How to Choose a Landscape Maintenance Contractor

Community Associations Community Repairs Condominium Associations HOA HOA Management Companies Owning a home in an association

The value of a property can often be determined by its curb appeal, so it’s important to carefully evaluate potential landscape maintenance contractors for your community.
Landscape and grounds maintenance contractors come in various categories. Some may simply mow lawns while others provide a wide range of related services. So where do you begin to find the right landscape maintenance contractor for your community?
Getting Started
Begin your search by knowing your budget, what your community can afford for the service as well as the type of services your community needs.  If you are choosing annual lawn care, identify the community’s common areas required to be maintained according to the association’s plat and the governing documents.  Investigate which areas need to be enhanced with seasonal or perennial flowers and whether any detail work such as regular weeding and pest control needs to be performed. Locating a schematic of the irrigation system can be helpful.
Important Concerns
Does the contractor have insurance? The nature of grounds maintenance work requires liability and workers’ compensation insurance as well as a comprehensive auto policy. If not insured properly, the association may end up being liable for the grounds maintenance contractor’s accidents or employee injuries while on association property. Require an original certificate of insurance directly from the contractor’s insurance company. Go a step farther and require that the association be named an additional insured on the contractor’s liability policy.  Check your association’s governing documents for specific insurance requirements.
How long has the company been in business? Companies that have been in business for some time usually have a track record. They may be listed with professional industry organizations and should be a member in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Researching references and letters of recommendations from past and current customers, along with contacting the contractor’s suppliers, assist in making a better decision. Drive by some of the properties the landscape maintenance contractor provides as reference and observe the curb appeal.
Business operation information is always a must for making sure the needs of your community are met. How many employees does the company have? Do any of the employees hold special licenses? Do their employees speak English? Are their employees in uniform and do they drive vehicles with company logos? What are their hours of operation and do they have after hours’ emergency care? Is there a supervisor who regularly monitors the work performed by the employees, and how frequently? Will the contractor provide a seasonal check list and maintenance checklist for your review?\
Get it in writing
Before requesting proposals, prepare the specifications for the work, describing exactly what should be done and when, such as mowing the lawn and weeding the beds every week during the months of May through September, and every other week during the months of October through April. Specifications should also include seasonal pruning, monthly pruning, bed preparation, seasonal planting and frequency, weeding flower beds, chemical weed control, irrigation checks, fire ant control and pre- and post-emergent agents as well as fertilizing. Additional charges should be listed separately. Inquire about warranties on products such as flowers and shrubs.  As much information as possible regarding work to be performed and the cost of each should be presented in writing. Use the keyword “contract specification” to find articles in Association Times that discuss necessary contract provisions.
Making a decision as to which landscape maintenance contractor should be used to promote the desired “curb appeal” for the best possible price takes time. Obtaining three apples-to-apples bids based on a prepared set of specifications is always the recommended process for making the best possible decision for your community.
This article is provided by Associa Living.