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Affordable Lawn Sprinklers

Affordable Lawn Sprinklers

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Top 10 Ways Irrigation Contractors Save You Money In The Short Run, But You'll Pay Later

Every year, we meet with over a 1,000 potential customers and receive the same questions:
  •  “Why is this contractor cheaper?”
  • “Do we have to be home?”
  • “Can you leave a quote in the mailbox?”
  • “How do I compare quotes apples to apples?”  
Therefore, I have put together a list of things some contractors do to save money.  The difference between a “tornado chaser" or "garage slammer” and a well established company can be significant, up to 25% difference in price!  You are shopping for a custom built irrigation system, not a pre-made television from Circuit City or Best Buy.  The system has over 75 different parts, that we hand build to fit your home and it will be subject to many years of harsh weather conditions! 

If you want a good experience and a quality product that will last a long time, it is worth the extra money.  Ironically, it is often the contractors with the cheapest prices that make the most money and it isn’t from volume, it is from cutting corners.  Affordable Lawn Sprinklers stands proud behind our product, so proud that we put a two year warranty behind all of our installations! 

  1. Install sprinkler valves in different locations throughout the property (save $100)-  Even on smaller irrigation systems, this can save $100 in underground piping and labor.  The problem is the valves are necessary for yearly maintenance and if the sprinkler technician cannot easily find your valves than it makes it difficult to properly service your system and will cost you more money down the road.
  2. Hire Sub-Contractors to conduct the installation (save $150)- The savings on sub-contractor work is huge but so are the risks.  In general, labor cost 20-25% of a sprinkler system.  By utilizing subs, one can easily save 5% (on a $3,000 job that would be $150).  By Virginia law, if an employee reports to a specific company for work regularly, the worker must be an employee.   This means an additional employee payroll tax of 7.5% and also 5% for workers compensation insurance.  The homeowners risk is the consistency and quality of the work since sub-contractors frequently hire the cheapest labor. Also, if an employee gets hurt at the residence and there is no workers compensation insurance, the homeowner could be at substantial risk.
  3. Avoid hiring an office manager (save $50-75)- Remember the saying of a small restaurant owner “I seat the patrons, cook the food, wash the disher, etc”?  Well that doesn’t work for the irrigation business.  The office manager is the person that makes or breaks your customer experience.  They answer your initial sales call questions, schedule your project, call your utilities, troubleshoot your sprinkler system problems, etc.  But unfortunately, they don’t work for free, not even in the winter.  In general, it costs about $50-75 additional dollars per sprinkler project, but you are going to be glad in the long run when you run into a problem with your system and they answer the phone and immediately schedule a service call.
  4. Avoid having service technicians (save $100)- Experienced service technicians are very expensive, particularly in a seasonal business where there isn’t service work from mid-December til the beginning of April.  On average, most irrigation companies offer a 2 year warranty, but the warranty is only as good as the company’s reputation.  I don’t care what any company says, they can be the best installer in the world, every system will need something fixed within that warranty period.  To obtain a great long term customer experience, you need a company that answers your service call and schedules an experienced technician to conduct your warranty work because if they don’t, you are going to have to pay hundreds of dollars to find another company to come to your property and fix your problem because it will probably be a system full of “cut corners”.
  5. Hand dig a sprinkler system (save $100)- The best way to install a sprinkler system in Northern Virginia is use a vibratory plow that costs $30,000.  It ensures the sprinkler pipes are deep enough (6-10”) and doesn’t damage your property.  Every year, we run across companies that hand dig sprinkler systems and it looks as if the property has been infested by a pack of moles.  Although this drops your price by a minimum of $100, the damage is irreversible and your property’s grading will never be the same.
  6. Install too many sprinkler heads per zone (save $300-700)-  Sprinkler systems are driven by hydraulics (water flow and pressure).  In general, you can install 5 rotors or 8 sprays per zone to have the sprinkler system work properly.  One way for a contractor to save hundreds of dollars is to install more heads per line to reduce the system by one or two zones.  The problem is the pressure will drop considerably and it will not water properly.  This will mean that you will find dry spots in your grass and some of your plants will die from lack of water.  Making matters worse, adding a additional zone later will cost you three times as much because a contractor will have to take apart your current system and add the additional zones by hand.
  7. Install a cheap control box where the customer already has an electrical outlet (save $80)- Like most manufacturers, sprinkler manufacturers such as Rainbird, Hunter and Toro make different lines of control boxes.  From the entry level to the professional grade, the difference is about $50.  The major difference is the ability to add additional zones on the control box, quality of the circuitry (cheaper boxes don’t tend to hold up as well with time), flexibility in the programming (ability to water the plants differently from the grass or watering your over seeded property twice a day).  Lastly, we have found our customers generally like to have their control box installed near the entrance of the garage where they can quickly assess their control box.  Often times, there is not an outlet there so we purchase $30 in extension plugs and connect it to the outlet in their ceiling.  The benefit is:  saves you an electrical outlet and it allows you and our technicians to access your box easier.
  8. Not running extra electrical wire to the valve boxes (save $50)-  In 99% of all installations, the valve box is installed on the opposite side of the house from the garage.  In order to get the control box in your garage to talk to the valves, we install a rubber conduit in the ground that holds multiple wires, one for each valve.  We generally run at least 2 extras wire in our conduit for future convenience.  It costs us about $50 but will save you hundreds of dollars in the future if one of your wires goes bad or you wish to add an additional zone.  Plus we don’t need to drill another hole out of your garage nor dig up your property again to install a new wire; it is already sitting in the valve box for easy replacement or expansion.
  9. Not providing a drawing with your estimate (save $50)-  Time is money but we feel providing our potential customers with a drawing of the sprinkler design is well worth the expense.  It is the best way to ensure there will be no surprises the day of the job.  I personally would never buy a system from a company without a design and that is why we chose to provide one.
  10. Avoid having a project manager onsite (save $150)-  A good project manager will ensure you have a great customer experience.  They are responsible for getting your project properly completed in a timely manner.  They stock the vehicle with the right parts, review the design with the customer, oversee the employees installing the system, and do the final check on the system to make sure everything is working properly.