PDA

View Full Version : Installation Price and Fixture Question


mmarks3141
05-20-2008, 09:34 AM
I'm a homeowner in the Cleveland area who has been following the threads here and coming to appreciate the difference between the "Home Depot Specials" and quality lighting. My wife and I have decided to take the landscape lighting plunge, and got a recent estimate from the same company that repaired and restored my irrigation system. I had a couple questions:

Is $3580.00 a reasonable price for the following installation?
13 Vista 6222 path lights (walkway and front of beds)
6 Vista 2216 lights (Uplights for bushes and house)
10 Vista 5241 lights (backyard pool area)
Two 600W transformers (presumably one front and one in the back)
About 350' of 10 gauge wire

As a "bonus", they'll also throw in repair of an existing photocell fixture and move three sprinkler heads that need relocating for me at no charge if I take the lighting job.

Second question - how do Vista fixtures rate in terms of quality and longevity?

Many Thanks for the assistance

Lite4
05-20-2008, 10:08 AM
Sounds a little low. Be careful who you purchase through. Remember they are an "irrigation" contractor not a lighting designer. Yes, there is a difference. To be perfectly honest with you, probably 30% of my business is following irrigation contractors like this who have given the homowners a "good price", only to have it begin failing in a year or two. So, if you are ok with probably paying to have it installed twice, go for it. My advice would be to seek out a lighting professional. It may cost a bit more initially, but the design will be much better and the installation will be solid.
As far as Vista goes, They are a mid grade fixture. I use a lot of their copper and stainless fixtures. I don't use the aluminum which is primarily what they sell. However, what I have used from them is very solid and they have fantastic warranties on their products. Good luck on your project.

MarkOlex
05-20-2008, 10:09 AM
The contractor is definitely losing money on this deal. This job using a quality fixture (I am not saying Vista is not good quality, I am just not familiar with it) would probably be closer to $6.5-7k plus. This guy is either new and trying to get some jobs under his belt, or he will not be in business long.

Chris J
05-20-2008, 06:14 PM
My guess is that you are getting ready to be taken for a ride. Remember the old saying: "The bitterness of poor quality will linger long after the sweetness of a good price."
The price is way too low. Something just doesn't smell right with this deal. I'd run for the hills if I were you, then I'd find a reputable LIGHTING contractor.

mmarks3141
05-20-2008, 06:20 PM
Many thanks to those who took the time to reply. Being new to this and having no previous estimates to go on, I had no idea whether the price was fair, too low, or too high. It sounds like it's too low, and I'll look into some other options before making any final decisions.

Bill S
05-20-2008, 06:26 PM
I'm a homeowner in the Cleveland area who has been following the threads here and coming to appreciate the difference between the "Home Depot Specials" and quality lighting. My wife and I have decided to take the landscape lighting plunge, and got a recent estimate from the same company that repaired and restored my irrigation system. I had a couple questions:

Is $3580.00 a reasonable price for the following installation?
13 Vista 6222 path lights (walkway and front of beds)
6 Vista 2216 lights (Uplights for bushes and house)
10 Vista 5241 lights (backyard pool area)
Two 600W transformers (presumably one front and one in the back)
About 350' of 10 gauge wire

As a "bonus", they'll also throw in repair of an existing photocell fixture and move three sprinkler heads that need relocating for me at no charge if I take the lighting job.

Second question - how do Vista fixtures rate in terms of quality and longevity?

Many Thanks for the assistance





Sir -

Many people are going to tell you to hire a lighting professional. This guy is an irrigation specialist, so he obviously doesn't know what he is doing!

It's embarrassing how people automatically come to that assumption. Why not ask him to set up a demo for you. See how he utilizes his lights. Ask him what type of connections he will utilize. Ask him about service, warrantees, etc. Make an educated decision based on his answers and his past performance. We have all started out a little wet behind the ears, no one was born a lighting God -- maybe except for The Lighting Geek - his work his very impressive.

I am still new to the lighting scene and I work dilligently to educate myself on techniques, installation procedures, etc. I use only top quality products and won't compromise on this front. I did discount my first couple jobs. They were installations for two long time clients that have spent large sums of money with me in the past. I am proud of the work I did for them and I have not had any problems. Not all new people are incompatent. Not all new people will run away from problems. Most will use the opportunity to learn and adjust how they proceed in the future. You know this contractor, you be the judge.

Best of luck...

Pro-Scapes
05-20-2008, 06:57 PM
That does sound really low. I would assume there will be some corner cutting at that price.

Another thing that strikes me is that sounds like an awful lot of pathlights as compared to bullets. I can count about one job where I used that many pathlights and they job was about 120 fixtures total


If that contractor does know what they are doing and do a top notch quality installation I wouldnt expect them to be in business long because they are making little to nothing on the job. You can take the best quality fixture and have a poor installation and it will fail or look very poor.

They first question I would ask this contractor is if they have a volt meter and amp probe and in what method they intend to wire it in. If they say daisy chain or just connect them along the main then look elsewhere.

Hope this helps but again that price seems a bit too good to be true.

My biggest concearn here is will the installation be within code around the pool area ? Does your installing contractor know the code and know how far fixtures can be placed from the pool ? Will this contractor be ensuring your system is properly powered with GFCI circuits ?

Mark B
05-20-2008, 08:46 PM
Sounds low to me as well. Since you have been following some threads on here, you know what most of us try to get per fixture.. You can add that up and see what most of would do this job for. Also with 2 600 watt TF would make the price a bit higher as well.

Aslo the moving of irrigation heads. Get yourself another price. Or ask for a demo. All the advice above is good advice.. My .02

Chris J
05-20-2008, 10:18 PM
I'm not saying the guy doesn't know what he's doing simply because he's an irrigation contractor. In fact, I know a few water boys who actually do pretty good work. What I did say, however, is that the price is too low for me to believe this is the guy you want to hire. If he's just starting out, then he should learn the trade first and charge correctly for his knowledge. Let him practice on his own home. I know all of us had to start somewhere, and the installations we all did for the first few times were for people who didn't take the time to ask the pros on this forum. Low balling just because you want to purposely make mistakes on someones home just isn't right nor is it tolerated in my mind. The one who is just starting out should actually charge more to cover the multiple times he will possibly have to go back to take care of the client. My first job was charged at the same rate as the pros already in business. I did this for the above mentioned reason, and also so that I would not be undermining an established profession.
And yes, I knew what I was doing on my first job because I took the time to learn and practice first.

David Gretzmier
05-20-2008, 10:28 PM
The price of that job here would run 6500-7000 as well. corners would have to be cut somehow, and that would probably be in the wire guage or waterproof connectors, the quality of the trans, how deep the wire is buried, or something. those are pretty good fixtures, but with poor installation the system will look dim, unbalanced, and fail within 2 years. You might be lucky, this irrigation guy may be very good at lighting, and he is just doing the install for the price of the fixtures and wire. but most folks that are good value thier work highly. even if I was crazy hungry for work to feed my kids, I would still be higher than that bid. Good luck.

irrig8r
05-20-2008, 11:32 PM
I'm not saying the guy doesn't know what he's doing simply because he's an irrigation contractor. In fact, I know a few water boys who actually do pretty good work.

"Water Boys"...??? :hammerhead:
What I did say, however, is that the price is too low for me to believe this is the guy you want to hire.

My thoughts too. How long does he claim to have been doing this? Any references?

If he's just starting out, then he should learn the trade first and charge correctly for his knowledge. Let him practice on his own home.

Not sure if I agree with that... but you will usually get what you pay for in terms of skills and experience.

I know all of us had to start somewhere, and the installations we all did for the first few times were for people who didn't take the time to ask the pros on this forum.

No, because this forum didn't exist in 1989.

Low balling just because you want to purposely make mistakes on someones home just isn't right nor is it tolerated in my mind.

So you think he's planning on making mistakes? I think he just wants the job badly and either doesn't know what his true costs are or is willing to eat part of this for the experience.

I'll bet he took a free Vista seminar recently, and when I did that a few years ago, each attendee got $75 worth of coupons... so, maybe he took his whole crew and so has a lot of "free" fixtures to play with?


The one who is just starting out should actually charge more to cover the multiple times he will possibly have to go back to take care of the client. My first job was charged at the same rate as the pros already in business. I did this for the above mentioned reason, and also so that I would not be undermining an established profession. And yes, I knew what I was doing on my first job because I took the time to learn and practice first.

Chris, no offense man, but that's just not the way the free market system works.



Now, to the question of longevity of Vista fixtures:

Since I don't live where it snows, or even gets very cold (my dad used to talk about the "lake effect" and snow where he grew up in Cleveland), I can't address how they hold up in those conditions.

I have had occasional problems with T3 lamps loosening up in their sockets... and some problems with in-ground fixtures filling with water.

Their powder-coat finishes crack and peel less than Hadco in my experience, but they will oxidize and fade in most full-sun situations.

That said, the 5241 welllights are inexpensive, basic, and the finish is not an issue. The 6222 pathlights are probably my least favorite design. And the 2216 uplights are something I've used and had no real problems with.

Eden Lights
05-21-2008, 12:07 AM
Is $3580.00 a reasonable price for the following installation?
13 Vista 6222 path lights (walkway and front of beds)
6 Vista 2216 lights (Uplights for bushes and house)
10 Vista 5241 lights (backyard pool area)
Two 600W transformers (presumably one front and one in the back)
About 350' of 10 gauge wire


Unshielded sources are one of the biggest failures in the world of lighting design. With that being said review the 5241 and the 6222 and see introduce unshielded illumination.

Chris J
05-21-2008, 12:22 AM
Man, talk about having a post picked apart! Thanks Gregg! I'll try to return the favor when I don't necessarily agree with your opinions. :gunsfirin

irrig8r
05-21-2008, 03:47 AM
Man, talk about having a post picked apart! Thanks Gregg! I'll try to return the favor when I don't necessarily agree with your opinions.

Feel free Chris. As long as you quote me correctly as I hope I did with your post.

And actually I did agree with some.

Water Boys.... :rolleyes:... makes me think of either Gunga Din (http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/rudyard_kipling/poems/14458), or Adam Sandler (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiIO_gp92js)...

mmarks3141
05-21-2008, 10:56 AM
Wow, again many thanks for those who have taken the time to respond. If I had the time, I'd like to pick up one of the lighting books and learn more about the art side of business.

I did a bit of digging on the company as well as asked a few questions thanks to the experts here. The installation work is warranteed for 2 years, and the fixture warranty is longer as I recall. The installation uses 10 gauge wire, which should be pretty good. The pine trees being uplit around the pool area are actually outside of the fenced area of a fairly large patio surrounding the whole pool, and no closer than about 20 feet to the water.

They have a few different divisions, including "hardscapes" (is that rock features?), lighting, irrigation, water features, and lawn aeration. The lighting guy has about 10 years experience, although I think some of that was with another company before he came to this one. Their aeration price is so low that I can't see how they make any money at all ($50 for up to a half acre), but I used them a few years ago on my previous house and the job was good and even cleaned up properly with no plugs on the walk or driveway. I suspect they use the aeration as a loss leader to get more business. The guy did mention that he gave me a good price in hopes of getting some pond/fountain work that I'm considering in the future.

Plus, a recent article on landscaping in our local paper (Plain Dealer) mentioned the company as a good full-service landscaping company and that quite a few homeowners were pleased with their work.

Thanks again - there's a lot to think about here, and I've gotten some good ideas as well as intelligent questions to ask.

NightScenes
05-21-2008, 12:21 PM
Sounds like you're getting quite a bargain then. Good luck with your project.

NightLightingFX
05-21-2008, 02:03 PM
mmarks3141,
For giggles I looked up what kind of fixtures they are going to use. I haven't used much Vista but I know they make some good products. However, they also make crap also. By the type of fixtures this guy proposed I can tell you right off the bat they aren't taking an artistic approach to lighting your property. I may ruffle some feathers with this statement but any one who uses pagoda type path lights will not create a quality outdoor lighting portrait. Almost half of the the fixtures this guy is putting in (13 vista 6222) are aluminum pagoda type fixtures. (I REALLY REALLY HATE pagoda type fixtures - they are ugly and take no creative thought in installing). (6 vista 2216) aluminum directional fixtures - I guess they aren't bad for being aluminum. Be carefull with the (10 vista 5241) These are simple Par 36 fixtures with an exposed lamp - no glass lens or anything covering the lamp. It can be a possible fire hazzard. And no possibility of using any kind of lens. This guy doesn't care about any artistic approach. Just my 0.02 cents worth. You get what you pay for.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

waterboyidaho
05-21-2008, 02:09 PM
This price quote is extremely low or the guy likes to work extremely cheap.

JoeyD
05-21-2008, 02:52 PM
I didnt look up the part numbers but if Ned is right demand another light other than a pagoda. PLEASE!

Joey D.
Anti Pagoda

mmarks3141
05-21-2008, 02:57 PM
Funny you guys should mention that the pagoda is no good. I hadn't thought much about them, but they do look like the same thing you see everywhere else. My wife also wasn't too keen on those.

As it turns out, the pagodas are out of stock through our local distributor. For about $13-15 more per path fixture, the guy recommends Vista 4206 for the walkway and 9206 for illumination in front of the beds in the front of the house.

NightLightingFX
05-21-2008, 05:03 PM
The fact the guy even considered using a pagoda light is a RED flag. I don't think this guy is a quality lighting professional. Again I may offend someone but if a contractor has no problem using a pagoda fixture then they aren't a true outdoor lighting professional in my opinion. I am getting the impression this guy hasn't put much thought into lighting your home - just putting a bunch of path lights every where, can you say "dot-to-dot runway effect." One the other hand, a lot of people like the runway effect - just drive around at night and look at out door lighting, 90% of it will be the runway effect style. If you are becoming a conseur (sp?) of outdoor lighting you should try to find someone who takes an artistic approach. However, you may not have a choice, may be there aren't any quality lighting professional in your area. The low price, the type of fixtures picked, and the fact that you have some type of appreciation for quality outdoor lighting, dude this is a recipe for disappointment.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

NightLightingFX
05-21-2008, 05:26 PM
mmarks3141,
Since I have the catalog right in front of me. I am checking out #4206. Ask your "Lighting Designer" why he went from a pagoda type fixture that is 10" tall to an inverse bowl type area fixture that is 18+" tall. If I spec'd a fixture for a job and couldn't get it I would try to use a similar fixture. Why did your "Lighting Designer" change from a short 10" fixture to an 18+" fixture. My guess is that this guy is choosing fixtures based on cost vs. function. With your current exposure to this site I bet you could do a better job yourself than hiring this guy.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

mmarks3141
05-21-2008, 05:40 PM
I think he originally went with the pagoda style because that was what my wife first mentioned when she asked for "something like the neighbors had" without really thinking it through (and they have all pagodas down their driveway outputting way too much light). Once she saw that alternatives like the inverted bowl and other were available, she decided the pagodas weren't so nice. Her main goal was just something to make the house "not look so dark" at night.

As I read more and get more into this, I may end up adding some uplighting myself for the front yard pine tree islands which won't require any sidewalk or driveway tunneling. Even though the initial setup won't be up to the artistic standards I've seen by checking out many of the sites of the pros here, it is going to be light-years ahead of just about anyone in our 20-home subdivision. Of the 10 or so that have any evening lights on, at least half consider a couple of large white floodlights on the house good lighting. Only one house on the street looks like any thought was put into the night lighting at all, and they just have 3 small tree uplights in the front and a few small lights on their house.

Chris J
05-21-2008, 08:47 PM
This price quote is extremely low or the guy likes to work extremely cheap.

I like your screen name! I bet Gregg likes it too! :laugh: You are an irrigation specialist, correct? Thank you for chiming in at the most appropriate moment Water Boy! :cool:

Chris J
05-21-2008, 08:54 PM
As I read more and get more into this, I may end up adding some uplighting myself for the front yard pine tree islands which won't require any sidewalk or driveway tunneling. Even though the initial setup won't be up to the artistic standards I've seen by checking out many of the sites of the pros here, it is going to be light-years ahead of just about anyone in our 20-home subdivision. Of the 10 or so that have any evening lights on, at least half consider a couple of large white floodlights on the house good lighting. Only one house on the street looks like any thought was put into the night lighting at all, and they just have 3 small tree uplights in the front and a few small lights on their house.

Why conform to the low standards just because that is what your neighbors have done? Why not just hire someone who can do it right, and be the show-place home of your neighborhood for years to come? Believe me, quality lighting is quickly catching on accross the country. Sooner or later, someone on your street will have "professional lighting" installed and it will make the rest of you look cheap. No offense intended.