Investing money into the right landscape contractor can mean all the difference when considering how much value you get for your cash. Being aware of how the landscape industry operates and what their standards must conform to is crucial. In Queensland, there’s various kinds of systems and entities in place that mandate the profession – is your landscape contractor embedded with these? In today’s age of wild and wonderful technology, there’s no shortage of software and tools that help us deliver the best we can to the client – is your landscape contractor implementing these? We’ll aim to answer these questions alongside many others to help inform you of who you’re hiring, and how you can get the best value and result for your money.
So, looking to invest your hard earned cash into a landscape that’s straight from your dreams? Here’s 10 valuable considerations to help you make the right decision.
1. Do they hold a QBCC License?
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission is a regulatory body that seeks to support the growing Queensland community. The QBCC provides advice, information and regulation to “ensure the maintenance of proper building standards and remedies for defective building work”. QBCC services the state of Queensland from Cairns to the Gold Coast. As a regulatory body integrated with government, you can trust that QBCC holds a very high and tight standard, and that their stamp of approval for a contractor is incredibly important. You can expect any licensed QBCC contractor to deliver the very same behaviors that QBCC exhibits:
- Customer Focus
QBCC also act as a mediating body should a client and contractor experience issues. Having an external entity to assist all parties and instill accountability is of great benefit to not only you and your contractor, but for the industry and profession in general. More information about how the QBCC helps contractors and homeowners can be found on their site and through the above hyperlinks.
2. Are they a structural landscaper?
Two kinds of landscaping exist within the profession: soft and hard. Soft landscaping involves all planting, mulching, maintaining, pruning, irrigation and green waste removal. Generally, all landscape contractors provide soft landscaping, as there isn’t a need for any additional licensing. Softscaping is incredibly important in achieving a wonderful landscape, and no doubt can enhance any garden or space. However, if the contractor you’ve chosen is confined to softscaping alone, you may encounter some issues.
Hard landscaping involves all aspects of construction necessary in order to fulfill your project. Hardscaping includes but is not limited to:
- Retaining walls
- Excavation & Earthworks
- Concreting, Paving & Tiling
- Stonework & Masonry
- Decking, Patios & Gazebos
- Vertical Gardens
Making sure you’ve found the right contractor that is proficient in both hard and soft landscaping is a necessity when tackling a large project. Knowing your contractor is capable of providing a variety of services within construction will reassure you that they’re able to deliver scope. It’s also recommended that you ask your contractor about their Builder Restricted to Structural Landscaping license. Find out more about this license with QBCC’s interactive guide.
3. Does your contractor have a vivid reputation in the community?
Knowing your contractor’s reputation will help you dispel any doubts you may have about the service they provide. A contractor’s rapport with clients, suppliers and other contractors is indicative of two important considerations
I – The quality of their work
II – Their passion for the craft and community
When considering quality, a contractor that has established rapport with suppliers will be able to source high quality materials that meet Australian Standards. Combining expertise and quality materials is the key to a project’s longevity. Additionally, a good record of client satisfaction indicates dedication to customer service. Testimonials can provide great insight into previous client’s experiences with a company.
A passionate contractor will ensure they’re active and engaged in the local scene and community of the craft. Communities like Landscape Queensland and iLandscape are great ways for contractors and homeowners to get involved with the industry, and to learn more information about other contractors/the craft itself.
Landscape Queensland represents “the interests of the state’s landscape and garden maintenance contractors, designers and suppliers of products and services.” Landscape Queensland excel in keeping their members up to date on specific industry needs and changes. The association’s activity and engagement help reaffirm the integral role landscaping plays in future development and economic growth. It can be said that any member of Landscape Queensland have at heart the best interests of our community, clients and the craft.
iLandscape is a local service that provides advice and information free of charge to contractors and clients about the craft of landscaping. Their wellspring of information can help you make the right decision about materials you’d like to see used in your project, and any features you may want to see in your project. For more information, please visit the following links
4. Is your contractor communicating in a friendly and professional manner?
Clear and concise communication is paramount when dealing with any provider of services or goods. When dealing with contractors it’s important they’re welcoming and active with their communication, and able to explain complex aspects of the craft in a digestible manner. A considerate and caring contractor will make sure no details go unnoticed, and that you’re informed entirely about your project. Has your contractor provided the following?
- A detailed quote that explains all aspects of the project, informing you of how each dollar you spend is being utilized to provide maximum value, quality and satisfaction.
- A design of your project to visualize the projected outcome. This stage is crucial in helping you achieve your landscape vision, and for making any changes before construction starts. You can learn more about landscape design here.
- A building and construction contract to protect your investment and your property.
Furthermore, has your contractor taken further steps to ensure communication channels are always open and operational? For many homeowners and investors, it’s important that any questions you may have can be answered quickly and efficiently. With instant communication channels you should expect your contractor to be receptive and eager to connect with you concerning your project. Signs of a lacking of positive tone, attitude or language when dealing with contractors is a clear indicator of faulty customer service!
5. Has your contractor shown examples and proof of previous work?
A vivid portfolio of projects is a must when choosing your landscape contractor! The scale, depth and complexity of projects undertaken will give you a fair understanding of their strengths and specialties. Seeing a portfolio is certainly beneficial for peace of mind when investing great amounts of money. How a particular contractor approaches certain hardscapes or softscapes may influence your decision. A visual representation of work is a powerful tool when comparing contractors and finding the one that’s right for you.
Queries you may have concerning previous projects can quickly be dissolved by trawling through their social accounts and website, where their work will be displayed. With platforms such as Houzz, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram there’s no shortage of avenues to explore your contractor’s work and find inspiration for your upcoming project.
6. Is your contractor up to date and proficient with technology?
Technology enhances most business processes. From communication to organizational management, and product design to content exposure – contractors utilizing digital systems are likely to engage better with their staff and community. Many contractors have now integrated various softwares and systems to allow them to deliver faster and more efficiently.
With no shortage of platforms to choose from, it’s important that the contractor you choose is current and engaged with performance-enhancing systems. How they function internally ultimately serves your benefit! If you’re struggling to identify this aspect of a contractor, the following suggestions may help guide your decision:
- Do they have a professional and engaging online presence?
- Are their communication channels and pages kept up to date with new content?
- Does their website and other pages function properly and efficiently?
- Is your contractor appearing across multiple digital networks and varied platforms?
- Does your contractor still deal primarily in hard copy documentation?
Other business enhancements in place may be harder to spot, such as task management platforms, design suites, labor management platforms and data storage solutions. However, from observing their practice and image, it’s easy to get an idea of who’s with the times and who isn’t.
7. Has your contractor displayed deep and thorough technical knowledge of the craft?
Meeting an industry professional that isn’t equipped with the necessary skills can be jarring and unattractive. How many times have you contacted someone for an advertised service, only to find they’re not learned in that service? It can be easy to spot the difference between the two. Having an expert on the case can drastically improve not only the quality of the service but also the longevity of the product. Prerequisite knowledge is also going to ensure they’re not stuck on your project forever!
Before you meet with your contractor, make sure to do some light research into the product, service or material you’re looking at purchasing. This will help you connect with your contractor further, and help form a bond with your contractor based on common interests.
When you meet with your contractor, make sure to ask detailed and thorough questions about your project to provide your contractor with the opportunity to articulate and express their knowledge. You may find that their ability to provide integral information is of incredible value. If you find your contractor is making detailed and precise recommendations in best interest of the project, it’s most likely caused by two things: Passion and Knowledge
8. Does your contractor display active care for their staff?
A contractor that cares deeply about the care and wellbeing of their staff is highly desirable. Prosperous and positive team environments are indicative of positive management, and vice-versa. Staff that are satisfied with who they work with, who they work for and what they do for work are generally happier, healthier and friendlier. A motivated and engaged team truly can move mountains! Here’s a few points on how to spot a happy and passionate team:
- Is their dress clean, uniform and consistent?
- Do they communicate in a clear, positive and friendly manner?
- Is there an evident atmosphere of comradeship and support amongst the team?
- Do they take pride in their work and experience the thrill of successfully completing a task?
All of these points to note are definitely observable! Chat to your contractor and their team to see for yourself how a positive attitude and work environment can make all the difference in the world. Furthermore, having support systems in place for staff can greatly improve their work environment:
- Has the contractor paid all public liability and insurances for their staff and teams?
- Do staff work appropriate hours, and are they rewarded accordingly for their time?
- Do staff get the opportunity to rest and recover when dealing with tiring and strenuous work?
- Do all staff have equal access to training resources to sharpen their craft?
9. Is your contractor current with training, building codes, warranties and standards?
It’s of great importance that all contractors, teams and staff you deal with are current with training, building codes and standards. If changes have occured to the industry in any way, they must be in the know and prepared to implement changes. Utilizing old and outdated methods/practices may alter the outcome of your project, and could lead to some legal headache (for the contractors at least!). To keep up to date with changes in the industry, follow QBCC news & updates through their site and social avenue
When meeting with your contractor, make sure to confirm that all of their services, methods and practices are up to date and in line with Australian Standards and QBCC regulation. Furthermore, always enquire about a contractor’s warranty for the services or goods they’re providing. All contractors licensed by QBCC must offer a minimum warranty of 6 years 6 months from the date (whichever is earliest):
- The premium is paid
- A contract is entered, or
- Work is commenced
It’s crucial that all homeowners understand how they’re protected, what they’re protected for and for how long warranty periods are valid. For more information about QBCC home warranty insurance, you can read more here.
10. Is your contractor prepared to undertake your project?
Time and time again we’ve seen contractors rock up to the job site in a dodgy ute with less than impressive tools and machinery. If their equipment is falling apart it’ll likely increase the amount of time they spend on the job, and decrease the quality of output. From a glance, here’s some questions to asks when trying to determine if your contractor is prepared to undertake your project:
- Are all tools, machinery and equipment in a well maintained and presentable fashion?
- Is there frequent mention of malfunctioning/damaged tools, machinery and equipment?
- Is there any discussion of a clear plan of attack for the day
- Does the team manage their tasks in a particular fashion or simply “wing it”
An ideal and professional contractor will have prepared their team each day with tasks and direction to ensure they’re completing the job in an efficient time frame. This means arming their team with the necessary tools, machinery and equipment each day to ensure proper planning.
This point greatly incorporates all previously mentioned points, and serves as an appropriate conclusion to this friendly guide. When considering which contractor you’d like to choose, simply ask yourself “are they prepared to deliver what I want?”. With this guide and your intuition you’ll be able to decide whether they’re the guys for you. With plenty of support platforms available at your disposal, it’s never been an easier time to decide whether someone’s worth their salt or not! Choosing a contractor to handle your investment shouldn’t have to a be a shrouded struggle, it should be crystal clear and reservation-free.
About the author:
Carter Pierce writes, records and films for Odyssey Landscapes. His desire to publish quality content that offers readers insight and intrigue continually drives his synthesis. When outside of the office you’ll find him playing in and producing bands, and helping artists achieve their full potential.