You are considering building an inground swimming pool and at first that may seem like a simple process. Then you hear the rumors and horror stories about pool builders; of which, unfortunately, some are true. Therefore, it is wise to educate yourself before scheduling several contractors to give you "Free Estimates". You may end up finding yourself being pressured by someone whose only agenda is to "Sell" you a pool.
The following MISTAKES COMMON to SWIMMING POOL SHOPPERS, is simple advice, based on decades of experience, that could save you a great deal of time, confusion, frustration and money in the long run.
NOT CHECKING TO SEE IF THE CONTRACTOR IS LICENSED
Unfortunately, some people may illegally represent themselves as pool builders. By law, anyone who helps improve your property, must be a licensed contractor and in good standing with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The CSLB is the state consumer protection agency that licenses and regulates construction contracts.
SHOPPING SWIMMING POOLS IS LIKE BUYING AN AUTOMOBILE
Automobiles are constructed in factories under controlled conditions and shipped to locations throughout the world. You can visit several different dealerships and make your "DEAL" - based on the same vehicle with any option you want.
Unlike automobiles, swimming pools are construction projects built by many individual specialty contractors with as many different standards. Much of what you are not aware of, or do not see, will impact your cost of pool ownership.
NOT ASKING IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
DO NOT assume every salesperson is going to give you the benefit of the education you may need. You may find yourself in the hands of a "Deal Maker", not unlike an automobile salesperson.
Before meeting with a pool builder, take the time to get to know something about a their company and designers. A "Free Estimate" may not be "Free" if it costs your valuable time.
A few questions to ask your sales representative are:
- Why should I do business with your company?
- What qualifies you as a pool designer?
- What role will you play in the pool construction process?
- May I talk with your last three customers as references?
- Are there potential hidden costs you have not brought to my attention?
- Who is responsible for the clean up and access repair of my yard?
- If your project is to include landscaping, ask - does your company provide landscaping services?
PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS
You can talk with pool salespeople, friends, family and co-workers who have had pools built. They will all want to offer you their advice. You can get several estimates for the cost and time factor of building your dream pool, possibly becoming so confused that you finally just "pick one" and hope you have made the right choice.
Perform your due diligence and be sure the person and the company behind them has your best interest in mind. By asking the right questions, you will find out sooner rather than later.
NOT TAKING THE TIME TO KNOW THE EXPERIENCE LEVEL AND
BACKGROUND OF THE CONTRACTOR
The education and training of a professional builder has never been more important than it is in today's economy. You are about to make a substantial investment of your time, energy, and money. You will also want to know if your contractor has advanced their education in the industry. Ask about their continuing education certifications or accreditations and with which industry related organizations they participate.
Even the best construction experience can be stressful. It is important to have a relationship of trust and confidence with your builder in order to avoid any unnecessary stress. Consider the saying,
"IF YOU THINK THE COST OF A PROFESSIONAL IS EXPENSIVE, WAIT UNTIL YOU HIRE AN AMATEUR. "
SHOPPING AND DECISION BASED SOLELY ON PRICE
"IF A DEAL SEEMS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS!"
We've all heard it said before and are reminded of the time we made that mistake and swore we'd not do that again.
"YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR"
is another familiar saying. Unfortunately, often you don't even get that! If you are shopping based solely on price, someone will give you the price you are looking for - and you are destined to be disappointed. You will likely incur change orders after the construction begins - often times making your cost exceed the bid that was originally higher.
This is another reason to seek out an educated, experienced and talented designer.
"YOU CAN'T AFFORD A CHEAP POOL!"
SHOPPING OVER THE TELEPHONE FOR A POOL
This is impossible to do with any accuracy or confidence. Carefully interview a prospective builder and once you feel comfortable with the information you have gathered, invite them into your home to provide more detailed information based on your specific criteria. California State Contractors Law requires all Home Improvement Salespersons to be licensed. Ask to see your salesperson's license.
ASSUMING CONSTRUCTION COSTS ARE LESS IN THE WINTER
Don't let anyone convince you that you're getting a "Great Deal " because it's winter. You will not feel that way come summer. Winter brings it's own set of building challenges such as cave-ins, inaccessible job sites, drastically increased build time and many hours of costly "down time ". Also, continuing increased costs for labor, steel, concrete, gasoline, and insurance premiums insures that swimming pools will never be less expensive than they are today - and
contractors are forced to pass the increases on to their customers.
NOT UNDERSTANDING THE AGREEMENT (CONTRACT)
Make sure you understand what is and isn't included in your agreement (contract) and that the document includes a scale plan of your yard and pool.
Ask your builder if their contract meets the criteria, laws and ordinances of the current Contractors State License Law.
By law, your contract must include the following documents: (1) Notice of Right to Cancel (2) Notice of Cancellation (3) Notice to Owner (4) A notice concerning commercial general liability insurance and a notice concerning workers compensation insurance.
Your three-day right to cancel the contract begins once you have a contract executed by all parties.
FOCUSING ON DESIGN WITHOUT REGARD TO THE MECHANICS
Hydraulic design and flow rates, proper pipe sizing, energy-efficient pump and filtration systems, steel engineering and placement, gunite application, computerized control technology, electrical load requirements, and interior finishes are just some of the methodologies your designer should have working knowledge of.
You are not expected to know all this information. However, you should be confident that your builder does and that they can apply their skills with confidence. You may be thrilled with the beautiful rendering that has been enthusiastically presented by your pool representative. You may even be happy with the price. Be sure you are also confident that the construction and other
design factors will ensure the ability of your pool to stay mechanically sound, safe and sanitized!
BELIEVING THAT ALL POOLS AND POOL BUILDERS ARE THE SAME
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that all pools and pool builders are the same.
There is as much diversity in philosophies, education level, skill, training, experience, qualifications and attitude with swimming pool contractors as there are differences in the personalities of the people who are purchasing pools.
Different pool contractors often use the same specialty contractors to perform work such as gunite placement, concrete and plaster. So what makes one different from the other? If you go back to the beginning and read this again, you'll have your first clue. It comes down to VALUE. What VALUE do you see in making a substantial investment of time, patience and money with a contractor who has invested in formal education in all aspects of designing and building pools as an artistic endeavor?
Possibly the most important question to ask yourself is - do I want to work with a swimming pool contractor who just wants to sell me something and move on?
OR DO I WANT TO WORK WITH A TEAM OF DEDICATED PROFESSIONALS
COMMITTED TO PROVIDING ME WITH ABSOLUTELY THE BEST POSSIBLE VALUE?