You're ready to start planning your patio / hardscaping project. You have a basic idea of what you're looking for as far as patio size, where it's going and what features you're looking for.
The next step is to start the search for a great contractor who can help you with the process, give you an estimated price and complete your project.
Initial consultations typically start in one of two ways.
1. A phone consultation before a site visit
2. At times they start with an on-site consultation depending on the project
We typically start our process with a phone consultation. Starting with a phone consultation will give you and the contractor an initial opportunity to ask questions and get a better feel for the project and what can be expected.
The consultation process
A consultation will help accomplish a few things:
It will help you get to know the company you called
Help give you a better idea of what to expect
It will give you an idea of their process' and how they run their business
Allow you to ask any questions you may have
Asking the right questions can save you time, effort and money! If you're in the Winnipeg, Manitoba area, we've made it easy for you! We've provided our answers to each question in this article!
Now, what questions should you consider asking your hardscaping contractor? Let's get started!
What Hardscaping Experience Does Your Company Have?
This questions will give you an idea of what the companies past experience is in this field, their answer will tell you if they have the knowledge and expertise to take on your project.
Nuterro Solutions: We're trained hardscaping experts in the following: Paver Patios, walkways, driveways and retaining walls. We constantly upgrade our training to bring you the best possible product and continually train our staff. We've been building them for many years. Our results speak for themselves.
Is Your Company Insured?
Liability insurance proves a company has your best interests at heart. Insurance protects both parties in the event of an accident. Hardscaping requires a lot of equipment and product transportation, in the event that issues arise, your property is covered.
WCB insurance ensures the workers are covered in the event of an injury. It is a companies responsibility to ensure they cover their employees.
Nuterro Solutions: We're fully insured through WCB and liability insurance, you're covered if any incidents or issues arise!
Is My Hardscaping Project Covered by a Warranty?
When a company offers a warranty, it shows they are confident in their work and will honour their warranty in the event there are any defects. Often times, the manufacturers will offer a warranty on their products, it is up to the company to warranty the labour portion.
Nuterro Solutions: We offer warranty on all our hardscaping services! For more information on our warranty, click HERE.
Are You ICPI Compliant?
ICPI is a North American paver installation organization, they provide techniques and methods to ensure your patio lasts and is built properly. Companies who take accredited training or certifications in hardscaping have the knowledge to complete your project properly.
Click HERE for more information on ICPI
Nuterro Solutions: We've taken the necessary ICPI accredited training to ensure we're creating amazing hardscapes that last! We're constantly upgrading our education and training our team to bring you the best. For more information on our Training and Certifications, click HERE
When Will the Work Begin and Finish?
This question will ensure the company has a set deadline and time frame to complete the project. It will also tell you when they can start the project. Let's say the company can't complete the installation for a few months and you have an event you need it completed for. You may need to choose a company based on their projected start date.
Nuterro Solutions: Our start dates vary, we'll give you a job specific time frame during the consultation as well as when were planning the project. We operate on a first come first serve basis.
Will There Be Anther Contractor or Anyone Else Working With You?
Often times, a company will hire a sub-contractor to help them complete the work, although this can be a great thing as the sub-contractor may do great work, it can lead to communication issues, you'll want to ensure the contractor has a plan in such a case. Specialized services on the other hand, should be carried out by trained, specialized companies who are accredited, such as an electrician or plumber. In such a case, a specialized sub-contractor would be necessary.
Nuterro Solutions: We almost never work with third party contractors unless its a specialized service such as electrical or plumbing. Our staff are trained through us and work for us which means we can provide you with the best possible experience with less downtime or issues and quickly resolve any questions or concerns.
Do You Have References or Reviews I Could Read?
Reading over a companies reviews will give you a great idea of what others think of the company they hired to complete their project. If a company doesn't have reviews, checking for references can be a great option as well.
Nuterro Solutions: Feel free to take a look at our Google and Facebook reviews. We also have customer testimonials. References available upon request.
How Long Has Your Company Been in Business?
Another great follow up question to ask after "how much experience do you have". If the contractor stated they have lots of experience but have only been in business 2 months, it may conflict with what you're looking for and their business may not be up to the task of completing your project properly.
Nuterro Solutions: We have many years of experience prior to our start up date. Nuterro Solutions was established in 2017 and we have become a leader in the Winnipeg market when it comes to hardscaping installations.
Will There be a Crew Lead or Supervisor on Site?
A proper company has a structure in place that employs leads / supervisors who are on site for the duration of the project. Leads are more experienced in company policies and procedures as well as completing a project properly. A lead should be on site to help direct your questions to the right people or help answer questions, they're also there to ensure the project is completed smoothly and properly.
Nuterro Solutions: All projects are lead by a crew leader or supervisor. We ensure all staff are trained properly. Our training systems have been developed over the years to ensure the staff are extremely competent and know what they're doing.
How Much Base Do You Use?
The most common issues we come across when fixing others' mistakes on failed hardscaping, is from improper base installation.
Base layer is not thick enough
Base doesn't have geotextile underlayment below
Base layer is not to grade or improperly compacted
Asking this question or other questions on their installation, will give you an idea on their installation process to ensure they are competent and will provide you with a quality product.
Nuterro Solutions: Base depths vary from project to project. Our standard base depths are:
Patio: minimum 6 inches - Walkway: minimum 6 inches - Driveway: Minimum 12 inches - Retaining Wall: minimum 6 inches
What's Your Installation Process?
This is another great question, this will give you a better idea of what's involved in the process. A hardscaping company should have systems in place to ensure the process is smooth with a quality finished product.
Nuterro Solutions: We have a 14 step process to our patio, walkway and driveway installations, for more information on our process, click HERE
What Forms of Payment do you Accept?
This is another great question to ask, if you're looking to pay by credit card, the company may not accept this payment option. Also if you're looking for financing, a company that offers this method may be a better option.
Nuterro Solutions: We offer payment solutions to suit your needs! We accept the following:
Online Invoice: Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Debit Visa
In-Person / On-Site: Cheque
In-Store: Visa, Mastercard, Debit Visa, Cash - Please let us know if you'd prefer this method so we can have your invoice ready when you arrive. Please note, we have limited cash in our till for change.
E-transfers: E-transfer directly to our email
Financing: We offer financing up to $60,000 - Click HERE for more details
What Paver Brands and Options do You Provide?
There are many different paver options out there, these options vary from location to location. You'll want a high quality product with warranty and the desired look. Make sure the contractor provides different options to choose from.
Nuterro Solutions: We offer Techo Bloc and Barkman Pavers. These are two great companies with premium quality pavers. Barkman is a local Winnipeg company. If you'd like to use another, simply let us know and we'll try accommodate.
What Other Services Do You Offer?
This question may not be suited to you, however, if you're looking for other services to be complete at the same time, you may be better suited with a company that can come in and complete the entire project at once. Just ensure they are proficient in the other services as well.
Nuterro Solutions: Click HERE to view our services! We offer many great services to provide your yard with a complete overhaul!
Other Things to Look For
A Companies Systems
A company with effective systems in place will ensure you are served better and the project is completed properly. Some examples of things to look for:
Website: professional with ways to reach out to the company and some great information
Email Responses: professional and timely
Estimate: they use estimate software or have a well laid out estimate template
Project Manager: shows up with the proper measuring tools, documents, etc.
Crew: complete the required safety documents and work is organized
Price: Cheaper is Almost Never Better!
As contractors, we all have different costs to run our businesses. When getting multiple estimates (which we recommend) you'll be provided with 3 estimates that are most likely very different (often times, thousands of dollars difference). To ensure you're comparing apples to apples, ask questions regarding their process and what the project includes. One contractor may not have a warranty, the other may be using less base. Often times the more expensive option or one in the middle is the best fit because they provide a higher quality product with more features and better service.
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