Most contracts are written based on performance and not man-hours. A performance contract helps protect the customer and lets the contractor do his job. In a performance contract, the contractor has to provide a level of service regardless of how many people it takes. Because landscape maintenance is performed in the heat of summer and the cool of winter, it tends to be cyclical. As a result, the labor required to perform routine tasks such as mowing and weeding, varies from season to season. If a contract were to be based on man-hours, it would be very difficult to perform certain tasks in the summer while being over staffed in the winter. Therefore, a performance contract makes the contractor live up to a level of service if it takes him one person or fifty people.
Contract Summary Sheet
Contracts are often written in a way where they can be interpreted several different ways. The best way to avoid confusion is to have a summary sheet that specifically says who is paying for items such as fertilizer, disposal fees, chemicals, rodent control, etc.
Acts Of God
Most contracts do not hold the contractor responsible for work involved with an “Act of God”. An Act of God usually refers to storm, earthquake or fire damage. For example, after a severe winter storm, if many large trees have blown over, the contractor may have to send out a specialty crew to perform the clean-up. This work would be as a result of an Act of God and should be billed and not included under the regular monthly maintenance contract.
The best time to change contractors is in the fall or winter. This gives the new contractors a chance to familiarize themselves with a project and the irrigation systems before the busy spring and summer seasons.
Tree Trimming Specifications
Most contracts call for tree trimming up to fifteen feet. This should be interpreted to mean that only those trees that are less than fifteen feet would be trimmed as part of the contract. It does not mean that the contractor will trim the first fifteen feet of trees that are taller. However, on a taller tree, if a few branches are hanging too low or are touching a building or roof the contractor should perform the occasional branch removal.
All Inclusive Contracts
Occasionally, a customer may desire an “all inclusive contract”. These contracts can be misleading and costly. In order for a contractor to bid an all-inclusive contract he is probably going to include every conceivable cost in the event it becomes necessary. This may cost the customer more than is required. On the other hand, if something comes up that the contractor had not expected he would lose or try to get by with less than is acceptable. There are too many variables and the best relationship is one where the contractor treats the client fair and the client has trust in the contractor.