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Water, water everywhere….

Remember that one of the most effective conservation-related things you can do with your new home or office is to install efficient, proven landscape materials.

Artificial turf should be one of those elements.

Using ariticial turf as a part of your landscape plan:

  • Reduces water use significantly.
  • Eliminates runoff of excess water and chemicals into groundwater.
  • Minimizes the rainwater runoff.

Some simple considerations–artificial turf is a ggreat way to go.

The Grass Queen

Think About the Dog….

….do you really want them to have a yard that is muddy and messy?  Can it get any worse than having a wet, muddy dog after they have been out in your yard?

This is yet another reason to choose artificial turf as a part of your landscape plan.  Go for it: get the fake stuff to:

  • Reduce mud in your yard.
  • Always have a green stuff of the dog to play and “go” on.
  • Help with drainage.

See your artificial turf professional for help in choosing the right turf for your pets and yard.

The Grass Queen

Questions to Ask Your Contractor as the Work Begins

As you begin your project, be clear on your expectations.  During the process of choosing a landscape design and installation firm, you interviewed them, collected and negotiated a bid and now are ready to get the shovels working.

How do you get them started?

  • Be clear on when and where they are to start work.
  • Meet them the first day and lay out your expectations and remind them that you will be back.
  • Check back frequently (more than once the first day; less often after that–probably at the end of each day).
  • If the weather is hot, offer the crew water and shade.
  • Make sure that driveways and other access to your propery are clear and negotiated–the contractor needs to deliver and unload goods; you need to get in and out of your house.
  • Make sure pets and other animals are safe and secure during the work–and that the workers are safe from harm.

The list can longer.  What can you add?

The Grass Queen

Choosing a Contractor: the First Meeting

So you’ve done your homework and selected the contractor you want to do the project you have outlined.

What’s next? You need to meet them to start the project planning.

That’s right–planning first. Come prepared.  Be sure and bring:

  • Any plans, notes or ideas you have for the project.
  • An idea of when work can start and when it should be completed.
  • Your budget and checkbook (if necessary).
  • The contract or documents related to this relationship.
  • Photos of the space you want reworked.
  • A list of questions.
  • Your expectations for the project and the contractor.

You are off and running.

The Grass Queen

If Your Contractor Doesn’t Work Out: Where to Complain

So you’ve done all of your homework and followed the steps we’ve outlined in the last few posts. And it didn’t work well?

You can lodge a complaint or make your dissatisfaction known. Here are some options:

  • The BBB (Better Business Bureau, www.bbb.org)
  • Consumer Affairs.com
  • Angie’s List (www.angieslist.com)
  • Consumer’s Checkbook (www.checkbook.org)
  • Pissed Consumer (www.pissedconsumer.com)
  • Ripoff Report (www.ripoffreport.com)
  • Yelp.com
  • PlanetFeedback.com

Of course, use your judgment and manners, but you have the right to be heard.  Remember: truth is your defense.

The Grass Queen

Thanks to Kate Ashford for her story in the January/February issue of AARP The Magazine

Things to Know before Hiring a Contractor: Demand a Lien Release

The last thing on the list of knowing before you hire a contractor is one of the most important if not the most important:  obtain a lien release.

This is about protecting yourself and your property.  A lien release ensures that, after the work is done and payment received, that the contractor has no way to make a claim on your property.  As with a paid-off car loan, a lien release is provided by the person or company (in this case the contractor) as proof of completion and to release you of responsibility for further payment–or of their being able to make a claim on your property.

This is particularly important for homeowners to ensure their right to their property.  It is a safe thing to do and most contractors, once the final bill is paid, will provide the release.

For more information, here is an article from eHow.com (http://www.ehow.com/about_4683867_lien-release_.html).

The Grass Queen

Things to Know Before Hiring a Contractor: Call Licensing Boards

Continuing on with our things-to-know list when hiring a contractor:  are these guys certified and licensed?

It is a fairly simple thing to do and you will gain a tremendous peace of mind: call licensing boards.  In most states there is a state board or department of licensing.  It may also be called the state contracting board. Whatever it is called, a quick internet search will yield contact information.

For example, in Texas, most boards and licensing activity can be found at www.license.state.tx.us.

This is the start for you to be sure that the contractor you expect to hire:

  • Has adequate liability coverage.
  • Has been approved (and licensed) by the state.
  • Complies with the rules and regulations of their industry.

Also, check out the contractor’s website to see who they are affiliated with.  For example, Synthetic Grass Pros (www.syntheticgrasspros.com) is a member of the ASGI (Association of Synthetic Grass Installers). If the contractor claims membership, followup with the association or board to be sure they  are current.

The Grass Queen

Things to Know Before Hiring a Contractor: Read Reviews

The more you know about a contractor you might hire, the better. so, be sure and read consumer reviews about the companies.   Hearing what others have to say about your candidate can help sway your decision.

You can find reviews of residential-type suppliers on Angie’s list. You can also find feedback on Yahoo, Bing, Google or other search-engine sites. Follow them on Twitter or listen on Twitter to hear what people are saying about them.

What are you looking or listening for?  Here’s a short list:

  • What do they charge?
  • Do they follow up after the job?
  • Do they return initial calls promptly?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Are they efficient in how they work?
  • Are they neat and clean?
  • Are they polite?
  • Who else have they done work for?
  • What kinds of work do they do?

You can add more to this list–this is just to get you started.

Happy researching!

The Grass Queen

Six Things to Know Before Hiring a Contractor

We’ve discussed this in this space before, but it is worth the reminder. As you do your planning for home and office improvements for the coming year, be sure you know enough about your contractor before you hire them.

Here’s a list that will help you choose and make the decision:

  1. Get multiple estimates. It will help you understand what the job should cost.
  2. Read consumer reviews. Hearing what others have to say about your candidate can help sway your decision.
  3. Call Licensing boards.  Be sure they have adequate liability coverage.
  4. Get several references.  Talking directly with their clients helps you understand how the contractor works.
  5. Negotiate a maximum hourly rate.  Helps contain costs.
  6. Always demand a lien release.  Protect yourself.

We’ll go over each of these steps in detail in future posts.  In the meantime, read the article from which this was borrowed in the January/February issue of AARP The Magazine (www.aarp.com/magazine).

The Grass Queen

Who Runs This Place: Kimberly Van Buren

Kimberly Van Buren knows fake grass. She also knows how to network.

“When I was first out trying to promote Synthetic Grass Pros, “Kimberly told us recently,” I found myself becoming a ‘chamber maid’. I went from chamber of commerce to chamber of commerce telling our story and connecting with people, ” Kimberly continued. It was the best way to get the word out and to get people to recognize our brand.”

One of the owner-founder-partners in Synthetic Grass Pros, Kimberly spends a lot of time marketing the company and talking about the benefits of artificial turf.

“I became the face of the company,” Kimberly said. “And met a lot of great people along the way.”

Kimberly’s background is in sales and business management. From home building to service businesses, Kimberly has taken her skills as a business owner and her love for landscaping to Synthetic Grass Pros.

You can reach Kimberly at 972-420-7800.

The Grass Queen