Tuesday November 4, 2014
When it comes to planning a Hardscaping™ project, choosing a contractor should be at the top of your list.
As more people are expanding their living space by adding outdoor rooms, choosing the right contractor for the job is critical to your project's success. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when choosing a contractor is to pick someone from the Yellow Pages without interviewing them first.
Beautiful pavers and landscape design ideas mean nothing if the contractor you chose can't get the job done. Not only that, your cost could sky rocket and the budget could be blown if the project length and cost weren't correctly estimated.
Yet, some people shop more carefully for a car than they do a contractor.
Referral From Friends: While it's not a bad idea to reach out to the contractor who installed a friend's Hardscaping project, your decision to hire them should not be based on that alone. Sure, they may have had an excellent result and were pleased with the service and final project, but if the scope of your project is different from theirs, the contractor may not be qualified to perform it.
Interviewing: It's recommended that you interview 2- 3 contractors, and that you conduct an initial phone interview before agreeing to meet with them. Here is where you can ask if they carry, and are in good standing, with both Worker's Compensation Insurance as well as General Liability (let them know that documentation will be required). Don't consider anyone that doesn't have both of these, and ask if they provide a warranty for their work.
It is during the phone interview that you'll get a feel for the rapport between you and them. Take note of their level of professionalism. Did they return your call promptly? Are they giving you undivided attention? Right up there with their competency at installing pavers, the ability to communicate is one of the most important skills a contractor can have. After all, this person and/or their team will be at your home and in your life for the duration of the project.
Based on the phone interviews, pick several contractors to meet with to review your project and to get estimates. When you meet with them, be prepared to share the details of your project, along with the budget. Also, be armed with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the process.
Passing the Test(s): Look for contractors who have taken and passed industry standard tests for installing Hardscaping products. Your contractor should be certified by the ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Paver Association). The ICPI is the recognized industry authority in North America that sets the technical training standards for paving stone contractors. Contractors who have this certification have taken a 2-day course and have passed an exam on the fundamentals of paver construction. Visit: icpi.org for more information.
If your project includes a segmental retaining wall, your contractor should also be NCMA Certified. This certification ensures that the contractor attended the 1 day course and passed the written exam.
EP Henry's Project Services is with you from Inspiration to Installation. Our trained professionals will help you find qualified contractors in your area.
EP Henry Project Services: This service was conceived and created to assist homeowners in working with a professional Hardscaping™ contractor that is qualified to perform the full scope of the project. (Hardscaping™, Landscaping, Lighting…). These contractors have been trained, tested and have experience when it comes to installing Hardscaping. Our database includes their location, history and the scope of their skills. EP Henry Authorized Hardscaping Contractors® not only meet ICPI and/or NCMA certifications, but they have to meet strict standards imposed by EP Henry. They are proven to be skillful at working with EP Henry products. They won't cut corners in areas that include:
- Base Material and Depth
- Setting bed material
- Proper Edge Restraints
- Proper Grading
Continuing Education: You'll want to make sure that the contractor you choose is well informed on industry growth and changes. Like other industries, technological advancements, techniques and equipment are constantly evolving. Ask them if they attend courses to keep current on Hardscaping™ trends. Industry shows such as MAHTS® (Mid-Atlantic Hardscaping Trade Show) are created to update and train Hardscaping contractors in best practices and industry advances.
Portfolio: A picture is worth a thousand words. Ask for, and look at, past and current projects. Make sure that they have completed projects that are similar in size and complexity to what you are looking for. Request, and check, references; and if you can, visit a completed project.
As with any home improvement, if you are thorough and make informed decisions prior to signing a contract, your project will run smoother and you'll be enjoying your improved property before you know it.