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Question DetailsAsked on 4/21/2015

How much to put down on hardscape job?

A well regarded landscape firm tells me I must put down 50 percent (of $2500) to get on the calendar that is currently 12-16 weeks out. I don't mind putting 10 percent down to secure a date, and 50 percent one week before for materials. 50 percent so far in advance seems like a cheap line of credit. It also strikes me that if they already have half the money, they have very little incentive to keep my place on the schedule.

I live on the southeastern side of cincinnati, and this is one of many fine firms in nearby Milford. I have searched this question here and find only references to construction. What I have always heard about construction is that you never give materials $ unless you take possession of them first.

I realize this is a relatively small job, and perhaps this is very different from construction. Any guidelines?

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Landscape firms tend to be labor-intensive and get a lot of last-minute cancellations, so I can understand them wanting a deposit to hold the spot rather than having to sue to recover if you cancel and they can't replace your reserved slot with another job.


However, I agree with you - they are either a scam (but you say reputable and long-term locals) or have more work than they know what to do with so are requiring firm bookings for the spring. Or if you mean Milford, Ma maybe they feel like I do - for some reason Noreasters (Maryland and north) tend to be really picky clients and cancel at the last minute for no reason and seem to feel contracts are something they can use against contractors but do not apply to them - both individuals and large companies - so maybe they are sick of that and now require a very large depsoit- which I would bet is non-refundable if you cancel or reschedule, if you read the fineprint.


I agree 10% down, 50% a week or two before for materials (though preferably payable only when materials are actually delivered on-site in advance of the work), then rest at completion - or maybe 20%, 20% payments if more than a week's work.


Ofcourse, if ordering special materials that are not locally readily available, that would change the reasonable up-front payment picture.


I would try to pay by credit card if possible, because you generally have 30 or 60 days from getting the bill to dispute a charge. And make sure the work order has specific start and completion dates (or at least start and completion windows not more than a week long)- and make sure "start of work"meanson-site actualwork,not just materials delivery in advance of starting the job - that is an age-old contractor's trick to meet start of work deadlines - dropping off a toolbox or a few sacks of cement or such and calling that the "start of work".


Course, a really dedicated slacker can beat that by just coming and cutting one board or digging a few shovels of dirt and thereby be able to say the job is underway. That is also a way some contractors get around the 3 day cancellation period, because by starting on-sitework they have begun the job, so it is no longer cancellable. I have heard of scammers who sign the contract on-site, then immediately take measurements and remove a few shingles or pull off or tack on a piece of trim or drivea few nails or start digging for just a few minutes so the contract is thereby locked-in and no longer cancellable under the 3-day rules.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD




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