Posts Tagged ‘landscape companies’

How to Choose a NJ Pool and Landscape Contractor or Company

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

How to Choose a NJ Pool and Landscape Contractor or Company

How do you choose the right NJ pool or landscape company for your project? This can be an overwhelming task. Any homeowner looking to build a pool, design a landscape, or begin any other type of home improvement project is faced with a significant investment. Knowing how to choose the right contractor is essential to every one of these endeavors. There are great pool and landscaping companies out there. The key is finding the most qualified contractor for your specific project. This task can be difficult as you sift through all of the experience, services, and credentials being offered by all of the companies. Given the crucial significance of this aspect of the pool or landscape construction process, let me offer a few tips on what to look for in a landscape and/or pool contractor.

What to look for:

1. Happy Customers

The easiest, and yet the one most ignored, is to speak with, or better yet, visit past customers. If you speak with former customers, you can get a feel for how the landscape or pool construction process went, the timeline of events, and the follow-up care or relationship the customer has with the contractor. If you go visit the customers, you will be able to see the projects, first-hand, how they stand today. This helps to ensure that the beautiful luxury pool and landscape you saw online or in an ad has stood the test of time and not fallen apart since the photograph was taken.

2. Solid Background

Do a little background check on the pool or landscape contractor. Any filings for bankruptcy or past lawsuits will give the homeowner an idea of a pool company’s credibility. A good place to start with the background check is the Better Business Bureau.

3. Licenses and Insurance

Try to make sure that the contractor has the proper licenses to complete whatever work you are looking to have done. Licenses mean the contractor is actually allowed to perform that work. Most licenses require some kind of background, so they can help with the overall background check as well. Along with proper licensing, the contractor should have liability insurance.

4. Trusted Leadership

Homeowners should try their best to verify that the owner of the company will be involved in the day-to-day operations of construction. Choosing a landscape or pool company like this will ensure your ability to communicate directly with the owner in order to track progress, address concerns, and simply feel more comfortable about the investment.

5. Complete Bids and Contracts

There should be little to no grey area in your contract. In regards to bidding, you might have an architect or engineer prepare a bid package. A good bid package contains the entire project specifications needed to get a complete apple to apples comparison. It also asks the contractors to certify that all of the items are included in their bid. If items are missing from the bid, you can set it up that the contractor is liable for those associated costs. When dealing directly with a contractor, avoid bundled or lump sum pricing. Insist on a unit pricing structure; this transparency protects you from price gouging because all of the unit pricing is established prior to the start of the project.

6. Professional Memberships

Active memberships to professional organizations can be a good benchmark for credibility. These organizations typically have a rigorous process for acceptance into the organization. Many times they also call for a certain amount of continuing education to stay up to date and maintain that professional membership. For pools, look for APSP members and Certified Building Professionals with the APSP. For NJ landscaping, look for NJLCA, NJNLA, and organizations like these. For a landscape design professional, the ASLA is key.

7. Variety of Services

One favorable quality of the right pool or landscape contractor may be a diverse set of services that eliminate the need for multiple contractors on the site of a single project. If you can hire one company to install a natural stone patio and install the landscape design, this will make for efficient planning and swift completion of the work. The proper planning will cut costs and prevent you from doing things twice.

8. Type of Experience

For whatever service you are looking, find out how much experience the contractor has with this type of work. When all things appear equal, experience can be the best deciding factor. Remember, a 25-year-old landscaping company may have only begun building pools 2 years ago. It’s important to get down to specifics when you look into a landscape or pool contractor’s experience.

9. Levels of Experience You Should Expect for Your Project

We wouldn’t build you a vinyl liner pool because that’s not our specialty; similarly, you wouldn’t want a vinyl liner pool company to construct your luxury concrete swimming pool. The experience should not simply be determined by the services offered but also by the level of difficulty for the project at hand. Make sure you can find multiple example of the things you want in the contractor’s brochure or on their website. Extensive experience with luxury features such as glass tile pools, fiber optic lights, and natural stone patios can really set one contractor apart from another depending upon the work you would like to have done.

10. Complete Package- Design and Build

When choosing a contractor, you may be able to find a qualified professional in your area who can design the pool or landscape and construct that design completely in-house, without ever involving another company to interpret and reinterpret the intentions and goals of that design. In other words, if you find a landscape construction expert or a pool construction expert, and they offer landscape architecture services, you will have a better chance of protecting your investment and ensuring your ideal design from start to finish.

The best advice we can give is to not do one or two of these tips but try to implement them all during your interviewing process for each contractor you interview, this will help you set an overall benchmark and give you an in-depth comparison to help make your final choice.