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There are a lot of factors that come into play when choosing the right landscape gardener for your project. While you need to make sure that you are comfortable with your trades person and trust that they can bring your vision to life, you also need to make sure you’ve checked a few crucial details about their qualifications and process to protect you if anything should go wrong during your job. Below are 8 key questions you should be asking your landscape trades person before you lock yourself into a contract:


1. What is your contractor licence number?

In NSW all residential landscaping trades persons must be licenced to complete work over $5,000. Whether they are licenced as a Structural Landscaper or Builder, it is important that they hold a valid licence to protect you in the event that something goes wrong. Checking a licence number is valid is just as important as checking the landscaper has one, a licence check is simple:

  1. Visit
  2. Enter your tradespersons licence number or business name
  3. Look for a green tick to indicate that your landscaper holds a valid licence with NSW Fair Trading.

Utopia Landscaping & Pools licence number is: 70677S


2. What qualifications do you hold?

Landscape gardening, construction and pool surrounds reaches into a number of industries when it comes to necessary qualifications. According to NSW Fair Trading Structural Landscaping is classed as:

Work involved in the construction of external landscape features, and non-habitable structures including the following:

  • Retaining walls of any material that do not form part of a habitable building,
  • Fencing irrespective of the construction material, driveways, paths and other paving of any material,
  • Cabanas, pergolas, decks and non-habitable shelters,
  • Ornamental ponds, water features and other structural ornamentation.”

A contract for structural landscaping can include any specialist work that is integral to the overall work, but such work must be carried out by the holder of an endorsed contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate in the relevant category of specialist work.

Most commonly, landscaping works require tradespeople to hold qualifications in horticulture, landscaping, building & construction, and for pool surrounds it is recommended to choose a trades person who also holds a qualification in tiling, pool building & construction.

The Utopia Landscaping & Pools team hold a variety of qualifications specific to our industry including:

  • Certificate 3 in Horticulture and Landscaping
  • Certificate 3 in Concreting
  • Certificate 3 in Wall and Floor Tiling
  • Certificate 4 in Pool Building and Construction
  • Certificate 4 in Building and Construction


3. Do you have Home Owners Warranty Insurance?

If you are undertaking works with a contract value of more than $20,000 then your landscaper must provide you with a certificate of Home Owners Warranty Insurance or Home Building Compensation cover.

This cover protects you for any loss caused by defect or incomplete work in the event of death, disappearance or insolvency of your tradesperson and is required by law before a deposit is taken.

If your landscaper has quoted your job for more than $20,000 and is asking for a deposit without providing a certificate of Home Building Compensation cover then they are putting you at high risk and breaking the law.


4. Do you have proper Insurance?

On top of Home Building Compensation cover or Home owners Warranty Insurance, it is important to check that your landscaper has all the necessary insurance cover to protect you, your home and their tradespeople if something goes wrong on your job. Check if they have valid insurances for:

  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation or Insurance


5. How much will my project cost?

Make sure you clearly understand what each itemised cost in your contract relates to, ideally your landscaper with list out each cost instead of just giving you one large lump sum but you should still have a total cost of works outlined clearly in your contract.

Read through your quote carefully and ensure that all estimated costs are stated clearly and are realistic. Take note of any “provisionary cost items” as these may change depending on the actual costs incurred once the job is underway. We encourage you to ask questions! Be confident that you understand exactly what the items are that you are paying for in your quote before your sign.


6. When are progress payments required to be made?

Your landscaper should provide you with a schedule of progress payments for your project. Progress payments identify ‘stages’ of work and the payment amount required for the expenses incurred at that particular stage of the job. Each landscapers progress payment schedule might be different but it should be clearly defined in your contract with dates, dollar amounts and percentages specified. According to most contracts, progress payments are payable within five business days from the completion of that stage and are not to be billed prior to completion.


7. Who is responsible for cleaning the site?

We strongly recommend confirming this with your landscaper from the very beginning of your project. There is nothing worse than your tradespeople leaving for the day and lumping you with a giant mess and potentially dangerous site. Especially if the project is being completed at your home, make sure an agreement on regular site clean-ups is provided.


8. What happens if I believe there is a defect in my project?

The process for defects and rectification should be outlined to you by your landscaper, if they do not have a clearly defined system for managing these types of issues then I would be wary of how the situation may be managed if it arises.

Your contract should stipulate timeframe after completion, within which you must notify your landscaper of any defects or issues and the process for how these will be rectified.


It’s important to ask as many questions as you can before signing a contract so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and can protect both your family and your trades person if anything out of the ordinary should happen.

If you’re struggling to find a qualified and experienced landscaper for your project then get in contact and see what Utopia Landscaping & Pools can do for you!

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