When planning a hardscape project, have you ever wondered why estimates from different contractors vary yet the project description remains the same?
Thanks to a free marketplace, contractors are able to price jobs however they want and it’s up to the discretion of the customer to decide if they want to move forward. That’s what’s great about our country, living the American dream and owning a business. However, there are many other factors that go into calculating the cost of your project, that when they are not standardized for estimating, prevents you from accurately comparing contractors pricing apples to apples.
Your hardscape project is an investment and going with the cheapest contractor isn’t always the right decision. Granted, there might be situations where cost is the ultimate factor, for example, a quick patio repair. However, for customers who are looking at their project as an investment, there are many other factors to consider when choosing a contractor to build your new outdoor living space.
Let’s take a look at the 5 factors that determine how the cost of your project is calculated.
1. Bigger vs. Smaller Companies
For starters, you need to understand that there are two distinct categories of contractors; small and large companies. Based on the type of contractor you go with, you will notice a major difference between their pricing, and the overall experience you will have with your project.
There are many benefits of working with a small company. One benefit, is you most likely get to deal directly with the owner, because they typically work on site, with their crew. Many customers enjoy working with a company that’s ‘owner-operated’ because they feel a connection to the contractor and like the fact that the person who came out and did the site visit is also the person completing the work. These contractors tend to be more flexible when it comes to making changes within the project, and have a stronger passion for their work than the larger companies might. Smaller companies also tend to have a lower overhead, which allows them to provide customers with better pricing.
On the other hand, larger companies can be great for big projects. Large scale projects typically involve coordinating multiple contractors, and larger companies have more resources, equipment, and can handle any type of project with ease. They also provide in-depth designs but this is all comes at a cost to the customer. Although there are times that working with a large company is necessary; for most residential projects, working with a reputable small company is found to be the most economical.
2. Material Choice
The next factor that makes up the cost of your project is the material choice. Materials such as pavers, bluestone, natural stone, and stamped concrete all vary drastically in price. Even if you know you want a specific product like pavers, the prices vary based on style and manufacturer.
Is each contractor pricing your project using the same materials? If not, it can be nearly impossible to compare quotes. There are different quality materials and it makes a difference in the price and durability of your project.
When you submit your project to Hirescapes, your project consultant will educate you on the options and provide a solution so contractors can provide quotes with the same exact materials.
3. Project Design
Consider the overall design of the project. Does the contractor charge extra for different borders; inlays or designs? Some contractors don’t have any upcharge for simple border designs, while others do. Designs can vary in costs, depending on their complexity.
It's important that you understand what's included in your project and what could become an extra charge. At Hirescapes, your project brief will notify contractors of any specific requests so you will know upfront if there will be an extra charge for your design.
4. Project Specifications
Project specifications is the checklist contractors review to determine what it will take to complete your project. When a contractor has all the project details, measurements, a sketch and detailed project description, they will typically calculate the price of the project by the square footage.
However, there is no set square foot price across the board. Each job is priced based on the project details, things like; soil type, grade, and site access have implementations on the final square footage.
When you work with Hirescapes, our project consultants will create a job specifications sheet and complete a detailed site evaluation so contractors are able to provide an accurate estimate of your project without having to go on-site first. Therefore, you save time and money.
5. Installation Process
Above all, the most important factor to both the cost and durability of your project is the installation process. Regardless of the materials you choose, the design or size of your project, if a contractor slacks on the base and skips steps during the installation process, your project is at risk of failure.
How will you know if your contractors’ process meets industry standards? What happens if a contractor factors a 6” of base and another contractor quotes you at 12”? What if one contractor says they will use geotextile fabric and the other will not? What about cleanup? Does the price quoted include topsoil and grass seed?
These are all part of a project’s durability and cost. With Hirescapes, our project briefs outline the installation process so contractors are pricing off the same one.
Now that we’ve gone through the major factors you need to think about when you’re planning your hardscape project, you’re ready to compare estimates and find the best contractor. Don't worry, we make it easy at Hirescapes. Click here to tell us about your project and schedule a call with a project consultant.
Keywords: Hirescapes, hardscape, milestones, secured payment, project consultants