Choosing the most qualified outdoor lighting designer/installer is one of the single most important decision you will make for improving the aesthetics, safety, and security of your home and property after dark.
It is critical that you as the buyer do your due diligence to see if their style and reputation is compatible with your expectations. Anyone can buy light fixtures, but crafting a truly unique and balanced lighting design takes knowledge and experience. There are many considerations a buyer needs to understand before settling on the right designer for their project. A few of these considerations should be:
- Is low voltage outdoor lighting this companies only business or is it just a sideline for them as a way to simply add a few dollars to their bottom line?
- How long have they been involved in the design and installation of 12-volt outdoor lighting on a full-time basis?
- Will they service their work and are they available for technical assistance at the very least over the phone or to change lamps when they burn out?
- If the designer/representative you meet with is not personally doing the installation work you’ll want to know who is responsible and what are their qualifications and experience.
Are they insured? (Ask to see documented proof)
- Inquire about the design/installers education, training, and experience. True lighting professionals regularly attend educational seminars locally and nationally, to keep their designs fresh and stay current with product technologies. Real professional lighting designers are obliged to expand their knowledge base of lighting related to the various disciplines and techniques required in our industry.
- Have they made examples of their work available to you for review, so that you can determine if their style is in keeping with your expectations?
- Will they let you call their past customers and give you a list of addresses you can drive by and look at?
You should also consider the following before making a purchase:
Solid references (look strongly at Google and on-line reviews) or have them provide you a list of past clients.
- Have all of your options been explained and questions answered?
- What is the guarantee and warranty policy?
- Is the designer understanding and considerate of your needs and budget requirements?
- Does the designer have a track record for honoring commitments?
- Will they do what they say they will do when they say they will do it?
- Do you feel comfortable working with this person and are they friendly and do they seem honorable?
First Impressions are Crucial
You can’t work with someone if personalities clash. Candidates who are late for appointments without a prior call or do not project a professional image (ie. showing up in a beat-up truck with no identifiable signage) are very likely to be as unreliable and uncaring with the quality of work being done on your property.
Trust Your Instincts
Is lighting equipment constructed from quality materials such as brass, copper and stainless steel which will not rust? Or are they presenting a painted aluminum fixture which will deteriorate and be problematic over time?
Beware of the “Low-ball” Quote
This is also known as the “bait and switch” tactic. This term is used to describe operators who offer such a low price to get a job that it is impossible for them to deliver a quality product, service or to guarantee work for that agreed upon price. These operators are easy to identify. Their whole proposition is centered on their low price. These low-price operators cannot stay in business working on such slim margins. Often, they will not have proper licensing and insurance requirements. Out of necessity, they must find ways to increase income from your project. This may be accomplished by installing different product than what was promised, cheaper or homemade materials, cutting corners by using unprofessional and/or unsafe installation technique, hardball up-selling tactics employed throughout the installation process and other undesirable behavior which will result in a very bad experience for the homeowner.
Be wary of someone who simply takes a competitor’s written proposal and offers a slightly lower price. You have to be suspicious of someone who has no design ideas of their own and makes their living by undercutting price on another’s design.