a question about hiring landscapers (and other contractors)
From: Thomas Lofft (tloffthotmail.com)
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 07:20:18 -0700 (PDT)

Sharon is exactly correct, again.Bonding is an insurance policy (a bond) of 
assurance that a job will be completed as contracted in the event of failure of 
the original contractor to perform (subject, of course, to the bond documents 
definition of 'failure'). The costs of a bond are that it typically adds a fee 
cost of 1% of the total project bond amount. On a small value bond, it could 
easily be upwards of 2.5%.The limits of a bond are that it only assures the 
completion of the job as specified in the original contract documents, 
including drawings, specifications, and the contract writing. If it wasn't in 
the contract, it won't be covered by the bond.It's kind of cute to hear 
bureaucrats throw out another euphemism "Licensed, bonded and insured" without 
ever thinking about the actual meaning of what they are saying.A bond is seldom 
warranted for a small project or a continuing service contract, but it's 
possible and just another item that adds to cost. What's more important? 
Assurance or accepting risk to preserve affordability?I last completed a $3.5M 
private school project without getting a GC bond to save the cost increment, 
having made a personal diligent effort to check the references and past 
completion history of each of the competing GC's, especially the one we 
engaged. We (the BOD, actually) agreed to not require a bond and save the $$ 
for better quality finishes.At Liberty Village, we share a lot of work 
ourselves as well as the meals, open space, and costs. We do hire a contractor 
to do seasonal mowing of 24 cuts a season. The first cut was excellent, four 
years ago, so we kept him on. I don't know if anyone even asked him about 
insurance, and hopefully, we will never arrive at a point where the local 
government thinks its essential to license lawn mowers. We did hire outside 
contractors to provide and install 800 trees for reforestation. Same story. No 
bond. License? Insurance? It was the quality of the nursery stock and planting 
that was most important.We hired a single GC to do the bulk of our land 
development, grading, utilities, roads and paving, about $750K of work. We 
definitely verified insurance. No bond, but a daily scrutiny of work by a very 
knowledgeable civil engineer member of the community. Happy Contracting!!Tom 
LofftLiberty Village,, MDOn 18 Jul 2012, at 9:01 PM, S. Kashdan wrote:
> The Jackson Place Cohousing community in Seattle, Washington has a question 
> about whether your cohousing community considers it necessary or
> important to hire licensed, bonded and insured landscape
> contractors/professional gardeners for the work that community members can't
> or won't do.
We don't hire anyone who isn't insured. Period. Full stop. End of story.
Bonding as we understand it is for large construction jobs, not the kind of 
thing we usually hire people for. Licensing, I think is required for insurance, 
but we don't ask for that information. 
It's the insurance that is important in case they are hurt on the job or cause 
a lot of damage.Their insurance certificate is sent directly from their 
insurance company to our management company. That is important so it can't be 
We may pay more but also are assured that the people are professionals and in 
the business full-time, which means less hassle for us.
Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
 Thanks for writing,


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