For most homeowners, the addition of a swimming pool is an exciting event. A well-designed pool transforms a backyard and opens up new opportunities for home-based entertainment and recreation. The process of choosing among all the various styles, shapes, and amenities is important and something that the entire family can enjoy. The choice of the pool contractor is equally important and wise consumers put some time and effort into this decision. A pool represents not only a significant investment but is a permanent addition to your home site and a few simple steps can greatly reduce the chance of making a regrettable mistake.
A review of the yellow pages and the internet reveal that most major metropolitan areas have over one hundred businesses that fall into the Swimming Pool Contractor category. At any given point in time, about eighty percent of these are actively in business and engaged in the construction of pools. They range from large national companies to small independents. Some are local companies that operate under a national franchise name. Some are local companies with multiple offices and large sales forces. Some advertise; some do not. Each of these groups includes good builders that satisfy their customers and unfortunately, each group also includes builders that continually fail to measure up. As in most industries, it is possible to look beyond the glossy advertising and examine the basics with any pool building company. Our website provides info on pool builders
In addition to ensuring that any builder has a good reputation, you will also want to look at the stability of the company and make certain that the proposed terms of their work is fair and in accordance with industry standards. There are several sources for this kind of information: First is the Better Business Bureau. Although the BBB offers more in some cities than others, it almost always provides some form of company report that indicates a builder’s ability to avoid complaints. It also may provide information about the structure and ownership of the company as well as the age of the business. Often, the BBB can also provide written advice on the selection of a pool contractor and on the pitfalls of entering into a builder’s agreement. Secondly, the Secretary of State in each state capital maintains public records on all corporations and LLC’s. This will provide information on the age of the company and the true owners of record. Lastly, most county clerk offices maintain public records of assumed names. A check of this will sometimes reveal a builder that habitually changes their DBA every few years, a definite red flag. A thorough review of these sources will provide the home owner with the knowledge necessary to compare one builder with another.
Once you have established a short-list of three to five builders, it is time to get some bids. Regardless of how qualified they are or how well they come recommended, avoid focusing on only one builder. Even the best builders may submit an inflated bid if for some reason they don’t really want the job. They may be too busy or you may be too far from their other work. Be prepared to spend at least a month getting and comparing bids. With each proposal, you will become more aware of what’s important to you in the design and it will be necessary to have some of your first bids reworked. Keep in mind that a good builder will invest several hours preparing each design and proposal. Do not get more than three to five bids and never ever have more than one builder meet with you at a time. Prior to the first meeting, get online and bone up on pool terminology. You are about to spend a lot of money; know what they are talking about. Moreover, have all decision makers present at each meeting with the builder.
Once all the bids are assembled, you will need to do some translation. Unfortunately, there is no standard industry format for the bids. Some will be cafeteria style with excellent detail on the cost of each facet and some will just have the total price with a basic description of what you are getting. Using the most detailed estimate as your guide, start calling the other builders and get answers to any questions you may have. How much if I add this? How much will you deduct if we delete that? When comparing specs, make sure that each builder has used the same formula. For example, some builders measure a pool’s perimeter at the water line and some measure it on outside of the gunite shell. Take the time to ensure that your bid review is truly an apples-to-apples comparison.
In addition to the price, you will want to pay close attention to the terms of the contract. A builder that wants too much money up front may be in financial trouble. Even sizable builders with positive histories have fallen into the trap of using new deposits to pay old bills. A reasonable contract only requires a small deposit up front with draws after each major stage of construction. Do whatever it takes to not end up with a very expensive hole in your backyard. Warranties are important as well. Be clear on who is responsible for what if something goes wrong. Most pool work is done by sub-contractors that stand behind their work. Make certain, however, that the builder is ultimately responsible.
Lastly, choose a builder that you feel comfortable working with. If you choose a larger company that employs salespeople to do the bids, realize that you will never see him or her again. Insist on meeting the job superintendent. Find out how accessible they are and how often they will actually visit your site. Your yard is going to be a mess for at least a month, probably two. Pipes get broken. Lines get cut. Fences get smashed. A parade of various crews will come and go, usually without notice. Make sure that you have someone you can reach 24/7.