Press Release: Outdoor Artisan earns 2015 Angie's List Super Service Award!

Outdoor Artisan, Inc. Earns Esteemed 2015 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Outdoor Artisan has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award in six categories this year! This reflects an exemplary year of service provided to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2015.

In response, Clive Newey, founder of Outdoor Artisan said “We are proud to accept this award for our third year in a row. It is a public acknowledgement of our teams hard work and high standards in design, installation and service. I want to thank all of our loyal customers who took the time to review us on Angie’s List! This award is really from you - THANK YOU!!! We are truly passionate about giving every one of our customers an incredible experience and this award proves that we are succeeding. I also want to thank the Outdoor Artisan team, each one of you has an incredible work ethic and commitment to giving your best. Even more you have integrity. I trust you with our customers and I am proud to work beside you - you earned this!”

"Only about 5 percent of the "Landscaping and Pavers" companies in the Charlotte area have performed so consistently well enough to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a really high standard.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2014 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

 Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

 Angie's List helps facilitate happy transactions between nearly 3 million consumers nationwide and its collection of highly-rated service providers in 720 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. Built on a foundation of authentic reviews of local service, Angie's List connects consumers directly to its online marketplace of services from member-reviewed providers, and offers unique tools and support designed to improve the local service experience for both consumers and service professionals.

Thank you and then some!

We at Outdoor Artisan are so grateful for our customers. Truly, we have been blessed with the best! Not only have each of you been a pleasure to work with, but thanks to your reviews we received a Super Service award from Angie's List for 2013. This is a big honor and really quite an accomplishment since last year was our first full year in business for ourselves.

When we established Outdoor Artisan, we decided not to put big bucks into advertising in magazines or paying thousands to be involved in home shows. In fact, we didn't have that kind of money to spare without charging our customers more. So we simply hoped that our work and our reputation would speak for itself and generate more work. Thanks to you that is exactly what has happened. Because of your reviews and recommendations to friends, family and coworkers we now have so much work! 

This is the best problem a company can ask for. However, since we are in the business of solutions and we don't want to make our customers wait for months on end we have decided to expand by hiring more quality guys. Soon we will get their pictures up with a little bio, but first we want to just introduce these fine men who we have chosen because, like us, they care: about our customers, our projects and our reputation as a company.

Welcome Randy Sandford. A good friend, experienced contractor, and former coworker in the stone industry. We are thrilled to have him with us since he brings extensive design, sales and project oversight experience, plus he is just a really great guy! He will be doing a lot of the same work Clive does; managing projects from that first consultation, design and quote through to project completion.

Welcome Corey our new crew leader. He has been in this business for over ten years, running his own company for much of that, but willing to join us in order to get out of the office and back on actual project work that he has a real passion for.

We welcome Daniel Hall. Okay, full disclosure, he is family (1st cousin) but don't worry he has more than earned his place on our team. Daniel works so hard even our crews have commented on his work ethic. He has been promoted to handling deliveries, machine and tool maintenance and general logistics. Often, he will be the one showing up at the beginning and end of projects to get things started and to wrap them up. He is an amazingly competent guy to have on our team.

Thank you once again to all our customers for choosing Outdoor Artisan. Without your projects, your reviews and your recommendations we wouldn't be in business let alone growing. It is our goal to continue to give each of our customers an experience that exceeds their expectations.

Let's save time and get it right, right from the start!

Here are some things to consider prior to calling Outdoor Artisan or any other contractor for a project consultation. By answering these questions you will be prepared to get things moving in the right direction, right from the start. We've even included some valuable insider tips.

First, think about function; not simply what you need or want, but why? That's an easy question if you are installing a simple path or border, but it gets more complicated when it comes to patios and living spaces. How are you going to use this space most of the time? Entertaining? If so, how many people do you usually expect to have over at a given time? You'll want to be sure to create the right amount of space and seating areas. Also, would you like a separate dining and lounging area or do you want to accomplish both in the same space? It is helpful to even consider the furniture you already have or plan to buy. Round or rectangular table? Large sofas or cushioned chairs? Knowing beforehand can really help in determining the best size and shape of your space.

Next consider your budget for the project. How much are you realistically willing to spend? It is important for you to have this established with potential contractors. Understandably, some customers feel uncomfortable talking about their budget for fear they may get taken advantage of. A great way to deal with this is to interview at least three reputable contractors. This also allows you to compare the different designs, quotes and business styles and make a more informed final decision. Be sure to ask direct questions regarding cost if you are unsure what is an appropriate range to set for your project. It helps everyone involved if you are upfront about your budget so contractors can come back to you with a design and quote that is within your comfort zone financially. Contractor Tip: When you get a quote, inquire as to whether the quote is fixed or an estimate. You don't want to end up at the end of a project with a bill that is much higher than your original quote (even though there were no changes in the scope of work) only to find out that what you signed was an estimate.

Privacy and sun exposure are other factors to consider. If you are looking for a backyard sanctuary, where in your yard would be the most suitable? Close to your home or in a far corner? Do you want this space hidden from your neighbors line of sight or away from loud pets/play areas? You may even want to consider creating a barrier from noisy ac/heating units that are often located in the backyard. As you know, it gets hot down here in the south, so you will want to think about reducing the amount of direct sun that hits your special space so you can enjoy it year round. There are a lot of affordable ways to create privacy and shade. Be thinking about this, since hardscapes absorb heat in the sun and then release it back well into the evening.

Consider the topography and grading of your yard. Do you have areas where water tends to flow or even pool when there is heavy rain? Be sure to convey this information to the professionals you are interviewing. Fortunately, your hardscape or additional landscaping could be part of the solution for many water issues. Also, keep in mind that your design ideas may need to be adjusted depending on whether you have a relatively flat or sloped yard. Money Saving Tip: When possible, customizing the design to suit the topography of your yard can be a great way to save money! Rather than spending your budget on tons of backfill or large retaining walls, a good design will work with your grade. This frees you to use that money on items that will create a more visual impact; such as stone step treads, outdoor lighting and beautiful landscaping. Work with your land not against it!

Now let's talk style. Do you want a formal or natural look? Tuscan, English, modern or rustic? Brick, pavers, stone or a combination? Mark pages, take photos or print pictures of projects you like the look of. Even if it isn't exactly what you want - show potential contractors examples of elements that appeal to you. This will further assist them in designing the perfect space, using materials that best suit your taste. Be sure to take a look around. What materials were used in the construction of your home? Continuity is very important to the feel of your new space. It is often possible to "tie-in" existing materials in some form or another. For example, if your home is brick, but you love stone, continuity could be accomplished through a brick accent in a predominantly stone feature or space. Design Tip: It is a good idea to limit the palette of material choices to help prevent your yard from looking hodgepodge.

Lastly, try to keep an open mind. Professional contractors make their living working with project designs and materials. Put that experience to work for you! Ask potential contractors for their opinion on your ideas, materials and layouts. They can give you valuable insight - often for free. Also, if the cost for your dream space is more than you want to spend, ask for suggestions to help you cut costs or accomplish your project in stages. At times, it is necessary to take a step back and prioritize or even make tough decisions, like dropping the fireplace, and substituting it with a fire pit so you can add lighting and landscaping. 

All this may seem like a lot of work, but this planning stage is too important to skip. Just do it! Take the time to work through these steps and get a good plan together. Once you get started, you'll see that the "planning your dream" stage can be fun, inspiring and invaluable.

The OA Way

Would you like to know what to expect if you hired us for your project? Please read on for an overview of the general process of working with Outdoor Artisan from start to finish (The OA way).

Once you contact us we will set up a free consultation for a time that is convenient for you. During that first appointment, we listen . . . to your dreams, ideas and concerns for your yard. We'll then provide you with an original design based on your desires and our professional experience. If you love the design and want to move forward to the next step, we will give you a quote that you can count on. This is not an estimate! It is a promise that we will complete your project for the amount that we have quoted. This is very important to us. We want you to be able to relax and enjoy the whole creative process, knowing that there won't be any cost surprises in the final bill. If you choose to add work or change materials, no problem, we will provide you with another quote for that.

After reviewing the details, if you decide that we are the company to create your hardscape, simply sign the quote.  We will add you to our project schedule and give you an estimated start date.  At this time, we usually require a scheduling deposit for $500. We will strive to get your job started on the scheduled date, however sometimes there are unforeseen delays mostly due to weather conditions.

Just before we begin, your materials will start arriving. We will call beforehand to let you know to expect the deliveries and to confirm where you would like them placed. On the first day of your project, Clive will arrive with the crew, mark out the dimensions and they will begin working. Very exciting! Less exciting, but necessary, Clive will also collect the materials deposit. The materials deposit is normally 50% of the total job cost and can be paid with a personal check.

Once we are on your job it is our #1 priority. Clive will stay in touch with you throughout the project to keep you updated, answer any questions and make sure you are happy with the progress. Your hardscape will be installed correctly and with excellence. You can expect us to stay on your job until it is finished and to have it completed in as few days as possible while still maintaining the highest standards during the installation.

When your hardscape is complete and your yard restored to order, Clive will meet with you to make sure that you are 100% satisfied. If you are (and we have every reason to expect that you will be) Clive will collect the final payment and leave you to enjoy your very own hardscape for years and years to come.


It's like cleaning out your closet . . .

Having a hardscape installed in your yard is very exciting. After all, we are literally making your dreams come true (well for your yard anyway) and you can see it taking place right before your eyes. Thrilling! However, we do want to warn you of a necessary evil along the way - excavation.

We are pretty sure there is a moment in most of our projects, when our clients take a peek out their window, and think "What have I done!!!" Their perfect lawn (or even if it wasn't so perfect) is gone. Huge areas of grass have been ripped up, torn out, and now lie in piles, never to return again. Add to this, numerous pallets of stone, pavers and other materials that will be placed close by, ready to be part of your new creation. It will look a whole lot more like a war zone than your dream come true! But take heart, a breath, and then a few pictures. Remember, this excavation stage is brief. 

We like to tell people that excavation is just like cleaning out your closet. Everything looks so much worse before it can get so much better. Please do take lots of photos. We would love it if you send them to us so we can post them here to encourage and reassure folks who are going through this stage. Oh yes, please be sure to include the after photos too!

Just to be clear, we always do our best to make sure your yard doesn't look like a construction site for long! Many of our customers comment on how nicely we leave things looking every day before we go home. It's these little details that add to our clients having a refreshingly great contracting experience. We have to admit that there's a little self interest going on here. Happy customers talk and help us get referrals which means we don't have to spend big bucks on marketing. That makes us happy too:)