02 Jun What to Look for in a Custom Professional landscape lighting designer/builder
By Mike Gambino
You may be able to set up simple light schemes on your own, but there are some things that are better left to the pros.
You can find bits and pieces of a landscape lighting system at your local home improvement store, and you can set up basic low quality devices by yourself. But if your landscape lighting plans are larger, it pays to contact a custom landscape lighting professional (also referred to as a professional landscape lighter designer/builder). Even if you don’t hire one right away, a paid consultation is a good first step. Here, you can see what’s available, assess costs and asks questions.
How important is it to work with a professional installer? It is paramount. Professional custom landscape lighters attend long hours of training and install systems on a regular basis. Even the most sophisticated DIY, handyman or general trades person cannot match the productivity that training and experience provide. … Tell a professional what you’d like to do and let him recommend the best path to get there.
One of the biggest benefits of working with a pro designer installer is that it puts you in a position to benefit from his or her experience. He has probably worked on something similar to what you’re envisioning, and he’ll know what’s needed to get you there. More importantly, the company may know how to sidestep the land mines you’re apt to encounter. Lastly, a professional may offer some unique ideas for “outside the box” solutions you’ve never dreamed of.
I recently consulted with (and was subsequently hired by) a couple who initially didn’t think they needed a custom landscape lighting design build professional involved in their project. They thought their interior designer, landscaper with the help of their electrician could do the job. It wasn’t until things started to unravel mid project did we get the call to pick up the pieces and put together a lighting system the owners were delighted with. Although the intentions were good on the part of the 3 other trades initially involved, the owner felt that it became apparent that they didn’t have the vested interest in the outcome of the final product that a custom dedicated pro would.
Designing and building a landscape lighting system on an estate property or custom home without a professional custom landscape lighter would be like building a house without an architect.
Here are six important things to look for in a custom landscape lighter:
- Listening Skills – Like any good contractor, a quality home custom landscape lighter knows that this is your project and your home. Be sure your lighter is willing to listen to your ideas and suggestions, and that he fully understands your needs, wants and expectations. Be open to new ideas even if they are different and contrary to what you may have had in mind.
- Experience – If you just want a couple of fixtures installed or a simple timer, there’s nothing wrong with the “I know a guy” recommendation. However, a custom landscape lighting system is a much bigger proposition, and that’s why the Custom landscape lighting Designer builder exists. Ask the custom landscape lighting pro you’re evaluating how many projects similar to yours they have completed. Ask how current he is with the newest technology such as Led’s.
- References – You wouldn’t hire an employee without first checking their references, so don’t make that mistake when hiring a custom landscape lighting pro. Ask to see your prospective contractor’s portfolio and have them walk you through a similar project the company has worked on. Be sure to visit their website and look for photo galleries.
- Support – When you hire a professional designer/installer, make sure he is prepared to stand behind the work. Programming that controller, understanding its features and quirks, teaching you how to use it and supporting you if it fails is how a custom landscape lighting pro earns his keep.
- Maintenance– On going service will be needed for a landscape lighting system, yes LED lighting systems too. Does the prospective lighter have a dedicated maintenance and service crew and do they offer service and maintenance programs outside of the warranty period.
- Warranty– Who is responsible for handling warranty claims? Do the manufacturer/s of the lighting products have a track record for honoring their warranty claims? Many generic products that are being used in the landscape today have no markings or manufacturer name on the product itself so you the homeowner is on the hook in the event that the original lighter does a disappearing act and are left to figure things out for yourself.
Watch for next week’s article where I will explain how to get the most out of your landscape lighting project and suggestions for working together with your custom landscape lighting pro to achieve that.
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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