Interpreting Bids

Dear Expert: I had two landscape companies bid a project for me; one company was much more expensive than the other. Why would bids be so different?

A: When comparing two different proposals, there are several things to consider. It is important to look at the details of the proposal to make sure that what you are comparing is the same.

Check to insure that the materials to be used are the same; the quantities are the same; and the size, if applicable, is similar also. In addition, check on warranties for the work or materials. Some contractors may not have warranties or will charge you to replace or fix items, while others are more inclusive. Finally, talk with the designers or installers and ask about their installation practices. An experienced landscaper may have techniques that are proven to work. Having things done correctly from the beginning can save you headaches and money.

It is a good idea to have the landscape designer sit down and explain his or her proposal so you know what is included and you can be sure what you are paying for.

—Stacy Isaacson Smith, Ladscape Designer