Finding a suitable contractor to carry out your project can often be time consuming, and sometimes a worrying process, as projects are often complicated and involve a high level of financial risk. Plus, landscaping can be a complicated process!
It's important that you have all the information you need before engaging a landscape contractor for your next project. Making sure that you ask the right questions can ensure you choose the right contractor for your project and can help avoid misunderstandings down the track.
WHEN DO I NEED A LANDSCAPER?
When undertaking any landscaping or gardening works, big or small, it is advisable to engage a professional. This will most likely mitigate the possibility of making expensive mistakes.
WHEN CAN MY LANDSCAPER START MY JOB?
This will depend on the Landscapers work schedule.
Other factors may also affect this, such as whether council approval or engineering is required. These details are usually negotiated with the client and written into the contract along with a completion date.
In the current market, MLSA Members may have long lead times to commence new projects.
WILL MY LANDSCAPER HAVE OTHER WORKS ON THEIR SCHEDULE AT THE SAME TIME AS MY PROJECT?
This will really depend on the size of the business engaged to undertake your work. Small contractors may have only one project underway at any given time. Larger companies will no doubt have many projects underway, however they will also have more resource to draw from.
HOW MUCH WILL MY JOB COST?How much a job will cost depends on its size and the scope of work. Engaging a designer can often bridge the gap between contractor and client, and will allow you to create a design that can be achieved within your budget.
When asking this question to a landscaping professional, make sure that:
- They include the total cost of the work
- Estimated costs are realistic, clearly stated, and defined in their contract
- You understand how and why costs may change and how the total cost can be affected (eg. Some builders specify site costs as a 'provisional cost item' in the contract. The price of a 'provisional cost item' may change depending on the builder's actual costs incurred in preparing the site. If the site is challenging to build on, or the builders hit solid rock, it will cost you more.)
- The contract outlines if the quoted price is inclusive of GST.
MAY I ASK TO SEE EXAMPLES OF A LANDSCAPER'S WORK BEFORE MAKING MY DECISION?
You may ask a landscaper for the addresses of previous projects they have completed. Other questions you may want to ask a potential landscaper are:
WHAT DOES A LANDSCAPE DESIGNER DO?
A Landscape Designer is a professional who designs outdoor spaces and gardens by preparing detailed plans, sketches, or concepts for clients. Most have a high level of plant and horticultural knowledge. Their role is to provide advice pertaining to the construction of a new garden or garden renovation.
CAN I BE INVOLVED IN THE DESIGN PROCESS?
It's essential in fact! In order to create a solution that is suitable to you and your site, client involvement is necessary.
WILL I BE PENALISED FOR ANY CHANGES IN DESIGN?
Discuss this with your Landscape Designer before work commences. Design revisions are usually accommodated before the plan is finalised. Changes after works have started may incur additional charges.
What DOES A landscape Constructor DO?
A Landscape Constructor is a landscaping professional who holds a restricted building work licence. As such, they can build and install elements of hardscaping (built features, e.g., pathways, paving etc.) and softscaping (horticultural elements) to transform public and residential areas to a client's requirements.
When does a landscape CONSTRUCTOR need to be licensed?
Under South Australian law, anyone who contracts for landscaping work such as outdoor tiling, paving, building retaining walls or installing water features must hold a current building work contractors’ licence with conditions appropriate to your scope of works.
Can I ask to see a landscaper’s license?
The process of getting a Builders’ licence in South Australia is managed and regulated by Consumer and Business Services. As such, you can also check the conditions on a landscapers licence or confirm is valibity via their website.
What insurance is required?
Building indemnity insurance is taken out by a building work contractor when performing domestic building work costing $12,000 or more that requires council approval. As a minimum, a Landscaper is required to hold Public Liability Insurance.
WHO WILL SUPERVISE THE WORK?
Who will supervise the work depends entirely on the business structure of your contractor. Often the supervisor on site will be the business owner. If in doubt, ask your Landscape Constuctor who the registered building works supervisor is.
WILL THE SITE BE LEFT SAFE WHEN NO CONTRACTOR IS ON SITE?
The site should be left safe, tidy and secure on completion of each days work.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE IS INJURED ON SITE?
The landscaper should have policies and procedures in place to deal with this.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM INJURED ON SITE?
Seek medical attention and notify the landscaper to discuss.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY HOUSE OR NEIGHBOURS HOUSE IS DAMAGED?
The landscaper should have Public Liability insurance to cover this.
CAN I CHOOSE ANY OF MY OWN CONTRACTORS OR SUPPLIERS, AND WILL I BE PENALISED FOR DOING SO?
It depends on the method of operation of the landscape design/construction firm. To be sure, ask before you engage them.
WILL MY LANDSCAPER GIVE ME INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO MAINTAIN THE YARD AND GARDEN WHEN FINISHED?
Good maintenance is based on experience, and skills honed over many years. it is just not possible to tell you everything you need to know in a short amount of time. However, your landscaper can give you some general tips on how to recognise if your plants are under stress and you can engage a Garden Maintenance Member at any time.
WILL MY LANDSCAPER MAINTAIN THE GARDEN ONCE COMPLETE?
The completion of the garden installation is only the beginning of the story - a garden evolves over time. If your Landscaper does not have a maintenance team available they will normally recommend someone. If not, you can see a list of MLSA accredited Garden Maintenance Members here.
Do I need to sign a contract?
A design contract is not essential but may be requested.
A contract for construction is recommended and legally required for works exceeding $12,000 and where the work involves:
- constructing, erecting, underpinning, altering, repairing, improving, adding to or demolishing a house, or the excavating or filling of a site for that work;
- constructing, altering, repairing or improving a swimming pool or spa within a house; or
- any other building work within or on the boundary of the curtilage of a house.
Will I be required to pay a deposit?
Most landscapers require a deposit to lock in works; some contractors may not. All payment terms should be laid out in a contract.
Will I be required to pay progress payments? IF SO, WHEN WILL I BE REQUIRED TO PAY THESE?
Progress payments should be stated in your contract schedule and paid according to what is outlined. If you do not have a contract for the work being undertaken, ensure that progress paymnets and deadlines are outlined and agreed upon before works commence.
What happens if A CONTRACTOR/DESIGNER HAS UNDERESTIMATED THE JOB?
Ideally all project costs and contingencies will be covered in a contract. If you have concerns however, raise them with your contractor as soon as possible.
How long will my job take?
How long a job will take depends on the scope of work and should be outlined in your contract.
What could bring the contract to a standstill?
Many issues could delay or bring contracted work to a standstill, such as weather, material shortage, a variation or dispute. It's important to discuss these things before work commences so that they don't cause significant issues when they arise.
What happens if MY LANDSAPER can no longer complete the job?
The landscaper should discuss and negotiate with you and be transparent around the circumstances. Consequences of delays should also be outlined in your contract.
Who will clean the site when work has finished?
Get this clear from the start so that when work is complete, you're not left with a big mess or a dangerous building site. Make sure an agreement about cleaning the site regularly is included in your contract.
Will I be penalised for contract cancellation?
A contract is legally binding. There are rights for the contractor and consumer. Penalties may depend on the method of operation of the landscape design/construction firm, so ask them to clarify this before you engage them.
FIND A PROFESSIONAL
Are you looking for an outstanding landscape professional for your next project?
Head straight to our construction, design, maintenance or supply directories below.