17 Feb Don’t be left out in the Dark Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Having a landscape lighting system Built
By Mike Gambino
You’ve heard the horror stories. Someone hires an unqualified landscape lighting contractor, and a nightmarish ordeal begins. The contractor turned out to be bad. The construction is shoddy. The project gets delayed for all sorts of reasons, leaving the homeowner’s backyard in an unfinished state for months on end.
It’s enough to scare anyone away from building a landscape lighting system, right?
Fortunately, the nightmare scenarios don’t happen too often. However, people do make costly mistakes when building a landscape lighting system. Which isn’t surprising, considering it’s something most folks only do on occasion. Here are some of the biggest mistakes to watch out for.
- Not looking hard enough for a landscape lighting designer builder
You can head off most problems by hiring a competent experienced quality landscape lighting designer builder. Of course, it can be a lot of work to track down landscape lighting companies, check references, compare offers, and everything else that’s part of doing your due diligence. But finding the right people for the job makes your life so much easier that it’s well worth the effort. Hiring the right company is the single most important thing you will do that will determine the level of success or failure of your project.
- Bargain hunting
There’s a fine line between sticking to a budget and cutting corners. Hiring the cheapest builder and settling for subpar materials always costs you more money in the long run. Rather than falling for too-good-to-be-true offers, be realistic and build the highest quality landscape lighting system you can afford.
If you’ve hired a reputable builder, you shouldn’t have to look over their shoulder while they do their work. It’s okay to ask questions, especially if you have concerns about how things are going. But nitpicking is just going to stress you out and strain your relationship with your builder.
- Assuming the landscape lighting system builder knows best
On the other hand, don’t automatically defer to the builder’s opinion all the time, especially when it comes to your lighting system design. The builder knows about building landscape lighting, but only you know what kind of lighting you want- Dramatic, understated or something in between. Even a good builder can have biases toward particular products and features, and many will try to sell you upgrades and add-ons you don’t need.
- Not reading the fine print
It’s not fun, but there are a couple of cases where you really need to read and understand some fine print. One is with the contract you sign with the builder, particularly the part about the payment schedule (don’t pay for work before it’s done). The second is with the warranties that come with the products you’re considering for your lighting system.
- Using products made of any material other than stainless steel, brass and copper and using inferior connections
It sounds like a great idea to save money, but using lighting products made of aluminum, composite (plastic), steel or any other ferrous metals is a mistake for many people. Rust, deterioration, water intrusion, breakage are all problems that using lower quality materials will bring. Wire connections are another very important aspect of a landscape lighting system. Loose connections or those that get wet cause degradation and system failure. Repairs and replacements can be expensive. Do it right the first and only time by using the best designer installer who recommends and employs the highest quality build techniques and materials available.
- Not having power cable installed inside of protective rigid conduit
It may be cheaper to have your contractor place direct bury cable in the same trenches along with the sprinkler pipe however this is never the best way to build a low voltage landscape lighting system. Your system is only as strong as its weakest link and not having cable installed inside of conduit leaves it vulnerable to future damage, downtime and expensive repairs down the road.
- Not installing enough fixtures
You’re paying so much for landscaping, concrete and stone work, or a swimming pool that it might be tempting to skimp on the number of fixtures, or the quality of the materials. However, most people do not realize that every fixture has its place like pieces of a puzzle. When there are pieces missing the property will tend to look spotty or unfinished. If you don’t recognize how important the landscape lighting is going to be for your family, you could be facing a sooner-than-expected renovation.
- Installing a high voltage instead of a low voltage lighting system
A choice will have to be made to either go with a low voltage or a high voltage (same current that most of your home operates on) system. Choose the latter, which costs more, is less safe, and probably won’t get nearly as much use because it will cost more in electrical costs to operate. On top of all that, a high voltage system will require costly and time consuming city permits and intrusive digging to bury conduit deeper than would be required for a low voltage lighting system. This more extensive digging can lead to more disruption or damage to existing landscapes.
- Underestimating the size of the project
Though horror stories may be uncommon, building a quality landscape lighting system is always an underestimated home improvement on the behalf of the owner. Landscape Lighting is a luxury amenity and not in the reach of most property owners. Costs to install a system are high then there is the ongoing maintenance and the increase in electrical usage which will raise utility bills. Understanding that it’s going to cost more than you had most probably anticipated can help you handle it better and enjoy the beauty safety and security enhancements that a well designed landscape lighting system will bring.
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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