Is your company ready to make the leap and install a new commercial irrigation system? The road to installation day is not always an easy one, but greener days are surely ahead. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure you understand where your property lines are. If you already have a commercial irrigation system installed, think about what you like about your current solution and identify potential areas of improvement. Then, take a walk (or a drive) around the property. Note any areas of concern and make a list of questions to ask perspective contractors.
Identify Your Stakeholders
Before you get started, you’ll want to understand the process for getting your irrigation project approved. For example, if you are working for a Home Owners Association, you’ll want to read any laws that govern property improvement projects and follow the guidelines for receiving bids, providing proper documentation, working with the board, securing community support and requesting payments.
Even if your organization doesn’t have a formal process in place, you’ll want to identify the individuals whose buy-in is necessary to complete the project.
Make a Wish List
Over the past decade, there have been substantial innovations in lawn care. For example, Hunter and Rain Bird offer now sophisticated control panels, sensors and mobile technologies that make managing your irrigation system easier than ever. Make a list of products and features that you find interesting.
Brainstorm potential obstacles you could encounter throughout the installation process. For example, what if your contractor doesn’t complete their work in the allotted time? What if you go over budget? What if you don’t obtain all of the approvals needed to begin work? Risks are easier to mitigate when they’re planned for in advance.
Get a Few Quotes
This helps you understand how different companies approach the same problem. While some patterns are likely to emerge, you’ll also want to note any key differences.
When it comes time to evaluate the quotes you’ve received, remember, the best solution isn’t always the cheapest solution — but it isn’t necessarily the most expensive solution either. The best quote is the one that addresses your unique needs. Period.
Know Your Options
There is more than one solution to every problem. And if you’re getting more than one quote, that will become apparent right away. That’s why it’s always good to ask questions. For example, if your contractor is recommending a particular type of control panel, ask about the alternatives. Also, think about the materials that will be used for the job. Do you prefer materials that are more budget-friendly, or more durable? Can you use reclaimed water to save money?
Consider a Maintenance Plan
Many irrigation companies offer maintenance plans, which are designed to keep your system operating smoothly and efficiently, year-round. Monthly, quarterly and annual plans are often available and typically include tune-ups, inspections and winterization.
Don’t think you need a maintenance plan? Consider this: A leak the width of a dime in an underground sprinkler line can waste 6,300 gallons of water per month. While a maintenance plan will cost you some money up front, it will protect you more costly expenses down the road.
Check Their Credentials
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of contractors, you’ll want to make sure they are who they say they are. First, you’ll want to make sure they’re licensed and insured. After that, you’ll want to get a feel for the quality of their work and how they treat their customers — so read their reviews and don’t be afraid to ask for references.
Consider Day-to-Day Operations
Think about how you will use your irrigation system. Will the system run automatically? Will your staff need to be trained? Will you need access to your irrigation controls when you’re offsite? Consider all possible use cases and scenarios so you can discuss possible solutions with your irrigation specialist.
Make Your Case
Whether you’re presenting to your boss or your entire neighborhood, you’ll want to be prepared to make your case for the irrigation system. In addition to quotes and budget information, it’s always a good idea to speak to the benefits of having a commercial irrigation system installed on your property. In business, appearances are everything. Well-maintained grounds create a positive first impression, and can actually help your company boost sales, employee morale and building occupancy rates.
Former U.S. Coast Guard and Tampa-native Joseph Swett is the owner of Sunrise Irrigation, a Palm Harbor-based company that has been providing sprinkler and irrigation services in the Tampa Bay Area, Florida, for more than 20 years. A RainBird-trained landscape specialist, Mr. Swett is dedicated to helping Florida homes and businesses implement effective irrigation technologies and transition towards smart water conservation. In his spare time, Joe sponsors and plays in two men’s softball leagues, but also enjoys surfing and going fishing with his family.