When Good Installations Go Bad
The Costs of Maintaining Poor Landscape Installations
What is the value of a well-manicured lawn, a properly functioning irrigation system or even a crack-free parking lot? What about the sense of accountability and responsibility necessary to establish and maintain these aspects of your retail property? Perhaps more valuable than you think, especially when considering new store construction and installation! While most retailers operate under the presumption that their installations will always be completed to spec, the reality is that corners will often be cut by the installing contractor to meet deadline or save a few bucks. That is, of course, unless some form of service management and quality assurance system is employed and upheld through the installation and maintenance phases.
Installations, whether landscaping, hardscaping or irrigation, require a vast amount of knowledge, experience and care in order to be successful over time. Unfortunately, in new store construction, completion deadlines and grand openings often take a front seat to quality assurance and installation accuracy of your exterior assets – leaving behind future maintenance headaches as well as repair and replacement costs.
In any given new construction or installation, there is a hand-off of responsibility and budget between the construction phase and the operational phase. This dynamic can often be the source of additional maintenance costs and repairs down the road, which stem from a lack of communication, quality execution and accountability for the exterior portion of the project as a whole.
The construction manager or project manager that is responsible for the installation often focuses on completing the project on time, and getting the store open. This is understandable as each day beyond the scheduled opening date is very costly. Often, the exterior takes a back seat in managing and holding the contractor accountable. Without the quality assurance and management system in place to avoid this situation, the installation can end up costing your company twice. Within a period of time you will be spending maintenance and repair budget dollars to correct installation shortcomings.
So why aren’t the installing contractors held accountable for poor installations? Well, in theory, they should be! It is best to detect incorrect installations or construction errors by monitoring closely against the blueprint plan throughout the process. This allows for corrections to be completed in a timely manner and not affect or delay your opening schedule. The last opportunity is at the final walk-through and sign off of your new exterior assets. In some cases, this final inspection is not completed thoroughly, placing the property at risk for asset deterioration, safety hazards, and additional maintenance costs in the long-run.
Moreover, an ornamental installation that may appear successful at first will often show signs of a poor installation within a few months. While most ornamentals are typically given a one-year warranty, this guarantee is often “lost” when tracking from installation completion date, installing contractor follow, or difficult to manage with large regional contractors needing to return to correct. Often, additional maintenance dollars are expended to “just get it fixed”.
Proper planning, site preparation, plant quality, climate and soil factors are all elements of the installation process that, if not taken into adequate consideration, can affect the ultimate success of the project. Yet, even the perfectly planned site is ineffective if the installer chooses to ignore the specs to save time and money!
By not paying specific attention to details outlined in the site plans, a contractor may be putting the retail operation at risk for extravagant maintenance and replacement costs, damage to surrounding assets and even litigation stemming from safety hazards. In addition to these expenses, municipalities can assess fines if the final landscape construction violates the approved plans. Here are some examples of the most common shortcuts and errors installers make: