If you’ve decided you’re ready to create a beautiful outdoor living space for your family to enjoy, you want to find the best hardscaping contractor in Charlotte, NC.
The truth is that many homeowners feel the pressure to avoid hiring a bad contractor. If your hardscaping contractor does a poor job, it will be expensive to fix the work. Plus, a hardscaping job gone wrong can decrease your property value.
It’s vital that you work with a hardscaping contractor that you trust. That’s why MetroGreenscape has put together this guide to help you on your search. Whether or not you choose to work with us, you deserve a positive experience.
Continue reading to see what questions you should ask as you’re reviewing contractors – along with helpful insights from MetroGreenscape’s Chief Operations Officer, Todd Cioppa.
Do They Have a Legitimate Online Presence?
The best place to start is to check out your potential contractor online. What does their online presence say about them?
- Do they have a legitimate website that tells you about the company and its services?
- Do they have Google reviews? What is their Google rating?
- What does their Better Business Bureau profile say?
- How quickly do they respond to questions in reviews or on social media?
Do They Stand Behind Their Work?
You want to hire a hardscaping company that offers a guarantee or warranty so that if mistakes or defects occur, they will be responsible for making any necessary repairs.
When a contractor stands behind their work, you know they won’t leave you with an unsatisfactory fire pit or outdoor kitchen.
“On top of offering a warranty,” says Cioppa, “all of our customers know that the final step of any project is a final walk-through with their project manager. It gives the client the option to say ‘Yes, I’m 100% happy with the work’ or ‘No, this isn’t exactly how I thought it would look.’ Hardscapes are costly, so you should always feel comfortable with the work before paying for it.”
Can They Provide References?
Your potential hardscape contractor should be more than willing to provide you with multiple references that you can speak with. Ideally, you should be able to speak with homeowners that installed a similar project or used a similar material you’re interested in.
“Getting references should not be a problem for a reputable contractor,” says Cioppa. “When I ask past clients to be a reference, I always encourage them to be honest and share the good and the bad so prospective clients know what to expect when it comes to hardscape projects.”
Take this opportunity to ask previous customers candid questions about how their hardscape project went. If a contractor is not willing to provide multiple references from past customers, this is a red flag.
Can You View Previous Projects in Person?
“A hardscape contractor can pull out their phone or a book to show you pictures of their past work, but the pictures could be of anyone’s work. That’s why, in addition to asking for references, ask to view previous hardscapes in person,” recommends Cioppa.
While photos can be very helpful for getting a flavor of a contractor’s work, the best way to experience the quality of a contractor’s work is to see past projects in person. It’s entirely appropriate to ask the contractor to connect you with a few past customers who would be willing to let you observe how their hardscapes have held up through the seasons.
What Is the Hardscape Contractor’s Process?
Not all hardscape contractors take the same approach when installing an outdoor fireplace or kitchen. However, your contractor should be able to clearly describe how they plan to execute your project. If they can’t walk you through the construction process step-by-step, they may not be as experienced as they claim to be.
You should also exercise caution if a contractor can’t answer basic questions like: How will excavation be completed? What type of drainage system will be installed? Will this project require a retaining wall?
“Asking questions is important,” says Cioppa, because “the more questions that a client has upfront, the fewer questions they’re going to have when the project starts – and the better the experience will be for that person.”
Do They Have Experience With Specific Materials?
Before choosing a hardscape contractor, Cioppa recommends that homeowners consider the materials they want integrated into their project. Then, you can ask the contractor if they have experience working with that specific product, whether it be composite decking or natural stone.
You can gauge the contractor’s skill level from their response and “how accurate they are in their depiction of previous projects,” says Cioppa. You can also gauge their expertise from photo references or in-person visits with homeowners who have opted to use the same materials.
Remember: If a contractor is hesitant to provide references or outright refuses, don’t hire them.
Does the Contractor Return Phone Calls?
Too often, homeowners are left hanging with unfinished projects or shoddy work. But no matter how many times they call their contractor, they just won’t pick up.
To avoid this frustration, Cioppa recommends you pay close attention to how responsive the contractor’s sales team is after you first reach out to them.
“If the sales guy takes four weeks to get a proposal back or promises something they don’t deliver, you need to run,” Cioppa warns. “That [poor] communication is just going to continue throughout the entire project.”
Is the Contractor Supported by a Company?
Is your contractor a one- or two-person show? Or are they an actual company with a sizable team? Small hardscape contractors focus most of their efforts on sales and labor, which leaves them with limited bandwidth for customer service.
By working with a larger company, you will have access to dedicated professionals who are ready to resolve any issues you have. At MetroGreenscape, for instance, two staff members are always available to field incoming calls from clients.
“You’re always going to get a live voice,” says Cioppa, “and if that person can’t answer your question, they will find the answer and get back to you by the end of the day.”
Are They Telling You What You Want to Hear?
A common temptation for many salespeople – hardscape contractors included – is to tell potential customers what they want to hear.
“If someone tells you that your construction project is going to be all rainbows and unicorns, they’re lying,” says Cioppa. After all, he adds, “it’s construction – it’s going to be messy.”
That being said, it’s important to hire a contractor who is upfront about potential construction delays or supply chain issues. Their honesty will limit the number of surprises you’re hit with, making the process go smoother.
“There’s not a whole lot of trust in our industry,” says Cioppa. “But at MetroGreenscape, we believe clients are entitled to the truth. That’s why one of our core values is growth through transparency.”
Are They Licenced & Insured?
Many customers don’t realize that not all hardscape contractors are licensed and insured. This is a non-negotiable and what “distinguishes the true professionals,” says Cioppa.
So, before your general contractor hammers a single nail, you should ask them to provide proof of license and insurance. If you neglect this important step and an accident happens on your property during the project, you could be liable for the damages.
Do They Provide Financing Options?
Not many hardscape contractors are in the position to provide financing. However, many customers can’t afford to bankroll their hardscape projects with cash.
The good news? MetroGreenscape offers homeowners the ability to finance a portion of their hardscape project. This gives customers the ability to transform their backyards into functional and beautiful outdoor spaces without draining their savings.
“Financing is important because not every client just has $40,000 in their pocket ready to spend on a project,” says Cioppa. “So, we can bridge that gap with zero-interest financing or term financing.”
Do They Use Subcontractors?
Some hardscaping contractors employ an in-house team of vendors, while others rely on subcontractors to complete a job. The one business model isn’t better than the other, but they both come with pros and cons. You can be better looped in and anticipate those pros and cons if you know which model your contractor uses.
“We’ll tell our clients that we like the subcontractor model because we only hire subcontractors based on the performance of their work. There is a built-in incentive to do a good job when it leads to more work,” says Cioppa.
The Risks of Hiring a Bad Contractor
Much like remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, building a high-quality outdoor living space requires professional expertise. However, many homeowners hire hardscape contractors based on money alone, opting for unlicensed and unvetted companies that offer cheap bids.
The costs of shoddy work are enormous. Poorly executed hardscapes negatively affect curb appeal and, in return, resale value. But in some cases, poorly graded landscapes can cause more serious issues like erosion and water damage.
That’s why Cioppa suggests homeowners do some research and “hire the right contractor the first time.”
“It costs so much more money to redo a project,” he warns. “It’s just exponentially more expensive than it would be if you just chose the right contractor to begin with.”
The Value of Hiring the Right Charlotte Hardscaping Contractor
Finding the best hardscaping contractor requires an investment of your time and energy.
According to Cioppa, “Whether it’s with MetroGreenscape or another contractor in Charlotte, I just want people to be able to deal with professional companies and not get taken advantage of.”
While the search for the right hardscaping contractor can be exhausting, you will benefit at the end when your vision for your hardscape project becomes a reality. Completing a successful hardscape project requires trust, clear communication, and a shared vision with your contractor.
If you’re ready to bring your dream outdoor living space to life, contact the professional hardscaping contractors at MetroGreenscape. Call us at 704-504-0980 today to book a consultation with our Charlotte-area hardscape experts!