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Subject: Flat fee landscaper's contract
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TomC14
(Colorado)

Posts:12


08/10/2019 2:28 PM  
We have a landscaper's contract, set for 3 years at a flat fee per month for operating the irrigation system, pruning and trimming, mowing and edging, as well as fertilizing/insect control/weeding, and snow removal. Any repairs to the irrigation system ,for instance, are billed to us at time and materials (set labor/hour). I'm wondering if this approach is a "norm" in community associations or are there other approaches. I don't need to discuss the detailed provisions of the contract, just looking for general information.
SueW6
(Michigan)

Posts:614


08/10/2019 2:46 PM  
How else would you want it to be?
ChrisP5
(Missouri)

Posts:145


08/10/2019 3:55 PM  
Ours is a flat fee per item, ie each mow, bi annual pruning, etc. things like sprinkler maintenance are billed hourly. I’m surprised your snow removal is a flat amount. Those are usually billed by the hour/type of equipment and pound of salt.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3414


08/10/2019 5:42 PM  
Posted By ChrisP5 on 08/10/2019 3:55 PM
Ours is a flat fee per item, ie each mow, bi annual pruning, etc. things like sprinkler maintenance are billed hourly. I’m surprised your snow removal is a flat amount. Those are usually billed by the hour/type of equipment and pound of salt.




Flat fee is common around here. Sometimes it rarely snows and the contractor makes a fortune and buys new trucks, etc. Other years he plows all the time and makes very little. It all evens out. But.... its easy for commercial clients like HOA's to budget for a single dollar amount.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8762


08/10/2019 7:08 PM  
I would never sign a multi-year contract with lawncare or other vendors. Believe 1 year contracts work best for a HOA. That being that most boards turn over or make changes every year. Each one may want to make changes in regards to vendors/contractors. Makes it easier to renew or rebuff. This doesn't mean you can't keep the same vendor for multiple years. Just every year should review the contract to continue.

Former HOA President
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3913


08/10/2019 7:18 PM  
We sign 3 year contracts for Landscaping and Snow. Landscaping is 10 equal monthly payments. Snow is 5 equal monthly payments.

We don't have irrigation. We only have a few variables. We pay more if we need extra cuts. Aerating and seeding is an separate option at a set price.

At the present time, we are using the same contractor for Landscaping and Snow.

We like the fact that we only have to vet contractor once every 3 years as it can be very time consuming. Also, on the snow contract the flat rate vs actual work tends to even out over 3 years.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2763


08/11/2019 5:26 AM  
We do ours similar to Chris, and I also agree with Melissa that the contract should be reviewed every year to see if you want to continue with the same contractor or if there are others you could find who do the work at a more competitive price.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:530


08/11/2019 5:45 AM  
We also have a flat fee 3-year contract which includes landscaping and snow removal. The contract spells out how many mowings, prunings, fertilizations, and other routine landscaping services. It also lists a number of optional items with associated costs for each that we can negotiate separately as needed. Routine irrigation system service is also included, but repairs or major services are bid out to specialist companies.

Snow removal is charged based on time and materials (number of workers, number of hours, types of equipment used, amount of ice melt or related treatments). The owner of the company will touch base with our PM before a winter storm hits since these storms can be unpredictable and require different plans of attack. We budget for a typical snow season each year; any money that isn't spent is moved to a "snow reserve" account where it sits until we have a bad winter and need the extra money. We have a 2 inch trigger for snow removal. The association also distributes calcium chloride to the owners each year for their use when we have less than 2 inches of stuff on the ground (keeps them from buying salt at the local stores and damaging the concrete).

We had annual contracts with this company for the first few years, but once they'd proven themselves to be reliable and to do good work, we went with the 3-year contract since we can lock in current prices.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3913


08/11/2019 6:59 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 08/11/2019 5:45 AM
Snow removal is charged based on time and materials (number of workers, number of hours, types of equipment used, amount of ice melt or related treatments). The owner of the company will touch base with our PM before a winter storm hits since these storms can be unpredictable and require different plans of attack. We budget for a typical snow season each year; any money that isn't spent is moved to a "snow reserve" account where it sits until we have a bad winter and need the extra money. We have a 2 inch trigger for snow removal. The association also distributes calcium chloride to the owners each year for their use when we have less than 2 inches of stuff on the ground (keeps them from buying salt at the local stores and damaging the concrete).

We got away from this approach and went to a flat monthly rate.

We have a 2" trigger for snow and a 0" trigger for sleet or ice.

With the flat rate contract, we like the fact that we no longer get calls in the middle of the night asking if we want them to come out. They come out whenever the triggers are met.

Our owners like the fact that we no longer have special assessments for snow - although your "snow reserve" sounds interesting. Also interesting that you distribute calcium chloride - What do you do? Do you drop off a bag at each house or have a central location where it is stored?


Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:530


08/11/2019 8:01 AM  
Posted By NpS on 08/11/2019 6:59 AM
Posted By CathyA3 on 08/11/2019 5:45 AM
Snow removal is charged based on time and materials (number of workers, number of hours, types of equipment used, amount of ice melt or related treatments). The owner of the company will touch base with our PM before a winter storm hits since these storms can be unpredictable and require different plans of attack. We budget for a typical snow season each year; any money that isn't spent is moved to a "snow reserve" account where it sits until we have a bad winter and need the extra money. We have a 2 inch trigger for snow removal. The association also distributes calcium chloride to the owners each year for their use when we have less than 2 inches of stuff on the ground (keeps them from buying salt at the local stores and damaging the concrete).

We got away from this approach and went to a flat monthly rate.

We have a 2" trigger for snow and a 0" trigger for sleet or ice.

With the flat rate contract, we like the fact that we no longer get calls in the middle of the night asking if we want them to come out. They come out whenever the triggers are met.

Our owners like the fact that we no longer have special assessments for snow - although your "snow reserve" sounds interesting. Also interesting that you distribute calcium chloride - What do you do? Do you drop off a bag at each house or have a central location where it is stored?





Re: calcium chloride, every unit receives a bucket with calcium chloride. Each fall the PM asks everyone to put their bucket out beside the garage if they need a refill, and the landscaping crew fills them.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:410


08/11/2019 9:02 AM  
Again Tom, what you describe is common.

As a management company, and as a board member where we reside, I find bidding landscape contracts annually to be tedious and time consuming. We use different contractors for our clients, we can tell by comparing the cost for client A to the cost for client B (all things being equal) the charges are within a reasonable range. We have found changing contractors means the new contractor has a learning curve, especially if there are complexities to the work. Fortunately, we receive little to no ice or snow most years in North Texas so we do not have to deal with those conditions.

Of course if the performance is not satisfactory, that is a different matter.

We prefer two year landscape contracts for our clients, with a renewal clause. The contractor where we live asked us to consider a 3 year contract if he would keep the same rate for the life of the contract. He was the low bidder and had been the contractor for over 6 years. We were happy to sign for 3 years.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8877


08/11/2019 9:59 AM  
While snow removal not an issue here, I would prefer an annual fee for landscaping and snow removal. That way we can better budget. As another poster said, when i comes to snow it is a crapshoot. Some years the vendor makes out, some years he does not.
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