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Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing
Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing

The importance of hiring a licensed landscape contractor when doing outdoor projects has been a hot topic of discussion in the industry. Many homeowners know the importance of seeking a licensed, reputable and experienced contractor when having a remodeling project done on their home, but the same level of vetting is not considered when approaching an outdoor project. `

Chris Demato, owner of Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing, says this can be a big mistake for a number of reasons. House & Home spoke with him about the risks associated with companies that are not properly licensed, and what it means to maintain his own reputation in the industry. `

What reasons would a contractor have for not being licensed? `
First, it could be that they do not have insurance. This is a risk, because if an accident or mistake occurs while on the job, the homeowner could face a tremendous amount of money in insurance premiums and face a potential lawsuit. Second, prior complaints and issues related to consumer affairs could prevent them from getting a license, and third, they might have a felony on their record. All of these are not good for homeowners. `

With these risks, why would a homeowner even consider someone who is unlicensed?
Price is most often the reason a customer would hire an unlicensed contractor, but beware that a lower price may end up costing a lot more than the higher price down  the road. Did you ever wonder why estimates could have such a large range in cost? Sometimes it could be as simple as the contractors just charge differently, but more times than not it’s because the process in doing the job can be very different.  `

For example, when doing patios or steps, the excavation process is an integral part of the project being done correctly. If one contractor is excavating 36 inches for steps and the other contractor is excavating 6 to 8 inches you can imagine the difference the time of the project will take. With fencing, they could cut their time in half by not digging the proper depth or installing the proper amount of cement for fence posts. When doing plantings, most landscape contractors will offer a   one-year guarantee. We stand behind our guarantees, but when dealing with an unlicensed contractor it is very likely they can screen their calls or change their phone numbers because, again, they have nothing to lose! `

Unlicensed contractors are more likely to cut corners because they will get away with it. These shortcuts will result in far greater expense down the road to the customer. The adage “you get what you pay for” certainly  applies. `

What is involved with being a licensed landscaping contractor, such as yourself?
When dealing with a licensed contractor you can have a sense of security knowing that the state does a thorough background check and knows who and where this company or person resides. Most licensed companies will give guarantees and warranties and will have   a lot more to lose if they do not honor these guarantees—particularly their license. We have done so many patio, step and plant repairs and replacements due to shoddy work and the customer not being able to track down the unlicensed contractor who did the work after the fact. `

What is one lesson homeowners should take away from this topic? `
I heard a contractor of 40 years speaking at a seminar and he made the point that he had the same phone number for 40 years. I think this speaks volumes, which is about stability. I am proud to say we have had the same phone number for over 30 years. We have honored and stood behind our work! I know many landscape companies in the area that have changed names several times over the years. You have to ask yourself why? We have built a large client base so why would I ever want to walk away from that potential?

Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing
Belle Mead, N.J. | (732) 873-6780 | RockBottomLandscaping.net

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 21, Issue 3 (October 2020). 
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here
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