There are professionals who know ponds and there are others who don’t. There are some that are in the learning curve and will become great pond builders one day. As backyard ornamental ponds increase in popularity so do the number of contractors who become overnight experts. Suddenly everyone knows how to build a pond.
The truth is only a portion of those who say they know ponds actually do. We hear the horror stories from those who made “wrong” choices when selecting a contractor to do the work.
There was the lady who paid her contractor $2000 only to have him skip town leaving behind a pile of rocks and a poorly dug hole.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard the one about the expert pond professional who brought in loads of rock for a waterfall and didn’t place liner underneath.
Oh, and then there’s the one who installed a pond “kit” from Home Depot and charged $10,000 to “build” the pond...
How does one make the right choice of contractor? Easy. Make sure the candidate knows what he’s talking about! Here are a few indicators to look for when interviewing a possible candidate:
Immediately kick him off your property if:
- He suggests putting in a preformed shell. (Amateur!)
- He tells you that there’s no need to line a waterfall because he’s cementing it. (Unless you love leaks…)
- His only references are relatives. (‘Nuff said!)
- He says you don’t need a filter.
- He thinks a is for draining all the water out of the pond.
- He’s never built one before but thinks he can do it.
- He only knows one system and that’s the highly marketed waterfall and side-skimmer pond kit.
Consider the following good marks if:
- He uses the phrase “filtration system”.
- He suggests putting in a bottom drain with an outside pump.
- He has a portfolio, references and even has a showcase pond that you can visit.
- He suggests including a UV light in his proposal.
A good pond professional will know the difference in pumps, filters and liners. He or she will know about fish and plants and how to take care of both. He may be booked for a couple of weeks because the demand is so high now for good pond builders. His prices will not be ridiculously low nor will they be extremely high. He will listen to what YOU want and make suggestions on how the pond can be made more attractive and more easily maintained.
Remember that just because someone has been in the “pond business” for years does not necessarily mean he is the right person to build your pond. The trick is to find someone who knows how to install types of systems. Don’t go by “looks” only. Some of the prettiest pondscapes leak like sieves. Any style pond can be constructed with state-of-the-art filtration. Any style pond can have crystal clear water.
If you trust someone who has done your landscaping or who is a friend and would like to give him an opportunity to build your pond it would be a great idea to have him come by and let us show him how to put together a system that does everything you desire and one that won’t work you to death after it’s built.
If you don’t have someone in mind we do recommend a few companies that have a reputation of building great ponds. Several of these companies have created ponds for our Landscaper Showcase so you can see their work at our store. Depending on your needs and pocketbook we should be able to help you find the perfect contractor for your type of pond. If you do have one in mind you may want to give us a call. We may be familiar with the company and can offer some insights on how to build.
Once you have made your choice there are a few things you should do to insure you’re getting the best job from your contractor.
Communicate your wishes. If you leave it up to the contractor to build your pond as he wants then you don’t have the right to get angry if it’s not what you want.
Rome was not built in a day — neither should your pond be. Facts are, if done properly, there are some things that must cure or dry overnight before more work can be performed. It may take a couple of weeks, depending on the size and type of pond.
Have the area ready. Make sure the proper electricity is run and water is easily available before he arrives.
Settle the money issue before the work starts. Know exactly what it is going to cost you and realize that deviations from the original plan may cost you more.
Don’t expect it to be without any problems. Nothing goes exactly as planned. As long as the contractor corrects any problems it still should be considered an excellent job.
Here’s to a wonderful pond-building experience with whomever you choose to build your pond. As always, we’re available to help you with anything related to the subject.