10 Feb 5 Important Questions to Ask a Prospective Landscape Lighting System Design Builder
By Mike Gambino
If you want great landscape lighting, you’d better make sure you hire a great landscape lighting designer builder. Unfortunately, when it comes to local contractors there isn’t always a lot of information to go on. That’s why it’s so important to ask the builder the right questions during your first meetings.
But what to ask? By the time you’re ready to talk to builders, you probably already have dozens of questions in mind. By all means, jot them down and ask them of each and every builder you meet with, so you can make an accurate side-by-side comparison.
Here are five questions you should make sure are on your list. If you’re not asking these, you might be missing crucial information that could determine whether your lighting project goes off without a hitch, or becomes a source of numerous headaches.
- What’s your experience?
Obviously, you want to know how long the company has been in business, and how long it’s been under current ownership and management. But even more importantly, you want to know how much experience they have installing the type of landscape lighting you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a high performance LED system, you wouldn’t necessarily want someone who has done mostly halogen lighting. The same goes for any feature you want that’s not standard and/or may be complicated to install. If at all possible, you want someone who has done it before and this is not something they will be experimenting with.
- Who’s in charge?
The person you speak with during your initial meetings may not be the same person in charge of installation. You’ll want to know who will be running things onsite, how long they’ve been with the company, and what their level of experience is. After all, what does the company’s reputation matter if they’re putting an inexperienced contractor in charge of your project?
- Can I see some of your work?
Any reputable landscape lighting designer builder should be able to give you a list of completed project addresses. They should also have a portfolio book and extensive online photo gallery that you can peruse at your leisure to get a feel if the prospective builder’s style is compatible with the type of lighting you want for your property. Visiting a project at night in person is better than photos, as you can actually see the completed lighting system. Better yet, ask to visit an installation in progress to see how the builder works.
- What’s the schedule?
One of the most important things to find out is how soon the builder can start. Lighting designer builders that are in demand may have their schedules fill up quickly in the spring and summer, which could force you to speed up your decision-making process. Of course, you’ll also want to know how long installation is expected to last, along with a timeline of the different project milestones. It’s normal for things to change in large and small ways as the project progresses, but you’ll want to make sure that the initial plan at least works for your timeline.
- Can you explain… ?
Before you interview a builder, you should take a little time to research the company, including their standing with the state contractors license board. If you come across anything that concerns you, ask the builder about it and give them a chance to explain. Keep in mind that it’s not unusual for companies that have been around for a long time to have a few unhappy customers. The important thing is to find out if the customer had a legitimate beef, and if so, what the builder did to try and make things right.
This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 26 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to www.Gambinolighting.com . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .
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