To ensure the highest-quality installation and optimum operation of your sprinkler system, you should carefully select the installing contractor. A licensed professional irrigator is an expert on hydraulics and proper sprinkler layout. He or she ought to be well-versed in the latest equipment and installation techniques that will ensure a water-efficient system and years of trouble-free operation.
If you’re interested in an irrigation system for a residential or commercial project, this section offers guidelines on important questions to ask. If you ask these questions of each company bidding on your project, you will be able to more accurately compare proposals.
Is the contractor licensed by the State of Texas? Texas law requires that an irrigation contractor be licensed.
You should ask for the contractor’s license number. It should also be posted on his vehicle, proposal, plan and contract. In the State of Texas, contractor license numbers always begin with "LI".
What is the length of any warranty offered on the system? Does the warranty include repair parts as well as labor for the full period? Does the warranty cover a percentage of the repair costs, or is it pro-rated (you pay part of the repair costs in the later years of the warranty)? Are there specific manufacturer warranties on system components that extend beyond the contractor’s warranty terms?
Will the contractor service the system after the warranty has expired? What types of service does the contractor provide? Is an extended warranty available or a service contract available? How long has the contractor been in business? Will they be around in the years to come to service your system if there are issues?
What types of routine services will be necessary? When should they be performed? Can the contractor train you to perform some maintenance tasks?
What type of backflow prevention device is being used on the system? (Be sure that local ordinances are being observed. Septic systems, chemical injection systems, and specific locations require high hazard devices.)
You may want to contact your water purveyor to gather the following information: Will the backflow device need to be tested and certified on completion? Can the contractor provide re-certification as local authorities may require?
Will the contractor provide and secure all necessary permits, inspections, and certifications required by local authorities and the State of Texas? (Ask for proof of all required documents upon the completion of the project.) You may need to contact your local water purveyor to provide details of necessary permits and certifications. Will permit costs and all other fees be included in the estimate price or will additional fees be incurred?
Does the contractor have liability insurance? What is your liability if damage occurs to underground utilities in your property or if a contractor’s employee is injured on your property?
Will sub-contractors be used to complete the project? If so, will they be covered by the contractor’s insurance and be under direct supervision?
Membership in local trade organizations indicates an active participation in the industry. It shows a professional attitude and this is often reflected in the contractor’s work. Trade association members stay up to date with the latest technology, industry developments, and changes in laws and regulations. Is the Contractor a member of the Central Texas Professional Irrigation Association or any other state or national professional organization? If not, why?
What brand of equipment is being used for each of the system components? Why is the specific equipment being recommended over other products?
What type of controller is being used? Does it offer multiple programs? Will the contractor take the time to teach you how to program it? Is it easy to review the program once it has been installed? Will it be installed in a location that is easily accessible?
Does the contractor guarantee 100% coverage of the irrigated area, and for how long after the job is completed? How many sprinkler heads and zones are being recommended? Are grass, bed, and shrub areas being watered separately? If not, why?
How deep will the pipes and control wires be installed? Consider normal lawn maintenance practices, such as aeration, and potential for freezing in your determination of how deep lines should be.
Are the electric control wires to the valves made for direct burial? How are electrical connections that are in the ground protected? (Poor electrical connections are a common trouble spot. They can corrode or short, causing valves to fail. Waterproof connectors, that are made for direct burial, are always required for proper operation.)