Does Your Landscaping Estimate Seem Expensive…? But Is It Really?
discussing the costs to run a landscaping business and how it’s reflected in an estimate.
Have you recently received an estimate for a lawn maintenance or landscaping project? Did it seem high to you? Or maybe you’re just researching a landscaping project you’d like to have completed in the coming months and want to know rough costs to help with your planning?
Depending on the scope and scale of your particular lawn or landscaping project you could be looking at an estimate that varies a from just a few hundred dollars a month for simple lawn and garden maintenance to several thousand even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a landscape design and it’s construction.
Some home and property owners just aren’t prepared for that kind of sticker shock when it comes to investing into the landscaping of their property. It’s not always a case of the landscaping contractor being high-priced, sometimes the homeowners, just don’t understand what’s actually involved on the part of the landscaper to complete the particular work they want done.
To make the problem worse in the landcaping world, there are many guys with pickup trucks masquerading as professional lawn care and landscaping contractors. These guys are able to grossly undercut the real professionals in the industry and often perform sub-par services.
Professional Landscape Contractors Use Contracts!
If you are hiring a landscaping contractor to perform regular maintenance on your property or complete a very big landscaping project then having everything in writing protects you as a property owner and protects the landscape contractor as a business owner. Fly-by-night landscapers don’t like contracts or written work orders and often don’t use them. For small projects this might be acceptable but if you’re spending $1000’s on your landscaping you want everything in writing.
Was the scope of work and materials list pretty vague? That’s your first clue that the contractor you’re dealing with isn’t on the up and up.
When a professional landscape contractor provides you with an estimate it will probably be on company letterhead. You’ll receive a thorough description of the work involved, the materials being used and any and all requests or special considerations you’ve asked for in writing.
It’s not cheap to have proper paperwork drafted by a legal professional. If your landscaping estimate looks professional and well put together, it’s a good first indication that the contractor behind it might be a professional too. If you received your estimate on a scrap piece of paper, with a handwritten quote and vague descriptions, it might be a clue to keep looking.
Professional Landscape Contractors Must Be Insured
Proper insurance both for employees and the projects a landcaping contractor works on are business expenses, that don’t come cheap. You’d think this one would be obvious but make sure the landscaping estimate you’ve received has come from an insured contractor. Believe it or not, many landscape contractors (guys with a pickup) don’t have proper insurance to work on your property.
What if you’re landscapers 16 foot ladder falls as he’s trimming your hedge and damages your car? Do you think they will be organized (financially) enough to handle it? Your estimate from a professional landscaping contractor will probably mention the fact they are insured to do business in your area and work on your type of project.
Professional Landscapers Have To Pay Employees
Most professional landscapers although talented at what they do, couldn’t do it all on their own. Landscaping is very physical work and requires many man hours. A landscape contractor needs a team of talented individuals and craftsman working closely with them on every project. Employees cost money. If you want good, reliable employees that continually do amazing work, they cost even more.
If you look at the landscaping contractors in your area that consistently put out the highest quality of work you’ll find they almost always pay their employees very well. The contractor earns the respect of his crew, and they put more effort into your project.
A large portion of your estimate will go to paying the wages of your contractors employees or sub-contractors used on your project. It is NEVER fair nor good practice to ask your contractor to lower the rates for his crew or sub-contractors. If you think they are too high you might be better off trying to acquire another estimate. But beware, the lowest paid employees (generally fake tradesman) won’t put the same quality of craftsmanship into your project.
Will Any Special Tools or Equipment Be Required?
Some landscaping projects may require the use of special tools, or speciality equipment that must either be purchased, rented or hired for your project. For example, if your landscape contractor is doing a large landscaping project that involves moving lots of earth they may need to hire the services of a backhoe or an excavator. With that comes an operator, and fuel and transportation, so the costs can add up quickly if you’re not careful.
Other special equipment could include machinery rentals, transport costs (think moving heavy material or machinery), consulting fees and more. It’s important you understand what special equipment is required for your landscaping project and why because that cost is going to be passed onto you as the consumer. It’s not necessarily a “bad” thing as the scope of your project might require it, it’s just important to know and understand the costs.
What Landscaping Materials or Products Are Being Installed?
The materials you’ve chosen for your landscaping project can greatly affect the cost of your estimate. Most landscape contractors (if they have healthy supplier relationships) will get a pretty generous discount on materials from their local suppliers. Often landscaping contractors will then mark these materials up when they bill them to you, and make a little money off the top.
Some customers don’t like this or feel they could have gotten a better deal if they bought the materials on their own. Just remember, your landscape contractor has to put together the materials list, work with the sales team at the supplier, pick up and handle, then deliver all the materials to your project.
Travel Time Is One Of a Landscaping Contractors Big Expenses
This is an important one for customers to understand. The Greater Victoria area encompasses a very large, densely populated area. A landscaping contractor can spend a great deal of time in a day stuck in slow moving traffic going from project to project. Time and fuel are two very large business expenses for a landscape contractor.
When looking for a good landscaping contractor try to hire a company that has a local presence in your area, which reduces their travel time and overall expenses for your project. If your landscape contractor needs to drive 40 minutes across town each-way to mow your small residential lawn, it doesn’t make much economical sense.
Does Your Landscape Contractor Have Lots Of Overhead?
This is pretty important because you can learn a lot about your contractor based on how their business appears to you and the rest of the public. Does your contractor drive a $60,000 1 ton truck when a 1/2 ton, 5-10 year old truck and trailer might work just fine? Do the employees drive brand new company vehicles? Do they have a large office they maintain? Do they employ commissioned sales staff (a big one)?
These are all business expenses that will be passed onto you (the property owner) under the guise of “we’ll, you get what you pay for”… That’s true… You do get what you pay for, but you can find a high quality landscaping contractor who puts out great work but runs a much smaller business and overhead costs. Thus, your estimate could be lower if the contractor didn’t have as much overhead as the outfit with $100,000’s of thousands invested in equipment.
Landscape contractors that are competitively priced, reliable and produce high quality work are like well kept secrets in the community and will almost always be booked well in advance.
Who Provides Landscape Estimates in Saanich?
Island Pro Mowing and Landscaping Inc. is a full service lawn maintenance and landscaping service based out of Sidney, BC. If you’re looking for a reliable, honest landscaping contractor who’s crew and himself take great pride in the work they do then look no further than Island Pro. Give us a call today or fill out one of our online forms to arrange a time for your estimate.