There are a lot of companies claiming they can handle all of your landscape/hardscape needs, but not all are created equal. The following questions will help you narrow down the list. It should give you a good feel for their expertise and help you find a gas fire pit contractor you can feel confident about.
1. Are you licensed and insured?
It’s important to have a licensed gas professional involved in your fire pit project. They have the expertise to assess your situation, the power needs for your project, and how to execute that safely.
If this person is not licensed and insured, not only could you be exposing your family and friends to potential danger, but you could also be exposing nearby neighbors, as well. Plus, insurance companies will not cover damages if a professional was not used for the installation. None of the rest of these questions matter, if they can’t cross this hurdle.
2. Are they familiar with all the local ordinances and rules for your area?
Even if they are licensed, they may not be familiar with rules pertaining to your particular locale or your housing community. You’ll want to make sure you are complying with all applicable rules and regulations.
3. What type of warranty do you offer?
What does their warranty cover? How long is it in effect? How does it compare to other companies you are considering?
4. Will you be using any sub-contractors for this project?
Unless you are using a gas plumber for the hook up to the gas line, and doing everything else yourself, you’ll want to know if your contractor will be going outside the company for help. For example, if the company you are thinking about using is mainly a landscaping company, who will be doing the gas installation and are they licensed?
5. Do you recommend any type of annual maintenance?
Will it require the removal of the burner? If the gas installer is not the person creating the fire feature, you’ll need to know what requirements to follow in order to have proper access to the components of the fire pit.
6. Do you have pictures of projects you’ve done that are similar to mine?
Seeing photos of other projects they’ve done will help you to know if they’ve ever tackled anything like what you are proposing. It will also give you a feel for the type of clients they tend to work with–high end or budget.
7. Do you have references?
This is always a good question to ask. And ask if they have any past clients you could call and talk to.
They may be new to this field, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do a good job. If you get the sense they can handle it, you may decide to take a chance in exchange for a more attractive price. Everyone has to start somewhere, but it’s better to know the risks going in. You might want to be a little more “hands on” and asking more questions if that’s the case.
8. How much gas pressure and volume will I need to be sure I can meet future needs?
In order to make sure your gas supply line is sized correctly, you should have a discussion with your contractor about your current project, as well as any potential projects you might want to add in the future.
For instance, if you dream of installing a full outdoor kitchen someday, you’ll want to make sure you have an adequate supply line to handle a gas grill, oven and a refrigerator in addition to your fire pit. You may also decide to add another fire feature at some point. It is much easier to plan that into the design now, than to retrofit later.
9. What flame height will my gas fire pit have?
Ask them how tall the flames will be. Gas fire pits typically run with a flame height of 6” to 8”. If a contractor does a poor job and doesn’t deliver the appropriate gas pressure and volume to your fire pit, you’ll have lame flames which max out at 3” to 4”. They may say that’s normal – but it’s not. It just means they didn’t do their job correctly.
Have them write into your contract the minimum height of your flame when turned all the way up and the commitment that they will come back to fix it if it does not comply. This would be especially important if you’re using a “green” contractor.
10. Are you using whistle-free gas hoses for my fire pit?
This is very important, especially when it comes to natural gas fire pits, which use a much greater volume of gas than a standard gas grill. With the increased flow of gas, standard flex hoses will create a whistling sound due to oscillation in the hose. Your contractor should be aware of this issue and assure you they’ll be using specially designed whistle-free hoses.
With the answers to these questions, you should be able to identify good prospects for handling your gas fire pit project.