Deciding that this is the year you're going to add or improve your outdoor living by installing a new concrete paver or flagstone patio is a great start, but now what? Who do you call? Where do you go? There are a few paths you can follow to get the finished product you want, but making a few good decisions early on can make big difference in the overall experience. In this post, I'll offer my 2-cents on how to get off to the right start.
One of the first choices you'll have to make is whether this is a do-it-yourself project or whether you'll hire a professional contractor for installation. Installing concrete pavers, brick, or flagstone can be a manageable project for the capable do-it-yourself-er, and there is an opportunity to keep project costs down in the process, but creating a finished product that looks good and holds up well over time will take patience, care and an abundance of hard work. I'll talk at length about DIY installation in another series, but if you're considering tacking this project yourself, be realistic about the time and skills required to successfully install the patio you want.
We see many homeowners do a good job with DIY projects every year, but we also see people who over-commit themselves, and regret it by the end of the project. One way to discover whether installing your own patio is the right choice is to attend one of our do-it-yourself seminars, where you can see firsthand the process and techniques required to install your own patio.
If you decide to hire a professional, your next step will be to select the right person or company to work with. When I'm working with a homeowner trying to choose the right landscape professional, one of the questions I frequently ask is how important design will be to get the right finished product. Some homeowners are only interested in a simple patio, or are trying to refresh an existing patio that's showing its age. Others need not only a professional installer but also a professional landscape designer.
In cases that don't require design, finding a qualified installer is the most important criteria. If you need design expertise, you can find it in one of two ways. Many landscape contractors consider design to be an important part of their process. There is also a strong local community of professional designers who provide fee-based landscape design services. In a future post in this series, I'll discuss the difference between these two approaches. Regardless, we can help connect you with the right professional for your project - contact us for a list of local installation contractors or a list of local professional designers.
Once you address your design needs, the next steps are to choose a contractor and begin selecting the right hardscaping material for your project. Stay tuned for future posts on these topics!