Selecting and installing an irrigation system is an important investment for any of your residential or commercial clients. An irrigation system ensures that their investments — their lawns and landscapes — are nurtured and sustained. When it comes to who your customers contract to do the work, your qualifications and expertise can matter. Certified irrigation pros have demonstrated expertise assessing their customers’ specific needs and designing and installing systems that will maximize both water savings and landscape needs.
Your customers have the right to conduct thorough research to ensure the professionals they hire will perform jobs to the standards and quality they expect. The Irrigation Association (IA) shares these tips with consumers to help them determine whether the irrigation professionals they interview are right for the job.
Certified Irrigation Pros – Qualifications
Start by assessing the professional’s qualifications. A certified irrigation professional should be able to tell their customers about their formal training, references, certification by the Irrigation Association and contractor’s license. These items show a contractor has demonstrated basic knowledge and skills required for the job.
IA certification means the contractor has passed exams that demonstrate in-depth knowledge of proper irrigation practices. To maintain their certification, contractors must complete continuing education, helping to ensure that they are up to speed on new developments in irrigation practices. Other qualified organizations that offer irrigation training include irrigation equipment manufacturers, colleges and trade schools.
A contractor should have a basic business license. Belonging to various trade associations shows a contractor’s commitment to the industry and desire to keep up with technological advancements and irrigation standards and trends. In addition, a professional irrigation business should be able to discuss how it provides safety training and education for its employees to ensure they perform consistent and safe work.
A contractor should be able to readily provide proof of professional certifications, training and any state or local government-required licensing.
Certified Irrigation Pros – Insurance
Reputable irrigation professionals will carry appropriate insurance policies. The contractor should have worker’s compensation insurance to protect their customers from potential liability. They should also have general liability insurance with limits between $300,000 and $500,000 for residential work to protect their customers in case of unexpected and unintentional problems on a property, like flooding or landslides.
Any professional irrigation contractor should be able to provide you with certificates of insurance.
Certified Irrigation Pro – Bids & Contracts
When seeking an irrigation contractor, the IA advises customers to obtain more than one bid so they can compare prices and work. Request all bids in writing and make sure they include the same details, such as irrigation product brands. The lowest bid is not necessarily an indicator of the best value. Contracting with a licensed and certified professional may cost more, but the value of an appropriately chosen, correctly installed irrigation system can make up for these extra costs over time.
When choosing a contractor, the IA recommends customers insist on a written contract for their protection. The contract should include:
- Proper identification of workers (including names and licensing numbers)
- A complete description of the work to be done and materials to be used
- Payment arrangements
- Details on product or work guarantees
- Approximate date for work completion
- A statement saying the contractor will clean up and remove debris after finishing the job
- If any changes are made, they should be made in writing.
Certified Irrigation Pros – Expert Knowledge
Most importantly, an irrigation pro should have in-depth knowledge of how to assess the water needs of their customers’ properties. They should also know how to design an efficient system that saves water and instruct customers on proper use.
A smart irrigation system is only as smart as the professional who installs it and the customer who uses it. Customers can make the most of their investments and hire a certified irrigation professional. To find an IA-certified professional to design, install, maintain or audit an irrigation system, go here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: NALP put this article together in partnership with The Irrigation Association in honor of Smart Irrigation Month.