As a consumer it is important to know that your contractor has appropriate certifications, education and means to perform the scope of operations that you are requesting. Here are a few things to consider when interviewing potential contractors that may be working for you or on your property.
“Specialized” or “One Stop Shop”
Does the contractor that you are interviewing claim to do it all or specialize in one or two aspects of their particular trade? Most irrigation contractors will offer installation, routine maintenance, repairs, design, etc.
What to Look Out For: In addition to lawn sprinkler work, do they offer any other services such as lawn maintenance, fertilizing and landscaping? Some companies have the necessary resources to proficiently offer a wide array of services. Others claim to offer everything, but quite possibly don’t have everything it takes to efficiently back up their claims.
Questions to Ask: How many people do you currently employ? Do you own all of your own equipment? Do you do everything in house or subcontract certain portions of the job? Do you have any references from past customers or employees? Do you have specific divisions within your business that separate irrigation, landscape, hardscape, etc?
Licensed, Bonded, Insured
Most cities or municipalities require contractors to be licensed within their city or municipality to operate and/or pull permits. This is to ensure that they have liability insurance and are bonded. After the contractor has provided the proper documentation, they may be required to file an application for a permit. You can always call your local building department to find out whether or not your contractor is registered and has proper insurance and bonding.
Certifications and Training Trade Associations
Many cities and building departments do require insurance and bonding, however many do not go any further than that when it comes to irrigation certifications. Many trades such as plumbers and electricians are required by the state they work in to be properly licensed and trained through state programs. They are also required to maintain these requirements annually through state testing and education.
Many states have very loose restrictions on irrigation contractors. Its always a good idea to ask the contractor you are interviewing if they belong to any trade associations, participate in any continuing education programs and have any additional certifications that help differentiate them from other contractors.
What type of guarantee will you receive when the project is complete? Most high quality lawn sprinkler components come with a 2-5 year factory warranty. Your installer should at least match this with their labor warranty as well. Also, you want to be sure that your contractor will be available when issues come up, questions arise or when you need him to come back next year for routine maintenance.
Pro Tip: This is where a good referral comes in handy. Be sure the contractor has backed up his promises to past customers.
A good contractor that is established in your area will have no problem showing proper documentation, supplying referrals of past projects and satisfied customers and will also offer a solid warranty on their work. Always do your homework and ask as many questions as you can to ensure you choose the lawn irrigation contractor that is best suited for you.