28 Apr 10 Questions to ask your Contractor about Lighting System Construction & Lighting Designs before you invite them onto your property
By Mike Gambino
1. Are you a licensed landscape contractor that specializes in system construction and lighting design and may I please see a copy of your contractor’s license?
Most landscape lighting designers have a copy of their landscape contractors license in their design portfolio or have their contractor identification card in their wallet and should be eager to show it off. Unlicensed lighting system construction activity happens frequently and puts both yourself and the alleged contractor at risk. Contracting without a license is a misdemeanor offense, and anyone who does so is subject to serious penalties including jail time.
It is also a misdemeanor for a landscape lighting system contractor to advertise as such in a classification other than that for which he is specifically licensed, although a licensed general engineering or general building contractor may advertise as a general contractor. Additionally, certified contractor programs promoted by landscape lighting industry association and manufactures, unfortunately DO NOT require a contractor’s license to give out certifications. So don’t drop your guard just because you because of a “certified contractor program“!
A licensed landscape lighting construction contractor who contracts with or aids an unlicensed person, or allows an unlicensed person to use his contractor’s license, is subject to a citation from the Registrar and a civil penalty of up to $15,000. The Contractors State License Board is your only defense against the fly by night landscape lighting construction contractors.
2. What is your guarantee on your lighting system construction workmanship?
The California State Law is to guarantee all workmanship and materials for one year. Once again, the California State Board is your only defense. If you contract with an unlicensed landscaper in order to save money on your investment with your lighting design or lighting system construction and run into trouble with workmanship issues, you may be out of luck and will be looking at spending more money than you saved to fix your lighting system construction problem(s).
3. After I sign a landscape lighting design contract for construction and have second thoughts, what are my rights?
You do have rights! California’s State Law requires landscape lighting construction contractors to offer Notice of Cancellation within three days for a full refund. The buyer in a home solicitation contract has the right to cancel the contract at any time prior to midnight of the third business day when the signing of the landscape lighting design contract occurs on the buyers property.
Business days, in this case, include all calendar days except Sundays and legal holidays. LEGALLY, The home solicitation contract MUST include a Notice of Cancellation form and the following statement: “You, the buyer, may cancel this transaction at any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of this transaction.”
Ask to see the landscape lighting construction contractor’s notice of cancellation form for an explanation of this right. Once a home solicitation contract has been legally cancelled, the landscape lighting construction contractor is required to return any payments received IN FULL WITHIN TEN DAYS following the cancellation of the contract.
4. Do you have proof of your Worker’s Compensation and General Liability Insurance?
Protect yourself against lawsuits. Be sure the contractor you are using to customize a landscape lighting design for you is properly insured. Not only is it against the law in the state of California to work without workers compensation insurance, but also if any one of their employees or day laborers is injured on your property and is not covered by the landscape lighting construction contractors workers compensation insurance, believe it or not that employee may collect compensation for injuries from YOUR Homeowners Insurance.
Beware: If you choose a contractor approved by a “Certified Contractor Program” promoted by a landscape lighting industry association or manufacturing company, you should know that proof of insurance wasn’t one of the requirements of the certification process and that you will need to request proof of insurance to protect yourself.
5. How long will this landscape lighting construction project take you to complete?
A landscape lighting construction specialist that runs a full time landscape lighting construction crew, specializing in Low Voltage LED landscape lighting systems, will complete your project in the least amount of time possible.
Yes, in the least amount of time possible and you can expect little to no disturbance to your existing landscape. You can expect the highest quality workmanship and continued customer service from a landscape lighting construction specialist that you have posed these questions to.
6. Will my landscape lighting system include wiring inside conduit pipe and buried 6″ underground?
This question is important so that you may understand your contractor’s landscape lighting system construction techniques. Unfortunately, we still have lots of landscape lighting construction contractors using corner cutting philosophies for their lighting designs. These contractors may try to convince you that conduit is not necessary are will be more labor intensive to install, increase the cost of your project and cause unnecessary disruption to your landscaping.
How nice of them! However the benefits of installing the electrical wiring for your lighting system inside of rigid conduit during landscape lighting construction far outweigh any of the downsides.. A properly designed landscape lighting system by a landscape lighting construction specialist will be constructed with only the highest quality components and installation techniques.
Remember, your landscape lighting should be electrically balanced, low maintenance, and be capable of being economically operated from dusk to dawn every day!
7. In your lighting design to you plan to use 12 volt LED lamps and brass and copper fixtures?
120 volt and 12 volt Halogen lighting are the preferred system construction methods of the PAST!
Not only does 120 volt lighting add cost to your landscape lighting construction project and take longer to install, but it is more often than not, far from natural looking, unyielding to future expansion, and if not properly installed can be dangerous to those who come in contact with it. It will also be a burden to your properties electrical system and electrical costs to operate will be high. Not the best decision for your landscape lighting system design.
I hope we have made the choice crystal clear as to what the fixture materials will be constructed of if you read through the archives of this blog. When constructing landscape lighting systems any landscape lighting construction specialist should use the highest quality cast brass or copper lighting fixtures that will be impervious to the elements. So don’t be afraid to ask what materials they will be using in your landscape lighting system design and don’t sacrifice and be sorry when you accept anything less.
8. Do you have a design portfolio and lighting construction testimonials?
A landscape lighting design portfolio is a nice way for you to get a look at some of their work, presumable their best, so let’s hope you fall in love with what you see! If you like what you see in print ask if the photos are of the contractors work or did they borrow the photos from their manufacturer. Trust me it happens, all the time! We run across websites with landscape lighting photo galleries that are filled with other contractors work! Ask the contractor if you can visit some of their work in person! Yes, a picture speaks a thousand words but standing in front of one of these landscape lighting contractors systems should seal the deal or be a deal breaker. We want you to make the right decision.
9. Do you charge for design consultations or give FREE landscape lighting construction estimates?
Free estimates for landscape lighting construction may be available for free, however a good landscape lighting design consultant will charge for their time if you ask them to come to your home. In some cases this landscape lighting design fee should be rebated back into the contract price for your custom landscape lighting system construction.
Licensed contractors that specialize in landscape lighting construction are in popular demand. If they offered free lighting design consultations, serious tire kickers could detain them for hours! Ultimately, a landscape lighting designer that offers FREE lighting design consultations would have to compensate themselves for time lost in the next signed landscape lighting construction contract, quite possibly yours!
Landscape lighting Design consultation fees typically range from $100.00 to $150.00 and are usually accompanied by contract review, possible landscape lighting construction dates, a firm price for your landscape lighting system, a portfolio/testimonial, and a professional presentation.
10. As a landscape contractor do you specialize in landscape lighting and have a background in lighting design? On an average, how many landscape lighting systems do you build in a year?
A landscape contractor’s license is one of the best licenses to obtain, because it covers such a wide range of construction. However, a landscape contractor that specializes in one field should be held in high regards. You’ll find landscapers nowadays specializing in custom tree trimming, irrigation & sod installation, and even landscape lighting design and construction.
You will be in a much better condition contracting with a landscape lighting designer that understands all the landscape and electrical aspects in general. Consider hiring the landscape and light expert – turned landscape lighting system builder – turned California Landscape Contractor over the Landscape Contractor turned landscape lighting system builder period! Think about it!
Let’s not mistake quantity for quality, landscape contractor specializing in landscape lighting system construction and lighting design with a dynamic dedicated lighting system construction crew, on an average builds more landscape lighting systems in one month than other landscape contractors build in one year!
Who would you rather have build your, one of a kind landscape lighting system? A California Landscape Contractor who builds one or two systems a year specializing in many fields (a jack of all trades and master of what?) or a landscape lighting construction specialist that eats, sleeps, lives, and breathes landscape lighting system construction and lighting design 7 days a week!
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 20 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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