Plan B - Hiring a Pond Builder
In some cases, hiring a pond professional is the way to go. While it didn’t work out for me, it could be the right choice for you. I had three different contractors work on the same pond. None of them were able to do the job correctly. I lost a lot of money in a total nightmare.
It isn’t my intention to discourage anyone from hiring a contractor. Perhaps I can help you figure out if it’s the right choice for you.
Know when it’s time to call in a pro
There are some cases when hiring a pond professional is the only way to go. You should always hire a professional if you plan to use electricity or need plumbing for your pond. Don’t mess with electricity if you don’t know what you’re doing. I don’t use electricity for any of my natural based ponds but you might decide to go with an electric pump for a waterfall, or filter. Always remember that serious injury or death can occur when working with electricity.
Plumbing is another task you should leave for a professional. I only use heavy-duty garden hoses buried in the ground as a water source to fill my ponds. If you need pipes laid down, or decide to go with a piped overflow (please don’t!), it’s best to bring someone in. A leak, or break in a pipe could lead to property damage. Damage can also include your neighbor’s property. Electrical work and plumbing is not an area where I can give advice and even if it was, I would still tell you to hire a professional.
Have a mutual understanding with you pond contractor
First of all, make sure you and your contractor are on the same page. I can’t stress this enough. Be very clear about what you want and what you don’t want. They may try to include unnecessary add-ons which incur costly annual maintenance fees. If you’re okay with that, great! That’s one less thing we have to talk about.
Protect yourself and your property
Make sure your pond contractor is both licensed and insured. Don’t allow them on your property if they aren’t. Make sure you have a contract because settling for a handshake when a lot of money is at stake is never a good idea. Yes, this is a very expensive venture.
The contract should cover construction of the pond and any add-ons you agree to. This also includes fish, plants, and landscaping. Sometimes they add extra fees along the way. You know what I mean, so-called, ‘hidden costs‘. Ask them about possible hidden costs before signing the contract. Have any extra costs stated at the time of the contract signing. Being upfront is very important when dealing with a pond contractor.
Ask for references and more
A decent amount of money is at stake if you hire a contractor. Still, it’s not enough money worth going to court over. That means you’ll incur the loss, not them. I know this because it happened to me.
A lawyer told me that only a class action lawsuit would work in my situation. Otherwise, it could have caused me to lose even more money, especially if he claimed bankruptcy. In a class action lawsuit, I would have less to pay in court costs. Even so, the contractor would still be able to claim bankruptcy making it a complete waste of time. This is why they need to have insurance. Consumer rights are a funny thing.
Ask for references
Ask for references and a portfolio when hiring a pond professional. Be aware that pictures in their portfolio and photos posted on their website might not actually be their work. This is why references are important. Make sure they give a guarantee. A standard guarantee usually covers between six to twelve months. Try to get a guarantee for twelve months. Know that if a problem arises, they may try to worm their way out of the guarantee.
Be sure they are taking necessary measures to protect your investment
Make sure (very, very important) that when they cover the pond liner, they’re taking into consideration that exposure to raccoons and other destructive wildlife could occur. They must completely cover the liner. This includes both in and out of the water. There are no exceptions or excuses when it comes to an exposed pond liner.
Your pond liner should have a manufacturing warranty on it. The liner itself is expensive, especially if it’s EPDM. If any part of the liner remains exposed to the elements, consider the warranty void. This includes exposure to the sun, wild animals and so on. Also be aware that if they add planter shelves which are shallow, raccoons forage through them at night looking for food. Such activity places your liner at greater risk.
Industry standard pond liner
Most pond contractors use EPDM liner at 45mil. At the present time, EPDM is still the industry standard in pond construction. While EPDM is not my first choice, it’s a good liner. A liner is pond safe when it’s properly cleaned. Make sure the liner wasn’t obtained from a roofing store. These liners are often contaminated with fire retardants and other harmful chemicals.
EPDM is also available in 60mil thickness. It won’t matter if raccoons decide to chew on it. Still, a thicker liner adds some added protection. Pond contractors might discourage you from using 60mil. EPDM is very heavy at 60mil and is harder to install which might raise labor costs.
Ask lots of questions
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. Tell them of any concerns that you have. Ask about possible added costs not originally agreed upon.
There you have it. Hopefully, these points are helpful in your decision on whether or not to bring in a pond contractor. Remember that labor involved in pond construction is very hard if you choose to do it yourself. Such labor is not for everyone. If you’re not in good health, bring in a contractor.
Don’t use heavy machinery if you lack experience with it. Avoid playing around with live electrical wires. If you’re up for the task and want to go with a natural pond as I did, go for it! Best of luck in whatever path you decide to take. I hope this article helped you in some way. Just be careful when hiring a pond professional.