FAQ

Why should I use Irriplan as a firm independent consulting engineers when I can get a free design from a contractor or supplier?

Because using Irriplan will reduce the overall cost of both the irrigation system installation and its operation and maintenance costs considerably.

Typically our fees range from a few hundreds of pounds up to less than a few percent of the overall installation costs. This depends on the level of input required and the complexity of the work. A design & build contractor is generally limited to a few suppliers and manufacturers and so is restricted by having to fit his range of equipment to your project rather than ensuring that the equipment selected is most appropriate for the project. Using less appropriate products decreases the operating efficiency and maintenance costs, and also dramatically increases the initial capital outlay.

 

OK, so why don’t we go to three contractors and get three prices to make a comparison?

Design and build contractors will generally design a system in one of two ways:

The first way is when they believe they are the only contractor pricing the work. In this case they may design a system which will maximise their return on their labour, the mark-up on their installed product and the on-going potential for emergency and seasonal maintenance contracts.

The second way is when they believe they are in competition with other design and build suppliers/contractors. In this case the designer has the conflicting objectives of designing a system that is cheap to install in order to be competitive enough to win the contract, but also attractive enough to appeal to the purchaser. Typically this results in a system that is over-specified and under-engineered. Normally the system will meet some minimum and unregulated trade standards, but that’s no guarantee that the system they have designed is appropriate for your particular project. Furthermore, with three different contractors you end up with three different designs. So there is no objective way of comparing the bids, because no two designs will be the same. You will be able to say which is the cheapest bid but not which is the most competitive.

By hiring an independent engineer to design and specify the system and inviting contractors to bid for that one design, you will ensure proper and transparent competition between the contractors, ensuring that you get value for money.

 

Right, so why not go to one of the big-name American manufacturer’s of sprinklers and get a design from them and put that to three contractors?

Sounds great! You can buy sprinklers and control systems - the bits of the system that you see - from these companies. But what of the rest of the system? These global companies with huge advertising budgets do not manufacture pumps, pipes or fittings – all crucial elements of any irrigation system!

If you were a sprinkler manufacturer, would you prefer to sell more pipe or more sprinklers? Would you want an energy efficient and water efficient system as a first principle, or would you be tempted when looking for savings, to make them in those areas that would impact on your sales targets the least?

 

OK, so why not one of Irriplan’s competitors?

There are two critical aspects that differentiate Irriplan from its competitors;

1. Independence
Unlike most of our competitors Irriplan does not undertake designs or consultancy for irrigation equipment manufacturers or distributors. This is a matter of absolute policy and it ensures our complete independence, meaning Irriplan has no conflict of interest when giving objective, impartial advice to its clients, or engineering systems to meet the needs of the client and the site, rather than the objectives of the supplier. Many of our competitors undertake design work for manufacturers or distributors; some on an ad hoc occasional basis whilst others derive a regular income from such work.

2. Engineering
Irriplan is staffed by academically-qualified, professionally-accredited and peer-reviewed engineers. No other irrigation consultancy in Europe is staffed to the same academic and professional level. Furthermore Irriplan is unique in providing its wide range of soil and water engineering, agronomy and project management services. Irrigation systems do not just start at the irrigation pump and finish at the sprinkler. The whole design should incorporate the sourcing and storage of water and the matching of the turf’s water demand over a range of drought conditions to the supply of available water. Often the source is completely overlooked! In this regard, Irriplan has no competitors able to match its range of skills. Elsewhere, there are numerous ex-contractors who have taken on the mantle of ‘consultants’, but they are rarely qualified - or independent - and in many cases are not even engineers.

 

So how do I know which ‘consultant’ is an independent consulting engineer and which is not?

Ask yourself the following questions as a potential purchaser of an irrigation system. Do I want to employ a ‘consultant’ who, within the last 18 months, has received any income from irrigation equipment manufacturer or supplier?

If a consultant has been employed by one of the major sprinkler manufacturers, where does their loyalty lie? With you as a one-time client, or with a large pay-master with a global presence? If you employ this ‘consultant’ either directly, or through the sprinkler manufacturer, the issue remains the same: where is the independence which is needed to specify a product which might be better for the project but is not manufactured by his paymaster?

Ask yourselves two questions:

1.         For independent and impartial medical advice, would you go to a pharmaceutical company, or to a qualified and independent doctor?
2.         If you went to a timber supplier for a bridge design, would you expect them to recommend either a steel or masonry bridge?

 

OK - so how can I really be sure that I will get both the most appropriate design and save money by employing Irriplan?

The transparency of Irriplan’s fees ensures that all efforts are 100% directed to your project. Our professional qualifications and experience means that Irriplan can apply engineering first principles to a design and our independence gives us the freedom to think creatively and to design without any pre-conceptions or equipment bias. All of our work is covered by professional indemnity insurance appropriate for and commensurate with the complexity and value of the work we are engaged in.

 

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