Working together

Three ways irrigation designers and installers can ensure a smooth project.

May 12, 2011
Lindsey Getz

In the past, there has been some butting of heads when it comes to the world of irrigation design versus the world of installation. But Timothy Malooly, president of Water in Motion, a water consulting firm that designs and specifies landscape irrigation systems, says it doesn’t have to be that way. Malooly says that designers and installers can find common ground.

“In the world of irrigation installation, the concept of design is often met with rolling eyes by the contracting community,” says Malooly, who brings a unique perspective to the table as someone who also owns an irrigation contracting business in his local market. “But there’s no reason that the process has to be a negative experience.”

Employees at Malooly's Irrigation by Design install a project.Malooly suggests keeping the following three points in mind to help ensure a smooth project.

Have a collegial conversation. Forming a friendly relationship is important – and a demonstration of professionalism. “Instead of having an adversarial argument, have a collegial conversation,” Malooly suggests. “It can be to your benefit. An installing contractor should consider that the consulting designer likely has the direct ear of the client and knows why a given approach is included.  By the same token, a contractor may have an idea, method or experience worthy of consideration out of concern for the client’s best interest. How the parties interact is often key to a successful outcome.” 

Rely on partnership. Malooly says it’s likely that the consultant has a wealth of helpful information about a project that an installing contractor may appreciate. “The designer knows why something was designed a certain way, which can be vital,” he says. “And generally speaking, an irrigation consultant may have an inside track on new and emerging technologies. Because of their proximity to clients and because of their knowledge of trends in building, landscape architecture or civil engineering, they’ll have a good read on what’s coming down the pike.” 

Likewise, a contractor may have an inside track on installation techniques and practical applicability of certain elements that the consultant might consider.

Realize that everyone can “win.”
It’s important for all parties to remember that the design was made with the client’s best interest – and their specific wants – in mind. But Malooly says that, more often than not, an installing contractor may start to make changes that deviate from those original plans without working collegially with the consultant or possibly because they think they can do it better. Such behavior often causes major and unnecessary problems on projects. 

Malooly says that working together professionally can help everyone win. “The designer gets to do what they do best; the client gets the efficient and maintainable system that they wanted in the first place, and in the end, the installing contractor enjoys the benefit of working on the project, developing a maintenance account and perhaps developing a collegial relationship with the consultant who might lead him or her to more business.”


This story is one of three that appeared in Lawn & Landscape's Water Works e-newsletter. To continue reading about Timothy Malooly:

Turning ideas into reality: It didn’t take long for this entrepreneur to grow from a single business to the owner and operator of three water-related companies.

The bigger picture: Uniting the industry will allow it to reach its full potential.