsmanship and not a "kit install" - you will get something unique and creative from from Dwayne and his team.