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Thread: Tips on hiring to build a pond

  1. #1
    Jumbo Appliance Guy's Avatar
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    Tips on hiring to build a pond

    Here are some tips for having a pond built.

    1. Do your homework extensively!
    2. Check with BBB, Angie's List (I'm a big fan of AL), and make sure the company is licensed, bonded, insured and ask for proof of this before giving them a penny or letting them step foot on your property. If they are unwilling or reluctant to provide necessary business credentials then don't even give them a second chance. Permits! Be sure permits are pulled even if they cost you a small fee (they will).
    3. Don't accept a recommendation. While recommendations are very valuable, they must also be confirmed. Confirming the workmanship of a builder is a must. While it is inconvenient and may feel awkward, you need to visit at least a few builds that the company did completely. In the end the devil is in the details. Small, incorrect details add up over time. Small problems are exacerbated once the pond is filled (a slightly unlevel skimmer may seem minor, but the impact on the running pond is substantial).
    4. Have a detailed drawing of the pond. A blueprint eliminates guessing. With free programs on the internet it is possible for the homeowner to have an nearly exact blueprint of what the pond should be built like. Every detail should be accounted for, down to the 1/64" detail. Planning exactly how the pond should end up is the only way to have checks and balances. There should be exact measurements. At the end of the day a tape measure should be used to check for correctness. If something is off, the build stops immediately until the problem is corrected. Sucks, but that's how it has to be. You have to check every detail, don't assume he builder has done so.
    5. If there is proper planning there will be expectations. The homeowner should expect that the dimensions are congruent, expect the foundation is poured properly, expect the plumbing is correct and in the correct locations, expect the drains are level, the skimmers level, etc... If there are no expectations that are clearly defined then there is not any accountability for inaccuracies. Having the expectations met means providing the builder with a list of what's expected. No list- no expectations, which ultimately means no accountability.
    6. A clearly written and understood contract for the build. This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. Humans interpret differently. A contract is a defined doculment and is not open for interpretation. In fact it exclusively removes personal interpretation in favor of exact, tangible metrics. Building a pond without a contract is like building a house without a blueprint. There will be discrepancies to what was 'assumed'. Little details like hauling off the waste materials, cleaning of the grounds after the build, damage to landscaping, etc... These all need to be addressed and documented.
    7. Set a deadline. Understand that there may be weather delays, but that should not mean there shouldn't be measurable dates of when things are expected to be done. There should be clearly defined order of operation. Each step should have a "sign off" before progressing. Again, it goes back to accountability.

    Questions to ask:

    1. Are you licensed, bonded, insured and can you provide proof?
    2. What other builds have you done that are similar and can I visit these builds?
    3. What kind of equipment will be used?
    4. Will you be using subcontractors? If so, what is your experience with using them?
    5. What are your checks and balances to ensure the build is being done properly?
    6. Do you have a checklist you use for accountability?
    7. What is your work schedule?
    8. How can I be assured the job is meeting my expectations?
    9. What happens if I find a discrepancy from the plan/blueprint, even if it seems minor?
    10. What is the plan for completing different stages of the project? What are you expecting?
    11. Do you anticipate any problems? If you have an issue, how will I be included in the solution?
    12. What are your guarantees?
    13. Do you feel confident you can do this job?
    14. What can I expect from you?

    This is in no way a complete idea of what should be done, but I want folks to think about how they can minimize problems and maximize output. Using the above as a start will get you on the right track. If you feel uncomfortable or that something is "off", then that builder is not for you. YOU control the plan! YOU control build! YOU control the outcome of the pond. Put the expectation on YOU, not the builder. YOU control the whole project. After all, it is YOU that is paying for it and it is YOU that will have to live with it. Don't let others control your pond pond.

  2. #2
    Sansai
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Utah, USA
    Posts
    242
    Quote Originally Posted by Appliance Guy View Post
    Here are some tips for having a pond built.

    1. Do your homework extensively!
    2. Check with BBB, Angie's List (I'm a big fan of AL), and make sure the company is licensed, bonded, insured and ask for proof of this before giving them a penny or letting them step foot on your property. If they are unwilling or reluctant to provide necessary business credentials then don't even give them a second chance. Permits! Be sure permits are pulled even if they cost you a small fee (they will).
    3. Don't accept a recommendation. While recommendations are very valuable, they must also be confirmed. Confirming the workmanship of a builder is a must. While it is inconvenient and may feel awkward, you need to visit at least a few builds that the company did completely. In the end the devil is in the details. Small, incorrect details add up over time. Small problems are exacerbated once the pond is filled (a slightly unlevel skimmer may seem minor, but the impact on the running pond is substantial).
    4. Have a detailed drawing of the pond. A blueprint eliminates guessing. With free programs on the internet it is possible for the homeowner to have an nearly exact blueprint of what the pond should be built like. Every detail should be accounted for, down to the 1/64" detail. Planning exactly how the pond should end up is the only way to have checks and balances. There should be exact measurements. At the end of the day a tape measure should be used to check for correctness. If something is off, the build stops immediately until the problem is corrected. Sucks, but that's how it has to be. You have to check every detail, don't assume he builder has done so.
    5. If there is proper planning there will be expectations. The homeowner should expect that the dimensions are congruent, expect the foundation is poured properly, expect the plumbing is correct and in the correct locations, expect the drains are level, the skimmers level, etc... If there are no expectations that are clearly defined then there is not any accountability for inaccuracies. Having the expectations met means providing the builder with a list of what's expected. No list- no expectations, which ultimately means no accountability.
    6. A clearly written and understood contract for the build. This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. Humans interpret differently. A contract is a defined doculment and is not open for interpretation. In fact it exclusively removes personal interpretation in favor of exact, tangible metrics. Building a pond without a contract is like building a house without a blueprint. There will be discrepancies to what was 'assumed'. Little details like hauling off the waste materials, cleaning of the grounds after the build, damage to landscaping, etc... These all need to be addressed and documented.
    7. Set a deadline. Understand that there may be weather delays, but that should not mean there shouldn't be measurable dates of when things are expected to be done. There should be clearly defined order of operation. Each step should have a "sign off" before progressing. Again, it goes back to accountability.

    Questions to ask:

    1. Are you licensed, bonded, insured and can you provide proof?
    2. What other builds have you done that are similar and can I visit these builds?
    3. What kind of equipment will be used?
    4. Will you be using subcontractors? If so, what is your experience with using them?
    5. What are your checks and balances to ensure the build is being done properly?
    6. Do you have a checklist you use for accountability?
    7. What is your work schedule?
    8. How can I be assured the job is meeting my expectations?
    9. What happens if I find a discrepancy from the plan/blueprint, even if it seems minor?
    10. What is the plan for completing different stages of the project? What are you expecting?
    11. Do you anticipate any problems? If you have an issue, how will I be included in the solution?
    12. What are your guarantees?
    13. Do you feel confident you can do this job?
    14. What can I expect from you?

    This is in no way a complete idea of what should be done, but I want folks to think about how they can minimize problems and maximize output. Using the above as a start will get you on the right track. If you feel uncomfortable or that something is "off", then that builder is not for you. YOU control the plan! YOU control build! YOU control the outcome of the pond. Put the expectation on YOU, not the builder. YOU control the whole project. After all, it is YOU that is paying for it and it is YOU that will have to live with it. Don't let others control your pond pond.
    Great plan set!!!! I've seen many neighbors and my own sister have little "water features" built in their yard. THey have ALL failed. my sisters being one of the most expensive. has a nice waterfall, skimmer. Well a landscaping crew came in and threw this thing in over a weekend. and charged a unrealistic amount. Well, it looked really good when they left. within the first year one side had settled and basically the pond that used to be about 2' deep is now a little under 1 1/2' deep. The first year she had fish they ALL dies that winter. There was NO filtration. Of course they told my sister and her husband that the waterfall was the filter and was more than enough. Also, did I mention they said it NEVER needs to be cleaned? The pond is a stinky nightmare. I go clean it out for them once a year.. literally pull out all the rocks and empty it and shop vac and shovel. It stays really clean for a week or two, but then the regular natural process all goes back into play. They keep a couple goldfish in here and usually lose them in the winters. I've recommended we "re-build" this but they are already 12k into this and don't want to "redo" it. I'm sorry for rambling on, but what they paid big money for and had big expectations is now a nightmare and they have considered just filling it back in. I really like where this thread is going... HAVE a plan. AND MAKE SURE the people installing your permanent backyard feature are qualified and experienced and have long lasting results. Thanks -Mike

  3. #3
    MCA
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    Honmei MCA's Avatar
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    Do your homework extensively!


    AMEN!!!


    For me that means picking from the very short list of builders that already know and deliver proper nishikigoi pond systems. I do not want to teach a pool guy or Aquascrap guy what is and what is not part of a nishikigoi pond system. Personally I would use the same builder who build ponds for Henry Culpepper and other certified judges. If he fulfills their requirements, he will exceed mine.

    http://www.koi-bito.com/forum/main-forum/3630-henrycs-pond-construction.html

  4. #4
    Tategoi semi skilled keeper's Avatar
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    SOUND PLANS but no mensions re PAYMENTS !
    Not sure how it works in U.S. but in the U.K good trades men do not need to pay for materials until 1 or 2 months after they have used them.
    They will have trade accounts in place.
    Arrange to pay as and when stages are reached and only when you have signed off on, stating satisfaction of that part.
    If they are supplying materials you need to see receipts showing types of materials and quantities.
    Better still buy them your self and only pay the labour. This way you can do the' deals ' on discounts .
    Use all your contacts, dealers ,breeders etc they have all had ponds built or built them .
    DO NOT TRY TO SAVE MONEY ON QUALITY OF MATERIALS CHEAP NORMALLY MEANS POOR !!!!!
    be lucky
    BRIAN

  5. #5
    MCA
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    Honmei MCA's Avatar
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    You also want the contract to protect you from any working men's liens. So if your GC uses subcontractors (concrete, plumbing, electrical..etc)...and does not pay them....they can not put a lien on your property and want you to pay them.

  6. #6
    Tategoi semi skilled keeper's Avatar
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    Yes paying twice for anything is not a good idea and over engineer every item. 2 or 3 % extra is better than 100% rebuild !
    Make sure you cast the bed in two layers. 1ST TO get level seal ground , onto this lay the pipes for drains etc
    Plenty of books ,web sites and on line pond designers out there.
    Take your time, do it wright 1st time it saves cash and grey hairs !

    Brian

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