The Home Front Blog

Show Me the Money: Landscaping Deposits

So, you have completed all of your landscaping and your yard looks great! It’s the perfect time to throw a BBQ and show off your yard to your friends and family.  And hey… the landscaping deposit you’ll get back from your builder could make it the best BBQ ever! Not so fast… There is still a bit of red tape to get through before the money hits your account.

Receiving your landscaping deposit should be a straightforward, painless process; however, without fully understanding your obligations and your builder’s obligations, it can become a frustrating and lengthy experience. Here are a few tips to help you wade through one of the last steps of new home ownership.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL

When the developer created the subdivision, they took a lot of care to plan that the community would look great once completed. To ensure this, they created a set of Architectural Controls that set the standards for the neighborhood. These controls include the minimum landscaping that is required on each lot.  The developer made a deal with the home builder, in the form of a deposit, to ensure that the house and yard would conform to said controls. The deposit is also there to make sure that the builder pays for any damages they might cause to the curbs, walks, street lights, etc. When the home is completed, the developer inspects the lot and street and if it meets the criteria, the builder is eligible to get their deposit returned.

Now, up to this point, this has nothing to do with you. You became involved when you signed your agreement with the builder and gave them your landscape deposit. There are two completely separate contracts in place: one between developer and builder, and one between builder and home owner.  The crucial fact you need to know is that you have a contract with the builder, not the developer. You are responsible to the builder, and the builder is responsible to the developer.

WHERE YOU COME IN

So let’s fast forward to the point in time when you have finished your landscaping. Provided you have met the requirements of your contract with the builder, you can request a landscaping inspection from the builder and then apply to have your deposit refunded.  At the same time, the builder will likely request an inspection and their deposit from the developer. Sometimes a single inspection performed by the developer is used for both contracts.

Where the situation can become very confusing and frustrating is when the terms of the two contracts get mistakenly blended together by the average new home owner. It is quite common for some builders to suggest that the homeowner should get their deposit back from the developer. Let’s stop you right there. You have a deal with your builder

Make sure your obligations are clear when signing your purchase agreement, complete your landscaping according to your conditions, and work directly with your builder to receive your deposit back.  If problems occur, try and avoid getting involved in the builder and developer’s affair. Remember these tips and you will be grilling in no time! Stay tuned for part two of this blog entitled “Why you didn’t get your landscaping deposit back,” because you’ll want to know.