The HGCIA (Houston Gulf Coast Irrigation Association
) is a
local organization comprised of area licensed irrigation
contractors, suppliers, and other interested parties whose primary
aim is to provide you, the consumers of the Gulf Coast area, with
the most up-to-date and reliable irrigation equipment, using the
most advanced techniques in design and installation. The HGCIA is
continually striving to see that only competent and legally
licensed individuals design and install underground irrigation
Choosing an Irrigation Contractor
A Very Important Decision
The success of your irrigation system depends largely on the
contractor you choose to design and install it. A contractor's
expertise and skills will affect your system's efficiency and
reliability. In fact, how your irrigation system is designed and
installed will make the difference between a system that continues
to keep your lawn healthy and green, and one that creates problems
by wasting water and leaving your lawn unhealthy and brown.
Choosing the right contractor is a big decision, but it is not as
difficult as you may think. Here are a few tips that will help you
select a contractor who will guarantee a job well done.
What to Expect
An efficient, well-organized contractor will be happy to provide
you with all the information you need to make an informed choice.
First, the contractor will want to view your property in order to
determine soil conditions, water sources and pressure, and planting
materials. He will then present a formal estimate detailing what he
plans to do and the total price for design, materials, and
installation. Along with the estimate, the contractor should
clearly explain all the project specifics. Generally, there should
be little disruption to existing foliage, and the average job
should take less than a week.
Questions to Ask
The best contractors will encourage you to ask many questions. By
asking questions, you will know what type of sprinkler system you
are getting for your money and what to expect from your new system.
Here are a few important questions to consider:
What type of product will be used and why? A professional should
tell you what type of controller, valves, rotors, or spray heads
are best for your landscape.
Is after-sale service provided? A professional should be willing
and able to provide after-sale service.
Is there a system warranty? A professional’s work should be
guaranteed — a one-year warranty is typical.
Does he have references available? A professional should be willing
to provide you with the names and telephone numbers of recent
satisfied customers, so you can call and check his references.
You Get What You Pay For
When choosing a contractor, you should be wary of those who offer
to charge you significantly less than others. Low bidders may not
be licensed or insured and may often use cost-cutting techniques
that can jeopardize your lawn and shorten the life of your system.
Watch out for these commonly used, undesirable short-cuts:
Not including a backflow preventer: This is often required by local
codes to protect your drinking water.
Installing sprinklers too far apart: This makes it impossible for
certain areas to receive enough water and can cause brown spots
during the hot summer months.
Mixing sprinklers with different application rates on the same
line: This causes one area to be overwatered in order to
sufficiently water another.
Not using special watertight connectors and a protective valve box:
These components are necessary to safeguard the electrical
elements, guard against short circuits and prevent corrosion.
Above all, you should choose a contractor you trust and in whom you
feel confident. It is also important that he installs professional
series products such as those manufactured by Rain Bird. For over
70 years, professional irrigation contractors have used Rain Bird
products to provide the industry's most cost-effective and reliable
irrigation systems. Choosing a contractor who uses Rain Bird
professional series products is the best way to ensure that your
project will be done right.
Your sprinkler system is a complex network of pipes, valves,
sprinklers, and electrical connections. Because it serves as the
circulation system for your entire yard, the design and
installation of your sprinkler system is critical. This is a
complicated process that requires specialized tools and equipment,
as well as a strong knowledge of landscape design and hydraulics.
This is why it is so important to have a professional contractor
design and install your system.
Ask your prospective contractor to show samples of various types of
equipment they use such as irrigation heads, controllers, valves
and risers. This will not only help inform you as to how the system
will operate, but will also aid in communicating with your
contractor what you desire in the system. Ask him to explain the
advantages and disadvantages of each product. As a general rule
irrigation system equipment varies in cost and quality. Each item
is manufactured with specific functions in mind and will operate
properly only if it is installed as recommended by the
manufacturers specifications. Underground irrigation systems, when
designed and installed in the proper manner using the proper
equipment, not only eliminate the time consuming chore of hand
watering your lawn, but also provide your landscape with more
uniform coverage and application of water which aids in healthy and
vigorous growth of your valuable landscape plantings. AUTOMATIC
SYSTEMS have proven time and again to not only provide better
application of water, but also can provide numerous time-controlled
watering schedules, which help in establishing new lawns areas and
conserve our water resources. The rapid increase in the demand for
commercial and residential irrigation systems, has been accompanied
by two developments, lower prices and better values by responsible
contractors and an increased number of irresponsible and
fly-by-night contractors. You, the prospective customer, should
obtain sufficient information to prevent selecting irresponsible
and incompetent contractors.
Should You Request an Irrigation Design?
Each contractor will have their own policy regarding design work.
He may wish to provide you a design for the purpose of submitting
an accurate bid, on the other hand, a contractor may believe he is
experienced enough that he can give you an accurate bid without a
design. In either case, the HGCIA STRONGLY SUGGESTS that you demand
a copy of the "As Built" irrigation plan upon completion of the
job. This will be a valuable benefit to you when future additions
to your residence or landscape are needed, or for irrigation system
The State of Texas provides a licensing program directly aimed at
testing designers and installers in every aspect of design and
instillation. Applicants for the license are thoroughly tested in
the areas of back-flow prevention devices, hydraulics (proper
sizing of components), economical efficient head spacing and other
important aspects concerning the system. The successful applicant
is then certified and issued a license number and is required by
state law to place this certified state seal on all designs. HGCIA
AGGRESSIVELY SUPPORTS THE USE OF TEXAS STATE LICENSED IRRIGATORS.
He or she is usually well informed with state and local codes and
regulation concerning irrigation system installation.
Is a Written Legal Contract Necessary?
As a general rule, most large commercial irrigation system
installation are awarded after both parties agree upon signed
contract. The contract that is submitted by the contractor should
include: scope of work, price of job, city permits, warranty
periods, and client/customer payment agreement. The contract is
directed at protecting both parties legally. A written contract is
not necessarily mandatory in all cases, particularly residential
installations in the community, others are not. HGCIA suggests that
if there is any doubt regarding a contractor's reliability, or you
are not acquainted with their work then a contract should be
provided by the contractor. Responsible contractors should have no
objections to a written contract. In general, a contractor may
require a deposit at the time of signing the contract. HGCIA
suggests that if a large advance deposit/payment is requested, you
should make sure the payment is justified and that you are dealing
with a reputable contractor.
The standard manufacturers and contractors warranty period for most
irrigation products and installations, is one year on materials and
workmanship. You, the consumer are protected by the people who
Build and Install the equipment. HGCIA suggests you, as the
customer, ask for references on other installations the contractor
has completed and how responsible they are regarding warranty
Should You Take the Low Bid?
It was Ruskin who said: "There is hardly anything in the world that
one man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper; and
the people who consider price only, are such men's lawful prey."
Remember, in order for the contractor to continue serving you and
other customers in a responsible manner they must stay in business
and show fair profit. Simply "paying the bills" is little incentive
to a reputable contractor. Again, consider the cost of other items
you own or desire compared to the value of your landscape or
residence. The low bid is not always the cheapest. Re-building or
replacing an improperly designed or installed system may cost you
many times the amount you thought you saved. Remember, you are
installing a permanent underground system that must be installed
right the first time.
The Important Points
1. Is your prospective contractor or designer a state licensed
Have you discussed the equipment to be used, and does the
contractor understand your needs?
2. Will the contractor submit to you an "As Built" Irrigation
Design bearing their seal, license number and name upon completion
of the installation?
3. Will your prospective contractor provide a signed written
contract if you desire one?
4. What type of warranty does the contractor provide and what is
their reputation concerning warranty work?
5. Remember! The low bid is not necessarily the least costly in the
long run. 6. Ask for references.
7. When selecting an irrigation contractor, look for the logo below
indicating the membership in the HGCIA. It is you assurance of
quality design and installation.