Landscaping lasts a long time: cheapest isn’t always best
Is the cheapest landscaping always the best? Definitely not, when you consider that you will be living with the results of a landscaping project for years. On the other hand, there is no reason to spend more than you need to. How do you get the best value for money spent on landscaping?
My best advice is to get multiple quotes and compare apples to apples. That does not always mean to go with the cheapest quote, however, because price is only one of the selection criteria. Sometimes, who’s selling the apples makes a difference.
We have somehow developed a reputation for being expensive. When new acquaintances ask about my profession, I tell them I’m a landscape architect at The Hilltop. Sometimes they respond, “Oh, I can’t afford you guys.” On questioning them about this, I often find that they’ve received an estimate from us, but have nothing to compare it to. If they had gotten other quotes from reputable contractors, some may have been 10% lower or higher, but the price would be in the same ballpark, and there would be a basis for comparison and evaluation.
I’ve been in many competitive bid situations, and have been able to see all the bids once the jobs were awarded. Every single time, we are neither the lowest nor the highest bidder. We’ve been awarded many of those jobs, even though we weren’t the lowest bidder, because of another reputation we have. Many people say they are more comfortable paying a little more, because they know where to find us if there is a problem, and they know we will resolve the problem. It’s hard to put a price on that, but worth it if you have a problem, and worth factoring into your selection criteria.
Choosing a price in the middle can give you some assurance that you are getting what you are paying for. You may get a sense you’re being high-balled by the most expensive price, but you might have concerns about the quality you will get with the lowest price. Those are often valid concerns.
When people say they’re planning to get a number of quotes, I encourage them, because it only reinforces the justification behind our price. I also suggest that, whoever you select as your landscape contractor, make sure that they are licensed and insured.
So if you are considering a new landscape project, keep your bases covered. Don’t assume that you are getting more for your money by choosing the lowest bid, or that you’re getting the best work possible by selecting the highest.