Q: I want to hire a landscaper. With all of the water restrictions, I really want to make sure that I can not only water my landscaping but that it will be appealing to the eye. I’m seeing more and more yards that don’t look good because people stop watering or caring for their yards. I want to hire someone to change my front yard to desertscape. How do I know if I am hiring someone who will get it done right the first time? This is really an expensive project and I want to get it right.
A: Start with BBB, check on the Business Profile of the company. You can get free information about the background of the company, how long it has been in business, where it’s located and who owns the business. More importantly, you can also see if there are complaints, customer reviews and whether the business is accredited with BBB or licensed properly for its industry. Landscaping contractors who do work for more than $500 for labor and materials must be licensed by the California State Contractors Board.
FTC and BBB recommend that you NEVER do business with anyone who:
▪ pressures you for an immediate decision;
▪ only accepts cash;
▪ asks you to pay one penny more than 10% or $1000, whichever is less;
▪ is not licensed;
▪ “just happens” to have materials left over from a previous job.
Now it is time to go shopping. Call several contractors. Request a visit to the landscaping site and let them give you their professional opinion and pricing. Do some comparative shopping. Ask them questions:
▪ Do you have references and photos of completed projects?
▪ Do you take care of any permits required?
▪ Do you have liability insurance?
▪ Do you have workers compensation insurance?
▪ Do you work with subcontractors or perform all of the work yourself?
If you are asked to sign a contract, make sure that you read it and understand it BEFORE you sign. If you signe, make sure you get a copy. Never pay cash and make sure that if you are ready to put down the initial payment, that you pay $1,000 or 10 percent of the project, whichever is less, and not one penny more. Contractors State License Board requires that maximum threshold.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.