Hiring a Landscape Company in Northern Virginia
Many states require that landscapers be licensed or have certain certifications; in the Commonwealth of Virginia, only landscape architects are regulated by the state. However, industry-certified landscape contractors have either a Landscape Industry Certified Manager or Landscape Industry Certified Technician appellation, indicating professionals who have passed a rigorous exam of their professional and technical knowledge. The homeowner should also check to make sure that the company carries the proper insurance and ask if the work crew is employed by the company itself or if they subcontract any of the work. If there are subcontractors, make sure that they have the appropriate licenses and coverage.
Many companies maintain photo galleries or albums of landscape projects they are very proud of, and any reputable company will be happy to provide references. While references are very important, homeowners might want to go the extra step and actually take a look at some of a landscaper’s projects in person. Ask to see both completed projects and works in progress. If possible, visit a live site where the crew is working. Is there a lot of activity or a lot of standing around? Is there a clear site supervisor or foreman on the project? Does it appear that the crews are working efficiently? Do you notice anything that might be considered a safety risk?
Get a design plan in writing. Once the details of the project are finalized, the designer should give both you and the foreman or project supervisor a plan or drawing of the project. Compare the two before work begins to make sure everyone is on the same page about what the final design should look like.
The contract should be drawn up in writing before any work begins. Read carefully to make sure the scope of work described in the contract matches the drawings you received from the designer. Typically, the homeowner will have to present the landscape company with an average down-payment of 30 to 50 percent prior to the start of the work.