Backyard fish pond planning meetings & the key to a successful project

backyard fish pond planning meetings the key to a successful project

Pond Planning & Design Meetings – Key to a Successful Project | Morris County NJ

The Transfer of Trust

Often when a contractor comes to your home and gives a presentation about a backyard fish pond service/installation they are offering it elicits feelings of excitement and anticipation of what this water feature enhancement that is being added to your home will provide to you and your family. Beautiful pictures or videos of completed projects can have you dreaming of spending time out by the water, enjoying your new aquatic paradise. Typically, the sales process is a pleasant experience for the homeowner and when the water feature project is completed the customer is usually not disappointed, but issues would continually arise during construction that would require last minute adjustments and this can be frustrating for the homeowner, construction team, neighbors or any one else involved.

designing a backyard pond

Common Problem
This issue is not unique to water feature companies, or for that matter any firm that attempts to sell and install anything. One of the most difficult challenges to overcome with any construction project is creating a system that allows for a smooth transition between the sale of the commodity and its construction. When this breakdown occurs on a Water Feature project the problem manifests itself in several of the following ways:

From the Client’s perspective:
-Last-minute surprise expenses like retaining walls, hauling dirt in/out, etc.
-Loss of confidence in the builder
-Frustration
-Unnecessary Delays


From the Contractor’s Perspective:
-Unforeseen material/labor cost
-Last minute layout changes
-Double work
-Last minute rush orders that result in extra shipping charges
-Strained relationship between construction and office staff
-Strained relationship with subcontractors
-Concessions to the client resulting from embarrassment


Typically, if I have a friend in the industry that is dealing with a scenario like mentioned above, I’ll ask

“Are you having a construction planning meeting with the client?”

“Well, kind of” they’ll say, “one of the guys goes out to the job the morning we start.”

I immediately identified the problem and explained the system we employ at Atlantis Water Gardens and how well it has worked for us.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of a thorough planning meeting between whoever is ultimately responsible for the construction of the project and the client. Sounds like common sense right? Well, we all know that common sense is not always common practice.

This is not a difficult thing to do! In fact it’s a lot easier and less stressful than the alternative. When conducted properly, the construction planning meeting will eliminate most, if not all of the stressors mentioned above.

I understand that last minute changes occur on any project. Buried stumps, large rocks, utility lines and other underground obstacles inherently pop up when excavating and are not usually able to be anticipated beforehand (unless the homeowner has detailed knowledge of the site). These things always pop up and this won’t change regardless of how many meetings you have. But this isn’t about change orders, it’s about preparation.

So whether you are a potential pond buyer or pond contractor here are several tips to ensure this critical planning meeting is effective:

Tips for scheduling the Planning Meeting:
-Have it as soon after the sale as possible
-Never rush the meeting. My average meetings last 1-2 hours
-Make sure there’s good weather. Uncomfortable conditions will lead to a rushed meeting and/or lack of focus
-Make sure all decision makers are present

Ok, now we’re there on site…..builder and client. What do we need to discuss to insure this project runs smoothly? Basically, we need to discuss two things. First we need to set expectations: what exactly is going to happen in your yard over the course of the project; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Second, we need to discuss what I call the nuts and bolts of the project; more of the technical/logistical side of things. Let’s break each of these down into some specifics.

Setting expectations:
-The impact the project will have on the yard/landscaping
-The impact the project will have on any neighbors
-Thorough discussion of the construction process including rough timelines
-Review payment process
-Review potential unforeseen expenses (groundwater, rock, etc.)
-Overview of materials used
-Communication process employed by builder

Nuts and Bolts:
-Site access (how we’re getting in/out)
-Dirt hauled away/staying, put where?
-Where any trucks & equipment will be parked during construction
-Review water feature layout and paint on ground for final review
-Location of utilities, septic system, well, irrigation, etc.
-Determine who will be fixing any lawn/landscape/driveway areas upon project completion
-Discuss elevation of pond and patio (if applicable)


This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but it gives you a concept of what we do. At Atlantis Water Gardens we have 100’s of clients on our reference list. A lot of good things have to happen on a regular basis to consistently provide that level of top notch service. It takes the best people, systems, and frankly the best customers. But I’m here to tell you that without an effective construction planning meeting none of that would be possible. So builders, please consider doing this if you’re not already; and potential water feature customers, make sure your water feature contractor does this. It will save you both a lot of stress, time, and possibly money.

Thanks for visiting our learning hub. As always, we hope you found this helpful. Please feel free to comment below.

The atlantis water gardens story, denville nj

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The single best way to choose a pond contractor without getting hosed

backyard fish pond planning meetings the key to a successful project

Pond Planning & Design Meetings – Key to a Successful Project | Morris County NJ

It seems we never have a shortage of emails from people with stories about bad experiences with contractors they hired to install their backyard fish pond, disappearing waterfall, fountainscape or water feature.

Whether it’s a concrete pond, a liner pond with rock and gravel, or even a plastic tub pond– having only one chance to pick the right contractor to install your water feature should be well thought out and researched

Yet, sometimes we still make the wrong decision.

Previously, I wrote some pieces about how to properly choose your pond contractor, but this article is geared toward one particular recommendation that will make all the difference for pond shoppers if followed.​

beautiful pondless waterfall

REFERENCES.

I know, it seems simple but many of us still fail to ask for references or simply don’t know how to go about asking for them. Want to know the easy way to do this?

How to Properly Ask Your Pond Contractor for References of Previous Work
Say you have a pond contractor in your home who is giving you a quote on your water feature project. Instead of asking for a reference list, ask this simple question first

How many ponds did you install last year?
It’s really an easy question, but you will probably be met with a very quick answer from the pond contractor, possibly even embellishing the number of ponds installed to seem more qualified.
Once the answer is given, your next question is going to be

May I see your reference list from last year then?
If you were given a statement saying there were 25 ponds installed last year and you only receive 12 references, that probably means one thing

Only half of their clients were satisfied?
Do you feel good that only half of the customers that had their pond installed by the contractor were willing to endorse them or give honest feedback on their experience?
Speaking with customers about their experience with pond shopping, it surprises me how many times I’ve heard people say, “The contractor said they’re not allowed to share the referrels because of privacy issues.”

Sounds like Shenanigans…
Atlantis Water Gardens has been building ponds & water features for almost 2 decades and over that time we’ve only had a handful of people ask us not to share their names because of privacy. That’s literally only a couple out of hundreds and hundreds of clients

Trust your instincts and go with your gut.
Please, if you will be choosing someone to build your backyard oasis that may include a fish pond, disappearing waterfall, fountainscape or some other form of water feature, use the suggestions I have provided here to make sure you are picking the pond contractor that is right for you. If it doesn’t smell right and they are unwilling to provide you with the references you’ve requested, don’t ignore the red flags because you know what you have to do – WALK AWAY

Do your research, follow these steps, and choose that pond contractor that is right for you and your home. Surely there is someone in your area that is willing to be honest and transparent with their business.

This should be an enjoyable experience and it’s up to you to protect your investment and make the right buying decisions.

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Schedule a phone call and get to pick the brain of one of our experienced designers about your project Schedule My Call Now

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Pond Builder Vetting Checklist for finding a pond contractor in northern NJ

backyard fish pond planning meetings the key to a successful project

Pond Planning & Design Meetings – Key to a Successful Project | Morris County NJ

If you are seriously considering a backyard fish pond, you’ve probably discovered there are a lot of decisions to make!

At the top of this list stands one glaring question:

HOW DO I SELECT A REPUTABLE POND BUILDER?

This question is so important because the expertise and integrity of your pond builder will play a huge role in determining the final outcome of your project.
To assist you in this process, we at Atlantis Water Gardens have put together a checklist to help you do your homework on potential pond builders. This checklist is based on our experience of not only working with over 1,000 pond and water feature customers throughout New Jersey, but also from helping hundreds of folks who found us through the internet find reputable pond builders in their area.

So, regardless of where you live or whether you are looking for a rubber liner, concrete or plastic tub pond this checklist will help you identify various criteria to look for when selecting your pond builder.

Let’s do this!

beautiful pondless waterfall

THE ULTIMATE POND BUILDER VETTING CHECKLIST

Contractor Name: ___________________________________

1. Business Information and Experience
– The company is licensed (if applicable in your state) and insured.
Note: ask if the name on the license is the same as the company name. If not, find out why.
– Find out how many years the company has been in business
– Years in business: _______
Note: 43% of contractors fail within the first three years after start-up


2. Customer References
Ask the following questions of the pond builder:
-How many ponds have you installed since in business? _________
-How many were installed last year? ________
-Of those installations, how many references can you provide? ________
Note: if the pond builder provides less than half of their customers as references we consider this to be a red flag. Our experience has been that the vast majority of people when asked are willing to go on a reference list. In our opinion, providing less than half of the customers as references equates to less than a 50% chance of being happy in the end.

Call at least 5 references


3. When Calling References Be Sure To Ask The Following:
-If you could do it over, would you use the pond builder again?
-What did you enjoy about the experience?
-What was least enjoyable?
-What pond/water feature, options, and accessories did you choose?
-What would you do differently?
-How did the pond builder handle challenges and problems when they arose?

Read the article below for more guidance regarding obtaining and calling references:
The Single Best Way To Choose a Pond Contractor Without Getting Hosed

4. Reviews and Ratings
-Collectively, the pond builder has at least a 5:1 good review to bad review ratio
-They responded reasonably to negative reviews when possible

5. Products Used By Pond Builder
-The products the pond builder uses have good reviews in the marketplace
-The customer references you called gave the products used by the builder positive ratings
-The products are backed by competitive warranties

6. Workmanship Warranty
Note: a workmanship warranty would cover issues that could arise such as pond movement, plumbing leaks, structural problems, etc. The minimum workmanship warranty by law in most states is one year.

-What is the duration of the pond builder’s workmanship warranty?_______________________________
-What specifically does the pond builder’s workmanship warranty cover?__________________________
-What happens in the event that a repair is needed? (who pays to replace water, repair yard, etc)?_____________________________________________


7. Installation Practices
-Does the pond builder have any installation or construction practices that distinguish them from the competition?_________________________________________________
-Are these practices relevant and in accordance with manufacturer’s specs? ____________________________________

8. Design and Project Planning
The Pond Builder will convey a plan to you before the project begins showing the following:
-exact pond location outlined in spray paint in your yard
-location of pump and filter system
-the elevation (or height) of the pond in relation to your existing yard
-access lane for construction
-retaining walls if applicable
-yard drainage if applicable

For a more detailed explanation check out:
Backyard Fish Pond Planning Meetings: The Key To A Successful Project

8. Pricing & Contract
-Whenever possible, the price for all work is included in the contract or at the very least as a formal quote.
-Estimated completion date is listed on the contract
-All “throw-ins” are listed on the contract


9. Things That Are NOT All That Important
-The size of the company: great pond builders come in all sizes 🙂
-In-house construction vs sub-contracted work: at the end of the day, great pond builders get it done either way and make sure you are happy in the end.
-Website and Marketing: Shiny brochures and updated Facebook posts are nice, but not necessarily an indication of integrity or expertise.


We hope you will find this helpful on your quest to finding the perfect pond builder. If you have any questions or comments feel free, as always, to leave them below.

If you live in Northern New Jersey and would like to RECEIVE A QUOTE for one of our backyard fish ponds, disappearing waterfalls or fountainscapes, click here.


To learn more about the cost of a professionally installed water feature:
How Much Do Backyard Fish Ponds Cost?

Take The Plunge!

Schedule a phone call and get to pick the brain of one of our experienced designers about your project Schedule My Call Now

Lovin’ It? Want more pics?

We got em. 🙂 Here’s some pretty photos you can look at to destress.