“CASH-FOR-GRASS” PROGRAM AND DEVELOPING A PLAN FOR OUR PROJECT
“CASH-FOR-GRASS” PROGRAM AND DEVELOPING A PLAN FOR OUR PROJECT
Last month, we discussed the outline of our project and what steps we needed to take and what was necessary to develop a plan for our project.
This month, we will share precisely what came about and how we started the adventure. Of course, no project can proceed with any major chance of success without a plan. We needed so much information. Originally, it seemed as though there would never be a finished landscape. Fortunately, for us, the City of Roseville magically appeared on the scene with their “Cash-For-Grass” program, and with no resistance at all, provided us with a wealth of information on the type of plants that were easily obtained in the Roseville area and that were water efficient and drought tolerant. In addition, the City provided us with many resources in the area of design, climate conditions, sample plans, and suggestions for starting our project. The “Cash-For-Grass” program seemed to be the best way to get started. The way the “Cash-For-Grass” program works is that the City of Roseville will rebate to the homeowner $1.00 per square foot up to a maximum of $1,000.00 for turf (grass) removed from the residential landscape. In turn, the homeowner must replace a minimum of 50% of the removed turf with drought tolerant plantings, from a list of approved plants provided by the City. The balance of the removed area, must be covered with additional planting, or a combination of planting and true “Permeable” material, i.e. water passes through the material placed in lieu of turf or hardscape. A good example is material such as crushed decorative rock over weed blocking fabric.
We needed a sound plan for our landscape project so we started by talking to our neighbors, and their contractors, visited many homes in our neighborhood, and around Roseville. We took a walking tour of many completed gardens and landscapes in the Folsom area, and obtained several “how to do it” books, and picture books which helped us to formulate some ideas as to how to approach the project. Ultimately, a final plan was decided upon and we started looking for a contractor to accomplish the work.
This is where we made our first series of mistakes so we share here some of the steps you need to take because it is important to help you, the reader, become more aware of the process you will need to go through when attempting a project of this magnitude. This will help you avoid some of the pitfalls that we faced when we started our landscape project.
Ideally, to find a qualified contractor the steps to be taken can be quite time consuming, particularly if you want the best work, completed on time, within your spending plan, and with a quality of workmanship and materials that justify the overall cost of your project.
Some of the basic steps to take are as follows, and they are not all inclusive:
- Contact several landscaping companies in the immediate area of your intended project site and inquire as to their background, licensing, references, design capabilities, and availability of qualified labor to complete the job.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for proposed designs, plans for processing the project, and start and finish dates. Above all, request signed and dated quotations on the contractor’s letterhead with the contractor’s license number.
- Once a suitable contractor is decided upon, verify their insurance information. Specifically, workman’s compensation and liability insurance. Require copies of their insurance binders as documentation. Verify the status of their Contractor’s License. Is it current? Are there any claims? Has their license ever been suspended?
- Obtain a signed quotation for the project. Price, work to be done (in detail), starting date, progress and performance criteria, payment schedule, and if possible, for a project of $25,000.00 in value or larger, obtain payment and performance bonds for the Contractor. (You should be prepared to pay the bond premiums if you require bonding for the project. If the contractor is not insurable and bondable, do not employ his services!
- Obtain a signed contract. A sample contract form can be obtained at: http://www.hometalkusa.com/Tips/sample_construction_contract.htm This is a simple form, and it can be extended in writing to include items of pertinent nature to the project. Your contractor should be prepared to provide you with a completed contract. Be sure to read it in detail and ask any questions before you sign the contract. Do not assume anything! The contract is the only document which you have a guarantee of enforcing should it become necessary. If the project contractor is bonded, be prepared to learn the laws governing the contractor and the bond and lien enforcement processes.
- Once work starts, verify the agreed-upon milestones in the construction process and do not pay more than the agreed upon price based on the progress milestones which were a part of the contract. Always obtain material and labor lien releases signed by the material suppliers and the contractor of record for the labor involved prior to issuing a payment voucher or a check to the contractor. Usually, the contractor will require a deposit for the project. This amount will vary, however anything more than 25% should be carefully considered before making a sizeable commitment. Most reputable contractors can well afford to start a project with as little as a 10% good faith deposit. Remember, in California, by law, you have 72 hours after signing a contract to rescind your part of the agreement, essentially cancelling the contract. Also, never ask the contractor to do anything that is not clearly spelled out in the contract or in a signed and dated change order with an agreed-upon price and stipulated requirements.
- For particularly large contracts, it may be wise to consider placing a completion certificate requirement in the contract. Along with the notice of completion requirement, you may wish to include an amount to be retained as a final payment after the notice of completion is filed by the contractor. With this, the contractor will have provided you with completed material and labor lien releases for the project along with his notice of completion. At that point, you may make the final payment with some assurance that the contractor and you both have fulfilled your obligations.
We hope that this month, we have given you some sound steps to take for starting your project. If you do the planning and preparation, including the paperwork before breaking ground, you may be better assured of completing your landscape project on time and within your spending plan.
1. The excavation and grading process and the initial phase of the project.
2. Planning the hardscape phase of your project.
Remember that even in the simplest of projects, a sound rule to follow is this: Measure Once, Cut Twice……Measure Twice, Cut Once.