How To: Choose a Landscape Contractor for Vancouver
January 31, 2018 Craine Projects
Across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland there hundreds of landscapers. Choosing a landscape contractor in Vancouver is easy; choosing the right one is hard. So with that in mind here are some pointers on making sure you choose the best contractor for you.
Listed below are five points that you should consider when choosing your Landscape Contractor for Vancouver:
1. How Much Experience Does The Contractor Have?
There is, as the saying goes, no substitute for experience. And rightly so. After all, nobody wants to hire somebody who doesn’t have the skills and experience to do the job for which they were hired.
So here are some key questions to consider when a contractor, estimator or salesman visits your property.
How many years’ experience do you have installing landscapes?
A full landscape makeover involves excavation, drainage, foundation and sub-base installation, and the finished landscape products that are visible; for example, natural stone patios, stone walls, paved driveways, grass, plants, wooden decks, and wooden fencing. To correctly estimate these takes experience in installing them. When it comes to landscaping no one job is the same: for example, access is different, and soil composition changes. Both of these will affect the time, and therefore labour charge, it takes to complete a landscape.
Have you got any relevant qualifications?
While not essential (as has already been noted there’s no substitute for experience!), if the landscape contractor who visits your property has any formal training in related subjects it should only add to their credentials and your peace of mind. Examples of relevant training include:
- A Red Seal in Landscaping,
- Horticulture certificate,
- Construction estimating degree (from BCIT, for example),
- Construction project management degree
- Are you a member of the BC Landscape and Nurseries Association (BCLNA)
2. Do you know the local landscape materials suppliers and nurseries?
It is essential that a Vancouver landscape contractor knows the materials and nursery supplies across the city and Lower Mainland. Each supplier has its strengths and pricing can vary. Good relationship with each of them, and with accounts in good standing, will ensure they are able to get the best products at the best prices, and delivered in timely fashion. Consider asking them:
- Which supplier stocks the best materials for my install project?
- Do you have good relationships with these suppliers?
- Are you behind on you account payments?
- Do you have a contact I can call as a reference?
The reason why accounts in good standing is important for landscape contractors is because it can help get preferential prices which they can pass on to you. Overdue accounts can also result in delivery delays while the supplier awaits payment. Delays will invariably lengthen the time your project takes to complete and can increase the cost.
Here’s a list of good local building materials suppliers and nursery’s (in no particular order).
- Landscape Centre
- Bricks n Blocks
- Northwest Landscape and Stone Supply
- Kerrisdale Lumber
- Dick’s Lumber
- Standard Building Supplies
- Coe Lumber
- Headwater Management
- Art’s Nursery
- NATS Nursery
- Specimen Trees
3. Do you know the best landscape materials to use for the local climate?
We live in a rainforest, so any fencing or decking should be constructed from naturally rot-resistant cedar, treated lumbers, or from composite materials like Trex. Cedar and Trex are both popular materials for decks, often built on a solid foundation of pressure-treated fir.
As important is the temperature here. The frost depth in Vancouver is far less than everywhere else in the Great White North. This means footings and foundations can be dug to shallower depths than in other cities in BC and Canadian Provinces.
Also, if you are having a large-scale planting carried out as part if your landscape overhaul then aim to have this work completed in spring or fall. Both of these times of year allow the roots to grow and develop, which is particularly helpful in fall as plants and trees aren’t having to feed leaf and flower growth. Therefore, if the planting part of your landscape installation falls in the middle of a hot, dry summer, consider waiting till fall to have the plants installed, especially if there is a watering ban.
4. Can you provide references from previous clients?
There’s nothing like word-of-mouth marketing for companies, similarly, there’s nothing that provides peace of mind for customers like peer reviews. Check online review sites like Google and Facebook, but also ask for the contractor to put you in touch with previous clents. Also, if you happen to see the contractor’s sign up around town, have a chat with the site manager or homeowner to find out their thoughts. Questions to consider are:
- Are they within budget?
- Do they arrive promptly each day?
- Are they well behaved and respectful?
5. What warranty do you provide? And am I expected to pay in full if I am not yet fully satisfied?
Craine Projects provides an industry-leading three-year warranty on its hardscape construction installs and a one-year warranty on planting and softscape installs.
It’s important to note that construction warranty covers any failings that are the result of construction and not, for example, if you happen to back your car into your lovely brand new basalt retaining wall!
Similarly, our warranty for plants, trees, shrubs and grass only comes into being if an irrigation system is included in the project or is pre-existing. Planting which takes place during a watering ban will also not be covered by our warranty as we cannot control their enviornment. Both these situations put the welfare of plants beyond our ability to ensure they receive the correct amount of water.
Thanks for reading.