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Joined: Jun 2005
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I know to ask for references, and possibly if they are licensed and have insurance, but what else should I be looking for when choosing someone to dig my pond?
Should I try and find someone who charges by the hour, or gives me a total price? I am assuming I want someone who says it will be dug by a certain date, and it is, but can you hold someone to that with the weather? What if I have dirt they could use when excavating...do I try and make a deal with them to dig it for free, for the dirt?
I need to know these things, so my contractor doesn't do me wrong.
Thanks

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For sure get a total package price. I had a friend who charged by the hour. Even though we kept adding to the depth, the hourly killed me. This went from a $5000 job to a $$$20,000 job. This worked out for me, as my friend left me his track hoe to tack care of other jobs I had on the place.

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You can try to get a "job" bid. That's how it's normally handled around here, and I'd be mighty scared to do it any other way. That's one nice part about using NRCS. They calculate number of yards to move and the bid is usually so much per yard. It would be very different (twice as much?) if they had to hog out a hole and then haul the dirt away, unless they (digger) had an immediate use/customer for that overburden...

2 ponds, to very different scenarios...first was NRCS had $7200 for me (10 year interest free loan), and I had them bid the pond, and add as many extra features (island, structure, beach) as they could fit in and not exceed that amount. I chose contractor based on (gut feel?) their ideas of what could be done.

Second pond, NRCS says "We will pay half the project up to $5000, so if it exceeds $10K total, the rest is yours." I had to take bids based on "...here's what NRCS says needs to be done, how much can you do this for?"

Both worked out well for me...your situation will vary.

I found the first contractor by just driving to a pond under construction that looked extremely cool. Talked to him a year before first pond and called him for a bid when the money was there.

2nd contractor built my BIL's pond and it was nice...


In a lifetime, the average driver will honk 15,250 times. My wife figures I'm due to die any day now...



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The best situation is when you know you can trust your excavator, either by your own prior experiences or by references.

Our excavator had done several jobs before (and since) he did our pond. It was not a set bid, but depended on hours and expenses. A set price wouldn't really have worked for us, as a severe case of "mission creep" occurred and what was planned as a dammed pond turned into a dammed and excavated pond AND an outdoor arena for horseback riding (the last third of the dirt had to go SOMEWHERE).

I think one potential problem with a set price is if extra effort is required for a successful pond. If you run into a big vein of sand, porous rock, or other major problem, you $XXXX price can run out before it gets fixed, but the excavator's "done." We have seen at least a couple examples of this posted here.

Neither approach is immune from problems in the event of a disreputable contractor. So it's very important to get those references and check them out. Talk to the prior clients and see if some will let you check out their ponds. By looking at the ponds, you may see problems that they aren't aware of when giving glowing testamonials.


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Theo, your last couple of sentences really say a lot. It was 2 years after my pond was built before I really knew what to look for. I credit this web site and all of you guys for opening my eyes.

If I were going to give advice I would say to spend a month reading what the experts (?) here are saying and learn from their experiences and tales of woe. I bet everybody here has screwed up once or twice and admitted it here and belatedly asked for help. I would particularly look for posts by ZHKENT. That guy is good. Also, pay particular attention to posts regarding coring and sheepsfoot rollers. The size of the equipment can also make a huge difference in your final cost.

I would also get the last year of PB Magazine and read everything Mike Otto has to say. It will be a shortcut in your learning/thinking process.

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One other important note. Make sure the contractor realize's he's building a pond & not just a dam.
Have a sketch of the pond you're wanting for him to look at when he bids.
Read on here (lots & lots of info here) to get ideas of how it should be layed out with structure & such & do as Dave says, get back issues of PB to read Mike Otto's articles.


Pond Boss Subscriber & Books Owner


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Ric

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