Many homeowners in Sydney find it quite challenging to determine whether a landscape professional they’re about to hire has all the needed qualifications, insurance, experience, licensing, and other requirements.
If you’re in that category of homeowners, worry no more for we’ve got you covered. We teamed up with the owner of a leading landscaping company in Sydney to come up with answers to questions that every homeowner should consider asking themselves when choosing a landscaping contractor in Sydney.
Experience, Insurance, and Licensing
Q: How will I know that the Sydney contractor I will hire offers top-quality workmanship?
A: First, ensure the contractor you’re about to hire has a valid license or any other valid certification issued by a professional body.
Unlicensed contractors may not adhere to the strict standards set by the licensing board in your local area. Besides, hiring an unlicensed landscaper in Sydney will leave you almost helpless just in case you’ll have any complaint against them.
As a homeowner, you obviously hope to work with the most affordable contractor. However, some contractors may be offering extremely low prices since they’re unlicensed.
Thus, hiring an unlicensed landscaper just because they’re affordable won’t give you assurance about the quality of work they’ll deliver.
Some unlicensed contractors might even fail to complete the project. In most states, there are complaints you can’t file against an unlicensed landscaper such as the following:
- Refuses to work or abandons the contract
- Departs from the project specifications or plans
- Fails to meet agreements
- Used deceptive, misleading, or false advertising
- Fails to comply with the set safety laws, violates building codes, or doesn’t pay fees or taxes
- Doesn’t pay material suppliers or subcontractors
- Has poor workmanship
You should also know that a contractor who only has a landscaping license cannot do work that is not related to landscaping.
Such a contractor cannot offer services such as installing or repairing gas lines, masonry work beyond 6 feet or retaining walls beyond 3 feet, paving slabs, building fireplaces, roofing, and work related to constructing spas and pools. Such type of work requires its own licensing.
Offers lower than regular rates may come with legal consequences and financial risks. A licensed contractor is subjected to strict laws that are designed to defend and protect you.
Thus, ensure the contractor you’re about to hire has the required licenses to work on a specific type of project. For instance, if you’re planning to hire landscaping expert, check whether they’re certified by local authorities who regulate landscaping projects.
Q: How will I know whether the contractor I’m about to hire has good records?
A: Always check the professional standing of a potential landscaping Sydney contractor with a local bureau or regulatory authorities. It’s important to check their standing since some licensed contractors may not be having good records.
Check whether they have any past, current, or pending complaints against them. Some areas have a web-based database that’ll allow you to check a contractor’s licensing status. That way, you’ll know who you’re about to work with.
Q: Is it important to consider the experience of a landscaping company?
A: It’s extremely important to consider their experience. You can check for references online. Take time to assess their previous work and confirm whether or not it meets your standards and needs. You should ask yourself questions such as:
- Does their work meet or exceed your expectations?
- Does their previous work look like your project?
- Does the contractor have a list of references including past professionals and clients they’ve worked with?
- If possible, take some time and visit a past project they did some years ago to assess whether it’s still in good condition.
If a potential landscaping company hasn’t demonstrated their previous work that is closely related to your upcoming project, then you can’t be sure whether they’ll do your project successfully.
Also, several years in the business doesn’t mean that their experience is equitable to those years. Besides, some dubious companies may exaggerate their skills, experience, capabilities, and knowledge.
Also, you can’t ascertain their abilities from verbal promises. What you should do is to ensure that a potential landscaping company has previous projects that showcase their aptitude and talents, and they’ll do your project successfully.
Q: What kind of background information should I check before choosing a landscaper?
A: It’s very important to check how long the landscaper you want to hire has been offering the kind of landscaping services in Sydney you need. The number of years they’ve offered their services will give you an idea about their reputation.
You can refer to bureaus about how a business should treat its clients honestly and fairly. Thus, ensure a potential landscaping contractor is accredited and runs a trustworthy and valid business. That way, you can rest assured of getting the best services.
Q: How will I avoid taking liability for damages on my property or accidents?
A: Ensure the landscaper you want to hire has a valid liability and compensation insurance. Hiring a fully-insured contractor will save you from taking liability over any accidents to their workers while working on your property. Without insurance cover, you could risk paying for damages to a worker who gets hurt while working on your property.
Also, ensure the insurance policy of the contractor has a liability aggregate of at least $1 million. That way, your property will be covered by the insurance just in case there’s property damage in the course of the project.
Never assume that a contractor is fully insured. You should do a check on whether they’re insured and check their insurance policy to confirm what is covered. If you hire an uninsured contractor, you might face lawsuits, pay for hospital costs, and other damages.
Q: Who should get the permits required for the project?
A: A reliable landscaper should adhere to all local codes for landscaping and get all the required permits. Doing major projects without permits may lead to serious legal problems that may affect the project.
For instance, you might get fines from your local council for failure to do a major project without the necessary permits. Also, the work may be halted until you pay fines and get permits. Consequently, the project won’t be completed on time and its costs will be higher than you had planned.
Some dubious contractors may attempt to complete a project without seeking the necessary permits just to avoid paying the required fees with the aim of increasing their profits. Working with such contractors can be extremely detrimental.
Such contractors may not work on your project according to the set standards. Consequently, you may get substandard results. If local authorities find out that your project is being done without proper permits, you may be held responsible.
You’ll end up removing some completed elements to meet local codes, thereby incurring more costs for something you could have avoided.
Cost and Contracts
Q: Upon completion, will the project cost the price that was quoted before starting the project?
A: The ultimate cost of the project will depend on the agreement you had with your contractor before the project commenced. You should discuss with the contractor on whether their quote is an estimate or a fixed cost.
Also, ask them how any changes in cost will be factored in when the work has already commenced. It’s advisable to sign a legal contract before the project starts. Also, understand the terms of the agreement before signing it.
A signed contract and fixed pricing will ensure that the contractor works within your budget and changes are only made as per the terms of the contract. A contract will guarantee you that the work is done according to your specifications.
Working without guaranteed pricing and contract will put you into difficulties during the course of the project. For instance, additional work or problems may arise and raise the costs beyond your budget and without your consent. Thus, avoid such problems by working under a signed contract.
Q: What options will I be having when paying for a landscape project?
A: The payment options you’ll have will depend on several factors. The terms in the contract may determine how you’ll make the payments. It all starts with how the contractor wants to be paid vs how you want to pay, and your available billing options.
For instance, the agreement may be about full upfront payment, down payment with balance after completion, partial payments after a certain period, or full payment upon completion.
If you’ll be paying the contractor in full upfront, then you should have a guarantee that they’ll complete your project successfully. However, you may not have such a guarantee. Some projects are costly and paying fully upfront would be a risky gamble.
Unreliable contractors may take your money and take off, never to be seen again. Thus, be wary of contractors requesting for full or high down payment before the project kicks off. After all, you wouldn’t want to take such a risk as some contractors may get paid in advance and fail to complete the project.
Thus, you’d rather pay after the work is done, or pay partially, or pay a reasonable down payment. Ensure you only sign a contract that agrees to a structured payment option to avoid gambling with your money.
Maintenance and Warranty
Q: How will I be sure that the plants used will thrive as expected?
A: Your contractor should be able to issue you with instructions on how to take care of the plants they’ve planted on your landscape. There are should be a plan about how the plants will be taken care of and who will be responsible for taking care of them.
Most contractors assume that their work ends once they’re off the site or upon the expiry of a warranty. Thus, most of them don’t pay much attention to your project’s future.
Luckily, you can find a contractor who has a team of maintenance experts. Thus, you can contract them to maintain the plants after the project is completed. If, then look for a reliable landscape maintenance contractor. You can ask the contractor for recommendations of a reputable landscape maintainer.
Q: What will happen if plants die or a hardscape structure cracks?
A: You should ensure that the Sydney landscaper you’re hiring offers a valid warranty for their workmanship. Confirm the period of the warranty and what is covered.
For instance, hiring a contractor who doesn’t offer a warranty may cost you a lot to replace landscape or hardscape features that may fail after installation. A warranty will save you from the costs of replacing failed structures or plants.
A company that doesn’t offer a warranty means that they’re not sure about the quality of materials they work with and their workmanship. A warranty is the only sure way of being guaranteed about the quality of work and materials.