Planning is key for projects

Looking to transform your outdoor spaces? Whether you're thinking of installing a new paved patio or outdoor fireplace, renovating a driveway or launching another project, it's important to plan ahead. Especially during these unusual times, contractors have been in demand, and some products have been on back order. Making a plan that takes potential delays into account will help you adjust your expectations and budget accordingly.

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First, gather ideas from friends or neighbors whose yards you admire or look at online galleries like ours (or visit us in person by appointment with proper safety protocols in place). You may also consider hiring a landscape architect to provide expert advice on designs that bring your vision to life using the most appropriate, durable and environmentally friendly materials.

Choosing a contractor

Now it's time to look for the right contractor. If the project exceeds your DIY skills, ask for recommendations from people who've completed similar projects. Before you hire someone to do the work, be sure to check for proof of their contractor's license (required of businesses in Virginia) and ensure they carry sufficient insurance for general liability, property damage and workers' compensation.

Here are a few questions to ask prospective contractors:

  • What similar work have you done? Do you have online or portfolio photos and references I can check?
  • Are any of the materials I'm interested in using on back order or taking longer than usual to obtain?
  • Who will actually do the work - you, subcontractors or both? Do you have backup subcontractors you trust if the people you normally use aren't available?
  • Can you estimate a project timeframe and identify what might cause delays?
  • Will I be able to talk with an onsite project manager if I have questions or concerns?
  • Will you be responsible for hauling away demolished materials, or will you put it out for our neighborhood's trash collection?
  • Do you offer a warranty for your work? What does it cover and for how long?
  • What kind of maintenance care should I expect will be needed?
  • If your estimate for the work exceeds my budget, can you complete it in phases so that I can pay in installments over a longer period of time?

Once your contract is in place and the work starts, it's always a good idea to touch base with the contractor from time to time to confirm whether the project is on track and if any adjustments to the design, timeline or materials need to be made. Once it's finished and you've inspected the work, don't forget to share a review if you're satisfied!