It is never a good thing to just hire the first landscape contractor that comes your way. To have a meaningful consultation and project, there are several questions you need to ask a potential contractor:
Do landscape contractors offer free estimates?
When the contractor’s answer is a yes, they will go to your property for free, listen to your ideas, discuss your plans, explain how they conduct their job and ask about your budget and expected costs. Many contractors which do piece meal projects like fence or patio installation provide free estimates due to the nature of the industry.
Many savvy contractors are not going to give a definite answer to such a direct question. You might want to ask first about some information or better yet, you can ask the how they work so that you will have an idea if free estimates are part of their offers.
Do you find my type of project interesting?
Before you assume that a contractor will be eager to come over and provide a free estimate, you have to remember that in the same way that you are sizing up the contractor, the contractor is also trying to find out if working with you will be worth their effort and time as well. Many of them will consider an ideal client as someone who looks for a professional that can deliver value and exceed expectations and is willing to pay for such value.
If you are still shopping around some design ideas from 4 to 5 bids from different companies and you have no plans to spend for a unique design, the contractor is going to figure this out right on their first on site visit by how you treat them.
A contractor may feel that you are only gathering design ideas from several companies and you will be opting for the lowest bid. It is not fair for contractors who offer value and free advice in order to build trust and rapport with their clients.
Are there any charges for your designs?
Not all projects need a carefully drawn plan, particularly when you have a fairly low budget. There are instances when the client’s needs may be straightforward that putting this on paper will mean calculating quantities and square footage.
The question if they will charge for a design or not will depend on an individual contractor and the way they work. There are some that charge a separate fee for designs for projects which need a carefully thought out plan while others may not.
Can you provide all my landscaping needs?
It could be an unspoken question but you have to ask yourself first about what your project is all about and what kind of expertise you need. By doing so, you will be able to know better if a contractor can really suit your needs and requirements. For instance, you cannot expect pool contractors to do a great job if what you need is to revamp your walkway wherein a brick walkway contractor might be your best choice.