Monday, April 27, 2009


This is an image of some of the equipment Dana Well Drilling used to drill our well. The only thing we lost was the rhubarb. Not bad considering all that was going on in the yard.

You may choose to hire a professional contractor to repair, build, add, remove or decorate something around your home. Whether working on structures or on landscaping, their actions usually have ramifications upon your outdoor spaces.

Contractors are hired because they possess the talents, time, equipment, or desire that enables them to do jobs we can’t or don’t want to do. Contractors come in all degrees of capabilities, awareness, customer service and business ethics.

1. Capability: Obviously, you want someone who can do the job they were hired to do. Saying that, many people hire someone for other reasons: cheap, a friend, best advertised, friendly, or fast. Know ahead of time if those things are combined with what you want accomplished.

2. Awareness: Assuming a contractor is garden savvy is a huge mistake. Contractors who are totally focused on their job may not realize the flower bed they just drove over took years to accomplish. Talking BEFORE starting allows you both to bring in a “battle plan” to protect your landscaping.
3. Customer Service: A customer should not make a contractor’s job more difficult because you want to micro manage. On the other hand, the contractor is your paid employee and should either conform to your needs or not accept the job. Having that discussion BEFORE you hire allows you both the option of continuing or not.
4. Business Ethics: It seems so obvious that we should never hire someone who lies, cheats, steals, or ignores the basic principles of sound ethics. If you do not investigate and use contractors with poor business ethics, I guarantee you will not be happy with the outcome.

A few hints:

Do not ask or expect a local contractor to do the job for free or cut you a ridiculously low deal simply because you want favors. Taking food off their table to get a job done cheap is not good ethics on your part. Both parties should be happy with the deal.

Ask exactly what and where they will be in your yard. Come to an understanding on what areas need to be moved, need to be covered, need to be avoided and who will do that work.

Never enter an agreement with a new contractor without a written contract that covers both of your responsibilities.

If you have specific needs for your yard, outside the job they are hired to do, you may have to pay more. It adds work, time and material to the project.

Discuss and come to an agreement on your “save the yard” plan before you enter a contract with even the best of contractors. This protects you both from issues that can ruin a good relationship and your precious yard.

Determine before starting the project: If there is unexpected significant damage to your yard, who decides significant, who will repair and who pays. Insist your contractor is insured for injury and damages. Check your home insurance for your protection.

If there are problems or damages, have a rational and calm discussion on how best to make both parties come out whole. A good contractor will want you to be satisfied so you will recommend and rehire. A good contractor will not return or help you if you are not fair in your business ethics.

You and the contractor have an opportunity to enhance both your lives. You can keep a local business financially prosperous and they can help you accomplish your tasks. If you’ve had a good experience with a contractor, make sure you tell others. Word-of-mouth is a contractor’s best advertising and they deserve your backing.

As a side note: Congratulations to 2009 Galva Citizen of the Year: Duane Bell. We have, personally, found the Bell family business to exemplify positive contractor traits. What an asset for this community!

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