Doing your homework on potential drainage installers is important. You need to be assured that your contractor is insured and has the skills needed to properly install your systems. Be wary of “special deals” or the “great deal from a friend of a friend” – these will most likely cost you more dollars and headaches in the long run.
Tools for Locating a Potential Drainage Contractor: The Better Business Bureau is a great starting point in your search for a contractor. They maintain an online directory for BBB-accredited businesses in your area. You can check not only how long a contractor has been in business, but also any complaints filed about their operation. Angie’s List is another great tool for recommendations, as you can get testimonials from actual customers. Even if you “hear of a guy from a friend,” check their references online. See what other people’s experiences have been and choose a pool of potential contractors from the best you can find.
Portfolio and References: After you have a list of potential people for the job, ask to see a portfolio of their previous jobs and whether you can see former work sites. If possible, see their handiwork in person, perhaps driving by a home or business during or after a rain. This will help you not only to understand their drainage plans for your property, but to assure you they can indeed get the job done right. If you can speak with former customers, ask if they were satisfied with the work they had done by a Vancouver drainage contractor, whether the contractor stayed within budget and if the project was completed in a timely manner. You need to look for the best person for the job, not the lowest bid. You want the problem to be fixed upon project completion; you do not want to be dealing with drainage problems or, in worst case scenarios, legal problems, long after the contractor has left.
Bids: Get at least two bids for your specific job and get them in writing. Furthermore, make sure you understand the difference between the bids. Higher bids do not always mean a contractor is trying to get more money into his pocket. Better materials, more skilled workmanship and better reliability may be worth a slightly higher price. Keep in mind that, usually, you “get what you pay for.”
Insurance: An important issue when hiring a contractor is his insurance. If your contractor does not carry general liability insurance or worker’s compensation, the property owner can held responsible for any accidents which occur while work is being done. To protect yourself, ask for proof of insurance. Reputable contractors will understand that you are doing your research and will not be offended. Be wary of any that try to convince you this is unnecessary – they may have something to hide.
Skills Needed: Make sure potential contractors have the skills needed to do your job. Is your contractor a drainage specialist or merely a landscaper who has dabbled in drainage installation? Can he utilize a transit to analyze your slopes if needed? Does he know the proper depths and spacing for pipe placement in your yard? Most importantly, is he diverting your excess water to a suitable outlet? Purposefully diverting water to a neighbor’s yard, when runoff didn’t already naturally flow to that yard, can result in huge fines. As the property owner, you will be held responsible for your contractor’s end result.
Equipment, Supervision & Project Site Management: Find out who will supervise the work and how often will they be onsite to see that the plans are followed? Will the project continue daily until finished without interruption other than weather delays? You need to know who to call if you have a question or problem. Furthermore, does your contractor have access to the equipment needed to get the job done?
Products: Which products does the contractor use and are they the best in the industry? Be wary of contractors that offer a big discount because they will use materials left over from a previous job. While you may be interested in saving a few bucks, are you certain these materials are suitable for you project and needs? Having the project done with substandard materials that will not last never ends well for the property owner. You might have to have the system torn up and reinstalled a couple years later, costing you double down the road.
Warranty: Make sure there is some sort of a warranty with your drainage system installation once it is complete. More importantly feel confident enough with the company that they will even be in business to fulfill that warranty agreement. See if they can give you a past customer that you can call to talk to where they had a warranty issue that the contractor successfully resolved for them. Many specialized drainage companies offer a minimum of a 12-month warranty of full functionality, some contractors offer more.
Warning: We know of a family who hired a contractor that a friend’s neighbor had used. Although they met with him and thought he seemed like a “good guy,” they did no research on him or his business and references were not checked. After realizing that no real progress had been made in spite of the thousands of dollars they had paid him, they began to investigate. As it turns out, the friend’s neighbor had had similar complaints and was dissatisfied. If the homeowners had spoken to the people for whom the contractor had worked, rather than going by their impression of his personality, they would have been spared a good chunk of change. In addition to leaving their home a complete mess, they lost all the money initially invested and had to pay someone else to finish the job. Furthermore, because they had not done their due diligence regarding the contract, they had little legal recourse. The lesson: always err on the side of caution! Do not assume that a contractor has your best interests at heart; look at their previous jobs and, if possible, consult people for whom they have worked. Most people are happy to tell you about their experiences with a business, whether good or bad, and businesses with a solid reputation are not wary of you seeing their previous work.