07 Jun Selecting A Design/Build Specialist For Your Custom LED Landscape Lighting Project
By Mike Gambino
No Two Landscape Lighting Design Build Specialists are Alike!
If you live in the los Angeles, California area, naturally we want you to consider Gambino Landscape Lighting for your custom LED Landscape Lighting project. We specialize in the design, installation and maintenance of custom LED Landscape Lighting systems for both residential and commercial applications. If you live outside the Los Angeles metropolitan area and are seeking a source for a custom Landscape Lighting System, here are a few tips to help you select a specialized company:
Make sure the specialist company carries insurance that covers on-site work. Almost all retail stores carry liability insurance, but most retail liability insurance policies do not cover work done off-premises. Many stores fail to inform their insurance company that they are doing this type of work until they have to file a claim. It is surprising how many retail stores THINK they’re covered just because they carry insurance. If they can provide you with a certificate of insurance for the installation that shows all parties to be listed as additional insured, they’re covered.
You can ask for references, but they may mean very little. While references may establish that a company is honest, they mean very little unless you can see their work. Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Most custom installations are in private gated and or walled residences and the chances are good you’ll never see them. Anyone can come up with references. Instead of references, ask to see a portfolio. If the company is in the business of installing custom LED landscape lighting, they’ll have a good portfolio with photographs of their work. If they don’t have a portfolio, then they don’t do many custom installations or they aren’t very proud of their work.
Do they primarily operate a landscaping or electrical contracting business? If so, do they use a separate staff for installation and maintenance work? Hiring a company that sidelines in landscape lighting design/build might be convenient if you’ve hired them to install your landscaping or electrical work inside the home, but if their staff and experience is limited, will the company have the time and resources to devote full-time to your project? It is our firm opinion that the best company to do customized LED landscape lighting design/ installations is one that specializes in that field.
Get no more than three bids on your landscape lighting project. If you live in or near a large city, this will be easier. If you don’t have several large specialized landscape lighting businesses near you, and you can’t find a decent source, you may have to consider paying additional money to hire a company outside your area. Interview each company and ask a lot of questions. Ask the same questions of each company representative. Do not have all of the representatives from different companies present at the same time. This leads to chaos. Unless you supply exact specifications to the bidders, expect major differences in the sizes, types, brands and prices of equipment listed in each quotation and insist on being able to physical inspect fixture samples.
Even if you don’t know much about landscape lighting, you can usually tell if someone else knows their own subject. Once you’ve received all of the bids on a project, black out the prices and request that each bidder critique the other bids and explain why they want to use the equipment and materials they quoted. You’ll learn a lot about landscape lighting equipment, and you’ll also get a feel for how patient and thorough each company is in educating you, the consumer. There is no logical reason why a company would refuse to do this unless they aren’t sure of themselves.
A custom landscape lighting system is not a commodity like a used car! The net-profit on custom landscape lighting work is what keeps that specialist company in business and able to service your system keeping it like new long into the future. It is important to hire a company who you feel you can build a relationship with. There is not a lot of room for negotiation. If a company is willing to make major price cuts on the equipment or their labor, something is probably wrong. Unless the lighting system will have major portfolio value (such as a written endorsement from a famous person or company), or it is in a high-profile public area, there is little reason to take a loss in profit. Good landscape lighting specialist companies are always busy. An landscape lighting business that is willing to do so may be new in the business, inexperienced, or just plain desperate.
Make sure their guarantees cover labor for a certain period of time. Many landscape lighting companies will only cover manufacturer’s warranties. They’ll replace a piece of defective equipment with no charge for materials, but will charge you for the labor to remove and re-install the equipment. Make sure they will provide “loaner” products so you don’t have dark areas in your landscape waiting for replacement parts or repairs. Make sure the install all of their power cable inside of rigid electrical conduit and bury underground a minimum of 4-6″ deep to protect and help prevent wire damage.
If you are planning on using the company that installs your landscape lighting to provide on-going maintenance services, make sure they have the reputation, reliability, staff and resources to do so. Here is where references will work.
As a minimum, they should:
1) Have a staff of at least three experienced people who do outside landscape lighting work.
2) Offer good guarantees, both for their work and for products.
3) Offer a after hour emergency service (garden parties can’t wait)
Trying to choose a landscape lighting company?
Ask yourself these twelve questions:
- Are they fully insured for on-site work?
- Will they provide you with certification?
- Can they show you photographs of their work?
- Are their quotations complete and do they include everything?
- Is the landscape lighting equipment they install of the highest quality?
- Do they have a parts and labor warranty for their installation?
- Do they install power cable inside of rigid electrical conduit?
- Do they have a large experienced staff to ensure good service after the sale?
- Do they guarantee their landscape lighting maintenance work?
- Can they deliver materials and parts to your door on demand?
- If you have a problem, will they come to you or will you have to go to them?
- Are they available for emergencies after regular business hours?
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 29 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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