10 Jan Landscape lighting system builders- What’s The Difference?
By Mike Gambino
When you select a landscape lighting system builder for your home or your business, one of the decisions you will make is what kind of builder you want to work with. By that I mean, what business model approach do you prefer?
For simplicity, I will divide systems builders into two main categories:
- The Full Service landscape lighting specialist. This is a custom landscape lighting system builder with a business model that includes a comprehensive building approach, meaning that they do everything necessary to build your landscape lighting system. Most people would expect this, but let’s explore this a little further. A comprehensive approach includes developing the site plan, doing the trenching to bury the conduit and cable, bringing in the power sources to where they are needed to locate transformers, placing and installing the fixtures and connecting them to the power cable, load balancing so all lamps operate at the proper voltages, and so on. This business model is the traditional model that most people who value specialized trades expect.
The Full Service landscape lighting system builder will quote prices that includes the entire system package, in the Los Angeles area that will typically range from $425 to $500 per fixture installed, depending upon your property size and complexity of installation. A custom system built with a number of quality upgrades or extras can easily cost $10,000 and much more. Having built landscape lighting systems in the area for more than 30 years, I can tell you that these numbers are realistic. Be on your guard if someone tries to sell you a bill of goods at some massive discount while claiming to be a full service builder.
- The Discount system Builder. A discount lighting system builder, although they would not necessarily call themselves discount builders, are not comprehensive builders. They typically have a small number of completed systems that they build over and over again usually as part of and along with the installation of landscaping, and they do not include the full range of services and construction mentioned above. They can sometimes offer lower labor rates as do not install conduit and they can install power cable unprotected inside the same trenches along with irrigation systems. This may or may not be an advantage. This type of system builder may perform a lot of the work themselves, or have subcontractors perform the work for them. Often these types of builders will not return to service the system and you will be on your own if there are any issues that crop up over time. There may not be anything wrong with this business model, provided you understand what you are getting or not getting when you sign the contract and this is what suits your needs. Many builders are either not capable or not willing to offer after care maintenance service on their systems. Another caveat to consider when considering this type of builder is they typically use lower cost aluminum or plastic fixtures that don’t stand the test of time. They can come in cheaper and look appealing on paper but you are on your own because they are not going to be around when things go south.
Full disclosure is critical with the discount builder, because you have to add the cost of what they are not going to do for you at the contract price to arrive at your true total cost for the system. You need to be able to intelligently figure this out if you are trying to decide which kind of business model to go with. In other words, compare apples with apples when you are using cost per fixture to decide which builder to choose.
I would recommend that if you are still undecided or need more information to make a fully informed decision, discuss your specific plans with each builder in person, ask about their fixtures and what they include and don’t include in their contract price. You should take this approach anyway. Neither business model is right or wrong, but only one of these business models is ideally suited for you and for your landscape lighting system needs.
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 30 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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