To manage, or not to manage, that is the question.
Are you planning a landscaping project that requires multiple contractors? Maybe you want your new outdoor living space to include elements like a stone fire pit, ambient outdoor lighting, and a covered patio. Or perhaps you’re planning to build an outdoor kitchen, a swimming pool, retaining walls, and a synthetic lawn. If so, you’ll most likely need multiple contractors to install your project.
When it comes to hiring multiple contractors for a large-scale landscaping project, you have two options:
- You can try to manage them yourself, or…
- You can hire a licensed landscape contractor to manage them all for you.
But what is a landscape contractor, and why do you need one? Keep reading to learn about the benefits of hiring a professional company to manage your big outdoor project!
What’s Involved in Managing a Large Landscape Project
If your project includes multiple elements that require more than one contractor, it can be complicated and frustrating trying to coordinate things like reviewing bids, allocating your budget, setting a timeline, and inspecting completed work. That’s why most homeowners prefer the simplicity of hiring one professional landscape contractor to manage and oversee their project. This not only saves you time and stress, but it also leads to a more cohesive final result.
Here are some of the responsibilities you should be prepared to take on if you choose to manage your own project:
Research Companies and Schedule Appointments
Using online reviews or personal recommendations, choose several companies to meet with. It’s a good idea to meet with at least three contractors for each specialty involved in your project. For example, if your project involves excavation, electrical work, concrete pavers, and natural gas installation, you’ll ideally meet with 12 different companies.
Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on contractors to respond to your inquiries and show up to meetings. Realistically, you may need to contact double this number of contractors just to schedule these 12 appointments. If you’re lucky, you’ll get bids from all of them. But in many cases you won’t. That means you should be prepared to go back to the drawing board and get more bids.
Keep in mind that some contractors will only schedule meetings during normal business hours, so if you have a traditional nine-to-five job, this may be challenging.
Once you’ve collected bids for each specialty element involved in your project, you’ll need to sort through them to ensure they accurately reflect all the items you discussed. Unless you have a background in construction, this can be tricky. For example, does an electrician’s bid for a backyard outlet install include the trenching needed for the wiring?
Even something that may seem small can surprise you when construction starts and thousands of dollars are suddenly added to your invoice for things one of your contractors assumed you would be managing or hiring other companies to handle.
It can also be tempting to choose the specialty contractors with the lowest bids, especially if you’re trying to stick to a strict budget. But it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate each contractor’s ability to complete their portion of your project to high standards of quality and within your timeline. Evaluating bids and contractor portfolios can be tricky without a background in project management.
Before you sign contracts, it’s important to make sure each contractor will be available to perform their part of the project within your timeline. Keep in mind that, depending on the details of your project, the sequence of events (i.e. when each individual element gets installed) may be extremely important.
When you’re ready, carefully read the fine print before you sign any contract. Every company has their own way of managing deposits and progress payments. Some contractors won’t put you on their schedule until they receive your deposit. The last thing you need is to get to the point where you’re ready for a contractor to move in with their part of a project only to find out they never ordered the materials they need because they didn’t receive a deposit.
Landscape contractors work with vetted subcontractors. This means they can ensure all of the bids received for a project include everything necessary to make sure things are done right. That means there are no hidden or surprise costs. Plus, everyone loves one-stop shopping! You’ll only be writing checks to one company; you won’t have to worry about making sure everyone is getting paid (and potential delays if they’re not).
Schedule and Manage Construction Meetings
Once you’ve chosen contractors, signed proposals, and paid deposits, it’s time to create a schedule and timeline for your project. Scheduling and coordinating work with multiple contractors can be time-consuming and complicated, especially when one contractor’s work relies on the successful completion of another’s. This process requires a thorough understanding of the entire landscape construction process.
You may need to schedule and manage construction meetings onsite with various contractors before the work actually starts. If this isn’t properly managed and miscommunications arise, you risk running into delays and unforeseen costs. For example, if one contractor is running behind schedule, it’s your responsibility to update all of the other contractors regarding any delays.
Coordinate Integrated Services
Large landscaping projects often include multiple moving parts that are interconnected, but require more than one specialty contractor. This increases the need to make sure each contractor is doing their part at the right time. Here are a few examples:
- Trenching and installing gas and electrical lines under patios
- Running electrical wires into covered structures
- Excavating prior to installing retaining walls
- Running wires for outdoor lighting throughout landscaping
Be sure to identify any integrated services relevant to your project and be prepared to facilitate construction meetings and communications with your contractors to ensure they know when and how their parts of the project will fit together.
A professional landscape contractor will take care of all this scheduling and coordination for you. Because of their expertise and connections to reliable local contractors, your project will likely look better, be completed faster, and run more smoothly without extra costs and scheduling issues.
Deal With Unforeseen Issues
Unfortunately, in the world of contracting, setbacks are inevitable. It’s usually not a matter of if something will go wrong, but when. Managing multiple contractors means that, when the finger-pointing starts, you’ll have to play the role of construction investigator, judge, and jury in order to determine who is really responsible.
Once you’ve determined who’s at fault, the guilty party needs to be informed. Will they make it right? Unfortunately, not always. If a dispute ensues, things can quickly spiral out of control, potentially resulting in project delays, increased costs, and even lawsuits.
Evaluate Results and Call Out Poor Quality Work
Even if your project is completed without delays and extra costs, you may end up dealing with work that’s subpar and not up to your standards. For homeowners without construction experience, it can also be difficult to accurately evaluate the quality of specialty work done by garden or hardscaping contractors. There’s nothing worse than realizing weeks or even months after project completion that a contractor didn’t do their due diligence.
For many people, having honest conversations about poor craftsmanship can be challenging and cause a lot of anxiety. This is especially true if the contractor takes offense to criticism or tries to shift blame.
Working with a reputable landscape contractor doesn’t mean your project will be without issues. The good news is, you’ll only have “one throat to choke.” This means fewer headaches and sleepless nights for you, because someone else is fighting the battle on your behalf. Whether the work is being done in-house by a landscape contractor or a subcontractor they’re managing, a good company will be eager to make sure things are made right – no matter what the issue is.
Schedule Warranty Work, if Needed
Unfortunately, this is another area where you can’t always rely on contractors to do the right thing. Getting a contractor to fix something when it breaks can be a huge headache. Even if the contractor wants to make it right, they may not have time in their schedule to get the work done in a reasonable timeframe. Plus, they’re likely to be concerned about what it will cost them. Unfortunately, it often takes many calls – and sometimes many no-shows – to get warranty work completed.
Experienced landscape contractors typically have long-standing relationships with trustworthy subcontractors. This means that warranty work is more likely to be addressed quickly.
Benefits of Hiring a Landscape Contractor
Managing a large-scale landscaping project is time-consuming and complicated. Depending on the details of the project and one’s experience with general contracting and managing people, many homeowners are ill equipped to manage multiple contractors.
Hiring a reputable landscape contractor almost always ensures your project will be completed more quickly, to higher standards of craftsmanship, and with fewer delays and hidden costs to worry about. It also requires substantially less time and hassle on your part, allowing you to save your valuable time and energy for the things you love.
To review, here are some of the main advantages of hiring a landscape contractor to manage your multi-contractor landscaping project:
- Hassle-free, easy contracting experience
- No need to manage multiple contractors
- No need to procure multiple bids
- Bids reviewed for accuracy and completeness
- Vetted, experienced subcontractors
- Only one contract to sign
- Deposits and progress payments made to only one contractor
- All pre-construction meetings are professionally scheduled and managed
- Proper sequencing and scheduling of all contractors
- Integrated services correctly identified and managed
- Project delays communicated to all contractors
- Professional quality-control management
- Finger-pointing and disputes expertly managed and resolved
- Lower risk of hidden costs
- Warranty work addressed in a timely manner
Work With the Professionals at Blessing Landscapes!
At Blessing Landscapes, we have the skills and practical experience necessary to manage your complex multi-contractor project. We can handle all aspects of overseeing landscape design and construction while ensuring a wonderful client experience every step of the way.
We’ll not only get the job done right – we’ll make sure your project is smooth, efficient, and results in the outdoor space of your dreams.
Richell Chiu-Yap – Senior Designer
Richell joins the Blessing Land team with much to offer as a landscape artist – an Associate’s Degree in Landscape Design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design-Summa cum Laude. Her previous experience working at architecture and interior design firms in Singapore helps her create holistic outdoor spaces that complement the interior and house architecture. Originally from Cebu, Philippines, she moved to Portland, expanding her artistic endeavors into landscaping. Her overseas life experiences have brought modern sensibilities to her aesthetics which she combines with local styles to create functional and unique outdoor spaces. She feels that the essential aspect of the design process is listening to the client’s requirements and finding creative solutions that reflect the client’s lifestyle.
Richell enjoys exploring new places and hiking with her husband and twin daughters in her free time. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest has inspired her landscape design work. Her other creative pursuits include portraits, botanical & landscape photography, fine art illustration, ceramics, and peg doll art.
David Dillon – Project Manager
David Dillon, born and raised locally in Portland, started landscaping at an early age mowing lawns for his family and neighbors. He did not know that it would become a career until he met Blessing Landscapes owner Jesse Brough, and was encouraged to continue his education and experience so he could take his journey in the landscaping world to the next level.
He joined the team in 2012 as a Landscape Maintenance Technician. He quickly moved up to Landscape Maintenance Foreman. After a few years in that position, he decided to give landscape construction a try. It was during this time that he discovered a passion for the challenges that construction can bring and the satisfaction of seeing a yard transformation into a beautiful, finished landscape.
Currently, Dave is overseeing installation teams as Project Manager. Additionally, he is a Landscape Industry Certified Technician, as well as a certified Oregon Backflow Assembly Tester. During a recent awards ceremony, the company recognized him with the “Project Manager of the Year 2019” award.
When he is not busy coordinating and managing the many projects that Blessing Landscapes is installing, in his downtime, Dave enjoys playing Disc Golf and camping.
Rebecca Smith – Senior Design & Sales
There is no where Rebecca Smith would rather be than in a garden, and there is nothing she would rather be doing than weeding, pruning, designing and in general contemplating gardening. She has a passion for gardening and all that it entails and loves helping clients discover the possibilities with their own gardens. To her its an interesting puzzle to solve between what can and will grow, what the client likes and wants, how the space will be used and what the budget allows.
In 2012 she received her AAS in Landscape Design at Portland Community College and has been in the landscape industry ever since. From working in a plant nursery to maintenance, design and construction she has a wealth of knowledge and a key eye for design. Working at Blessing Landscapes has been a perfect fit. She has the honor of helping clients create beautiful, functional spaces that reflect their needs and desires.
Contact us online or call us at (503) 284-3557 to get started on your project!