* Use a WRITTEN CONTRACT All landscape projects require, by law, a written contract. This protects you and the contractor in case of dispute. One of the biggest causes of problems in the landscaping industry is lack of contract(no contract), a poor contract or a contract that has not been read. put all agreements in writing.
* A contract needs to include:
o Landscape business name, address, phone number and LCB number.
o Consumers name and address
o Address of Job site
o A list of plant materials used, their size, quantity (this can be referenced back to the plan)
o General description of the work to be performed
o Estimated time for completion and completion date
o Description of guarantee. If there is no guarantee, this needs to be stated.
o Signatures of both parties
o Statement that the business is licensed with the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board and the LCB´s address and phone number.
o Any special requirements that you and the contractor decide on.
* Make all changes to the contract IN WRITING. If you change your mind or if the contractor decides there is a better or different way to do something, you decide to add or subtract portions of the work, do it in writing. Make sure the costs associated with the change are included and that you and the contractor sign the "change order".
* Pay in installments.
o Legitimate contractors are entitled to a down-payment to "cement" the contract. Usually this is from a 25 to 35% of the total contract price. It is important to find the "balance" where the contractor has enough money to buy the materials necessary to start the project but you retain enough money to ensure satisfactory completion. Do not let your payments get ahead of the work completed. You can request from your contractor invoices that determine the percentage completion on a job which allows you to determine the progress of the project. Make your final payment when the job is complete and you are satisfied with the work.
* Avoid Liens-Right to Lien Notice: Homeowners are ultimately responsible for payments to subcontractors and suppliers even if they have paid their licensed landscaping business in full. Do not let your landscaping start until you receive an "Information Notice to Owner about Construction Liens" This explains lines and how to protect yourself. Read it carefully and follow its advice.