Just like any other trade, not all pond installation contractors are alike. Differences include the quality of products offered, technical experience, business ethics, reputation, and even artistic ability.
Sadly, over 80% of all water gardens are rebuilt replaced at some point – the majority of which are due to poor workmanship and/or initial design. We know this to be true because our installation and service crews witness these pond disasters first hand. Take the time to seek out a good contractor.
You can start by checking your local Yellow Pages. If you see an installation crew working in your area, stop and ask the foreman for a business card. And if you see a pond you like, speak with the home or business owner and ask them who built their water feature.
Once you find a contractor who suits your style, you may want to ask the following questions:
How long have you been in business?
Just because a landscaper or contractor has been in business for 5+ years does not automatically mean that they has the technical or artistic ability to install a beautiful water feature. However, the chances thye will go bankrupt and disappear before your pond is done, reduces dramatically the longer they remain operating. Businesses, including their owners, mature with age.
Are you a Certified Aquascape Contractor?
Certified Aquascape Contractors (CACs) are the most qualified and informed pond installers in the water gardening industry. All CAC’s are required to attend continual training and education seminars and maintain a proven record of outstanding work and dedicated customer service and support.
All contractors who wish to become Certified Aquascape Contractors must complete and in-depth application that includes referrals, pictures of completed ponds, and general questions about their business and water gardening philosophy. These applications are then reviewed by Technical Agents at Aquascape Designs and a review board made up of other established CAC’s.
A Certified Aquascape Contractor goes above and beyond the customer’s expectations. When you make the decision to choose a Certified Aquascape Contractor, you can feel comfortable knowing you are receiving the most qualified contractor to build your own beautiful backyard oasis.
After meeting a rigorous set of requirements, The Pond Clinic has been fully recognized as a Certified Aquascape Contractor.
Do you have a pond yourself?
This may surprise you, but many landscape contractors do not have a water garden of their own. It is very difficult to empathize with a client’s service needs unless you own a water feature of your own. Ask your contractor if they own a water garden, and if not why?
How many water features do you install per year?
One pond install does not a professional make. In the water garden construction industry, practice does indeed make perfect – at least we like to think we are perfect! Yes, I will agree that every pond is different, but the fundamentals do not change. A contractor needs to be building at least 10 to 20 water features per year to keep their skills sharp and a certain standard of excellence.
May I see your portfolio?
Ask to see examples of water gardens similar to the one you intend to have installed. Don’t forget to ask for before and after shots and remember – no portfolio is a huge red flag!
Do you have any business references?
Ask for them, and then make sure you call them. Better yet, go visit the owners and their ponds, if they are willing. Pond Tours are great for getting face-to-face with homeowners and asking about their installation experience. Very often the contractor isn’t around during the tour and you can get an honest opinion.
Can you provide me with a written quote?
A written quotation and proposal from a contractor is vital to ensure there are no “financial surprises” at the end of the job. A proper quotation should include: a detailed description of the scope of work, commencement and completion dates, price, terms, client responsibilities, warranty details, and a breakdown of the materials, equipment and labour required to complete the job.
When will you start the project and how long will it take to install?
Most GOOD landscape contractors book months in advance because they are in demand. Since they are at the mercy of the weather, in most cases, it is impossible to pinpoint a start date for water garden installations. What they can provide you with is a time frame and then stay in communication with you as your install date approaches. The same goes once the job begins.
What is your guarantee on workmanship?
A reputable, professional water garden contractor should stand by their work. A one year guarantee against defects in workmanship is the standard in the industry.
Do you require a deposit?
A materials/booking deposit equal to 50% of the cost of the job is acceptable, and can be as low as 25% on larger jobs. Ask if they are willing to return a portion of the deposit in the event that the customer cancels the project before the work begins.
Do you carry contractor liability insurance?
Written proof of a $2 million coverage policy will provide everyone with the coverage they need. If it is a commercial job, have them list you as a named insured on the policy.
Are you insured by the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board?
This is especially important for commercial jobs as you can be held liable for unpaid premiums if your contractor has failed to register with and pay premiums to WSIB.
Do you offer an ongoing service & maintenance program?
A pond contractor is like a family physician. You don’t see them every day. However, it’s comforting to know that you can rely on them to be there for you when a visit from The Pond Doctor® is required. Now you know why we call ourselves The Pond Clinic!
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