Landscape contractors work from outdoor architectural or design plans to build and install hardscaping or softscaping for the client, much as a general contractor uses architectural designs to build a house. Landscape contractors are experts in soil drainage, grading, hardscaping (installing concrete paths and retaining wall, building ponds, etc.), and planting. They have heavy equipment such as excavators and tractors to prepare the land as needed.
Some landscape contractors are also landscape architects or landscape designers. The titles can be compared with those in home construction: A building or landscape architect must earn a specialized architecture degree and pass an exam to have a license. A designer — whether an interior designer or a landscape designer — does not usually require a license to work. Landscape contractors are not required by law to work from plans designed by a landscape architect, so you may work directly with the landscape contractor to specify the work you’d like done. The national average cost for large-scale landscaping projects is $10,160. Pricing can vary greatly depending on the project scope, materials and design.
Carpenters are skilled craftsmen who build things out of wood. Depending on what the carpenter builds, they may be referred to by various names. A framer is a carpenter who puts up the framing on a house. A trim or finish carpenter installs the finishing touches of prefabricated or custom trim and detail work once a house has been built and the walls are up. A furniture maker or woodworker builds furniture — such as tables, beds and dressers — out of wood. A cabinetmaker is a carpenter who builds custom and semi-custom wood cabinets. If you’re having a home built or remodeled, your general contractor will either provide or subcontract the carpentry work for the framing, cabinets and trim. You can hire a carpenter directly to update the trim in your home, build you a piece of custom furniture, or repair or replace your wood cabinets.
Hiring a landscape architect is an investment in your home. Landscaping can reduce water bills, improve your home resale value, add to your daily living experience and significantly boost curb appeal. A landscape architect will draw the designs for your new landscape; you’ll want to hire a landscape contractor to carry out the plans. Many companies provide design-build landscaping services, with a company architect creating plans for your vision and the landscape contractor executing the vision. With the proper academic background and licensing, a person can be both landscape architect and landscape contractor. Here are a few tips for finding a great landscape architect:
- Research online portfolios and find several landscape architects whose work interests you.
- Read online reviews of client experiences.
- Research whether the landscape architects you are interested in are currently licensed and in good standing with the licensing board, and check whether any complaints have been issued against them. Each state will have their own searchable database. For example, you can search for California landscape architects via the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Request bids from your selected landscape architects.
- Hire the one you like the most, taking care to have a clearly written contract outlining scope of work.
For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.
Carpenters are trained to work with wood. That means that any part of your home that is built of wood is very likely to involve a carpenter. Framing carpenters will put up the wood that makes up the bones of your home. If you’re having a wood floor installed, it may be done by a carpenter — although being a carpenter is not a requirement to install flooring. Trim, baseboards, wainscoting and any other detail work is typically installed by a finish carpenter. The wood boxes of custom cabinets will be built and installed by a carpenter.
Although all of these components in your new or remodeled home are built by carpenters who specialize in building things with wood, a general contractor typically oversees construction of the entire house. If the general contractor is also a carpenter skilled in all these areas, they may well construct your entire home. More often, the general contractor subcontracts out the various building stages to different individuals, including carpenters.
Landscaping can be costly — though it usually pays off in curb appeal and home resale value — so finding a landscaper who is worth the investment is important. When hiring a landscaper, look for proven success with the type of results you want. For example, if you know you want a drought-tolerant yard, research websites, reviews and portfolios that showcase beautiful drought-tolerant yards that the landscaper has installed. In addition to relevant experience, you’ll want to find a landscape contractor who has good client reviews. Good communication skills are another important quality in a landscape contractor, since everything from plant selection to hardscape installation needs to be discussed and agreed upon. A landscape contractor who is reliable, easy to understand and able to listen to what you want will help make the process seamless and enjoyable.