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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Irrigation Advice 101: Choosing a Irrigation Contractor

How to choose a Contractor:

Do they have insurance?

Providing a customer with proof of insurance takes no longer then call the insurance company and asking them to fax or email proof of insurance to a potential client.

Why does a homeowner need to make sure a company has insurance?

Reputable irrigation professionals will carry appropriate insurance policies to protect you and your property. You could lose your home or business if something happens and your contractor isn't insured.

There is more then just one type of insurance a legit contractor must have:

  • A worker's compensation insurance policy. This protects you from potential liability if one of the contractor's workers is hurt on your property while on the job. Ask for a certificate of insurance before you sign a contract. This simple step will put you on the insurance company's notification list in case the contractor's insurance should be cancelled.
  • A general liability insurance policy. As a general rule, liability policies should have limits of between $300,000 and $500,000 for residential work and at least $1 million for commercial work. This insurance helps protect you in case of unforeseen disasters such as flooding, landslides or other calamities caused by the contractor's work. Again, ask for a certificate of insurance.
  • Automobile insurance. This provides another element of liability protection in case one of the contractor's vehicles is involved in an accident on your property. You may want to ask for a certificate of insurance

Any Irrigation professional will belong to organizations that promote standards in the industry and will have training, certifications and continuing education that they should be proud to display showing their commitment to excellence in the irrigation field. If not, then you should ask.

  • Certification through a reputable institution shows a contractor has demonstrated basic knowledge and skills required to do a job. Contractors with IA certification have taken training and/or passed exams that demonstrate in-depth knowledge of their field. Annual renewal and continuing education is required to maintain IA certification.
  • Evidence of training. Contractors should provide evidence of valid training. Even without certification, you are looking for evidence that a contractor can do quality work. Training is offered through professional organizations, like the IA, through equipment manufacturers and colleges or trade schools. IA classes are widely recognized in the industry and are not brand-specific.
  • Employee certifications and continuing education. The contractor should offer evidence that individuals in the contractor's employment have been properly trained in installation and maintenance. Look for certification appropriate to the work you will have done. The contractor should be able to assure you the work will be done by competent, trained individuals.
  • Safety training and employee education programs. What programs does the contractor have to ensure a safe workplace and to train employees so they can improve their capabilities? Professional contractors will have programs like this to foster pride and company loyalty. Ask your contractor what the firm does to encourage employee education and safety.

What to expect when the job is complete:


  • Expect to be told that your irrigation system is fully guaranteed for parts and labor for a full year. This is the industry standard. The same language should also be in your contract.
  • Expect a final walk-through prior to final payment.
  • Expect full instructions on how to care for the system and how to use the mechanical components of your system such as controllers and timers. Do not expect seasonal reprogramming of timers or periodic adjustment of nozzles once they have been properly set and/or adjusted upon job completion unless it's part a separate maintenance agreement.

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