Selecting an irrigation contractor

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by richyrich, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. richyrich

    richyrich LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I just had new sod laid by a company with a great reputation and I'm happy with the results. I know I should have thought about it before but the size of the watering job just dawned on me.

    So, to protect the investment I've put in the grass I'm willing to invest in irrigation. The area is around 1/3 acre at a guess plus I have grass areas at the front of the house.

    My question is how best to judge an irrigation contractor. I'm in Ottawa and there are plenty of options. Many have pictures on their site, I guess I can ask to see references but I'm still left with most of the work being underground, it would be hard to even know the parts they used. I'm led to believe Rainbird equipment is a good sign and I will of course look for tidiness, punctuality and everything I'd expect from any contractor but I wondered if anyone had some specific things to look for/ask or perhaps even some recommendations for people in my area (I hope it's not against site policy for anyone to say). I'd ideally like to just get the lawn area sorted and leave the potential to add extensions for beds etc later; any rough cost ideas would be appreciated.

    Many thanks in advance,

  2. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    Hi Rich,

    I'm a former irrigation contractor who has moved onto a different business.

    First off, Post this up in the irrigation section and you'll get a lot of feedback from other contractors. We don't mind this sort of question.

    Personally, I recommend getting 2-3 estimates from companies that appear reputable.

    Don't ever go with the lowest bidder, unless the bids are very close.

    Irrigation is something that you do right, or horribly wrong. Things to look for is if the contractor takes measurements of your pressure or GPM, or at least has a general idea of your area. A big red flag is if they design the system without knowing this.

    Ask about brands used (Hunter and Rainbird are both reputable, I'd avoid Toro or Nelson...Irritrol makes some good things (Valves, Timers mostly).

    Ask about plowing or trenching. Plowing makes less of a mess. Ask them if they use Poly or PVC, and why they prefer that type of pipe.

    Overall, reading the irrigation section will help you become more informed as a consumer, and you'll be able to see the signs that your dealing with a incompetant contractor.

    If they answer your questions with reasonable answers then you've probably found your man.

    Also, once you get your three estimates, post them here with the parts they plan on using and zone size etc and we can give as much feedback as we can.

    Take Care!
  3. firefightergw

    firefightergw LawnSite Gold Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 3,340

    Rich, this is great advice!
  4. richyrich

    richyrich LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    Thanks very much for the advice. I have my first quote in; it's from a guy I liked the sound of. I asked a few questions already like the parts he uses (Rainbird) and the equipment (Ditch Witch plow). His quote seems good - for a little over $5000 CAD plus tax it includes:

    • 39 RainBird 5000 Series Rotors
    • 3 RainBird 1804 4” pop-up spray heads
    • 3 RainBird Shrub spray heads
    • 12 RainBird 1” Valves (11 zones + master valve)
    • RainBird ESP Modular Controller (Up to 13 zone control, fully programmable)
    • RainBird Electronic Rain Sensor
    • Watts #7 Backflow preventor for the interior plumbing
    • PEX brand interior plumbing materials.
    • High quality polyethylene irrigation pipe (1”)
    • Stainless Steel Oetiker Clamps for all exterior fittings
    • Comprehensive Owners Manual
    • As-Built Drawing – a dimensioned drawing of the system showing all valves and relevant connections including heads and each zone marked accordingly.
    • Warranty – Parts on the complete system are covered for a minimum of 5 years (plus any applicable extended manufacturer’s warranty on parts).
    • Two year warranty on the system design
    • First year of included service

    No mention of water pressure but he has written on an assumption of a half HP pump which perhaps covers that. Our house is only a year old and we have a constant pressure pump and are on a well (not sure which is relevant if any to this decision).

    There is also a drawn plan included showing the positioning of all these components.

    $5000 is my absolute upper limit and pretty much what I expected.

    Any thoughts appreciated. I'm chasing up other quotes today although I have to say I'm impressed by this guy - the quote looks thorough, he came to survey within hours of me calling and was up at 11pm last night working on the quote for me. All seems positive.

    By the way, my turf having just been laid this week on about 2/3 of the area to be done, is it going to get wrecked by all this work? I'm getting irrigation to try to protect my $10k investment in sod! Would it be wise to wait a while? This guy did say they would probably lift then put back some of it to do the work underneath which seems reasonable.

    Thanks again,

  5. bobw

    bobw LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 807

    I won't plow lines in on fresh sod. It needs to be firmly rooted or else the plow blade WILL pull it up. Some contractor's may be willing to lift the sod and drop it afterwards, but I personally am too busy to mess around like that.

    Definitely ask each contractor what is plan is for the new sod.....
  6. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    rich... if the turf has not yet rooted yet it should be able to be lifted and laid aside. even if its just mildly rooted we had lifted it before on lighting installs just be certain he does his best to get the grade back and or re rolls thoes areas. I could not tell you much about your price as i am not current with the exchange rate but i am sure Jon or someone will chime back in on this.

    Your warranty sounds more than fair to me. Most guys here give a 1 yr

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