This season is very different than last year due to factors like the fuel increase and just an overall lack of confidence in the future for some folks. Therefore, I will discuss how we manage projects to give you the confidence you need to trust us not only with your money, but with the outcome of the overall project.
I bid a lot of jobs every season, and try my hardest to listen to you folks to find out just what you want and offer my suggestions and ideas from 20 plus years in this ever changing industry. I would consider Westside Landscape a very good project management company in an industry with a lot of what I would call misrepresentation and poor quality management. Many companies have the philosophy that what goes in the ground no one will see. The problem is this always comes back to haunt the company or the person who contracted to do the work.
It’s important to get good references. The good companies will have this information on their website and you should be able to call and visit job sites that they have completed and talk to owners that worked with them. I personally would not go just off of a portfolio. Even though the pictures may look impressive there is no guarantee that the job went as planned or the customer is happy. I even know of companies that copy and paste pictures of jobs that they never have completed or did in the first place.
Design/Build or Formal Landscape Design?
Next, decide if the project should be design/build or work off of a formal landscape design. 90% of our residential projects are design/build off a detailed sketch and contract. We ask you, the client, to put your trust in our experience allowing some flexibility in the development of the project and as the project progresses. There is usually a base contract with the addition of change orders as the job unfolds. The design/build can save you money by foregoing the paper design adding flexibility later.
Some clients want a formal landscape design; costs will run from $50 to $150 per hour of the designer’s time depending on the fee. Sometimes the fee can be waived if the project is contracted with the firm later. In most cases a good sketch of the details and footnotes about the different detailed areas is good enough, along with the contract to satisfy most people, again ask yourself can you trust this person or firm and have you done your homework before you sign a contract.
It’s very important to have a well written detailed contract as per the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board specifications. You can contact them here at Landscape Contractors Board.
Organization, Communication, and Accountability
Another good idea is to have a written out chronological schedule of how and when the work will be done, some of this detail should be in the contract but realize that there will be glitches in the timing and processes of the job and not all problems can be foreseen. Things just change and life is unpredictable, but if you start with a good written contract and agenda and communication most likely any challenges down the road will be worked out. Your job will go smooth and you will be very pleased with the overall management of the project.
We try very hard to communicate with each client at least every other day as a project unfolds and have qualified supervision at all times on a project. We ask that all questions and inquiries go through the office and at that time an onsite job meeting can be scheduled or someone will get back that same day and usually within the hour.
Another thing we do is when we start a job is that we try to work straight through and have people on the job site until the job is finished. The biggest complaint that I hear is that the contractor started the job and then pulled off for a number of days or weeks or just disappeared all together, without so much as a phone call. This is a very important item that should be in the contract in order to have a timely finish to the job.
There are lots of other details to consider like will there be an onsite toilet on the job, where are the materials going to be disposed of from the job site, how much cleanup will be needed and am I, the homeowner, responsible for any of this? Are there permits needed and pulled before or at the time of startup? Who is the person in charge and do you have their contact information and name?
I hope this helps in your decision to choose a contractor. It’s our goal for you to put your trust in our management of your project, and it is our job to earn your trust from the start to finish of your project.