Over a year ago, I posted a photo of our dead front yard. We were planning on having our son help us dig everything up and start fresh, but his work and soccer schedule was pretty full, and before long the rains came and we postponed the work.
Last spring, we decided to call a landscaper acquaintance of ours and get an estimate on how much it would cost to hire someone to do the work we had in mind. Well, we went back and forth with that--the first estimate came in under our budget, so we talked about doing a couple other things, and that came in over our budget. I can't remember what happened after that, but again we postponed the work.
Now we're looking at getting it done again, and we're a bit more serious this time. Hubby went to a home and garden show about a month ago and came home with information from several landscapers. He called three companies and had them out to our house to look at the space and talk about what we had in mind, telling them what our budget was for the job. Each of the three companies was to come back and meet with both of us to discuss what they would do and how much it would cost.
The first company was to come over and meet with us this past Friday night at 7 p.m. Work, errands, bad weather, and traffic prevented me from getting home until 7:05. I arrived to find they had come early, made their presentation to Hubby, and left. Their estimate was $800 over our budget.
The second guy--the president of his company--was to come over Saturday between 1 and 1:30 p.m. He called to say he had another stop to make, and he arrived at 2 p.m. He was wearing a button down shirt that was unbuttoned one button too many, Levis, and dress shoes. He kept calling us "you guys." When talking about workers' compensation insurance, he talked about "the men" that made up his crew. All these things--and a few others--bugged me, but at least his plan for our yard was a little more workable; still, he still came in at about $400 over budget. Well, actually it was $1,400 over budget, but he said he'd knock $1,000 off the price. Seriously, I felt like I was buying a car from Mr. Slick; not getting a front yard landscaped.
I think the third company comes over tomorrow night with their proposal, and I believe this is a husband and wife team. We'll see what they have in mind.
The two most important criteria for our landscaping is (1) that it be low maintenance and (2) that it be within our budget. We would like a small patio outside the front door, and we have about half the bricks that would be required. There's a natural drainage depression that will require something--we thought perhaps a dry creek bed, but we're open to ideas--we aren't looking to turn it into a "feature," but we need to make sure water can run off.
It puzzles me that in this economy, companies aren't making more of an effort to satisfy their customers' needs. Why did neither of the first two companies arrive to meet with us when they said they would? Why did they both come with plans that were over our budget? And yes, I can understand that when they priced out what they believed we wanted done, the work may have been more expensive than we planned, but why didn't they come with ideas for changes that might better fit our budget?
The second guy, Mr. Slick, advised us to book the job quickly because his company is starting to get busy with all the leads they picked up from the home and garden show, so maybe the economy isn't affecting him. Maybe it's not as bad out there as everyone tells us. But I know our pocketbook has been affected, and I'm a bit leary of even spending this money now to have the work done, let alone committing to go over our budget.
I hope this third company has something better to offer us. If not, then we'll need to look at other alternatives. Have you had any similar experiences? Hired a landscaper? Found companies more appreciative of your business? I'd be interested in any tips and suggestions you may have.