Pond Construction Warning Report
"10 Questions to ask your Pond Designer about Pond Construction & Pond Designs before you invite them onto your property"
Now our organization is located in Sunny Southern California so you will hear us make reference to "California's State Laws" and regulations. Some states DO NOT require a contractors license, making this list of questions that much more valuable for people looking to contract for pond construction. These are the ten questions most pond designers prefer you never ask them. The Pond Digger guarantees that if you confront your Pond designer with these questions you will greatly reduce your chances of getting your pond featured on our "Pond Design Gone Wrong" page!
1. Are you a licensed landscape contractor that specializes in pond construction and pond design and may I please see a copy of your contractors license?
Most pond designers have a copy of their landscape contractors license in their design portfolio or have their contractor identification card in their wallet and should be eager to show it off. Unlicensed pond construction activity happens frequently and puts both yourself and the alleged contractor at risk. Contracting without a license is a misdemeanor offense, and anyone who does so is subject to serious penalties including jail time.
It is also a misdemeanor for a pond contractor to advertise as such in a classification other than that for which he is specifically licensed, although a licensed general engineering or general building contractor may advertise as a general contractor. Additionally, certified contractor programs promoted by pond manufactures, unfortunately DO NOT require a contractors license to give out certifications. So don't drop your guard just because you because of a "certified contractor program"!
A licensed pond construction contractor who contracts with or aids an unlicensed person, or allows an unlicensed person to use his contractors license, is subject to a citation from the Registrar and a civil penalty of up to $15,000. The Contractors State License Board is your only defense against the fly by night pond construction contractors.
2. What is your guarantee on your pond construction workmanship?
The California State Law is to guarantee all workmanship and materials for one year. Once again, the California State Board is your only defense. If you contract with an unlicensed landscaper in order to save money on your investment with your pond design or koi pond construction and run into trouble with workmanship issues, you may be out of luck and will be looking at spending more money than you saved to fix your pond construction problem(s).
3. After I sign a pond design contract for pond construction and have second thoughts, what are my rights?
You do have rights! Californias State Law requires pond construction contractors to offer Notice of Cancellation within three days for a full refund. The buyer in a home solicitation contract has the right to cancel the contract at any time prior to midnight of the third business day following the signing of the pond design contract.
Business days, in this case, include all calendar days except Sundays and legal holidays. LEGALLY, The home solicitation contract MUST include a Notice of Cancellation form and the following statement: "You, the buyer, may cancel this transaction at any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of this transaction."
Ask to see the pond construction contractor's notice of cancellation form for an explanation of this right. Once a home solicitation contract has been legally cancelled, the pond construction contractor is required to return any payments received IN FULL WITHIN TEN DAYS following the cancellation of the contract.
4. Do you have proof of your Worker's Compensation and General Liability Insurance?
Protect yourself against lawsuits. Be sure the contractor you are using to customize a pond design for you is properly insured. Not only is it against the law in the state of California to work without workers compensation insurance, but also if any one of their employees or day laborers is injured on your property and is not covered by the pond construction contractors workers compensation insurance, believe it or not that employee may collect compensation for injuries from YOUR Homeowners Insurance.
Beware: If you choose a contractor approved by a "Certified Contractor Program" promoted by a pond manufacturing company, you should know that proof of insurance wasn't one of the requirements of the certification process and that you will need to request proof of insurance to protect yourself.
5. How long will this pond construction project take you to complete?
Talk about immediate gratification! A pond construction specialist that runs a full time pond construction crew, specializing in hybrid koi ponds and water gardens, could complete a custom 11x16 pond in as little as one or two days.
Yes, one or two days and you can expect little to no disturbance to your existing landscape. You can expect the highest quality workmanship and continued customer service from a pond construction specialist that you have posed these questions to.
If the landscaper who bids your 11' x 16' pond design and tells you it will take him a week or two to complete, you can be certain they don't run a full time pond crew and they are likely not the pond construction specialist for you.
6. Will my natural pond ecosystem circulate 24 hours per day?
This question is important so that you may understand your contractor's pond construction techniques. Unfortunately, we still have lots of pond construction contractors using pool construction philosophies for their pond designs. These contractors usually prefer to work with pool equipment, which is not cost effective for the homeowner to run continuously, so they will often suggest running your pond filters and/or waterfalls part-time to help save you money on electricity.
How nice of them! However the beneficial bacteria that colonizes in your pond filters requires constant oxygenation and can be oxygen deprived to death in less than one hour. A properly designed waterscape or hybrid koi pond by an pond construction specialist will be constructed with high efficiency pumps that are designed for waterscapes and ponds that are economical to run twenty-four hours a day.
Remember, your water garden or koi pond should be ecologically balanced, low maintenance, and be circulating 24 hours a day!
7. In your pond design to you plan to use concrete or a rubber liner?
Concrete is the preferred pond construction method of the PAST! The irony here is that in most cases a rubber liner would be installed first under the concrete just in case of leaks!
Not only does it add cost to your pond construction project and take longer to install, but it is more often than not, far from natural looking, unyielding to future expansion, and if not cured properly can be FATAL to your first finny inhabitants. Not the best decision for your pond design.
I hope we have made the choice as crystal clear as the water in your pond will be if you choose the proper construction techniques using the 5 Essential Elements. When constructing waterscapes or koi ponds any pond construction specialist should use the highest quality 45 mil E.P.D.M. rubber liner. So don't be afraid to ask what mil liner they will be using in your pond design.
8. Do you have a design portfolio and pond construction testimonials?
A pond design portfolio is a nice way for you to get a look at some of their work, presumable their best, so let's hope you fall in love with what you see! If you like what you see in print ask if the photos are of the contractors work or did they purchase the photos from their manufacturer. Trust me it happens, all the time! We run across websites with pond photo galleries that are filled with other contractors work! Ask the contractor if you can visit some of their work in person! Yes, a picture speaks a thousand words but standing in front of one of these pond contractors waterscapes should seal the deal or be a deal breaker. We want you to make the right decision.
Now testimonials give you a chance to hear a voice from some of their happy customers, but remember anyone can have their mother produce a letter of testimonial! Wouldn't it be an interesting twist to see complaint letter testimonials? This could illustrate how well the pond construction specialist responds to problems that inevitably may arise.
The true question is how well and how fast this individual with whom you are entrusting, without doubt, a substantial amount of money will respond to the needs of their existing customer base, rather than chasing down new business after you have paid your pond construction contractor in full.
9. Do you charge for design consultations or give FREE pond construction estimates?
Free estimates for pond construction should be easily delivered over the phone, however a good pond design consultant will charge for their time if you ask them to come to your home. In most cases this pond design fee should be rebated back into the contract price for your custom water garden or koi pond construction.
Licensed contractors that specialize in pond construction are in popular demand. If they offered free pond design consultations, serious tire kickers could detain them for hours! Ultimately, a pond designer that offers FREE pond design consultations would have to compensate themselves for time lost in the next signed pond construction contract, quite possibly yours!
Pond Design consultation fees typically range from $75.00 to $150.00 and are usually accompanied by contract review, possible pond construction dates, a firm price for your water garden or koi pond, a portfolio/testimonial, and a video presentation.
10. As a landscape contractor do you specialize in waterscapes and have a background in fish husbandry and pond design? On an average, how many ponds and waterfalls do you build in a year?
A landscape contractor's license is one of the best licenses to obtain, because it covers such a wide range of construction. However, a landscape contractor that specializes in one field should be held in high regards. You'll find landscapers nowadays specializing in custom tree trimming, irrigation & sod installation, and even water gardens, koi pond construction and pond design.
You will be in much better shape contracting with a pond designer that understands the husbandry of Koi, goldfish and pond ecology in general. Consider hiring the fish geek - turned pond builder - turned California Landscape Contractor over the Landscape Contractor turned pond builder period! Think about it!
Let's not mistake quantity for quality, landscape contractor specializing in water gardens, hybrid koi pond construction and pond design with a dynamic pond construction crew, on an average builds more ponds, waterscapes and pondless waterfalls in one month than other landscape contractors build in one year!
Who would you rather have build your, one of a kind water garden or koi pond? A California Landscape Contractor who builds one or two ponds a year specializing in many fields (a jack of all trades and master of what?) or a pond construction specialist that eats, sleeps, lives, and breathes backyard waterfall, koi pond construction and pond design 8 days a week!
Pond Construction & Pond Design Choices Made Easy
Whether you are dealing with a Certified Pond Contractor endorsed by a manufacturer, an independent association, or a California Landscape Contractor, I suggest that you ask these ten questions, get a couple of pond design estimates from other landscape contractors that specialize in pond construction, check references, go on a pond tour, and use your gut to make the decision on which pond contractor to use. Just be sure to choose a contractor that specializes in pond construction and pond design!
To be connected with a pond design specialist near you, call our pond construction headquarters toll free 800-522-5043. If you are not in our pond design radius, have no fear. We work with a network of pond construction specialists across the country. We will gladly connect you with a pond construction contractor in our network.