12 Questions to Ask Your Landscape Contractor
Get the information you need before hiring a landscape contractor.
Before engaging a landscape contractor for your next project, it is important that you have all the information that you need. By making sure that you ask the right questions at the outset, you can make sure that the contractor is the right fit for your project and can also avoid misunderstandings down the track. But what questions should you ask? See our handy 12-question checklist below.
When you are having residential work conducted, you should only deal with a contractor who is currently licensed by NSW Fair Trading. All residential landscapers need to be licensed (either for Structural Landscaping or Building).
When you have been given the Licence Number of the Contractor, you can check their licence validity and make sure that it is current by visiting the NSW Fair Trading website. NSW Fair Trading can also provide information regarding any licence restrictions applied to the licence, as well as any complaints that have been lodged.
It is a condition on application for all Members to have appropriate licensing prior membership with TLA.
Ask the Contractor for the addresses of previous properties they have landscaped and if you are comfortable, ask the owners if they were satisfied with the results.
Some questions you can ask previous clients include:
A contractor with a lot of other work on may not be able to properly manage your job as well.
A contractor doing a large job may get a supervisor to manage the project.
Make sure that the supervisor has:
It is important to check that the Contractor has all the necessary insurance cover to protect you and your family home if something goes wrong.
The different issues and types of insurance that may be required include:
The costs of HBCF Insurance are normally passed on to the client as the Insurance is a project-related cost.
Under NSW Home Building Legislation, the maximum deposit you can be required to pay is 10% prior to the commencement of work.
If the work is required to be covered by insurance under the Home Building Compensation (ie the contracted amount is above $20K), it is illegal for the Contractor to request a deposit or any other payment under the contract unless the insurance has been taken out and a Certificate of Insurance has been given to you.
IMPORTANT: It is highly recommended that you check the validity of the insurance certificate given to you by accessing the register of insurance certificates on the icare website.
If you want the work to be completed by a specific date, make sure that the timeframe provided in the contract:
Make sure that you and the contractor are clear on what is considered by ‘complete’. Ideally, this should be clearly stated in the contract.
It is a legal requirement in NSW that, if the cost of labour and materials for the work is more than $5K, a written contract is used between the parties.
Contracts are not just legal requirements but they will protect you if anything goes wrong.
Purpose written contracts have been drawn up by The Landscape Association for exclusive use by our Members if desired.
When asking this question, make sure that:
Most building contracts have a fixed price and should provide for payments to be made for completed work, rather than on time spent on the job. Progress payments should be equal to the dollar value of work completed.
This question will help you to get a sense of how the builder is likely to respond to any complaints you have about the work. You should know in advance what your options are if a dispute arises.
Get this clear from the start so that when work is completed you are not left with a big mess or a dangerous building site. Make sure an agreement about cleaning the site regularly is included in the contract.