Why is it fiscally responsible to specify minimum qualifications for a landscape job?
There are no educational requirements for obtaining a business license as a landscape contractor, nursery or landscape maintenance company in most cities or counties in Florida. Industry certifications provide assurances you are hiring a professional who has demonstrated knowledge and skills in the standards of practice and levels of industry knowledge.
Any job completed properly the first time, in accordance with local, state and federal requirements, is done responsibly. This saves money, protects property values and safeguards the environment.
1. Protection of Property Values
Landscapes are important and valued for public and private properties. Recent studies by the National Gardening Association show trees and landscapes can increase the home value by up to 19%. While the quality and health of landscapes add property value, value is lost when landscapes are damaged with poor quality plants or deficient work by contractors. The value of real estate can be protected from deficient landscapes and landscape maintenance work. Requiring contractors be certified in industry practices to perform professional landscape work helps protect property values.
2. Code Compliance and Grades & Standards
Most Florida cities and counties have codes and regulations requiring landscapes be designed, installed, and maintained at or above minimum standards determined by that jurisdiction. Property owners receive code violations when landscapes do not meet the minimum standards. Assuring that contractors who grow landscape plants, design, install, and maintain landscapes can meet or exceed the legal minimum standards will reduce costs and damages for private and public property owners.
Florida Grades and Standards for Nursery Plants helps ensure high quality trees with good structure and greater longevity are used in Florida landscapes. FNGLA-certified professionals are tested on Grades and Standards principles as published by the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services' Division of Plant Industry (DPI). Once again, this shows industry certifications provide the assurances that contractors are qualified and capable.
3. RFPs & Bids
Having industry standards and minimum qualifications that can be referenced in Requests for Proposals (RFPs), Requests for Bids (RFBs), and written contracts helps all types of property owner. Using FNGLA certifications as minimum qualifications for professionals to bid projects and perform work within a city, county, agency or property helps protect consumers from negligent work and fraudulent business practices. Contractors who hold one or more of these FNGLA certifications are more readily held to the standards of practice and levels of knowledge for their work. Without requiring these certifications, consumers and agencies have less ability to identify what was done right or what was done wrong when their landscapes fail.
The following agencies require at least one of FNGLA's industry certifications, and the language is included:
List of government agencies requiring certification
City of Hialeah
Indian River County Code
City of Miami
City of Miami Beach
Orange County Expressway Authority
City of Wellington
Town of Golden Beach
4. Annual Agency Award
Agencies earn formal recognition for documenting fiscal leadership in Florida's landscapes. Each year, FNGLA honors a distinct group of leaders who demonstrate fiscal responsibility by specifying the appropriate FNGLA certified professionals in a Request for Proposal or Bid, contract or job description. Recent honorees include the Cities of Clearwater, Tallahassee and Miami Beach.