Always get agreements in writing!
Landscape projects can be expensive and many budgets are stretched and increased as unforeseen expenses and new ideas evolve.
When obtaining an estimate or quote for your landscape project be sure that you fully understand what it is you are getting for your money.
In the landscaping business, costs can differ wildly. For example, the size and cost of plants can vary by several hundred percent, and a deck built with nails will be significantly cheaper than one built with brass screws.
So make sure that both you and the other party are very clear on the details of your agreement.
Quotes and Estimates Information From the Ministry of Consumer Affairs http://www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/
An estimate is a price the seller thinks the work will cost, based on their past experience in that kind of work. It is not a firm offer to do the job for that price.
A quote is an offer to do a job for a certain price.
Estimates are useful if you have never had to buy that type of service or product before and you want a ballpark figure of how much you are likely to be charged – eg, getting a tap washer replaced or having a driveway laid.
The seller must use reasonable skill to provide the estimated price so that your decision to use the seller is based on sound information,
If you get an estimate and you decide to use that particular seller, make it clear before the work starts that you want to be informed if the final price is going to be hiqher than the estimate. If you can, get their agreement to do this in writing. Asking to be informed of cost increases will give you the opportunity to cancel the work before it costs you more than expected.
Once you have an estimate, and the work is likely to cost a lot – eg, home renovations or building a fence – you should ask for the price to be fixed by getting a quote.
If you accept a quote, the seller has to do the work for that price. In most cases, it is best to ask for quotes in writing. Then, if a problem arises you will have a record of what was agreed to.
A written quote should show:
• what work is to be done
• start and finish dates
• the hourly rate
• the cost for materials
• how long the quote is good for.
The costs of materials, hourly rate, etc will change over time. It is reasonable to agree that a quote is only good for a set period of time.
How do I qet a quote?
Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding out the standard price. But, when a seller has to look at the job to work out the cost, you should get a written quote. For example, plumbers will need to see where the drains are and how much digging is needed to reach them, before they can say how much it will cost to clear a blocked drain. Find out if they charge for making a quote.
• Decide what you want done, what the finished job should look like or do, the quality you expect, and when the work is to be completed. Write the details down so you can explain them clearly.
• Contact at least three sellers and ask them to give you a quote in writing. This will give you several prices to choose from.
• Give each seller the same information so that all the quotes are based on doing the same work and using the same materials. If you make any later changes to what you want, tell each seller so they can change their quotes.
• Decide which quote you will accept and tell the successful seller. You do not have to tell the others who you chose, nor how much the other quotes were for.
Before you accept a quote which is much lower than the others check that they understood the quality of work and materials you want.
• If you don’t understand a quote ask for help from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau.