Do you need certified backflow prevention to protect the municipal water supply?
Depending on your part of the company and the rules of your local water district, backflow prevention can a significant part of your system cost. Because protection of the municipal water supply from possible contamination through sprinkler systems is so important, the general trend is for communities to adopt codes that require a $300 or more in equipment, professional installation, and independent certification of the backflow device. This can put backflow prevention out of the realm of the do-it-yourselfer and, for a small yard in a high cost part of the county, could mean that backflow prevention is as much as half of the cost of the entire sprinkler system. Of course, that is worse case. Many communities still allow less expensive types of backflow prevention that are well within a homeowner’s ability to install. Before you make any decisions on whether to install a sprinkler system yourself you should check with your water supplier to find out exactly what they require.
Do you need a pump or filter for the system?
If you are not taking your water from a municipal drinking water (“culinary”) source, then you will need to consider the costs and complications of pumps and filters. Since having the right amount of water available at the right pressure is the biggest key to a good sprinkler system, specifying and installing a pump and any associated filter is an area where you either need to be expert of make sure than you get expert advice. If not, you could end up needing a lot of extra time and expense to get your sprinkler system up and running right. The costs of the pump and filter will be very specific to your system.
Do you need PVC or poly pipe?
The costs of PVC pipe and polyethylene (“poly”) pipe systems are very different, so you need to be careful if you are comparing bids that don’t use the same type of pipe. The per foot cost of PVC pipe and fittings is less than half of poly pipe, so if a contractor were using the same design the material cost of poly would be significantly higher than PVC. However, many contractors use design and installation shortcuts with poly that significantly reduce materials and labor, so their total cost of poly may end up being lower than PVC. Orbit Sprinkler System Designer uses the exact same state-of-the-art design and installation for both PVC and Eco-Lock (a poly-based system), so the cost of the Eco-Lock system is higher when compared to PVC. But the small premium is well worth it when you consider Eco-Lock’s ease of use, performance and low impact on the environment compared with PVC.