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Tips on Hiring a Contractor

landscape contrator st louisYou have many decisions to make about your new hardscape project, one of the most important being hiring a contractor to do your job right, on time and on budget. Here are tips and frequently asked questions about hiring a landscape contractor.
  1. Ask your neighbors, friends, family or you local HardscapeSTL dealer for recommendations and interview two or three contractors for your job to find the right fit.
  2. Determine the scope of your hardscape project, ie. driveway, patio, retaining wall, etc. This can help guide you to the right landscape contractor. Not all contractors are created equally; some are better suited for specific projects so don’t be afraid to ask what they specialize in.
  3. Schedule “on site” visits for free job estimates. Almost all contractors will come to your location and give you a free estimate for your hardscape project.
  4. Ask for and require documentation of licensing, insurance and industry qualifications such as NCMA and/or ICPI certifications.
  5. Once you have screened your contractors, choose the best fit for your project and your personality. The lowest bid isn’t always to best. Many times in this industry, you get what you pay for, so if one contractor is far lower then the others, ask more questions and qualify the bid because they may have misunderstood or left something out of your project. If possible compare the quality of service, levels of expertise and pricing.
  6. Ask for a detailed estimate with start and ending dates and what/if any subcontractors they may retain for your project.
  7. Get it in writing! Request a detailed contract and ask for any clarifications on any aspect of the project you don’t understand. Both parties should agree, sign and date the contract. This should detail every aspect of the project: payment schedule (Questions about payment see FAQ’s), a start/completion date; specific materials and products to be used.

    Finally, remember that as soon as a change is made or a problem uncovered, the price just increased and the project just got longer. The four most expensive words in your construction project are, "While you're at it...."

  8. Ask for lien waivers. Lien waivers protect you from being held responsible for payment to the contractor's suppliers and subcontractors once you have paid your contractor in full.

FAQ’s for Hiring a Contractor

Q. Should I have to put down a deposit?
A. It is typical for a contractor to ask for some kind of deposit to put your project on the schedule. Many contractors will ask for 30/30/30; 30% down, 30% once they deliver product/equipment to the project and the final 30% upon completion. However, at the time of contracting the project you can request to change the deposit to whatever you're most comfortable with.

Q. Should my project come with a Project Warranty?
A. Most contractors will offer some sort of project warranty for a period of time, depending on the type of project.

Q. What are the industry certifications?
A. For pavers it’s ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute). For retaining walls it’s NCMA (National Concrete Masonry Association). These are programs designed to educate landscape contractors about required basics for installation. Along with these programs, many quality manufacturs like Building Products Corp. have additional courses and hands-on training contractors can take to stay up-to-date with the industry.

Q. Should I go visit previous projects?
A. Yes, it’s a great idea to double check the quality of the contractor's work. You may even wish to speak with that owner about the contractor. If the contractor refuses to provide you with jobs you can go visit, that may be a red flag.

Q.What’s a lien waiver?
A. Lien waivers protect you from being held responsible for payment to the contractor's suppliers and subcontractors once you have paid your contractor in full.

Q. Do the hardscape stone products have warranties?
A. Yes, Bella Pavers have a lifetime warranty Anchor Retaining Wall Systems have limited product warranties. These are available from any contractor installing these products on your project. Ask for them and put them in a specific location if needed in the future.

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