There is such a wide range of information to be learned on this topic of koi pond and waterfall construction. and so much technical information to learn, you may decide to seek professional assistance to complete part or all of the water features. Before you proceed, here are some extremely important facts you should know. . .
Make sure that you have a basic knowledge about water gardening and the various methods of construction. Google> concrete pond vs liners
Try asking friends or neighbors for recommendations for building a koi pond is always an option, but they are unlikely to have had occasion to conduct business with a water feature professional. It is a very narrow specialty field so the next step might be to do a search on the internet for your specific region.
If you are considering a liner pond, please note that many liner pond people are not only inexperienced, they are working from job to job on a shoe string budget, which results in the illegal practice of mingling funds, using the deposit from one job to finish up the last etc. What is worse, many liner installers are unlicensed. This business attracts these types because it takes very little investment to get started (shovel, rake, garden hose and wheelbarrow) while making tons of money from unsuspecting people. Plus, In many cases a building permit is not required to build an 18 inch deep liner pond. If not installed by a licensed professional, a liner pond can end up being your biggest nightmare.
Contact the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) or the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) for referrals to professionals in your area, but do not settle on one referral. Always interview more than one professional to have a better idea of expected costs and finished product. However, you should never make your choice based on cost alone; rather, consider what you can afford coupled with good references and experience. It is advisable to seek the help of a specialist and ask for references. Do not presume they are a professional, ask them to supply the names of the last four or five customers who have been serviced satisfactorily and let them tell you of his professionalism.
Providing a few good references is not usually difficult, especially if the contractor decides to pick and choose the best handful from the past 20 or so jobs. It is quite another matter to divulge the last four or five customers consecutively and to note whether they are satisfied with the work ethic of the contractor.
If you have already gone to this much trouble, don’t be shy about interviewing these previous customers. Ask questions like was the work done on time and on budget? Build a rapport with them and ask to visit the project in order to inspect the work first hand! Do the interview and inspection preferably without the contractor present so you can ask sensitive questions like, did they correct problems without a hassle and respect your property and privacy during the course of the job? Did they honor their bid or ask for more money without a change order?
Do research on your own. NOTE: ASK FOR COPIES. Contact the State Contractor’s Board to insure that they have a contractor’s license. Is their Contractors License up to date? Do they have surety bond? (In case the contractor splits with your money, you can collect. ) Do they have adequate liability insurance? (damage to yours or your neighbor’s property -a minimum of $1 million. Do they have workmen’s compensation insurance? (medical care/loss of wage, injured on you property) Check the local Business Bureau for reports from a possible disgruntled client. Check with the local police department. They may have a record of drug abuse and at times split with the funds, only to show up later back in business.
Never give them more money than can be accounted for in material and or labor expended on the project. With every check you pay them, ask for a lien release for that amount. Especially, get a final lien release upon completion of the job. If they did not pay a vendor for materials used on your home, without a lien release that vendor can attach your house until you pay it (again!).
You should always insist on a written contract with detailed descriptions of the work to be performed. Finally, do not forget to demand a reasonable time schedule and payment plan. This procedure protects both parties against misunderstandings that can arise later.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pond cure.
Douglas C. Hoover; CEO of Aquamedia Corp, Master Waterfall Builder, architect, engineer, freelance writer, author, designer & builder of well over 1,900 waterfall and ponds in CA (26 years). Author of “Waterfall and Pond Construction Manual" and developer of the “Water Feature Digital Design Library 5.0" Free downloads, no sign in- http://www.askdoughoover.com