Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscape Lighting Contractor

As with any home improvement project, homeowners need to peform their due diligence on prospective contractors (including landscape lighting) before any project is begun. Many homeowners ask why they should work with us and our response is typically “maybe you shouldn’t.” That response can be a bit disconcerting to most homeowners but almost immediately they understand the point we’re trying to make. And that point is that until you ask the right questions and receive the answers you’re comfortable with and do the background checks on a particular company or companies, you really should not be proceeding with any project until that due diligence is completed.

The following are some questions we’ve been asked over the years – and others that homeowners should be including as well:

BUSINESS LICENSING/REGISTRATION/INSURANCE?  Is the business registered and in good standing with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office? Does the company have the appropriate state and municipal operational and tax licensing? Does the company carry the appropriate property and liability insurance?

BBB RATING?  Is the company listed as an Accredited Business by the Better Business Bureau and what is its rating? For example, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado is listed as an Accredited Business by the Denver-Boulder Better Business Bureau and currently holds an A+ rating.

HOW MUCH LIGHTING EXPERIENCE DOES THE COMPANY HAVE?  Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP) of Colorado has been operating since 1999 – and our national company has been operating throughout the country since the late 1980s and early 1990s. Lighting is the only thing we do day in and day out – so we have to be really focussed and good at what we do. As part of a large national/international company with over 60 offices, we receive frequent and on-going training with respect to the latest lighting products and technology, design and installation techniques, and customer service. Interestingly, about 85% of the lighting companies operating in the Denver-Boulder area in 2001 are no longer in business.

HOW MANY LIGHTING INSTALLATIONS HAVE YOU DONE? The old saying is that anyone can sell you lights, but not everyone can provide you with an effective and high quality lighting installation. The number of installations a company has done is directly related to their level of expertise and professionalism in being able to handle any type of project. OLP of Colorado has close to 1,500 installations under its belt – from the plains of Fort Morgan to a two-mile high mountain-top and all along the front range of Colorado. Companies who only do lighting as a sideline business typically never get close to us with the breadth and complexity of the jobs we tackle.

CAN THE COMPANY PROVIDE REFERENCES? Good and reputable companies should never be reluctant to provide reference sites to prospective clients. However, from a lighting design standpoint every homeowner has different tastes and even different budget ranges in mind. That’s one of the reasons that we provide the free evening lighting design demonstration so that every design is customized for each homeowner.

WILL THE COMPANY PROVIDE A PREVIEW? As a follow on to the previous topic, any good lighting contractor should be able to provide you with an evening design demonstration so that you can see what the system will look like prior to the installation.

WHAT WARRANTIES COME WITH THE SYSTEM? Obviously, warranties are only as good as the company that backs it up. We once had a prospect (now a customer) who had asked one of our competitors “whose lifetime?” when he spotted their “lifetime warranty” banner hanging somewhat precariously in their exhibit. As I mentioned above, most of the lighting companies in business locally in 2001 are no longer around.

ASK ABOUT THE COMPANY’S SERVICE/MAINTENANCE PLANS Do they provide service after the sale? More often then not a lot of homeowners find out too late that the company that installed their lights provide no help after the installation.

FIND OUT WHO DOES THE ACTUAL INSTALLATIONS Does the contractor have their own factory trained employees or do they pick up day-hires with limited on-site training? Do they provide workmans comp, etc. Do they only hire and employ workers who are in the U.S. legally.

WILL MY LANDSCAPING AND SPRINKLER SYSTEM BE DAMAGED? Reputable and experienced lighting contractors should leave your property as good or better than it looked before the lighting installation was started. One of the best compliments our crews receive at the end of the day from a homeowner is that it looks like they had a lot more work to do since they didn’t notice any disruption to the landscaping. And that’s the entire point – the homeowner should not see anything different about the landscaping except for the fixtures as well as the beautiful illumination in the evening.

All of our trenching is done by hand with thin slices in lawn areas. After the wire is buried, the sod folds back over and most homeowners cannot tell where the wiring had been run. With regard to sprinkler systems, occasionally one of our crews does cut a line but it is our responsibility to fix it. If the sprinkler system is more complex than what we’re experienced with, we can call in one of several irrigation companies to complete the repairs.

Of course there are many more questions that homeowners can and should ask with respect to contractors in general and lighting contractors in particular, but hopefully I’ve addressed the primary questions today in this short blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: