Outdoor Living

Hardscape 101

HARDSCAPE EXPERT, MATTHEW BLANCHE, HELPS TAKE THE MYSTERY OUT OF FINDING A QUALITY HARDSCAPE CONTRACTOR FOR YOUR SUMMER LANDSCAPING PROJECTS.

WHAT ARE SOME RED FLAGS TO WATCH FOR?
Reviews are the new ‘currency’ for all businesses. Reading reviews and seeing what clients are saying as well as how the company is responding can help you narrow down your selections quickly. Once you meet with your selected hardscaper, there are a few red flags you should watch for.
They Don’t Understand Your Vision – The conversation should end at this point no matter who they are or their reputation.
Attitude/Personality/Professional – Not very happy. Not really passionate about their job. Dreading that contractor being on your property for multiple weeks. No mention of the neighbors, no plan on how they will keep the peace with them. Beat up, rusty truck. No branding. No obvious investment into the company. These are all red flags that indicate that the contractor may not put value into their work or business.
Bad First Impressions – Late to your meetings. Disorganized. Flustered, in a rush or not very interested in your project. Forgot paver samples, brochures, copy of contract, etc.
Deposits – They’re ok with taking cash to reduce the price. No record of deposit on the contract.

matt

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A “SOFT LANDSCAPER” AND “HARD LANDSCAPER”?
A soft landscaper will handle maintenance style work such as mowing grass, weed control, planting and plant care. A hard landscaper handles hardscape construction including things like patios, retaining walls,
fireplaces, firepits, walkways, swimming pools, outdoor lighting and water features. Learning the proper term will automatically narrow down the search engine results for the right contractor.

WHY IS EXPERIENCE IMPORTANT WHEN HIRING A HARDSCAPE CONTRACTOR?
A lot is riding on proper construction of hardscape projects and hiring an inexperienced hardscape contractor could cost you more money and time in the future. An experienced contractor will understand what is needed to ensure that this construction can hold up to regular use, adverse weather conditions and other things that come into play when building structures that will be outdoors 24/7. This is why you need to ask your hardscape contractor about their installation processes, such as what will they do to prevent frost/thaw shifting, water drainage, etc.

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD YOUR HARDSCAPE CONTRACTOR BE ABLE TO ANSWER?
A hardscape contractor should be able to give you detailed answers on the various aspects of the project and what steps are taken to ensure a quality, long lasting finished project. How is the excavation and sub-base preparation done? What do you use for base material and what is the compaction process? Do you use Geotextile fabric and where? What type of jointing sand do you use in hardscape construction? Do you use Geogrid reinforcement in retaining walls? They should be able to understand your vision for the space and what needs to be done to ensure that your outdoor living space remains beautiful, functional and safe for years to come.
WHAT SHOULD BE IN THE CONTRACT?
Every project should be outlined in a contract prior to any work being done and any money being exchanged. This should cover the full scope of the project including permits, what are the agreed upon materials (paver color/brand, amount, pattern, etc), when will the project start and what is the expected completion date and what deposits and payments are expected and when. The contract should also include a written guarantee of at least 2 years.

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