I wont lie, as a Landscaping MD professional, I know that hiring a quality landscape contractor is tough! So many people have abused and misused the term “landscaping” over the past 30 years that anyone who simply mows lawns likes to advertise themselves as a landscaper. Yet, landscaping is so much more complex than that. It is a specialized form of exterior construction and design which covers drainage, grading, masonry, carpentry, and planting.
The best way to rule out the “wanna-bes” is to only hire someone who is licensed. In Maryland, a Maryland Home Improvement Contractor (MHIC) license is required in order to have a Maryland landscaping business. This type of license is only valid if you have the complimentary insurance coverage. Also, dont hesitate to go online and research your options – reviewing the age of the company, any testimonials, etc. is a great way to get an idea of the company youre interested in.
If you would rather meet contractors in person and discuss your project face-to-face, visit a local Home and Garden or Building and Remodeling Showcase. Personally interview and assess their attitude toward you. If theyre rude or impolite to you, theyre not worth hiring. Also, find out who they employ. A large scale project will have the workers practically moving into your yard. It is imperative to be comfortable with the contractor, the company, and all workers involved in the project.
After narrowing down your options to two or three possible contractors, meet with them all one final time. Compare apples to apples and always go with your gut. A contractor you feel comfortable with and who will happily provide valid references and examples of his or her work is absolutely worth paying for. 10-15% more can be a small price to pay for some piece of mind. You wouldnt gamble with your IRA. Why gamble with your construction budget?
Remember to start planning in advance. This is not an overnight process and generally takes 4-6 months from the time you start interviewing until your project is completed. Your diligence will pay off!