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How to Choose a Contractor?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by thomkirby, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. thomkirby

    thomkirby LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Thanks to all the Contractors and Vendors in the forum. I have been reading this forum for several months trying to get an education on professional outdoor lighting. I am now at the stage of knowing WHERE I would want lights at a very basic design. But trying to do it as a DIY is feasible but would prefer to hire that expertise. So how should I rate contractors that I get quotes from given the range of products and skills being offered?
    I have one contractor that has a set minimum (10-lights) but quoting using 'Unique' TFs (I doubted this when the salesperson tried to describe details) and Yardbright lights. Another uses the 'Unique' TF but the Yardbright lights as they are the same as the 'Unique' brand but they do use the Superflex wire. And the last contractor is using only FX brand which is sold by Ewing.

    So given the pro's view, What dictates how a homeowner can choose a 'Pro' contractor? What equipment offerings mean more in the long run?

    Sidenote: I am putting down the gray PVC conduit to the 4 zones in the yard. This should help reduce the trenching to lay the lines.

    And hope this question does not offend the forum. Thanks all for any input.:confused:

  2. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Thom this seems to be a question alot of homeowners battle. For starters you want to see the designer/installers work and a list of refferances. This should be provided without you even having to ask for it in my opinion. Ask for residences in your area that contractor has illuminated.

    Unique and FX are both good brands. No idea on Yard lights but it sounds like that contractor might be looking to increase profit margins or is racing to the bottom. I will tell you that a bad installer can take the best lights in the world and you will end up with a bad system. My wife and I have been renovating and adding on to our home and have been forced to select contractors. Case in point:

    Glass company came out yesterday to give an estimate on a new frameless shower door. Guy dressed neatly but driving an older truck. Truck was clean and organized and he had the answers we were looking for as well as a picture book showing his work. His price was about $1200. Last week another guy told me to email him the measurments...didnt seem interested in coming out to look. Shot me a price of $985 but also had no pictures of his work. I am going with the guy who is $1200 because I am confident in him. He also told me up front if he came out and we did not use him there would be a $25 estimate fee. I just felt more comfortable with this man.

    Check out this link and it might answer most of your questions.

    http://gambinolighting.com/pdf_articles/How to hire an outdoor lighting design.pdf

    Rememeber not to shop on price alone. Also keep in mind sometimes an overly involved or "micor managing" homeowner can hinder a real pro. Find someone knowledgable and run with em. On the conduits it can either be a help or a waste of time . Make sure they are sized properly that will allow a easy pull and room for expansion. Hope this helps some.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  3. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I would encourage you to ask each of the prospective contractors to see a portfolio of their work and also for at least 3 client references. Make sure you follow up on the references. I would also ask to go and see a lighting system that the contractor has recently installed in your area.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  5. thomkirby

    thomkirby LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Solid advise from each of the responses, the proof is always in the final results. I am just a bit cautious on the 'YardBright' brand since have not see in my searches on the internet except their site. I have now yet to get the latest quotes but at least have had three site visits to scope out the job. I'll be back soon with what route I am taking but per forum policy no prices:rolleyes:

    Thanks all,

  6. TXNSLighting

    TXNSLighting LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 6,463

    Yeh Havent heard of Yard bright lights..They dont sound very professional. Hurry up and get 10 posts so you can PM. Im 4 hours away from you, and can prob assist you in this.

    Ok correction, i just found it. Its a malibuesk lighting system. DO NOT use these contractors. Shoot me an email: texasnightscapes at hotmail.com Ill get you in touch with a quality contractor.
  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180


    Another good piece of advice is once you find a contractor your comfortable with. Dont play him against the others. We had a job all set up then they decided to get a quote on Merc Vapors from someone else. All the other company was doing was Mercury vapors and changing out the corner flood lights on the home. Not very dramatic.

    I came in with a design of 53 fixtures for just the front. Twice the price. They tried to play what I was doing off what the other company had proposed and I didnt appreciate them asking me to cut my price in half just because the 8 merc vapors the other company was doing cost less. The project is still up in the air but I have collected my consultation and design fees.

    I would also not advise asking a real pro installer to cut costs on materials or go with the design of someone who didnt know what they were doing. This will ultimatly just lead to you being unhappy with your project.
  8. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I just looked at Yard Bright Lights online... I would NOT go with this line of product. This is 100% ubiquitous Chinese crapola. The fixtures will not stand the test of time, are poorly built and poorly designed. This product is only slighty better than most retail kit product.

    You can and should do better IMO.


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