I generally recommend getting a couple of quotes but no more than three. A landscape plan, designed by yourself or by a landscape architect, can help you to compare “apples to apples” pricing from multiple contractors. To obtain accurate bids, arrange a time for each professional landscape contractor to visit your home to discuss your project. Unilock helps you connect with up to three authorized professional landscape contractors by simply filling out this form.
Before you meet the contractors it would be good to familiarize yourself with the best installation practices. Watching the Unilock video can be really helpful for this. Be sure to watch parts I & II.
During the interview process, be sure to get the contractor’s advice and suggestions on how they would do the work. At this meeting you might even get a rough estimate of the job, depending on its size and complexity. You should also see how creative the contractor is and if they offer up design suggestions that make sense for your tastes and budget. I would ask for Uvision design sheets of the products that they recommend. Don’t get pressured into signing a contract right away, which is a sure sign that this contractor is not capable or is just after your pocketbook. Competent, honest contractors with integrity will never pressure you. In this initial meeting you should find out as much as you can about the contractor. Here are some questions you should ask:
- How long have they been in the landscape business?
- Do they have liability insurance and are they covered by Workers’ Compensation?
- Do they have the appropriate licensing for their work?
- What landscape jobs have they done that are similar to what you need done?
- Do they have a list of references?
- What is their landscape training and background? How are their employees trained?
Do they attend manufacturer training sessions?
- What warranty do they offer? Do the products they recommend have a warranty?
- Have they provided you with any manufacturer’s literature? Does the literature provide you with design ideas? What is the manufacturer’s reputation? Warranty?
- Do they do the entire job with their own staff or subcontract parts out? Who are their subcontractors?
- Are there any permits required for this job? Whose responsibility is it to get these permits?
- Base preparation is a key factor in every paver and wall installation. Ask them about how they handle the base preparation.
- Drainage is also a key factor in every landscape job. Ask them how they plan to handle
- Retaining walls over 31/2’ high or with unusual loading conditions, such as a driveway, should be engineered (consult local building codes). Do they have an engineer to handle this?
- What is their timeline for your project?
- What is their clean-up routine?
- Do they provide a written contract?
- What are their payment terms?
- Do they have a website?
You won’t offend reputable firms with lots of questions. If a contractor doesn’t seem to know the answer to many of your questions or seems to avoid answering them, you may have the wrong contractor. References are very important. A satisfied customer is the best reference you can get. Get three or four references for installations they have done which are similar to yours. Phone these references and see if their experience was a positive one. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you can come out and see the work.
Finally, I recommend that you read the “Be Paver Wise” manual for more helpful tips on selecting the best contractor for your landscape project. By spending some extra time up front, it can help avoid problems later.