Question: Robert, thank you for the effort you put in to answering so many questions. I’ve utilized the information from many answers over the years. My question today is, how many proposals should I get for a certain job I need done at my home? It’s a larger project and I’ve never hired a contractor before, for something like this. Any advice you can give me would be very helpful to me. Thank you in advance, for your help. Vance L.
Answer: Vance, great question! I recommend at least three proposals, minimum. That is just the beginning of my advice, though, and the short answer.
First, find contractors that are highly recommended for fair and quality work. Though pricing is important, the most important part is that the contractor who ultimately gets the job is one who has a great reputation for quality work. A bad contractor may cost you much more in the end, so start with this and move on to checking that their license and insurance is valid.
Next, be sure that you are ready and have made the decisions on the basic goal you have in mind. If this is a new construct or remodel that will require permits, have your plans drawn up. Assuming that is not the case, I will continue with that in mind.
Be sure that you are clearly communicating to each contractor, the end goal of your project. Each may have recommendations on certain things you could add or change and if that’s the case, you’ll want to be sure that you are communicating additions to the other contractors. Ultimately the goal initially is to see at least three proposals and be able to compare them, “apples to apples.” If you have different conversations and goals listed with each, then the bids will be different and you won’t be able to really compare adequately.
Once all bids are in, examine them thoroughly and be sure that they are all offering the same from beginning to end, and be sure to watch for the “extras,” noting those. Finally, be sure that if permits are required, your contractor goes through the process and that in the end, the final inspection is signed off on by the city and you do not make your final payment until this is done. Best of luck to you.
Question: Robert, thank you for what you do in our community. I can’t tell you how many of my friends, as well as myself, have benefitted from your article and all the information given. My question has to do with landscaping. We are planning to redo our backyard, which is quite large, so there is plenty of room for different options. With the prices the way they are going, I hesitate to put in a massive lawn but would like some natural beauty there. Another option is a pool and we are entertaining that, but would still like to have great natural plant life back there also. Any suggestions? Jodie M.
Answer: Jodie, it’s great that you are thinking ahead of this project, and considering the costs involved with your choices. If you can do a pool and will make use of it with your family, I recommend that for this area. With the heat we receive, it is always a pleasure to spend time in the yard where there is water. It may be a year where more folks are staying home again, due to the current events.
With respect to the landscaping, many folks today are planting edibles, which can create the beauty you are looking for, all while providing delicious food to eat. Citrus trees do extremely well in our climate, offer year-round beauty and provide amazing and delicious fruit. I highly recommend this, though I do caution you to investigate thoroughly beforehand the root structure of whatever you’re planting, be it fruit trees or other, so that you are well versed in their natural growing patterns. This will allow you to plant properly so that they will not affect the plumbing or decking system of your pool. Anything planted too close will eventually affect the above mentioned, and you will have to make, possibly, major repairs.
Be sure to research the adult size of what you would like — this is what matters. Give a little extra room in case you happen to get one that is more successful than its average. I recommend installing a root barrier to the bordering areas where you don’t want the roots to travel. This is an additional protection. You can also have a small vegetable garden in your yard, if you have the time to care for it. Be sure you are aware of the wildlife and how to protect anything you plant, or you may end up at war with nature. Best of luck to you, this should be a fun project.