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ICPI Certification...is it really worth it?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by LB1234, Dec 16, 2006.

  1. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    Thinking about taking the ICPI certification course this winter. However, I'm not sure of its worth. IMHO, its seems like its just another piece of paper stating I'm certified. Take a two day course pass a test and walla...I'm certified...even if I never laid a paver in my life. Sorry, I just don't see it.

    The reason why I ask...

    My cost for paver installation is anywhere from 18-22 per square foot. However, I'm losing a lot of bids due to price. Customers tell me they can get it done for between 12-15 per square foot. I can't go that low...I just won't make the money I need to make to stay afloat.

    So I'm wondering if having a 'certification' will give me an edge in the bidding war and really justify my price. Does anyone who has the certification find that that gives you a 'leg-up' so to speak? Also, perhaps the course will provide me with methods to trim some time off the job and hence save money in the long run?

    Thoughts/opinions are appreciated.
  2. Travel'n Trees

    Travel'n Trees LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 631

    I weighting this out and think that it isn't woth it.
  3. Total Landscape Solutions

    Total Landscape Solutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 190

    I'd recommend it to anybody who cares about becoming better at the trade. It is what you get out of it. I had been laying for 12 years before I took the course, and still believe it was well worth it. The amount of technical information gained and new sales ideas were well worth the time and money.

    The instructors I had were excellent. Both had hardscaping business of their own for many years with a multiple number of installation crews during the season. They related the course material to real work applications, and always added their own tricks and secrets of installation that made their jobs not only more profitable, but easier to manage.

    Some of the material I already knew. Some of the technical material helped to better explain why we do what we do in any given step to an install. The material will also help me to better explain the process to any new clients with the tables, graphs, and illustrations provided in the manuals.

    If you could not tell by now, I'd recommend the course to almost anybody.
  4. Travel'n Trees

    Travel'n Trees LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 631

    I started at one Thursday disorganized I left went and dug trees the rest of the day. No books, not enough test. Wasted my time belgard wants me to drive 4 hours away and they pay for hotel and class. What a joke. Unfortunantly the help for me dropped my truck in a tree spade hole, called my wife to get them unstuck and worked a hour and a half in the 5 hours I was gone this time. Yes I need a new foreman.
  5. Total Landscape Solutions

    Total Landscape Solutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 190


    Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I beleive that the orginization of the class os 50% ICPI and 50% sponsors. Sounds like maybe the sponsor didn't have their stuff together.

    My class was sponsored by Nickolock and was the total opposite of your mishap. Well organized, very well lead by the instructors, and we were well fed.

    Sorry about your wasted day.
  6. PSUturf

    PSUturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 663

    Certification improves your professional image as well as the image of the industry. I think a good selling point would be to show a customer photos of a poorly installed paver job (heaved edge restraints, uneven surfaces, puddling, crooked joint lines). Explain that these problems occurred because ICPI guidelines were not followed.

    LB1234: how does the quality of your work compare to those who are charging much less per square foot? I'm guessing it's probably better based on the prices you charge. You'll hardly ever hear somebody say the work from the low bidder was high quality. The low ballers won't be certified because they probably can't justify spending a few hundred dollars to do it and they probably don't have the brain power to pass the test. I frequently have customers tell me they hired us, even though we are expensive, because we are the experts.
  7. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    Honestly, I'm not sure about the quality of work of the others. I can say that the paver jobs we have done we haven't gotten any call backs due to improper drainage, walls leaning the wrong direction, settling, etc. With that said, we've only been doing this a few years and we are limited in what we have done since we don't advertise as a hardscaping company (yet).

    What I can comment on is the other company's labor. Mostly, its a latin-american workforce. I don't think this has much impact on quality (again don't really know) but I do believe it impacts the cost. Please, I'm not trying to start a latin bashing thread...just my obeservation.

    I'll try and post a pic of our work and you can comment on it.
  8. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    We did this wall and small landing for the deck along with some flagstone steps to an inground pool. We also regraded the entire backyard. FYI, we worked for a GC on this one.

    This job has a lot of unseen work. Two drain tiles and a total of three seperate drainage lines (homeowner had some serious water issues). After the rains we received here in the spring the homeowner called and said he was very happy with our work and the drainage was helping significantly.

    Comments are appreciated. We are still learning.

    Attached Files:

  9. John Zaprala

    John Zaprala LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 283

    Iam ICPI and NCMA certified. I'm not going to tell you that it's essential, but I will tell you by bidding jobs by the square foot you're not being competitive. In ICPI they review why you should bid jobs based on time and material. It's not difficult to do. Every job is unique: is it accessible? are there a lot of cuts? steps? these are all factors that affect time and price. How can you say a 1000 sq ft. patio costs say $16 a sq ft no matter where it is or how complex the design. I found that the ICPI class was very enlightening to realize where you are making mistakes and how to run your jobsite more efficiently. I personally went to the ICPI class sponsered by EP Henry in Atlantic City and the class was very professional and the networking at these classes is priceless.
  10. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    I'm well aware of not pricing simply by square foot, agreed, there are way to many variables for each job. My price of 18-22 per square is any average. For instance, one of the bids for a walkway this past fall was 23.5/sqft due to the limited site access (small backyard with fence) and multiple turns in the walkway that required a significant amount of cutting. Same goes for the lawn care end... two half-acre lots next door to each other can have different prices.

    I guess my problem is the whole thing of just take a course and become certified. IMHO, it makes the certification process a little tainted and undervalued. Same thing for obtaining a pesticide license...take a test pass it and you are certified...without every using any type of application equipment.

    I'm going to wind up taking the course (probablly the one in AC) just so it ups my perceived value in the eyes of my customer.

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