Are you thinking about starting a landscape project? Here is what you need to know!

It has recently been brought to my attention that I should write blog on helping home owners with advice on successfully completing a landscaping project.  The list of frequently asked questions is a lengthy one.  Where do you start? Do you need permits? How do know that the contractor we hired is honest and reliable? In this article I will attempt to answer most of these queries so that you may head into your next big project with knowledge and confidence.

Choosing the right contractor starts with finding one.  There are many ways to do this.  The internet holds a cornucopia of advertisements for landscaping professionals, the same can be said about printed ads in newspapers and industry specific magazines. The best course of action at this juncture would be to go directly to the source, the suppliers.  They are the best resource for finding you the best and most qualified contractor for your project.  Not to mention they can give ideas, show you products, and can even help with an idea of a typical cost for a project.

It is advisable to narrow your search down to a minimum of three contractors. Look at their website, call and speak with a representative.  This is an important step that will help you make an informed decision. Do not be hoodwinked by pretty pictures.  Be wary of contractors who do not provide any information on their process and guidelines.  Different contractors have different styles and it will show in their work.

Once you decided on the right fit for your needs, contact the company for a free estimate?  Key word is free.  I have heard that there are contractors that will charge a fee for their time to see your project. To me that’s the cost of doing business. It should be free.

The next step is choosing the materials you want to use in your project.  Go straight to the manufacturer and request catalogues, or take a stroll through the grounds and take a look at the products in person, sometimes seeing something in a catalogue isn’t the same as actually being able to feel and touch the materials.  This will be a permanent addition to your home, so take the time to be confident in your choice.  The contractor is an invaluable source of advice in this process, they have years of experience to lean on when helping make the right decision.

Now comes the design process.  Sit down with your contractor and go over the ideas that you have come up with for your project.  There is a design fee that usually starts anywhere from $250-1500 for a 2 dimensional plan or up to $6000 for a 3D design depending how large and intricate the plan needs to be.

Make sure that the contractor provides you with information on their insurance policy as well as any WSIB information.  Any professional will with no hesitation give you this information.  You need to make sure you are protected from being sued for a contractor getting hurt on your property.   Ask if you need permits and inquire if the contractor part of any organizations that are within the industry.  These contractors are usually part of large associations like Landscape Ontario or ICPI.

Next is the proposal, it needs to be in depth and should give you installation information down to contract terms and conditions.  Also payment terms need to be clear. Typically 25% down and 25% job start and 25% at the three quarter completion than remainder at completion.

Next step is to go see the contractor’s references. This is a crucial step.  Don’t just call them, ask to go and see the project. Any homeowner will be pleased at showing their great landscape to you for simple pride that they were part of the designed project.

John and Olga Vrablic

We contracted Platinum Stone Design Inc to build our patio in our back yard. All phases from design to preparation to execution of the project were done in the highest professional level. Consequently, we are sure to vouch for Platinum Stone Design Inc to everyone.

Are DIY reality shows always installing correctly?

It’s great to see DIY landscaping shows popping up all over television.  These new types of shows are getting a lot of attention, and homeowners are eager to educate themselves on everything from installation methods to the “do’s” and “don’ts” of landscaping. But is this information correct? Are we really getting good advice from the media?

Recently I met with a very nice couple that had called me looking for expertise on a landscape project they were planning.  They began by explaining their needs and expectations for the project, which were well thought out and modest.  One of the issues that has surfaced were permits.

The clients had seen a project on a DIY television show that they were eager to try.  Unfortunately they were unaware that on their type of property a permit was needed.  I had brought this to their attention and soon the matter was resolved.  This goes to show that it is important to look into the details of a landscaping project before jumping into the physical work.  And the right contractor is your Fairy Godmother when it comes to this.

What Makes Platinum Stone Design Great?

As a client you really need that support network that a company like Platinum Stone Design Inc offers. The pace of change is constant. New products. New installation techniques. If you’re a contractor invested in offering the best products and service you possibly can, you have to keep up. The old ways just aren’t going to cut it anymore. The consumer is too educated these days and has high expectations for their hardscape investment. This is a good thing because it forces me to become better. Its win all the way around. The consumer gets a very high quality end product. Our suppliers do however keep close ties with those select few, their authorized contractors. It’s assurance for the homeowner, they’re getting the best products installed by the best contractors. And I’m highly honored to be included in that group.

Here is my personal list of what sets Platinum Stone Design Inc. apart from the others.

  • Extensive product lines. Paving stones and retaining walls that consumers really gravitate towards.
  • Passion for Innovation. Exciting new products, and design!
  • Unparalleled Service. Always a good thing.
  • Support, support.. support. Our suppliers are always close by to help us, the contractor, so projects are executed to the highest standards.
  • Seminars and continuing education.
  • Unilock awards program.
  • Techo Bloc showcases.

To become a certified installer for Unilock and Techo Bloc is a fairly involved process.   There are certain minimum requirements that have to be met. But in reality It’s the training and certified installers that make our installs so incredible. It’s the people at Platinum Stone Design Inc that sets us apart from the competition. Highly dedicated and passionate people that have pushed this industry to where it is today. I would also like to mention the sales reps that go out of their way to help us certified contractors grow our business. I have to personally thank James Roth and John Lavoie my local Techo Bloc and Unilock representatives. It’ a collection of professionals and a caring team of employees that makes Platinum Stone Design Inc great!

 

Design Time

Here we are, Christmas is just around the corner. Homeowners are busy with shopping, parties, spending time with family. You have managed to let that landscape project slip thru the cracks this summer and you say; we will do it next year! The winter time is the best time to meet with your landscaper and start to plan that project you have prolonged.    The truth is this is the best time to get the most of your Landscape designer because of the slower months. He or she can spend more time with you to create the space you always wanted. Most companies that you sign with in the month of December will price with that years pricing. You can save sometimes 5% on the project not waiting to sign in the new year! I hope this sheds some light and helps you make that decision now and not put your landscape plans on hold until spring. Your pocket book will be happy you did!

Getting your landscape ready for the fall season!

It’s September and fall is approaching, children are going back to school and the summer vacations are over. Now you might be thinking we should have our gravel driveway completed so we are not snow shoveling gravel onto the lawn, or maybe start thinking and planning the fireplace install. This is one of the busiest times of the year for landscapers. I hear it quite often ” the contractors are not calling me back” Frankly we are just as busy as the spring. So it is important to get down to business and sign your contracts soon as possible to make sure your project can be completed  before the snow fly’s. That being said this could also be the best time to install plants and not to mention the prices will drop and you will get the best pricing of the year. So change those seasonal planter’s and add some color to the front entrance way! So get those projects you were putting off done, you will be glad you did!

Installing a Pool

Custom stone work and pool.

Why Choose Interlock?

When investing in your property, you want to choose a paving material that can stand up to Canada’s winter weathers, require minimal maintenance, be the most cost-effective (long term), provide durability, look it’s best and add value to your investment.

  • Interlocking pavers will do just that, because pavers are individual stones, the natural joints between each pavers will “give” with pressure, expansion and contraction, eliminating the cracking as you would experience with asphalt and concrete pavement.
  • Paving stones are one of the strongest paving materials and can withstand heavy weight load.
  • Stone pavers may be used immediately after installation, unlike concrete or asphalt that require days to cure.
  • Stone pavers tend to come with long term warranty.

One the biggest advantage of using stone pavers is that if a repair ever does become necessary from example oil spills in your driveway or city repairs, pavers can therefore be easily replaced without leaving ugly patches or mix matched colors.

Paving stones come in a wide variety of surface finishes, colors and shapes that will compliment your style and can provide you with a more custom design.

Concrete/asphalt will crack at some point in time, some causes of cracking are freezing, thawing, changes in weather or when the base moves due to heavy loads or settlement . Concrete tends to shrink over time, fade or flake if choosing stamped concrete. Unfortunately to repair this usually requires the entire structure to be replaced as color matching to the existing is nearly impossible. Not to mention that stamped concrete needs to be sealed evey fall to have protectionTherefore will cost you more in the long term.

Interlocking Stone Installation

Base excavation and base preparation.

Kevin and Nancy Nugent

Thanks for the great job, wonderful prompt service and care you take to make our home surroundings look awesome. We are always so proud of the way our landscaping adds that wow factor to our house. Take care and thanks again!