How to choose the right landscape lighting expert can be a difficult decision. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the paperwork and procedures to follow. But don’t forget, it is an important decision and will be worth it in the end. Often it is the landscape lighting expert who makes or breaks your outdoor lighting system…literally. Getting the right specialist goes a long way in determining the quality of your landscape lighting system as well as the stress it causes you.
This may seem like a herculean task because you have absolutely no idea where to start. As a result, you keep procrastinating or even decide to avoid the idea altogether. However, don’t let that frighten you. Now you have us to help you out. Below are a few steps to help you select the right landscape lighting professional for your project.
This is more like asking for referrals. Do not be afraid to ask around or look at online reviews. After all, you are trusting this company to come on to your property for hours at a time. Good communication and research goes a long way in determining the trustworthiness of a contractor. Start by making inquiries from your friends, relatives, and neighbors about whom they have had good experiences with. Be sure to ask questions about why they liked or didn’t like their contractor so much. Asking for referrals from reliable sources provides the best way to get a great lighting expert. These include: Angie’s List, Facebook, Google, Houzz, etc. However, you can use other sources like your landscaping firm, home-builder, architect and websites as plan ‘B’.
Check out the Available Credentials
With the referrals in hand, next we recommend that you conduct some preliminary research. This could be done either through a phone call or checking out some websites. Investigate whether he/she possesses all required licenses from both state and local municipalities as well as designations from any professional associations. Remember, not all certifications are made equal. Select the specialists who have gone through course work and passed tough tests to earn particular certifications. In other words, do some homework on your candidates.
Conduct an Interview
Narrow down the list of candidates and conduct some informal interviews. This can be done through a phone call or by setting up a face-to-face meeting. You can ask the following questions:
- Is your company insured?
- How long has your company been in business?
- Can you take on a project of my size?
- How long before you could get to my project?
While the answers to these questions are important, it is even more important to simply get along with the contractor. Do he/she seem like an honest and nice person? The main issue with choosing a contract, for nearly any type of project, is ensuring that the homeowner does not feel taken advantage of or cheated. So make sure that you like the contractor, but also verify that they know what they are doing.
Prepare a Standard Plan and Get Bids
At this stage, you should already have a short list of professionals with whom you are willing to work with. This is where you stop looking back at past jobs and start looking forward to your particular outdoor lighting project. A conscientious specialist will not only require a complete set of blueprints but also a sense of what you actually require of your outdoor lighting system and how much you are willing to spend. Start by getting and comparing bids by asking for a break down of the material costs, labor expenses, as well as other expenditures.
However, do not be deceived by a relatively low bid. This should actually cause you to take an even deeper look at his/her bid. Particularly low bids could mean that the professional is desperate for work, cutting corners, or worse. In other words, do no dollar signs cloud your judgement. Beyond technical competence, comfort is also an important factor that should affect your decision. All other things being equal, it is usually preferable to get a professional you are comfortable with, even if it means having to spend a little more.
Get it in Writing
After choosing your landscape lighting expert, the next step is to check the documents and contracts that he/she has prepared. Are they professional? Examine the contract and determine if it is fair. Also, ensure that the legal agreement includes the following:
- A change order clause.
- The payment schedule and bid price.
- The scope of work and site plan.
- Dispute resolution clause.
- Express limited warranty.
- Procedural list.
- A waiver of lien.
If everything appears to be in order and you are satisfied with your choice…Congratulations! You just made a major step towards revitalizing your landscape.