Q What are the TOP 5 MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES in a good contractor?
A1) Tenure as a company, 95% of most companies go out of business in 5 years. New companies are learning on your job, their mistakes become your problem. We recommend looking at companies that been in business for a minimum of 5 years.
2) Reputation, references are great but even better are public sites such as Washington Checkbook , Angie's List and Service Magic. These sites validate companies have the right licenses, valid insurance and give customers the ability to express their feedback on how their experience was with their contractor.
3) Do they actively do work in your area The actual installation is just the first step towards a good solution for your lawn. Next you need the company's resources to train and retrain you on how to use the system and also how to properly maintain the system. If you live in Mclean, it doesn't make sense to hire a contractor based out of Maryland or Fredericksburg Virginia because servicing your service will always be difficult if they don't service many customers in your area.
4) How many systems do they install in a year Every year, we receive hundreds of new customers who want a reliable company to service their company. The typical reasons are vast ranging from the company went out of business, doesn't return their phone calls, service technicians aren't experienced, etc. But the type of company is always consistent, small contractors! The owner typically wears all the hats and there are too many (sales, project management, parts manager, accounts payable, accounts receivable, service manager, billing, receptionist, etc). More often than not, they do a great job at sales and a decent job at installations but stink at the rest. Remember, a warranty is only as good as the company.
5) Are they certified irrigation contractors? This is a national certification which contractors must sit for 2 days of class and pass a 4 hour exam. The test covers: proper backflows and installation, how to analyze water flow rates and pressure, irrigation design, safety, troubleshooting, etc. We are surprised it isn't a state law to be a Certified Irrigation Contractor, most states mandate contractors are certified. Regardless, it is a great criteria to consider when selecting the right contractor for your system.