Protecting Your Project with a Landscape Design Contract
A landscape design contract is a written agreement that outlines all aspects of a landscaping project, whether for design or for construction.
Written agreements are provided for your protection, as well as the protection of the company designing or installing your landscape project. In the state of California at the time of this writing, any project costing at least $500 must be detailed in a written landscape contract. Each state may have different rules so it is a good idea to check where you live.
The Purpose of a Landscape Agreement
Landscape contracts are designed to communicate details of a proposed project between the client and the company. This agreement will clearly and concisely summarize the job that is expected, the amount of money it will cost, and the time frame it should be completed in to prevent disagreements and disputes during and after the completion of the work. Written contracts save a great deal of time and money in situations where problems can arise.
The Content of a Landscape Contract
A good landscape agreement will contain information regarding every aspect of the project and will cover any questions you may have about the work, the cost of landscaping, or the date of completion. Your landscape design contract should include:
• A description of the work with detailed explanations of each phase of the project. All materials should be listed as well, along with the part number and the manufacturer. Design plans needed to complete the project should also be noted, especially with landscape constructions like swimming pools or deck work.
• A realistic time frame for the completion of the project. A start date should be clearly stated and an estimated finish date should be included as well. Keep in mind that weather and many other outside factors can influence the actual completion date.
• The cost of the project and payment details. The total cost must be disclosed in the landscape design contract and expectations of a down payment should be noted as well. Progressive payments, including the specific amount and the phase of the project when the payment is due, will be outlined and any financing options should be clearly explained.
Besides these core components, a good landscape design agreement will also include a section covering warranties for all appliances and materials used, as well as the landscape project itself.
A cancellation clause is also important and should explain any penalties that may be faced, along with details of local regulations that may govern these contracts. If permits are required to complete your project, the landscape agreement should explain who is responsible for securing the permits, any related fees, and whether these costs are covered in the complete cost.
Legalities of a Landscape Contract
Like any legal agreement, a landscape design contract is only binding if it is signed by the right individuals. Homeowners over the age of 18 must sign the agreement, along with a recognized and licensed official from the firm performing the work, for the contract to take effect. The paperwork must also clearly define the arrangement of services in exchange for the expected monetary compensation.
Types of Landscape Agreements
Because the scope of landscaping is so broad, there are different types of contracts that may be used. A landscape design agreement covers each aspect of a design project, including information on the types of landscape plans to be rendered, copyright and ownership information, and policies regarding changes and revisions to the designs.
A landscape construction contract is used for installations and the actual construction of your landscape design. This type of agreement may be used for all aspects of landscape construction like installing a low-voltage lighting system, drainage, outdoor kitchen, planting or simply laying new sod for a lawn. Although swimming pool construction may require a separate contract in many States.
The details within a construction agreement should pertain to the individual project and should include the above points as well as details regarding the hours company employees are expected on your property, any damages that may occur as a result of the project, and what will be done to repair the damage.
Communication between the property owner and contractors is a must for any successful landscape project. A well-written landscape design contract helps both parties understand the various aspects of the job and offers protection to both sides in the case of disagreements or misunderstandings. Landscape contracts are an essential part of any project involving your time, money, and property.