What is the Difference Between Time and Material and Fixed Price Landscape Contracts?

Budgeting for a home landscape improvement project can sometimes be difficult since not all services have a predictable cost. Sometimes you need the flexibility of a time and materials contract to accurately charge for a service. This will help clear up some of the questions you might have (or might not have even thought of) and give you an idea of how to choose between a time & material and a fixed price landscape contract.

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What is a Time and Material Contract?

Time and material contracts bill by the hour and each item purchased for the work is included as an expense line item. These types of contracts are more flexible, allowing you to make decisions as new problems are “unearthed” during the project that can significantly change the final cost. In these types of contract clients have the right to make changes or tweaks and even go in a new direction. Both parties assume part of the risk of unexpected roadblocks, and thus a perfectly fair price for the final project is achieved. Keep in mind that changes can add more time and material cost, but you’ll have a say before any work is done. This is an important piece of the puzzle to be aware of as you envision your creation. If you have a very specific vision and want to see it through with more of a hands-on approach, this could be the best option for you.

How Does a Fixed Priced Landscape Work?

Fixed price landscaping means no matter how long it takes, you pay a flat rate for the finished project. Many landscaping projects are perfect for fixed-price contracts. Fixed price contracts clearly define the process, responsibilities of each party and deliverables.

The risk in this type of contract is borne by the landscape company.  Any unforeseen problem can force a project out of scope and cut into the profit. That’s why some landscapers create a buffer in their fixed price contracts to account for unexpected additional time and resources.

On one hand you will have less flexibility with the final layout. On the other hand your project will likely have a quick turnaround, and there will be no surprise when you receive the final bill. Many of your choices will be from pre-existing templates. This can be an advantage to you if you are on a fixed budget and need advanced knowledge of the exact amount for your final project cost.


Making the Decision That’s Best for You

Fixed price and time-and-materials cost are the two primary methods for contractors or consultants to price the value of work provided to clients. These present varying advantages and disadvantages to you, the customer, and a lot of the decisions should be based on your budget and the goals of your project. Many consultants specialize in only one type of pricing; likewise, many organizations seeking professional services specify that they prefer one type of billing over the other.

landscape designA good starting point is to talk to your contractor. Let him know your thought process so he can help you make the best decision. If you’re thinking a contractor might take too long if paid by the hour, you should discuss this with your landscape provider. Always do your homework. Check references and make sure you’re working with a reputable organization. They should want referrals and repeat business. It’s in their best interest to be as efficient as possible. The best way for that to happen is keeping you, the customer happy. To discuss your next landscaping project with a consummate professional, give Borst Landscaping a call (201)785-9400 today! Enjoy your surroundings.