The worst mistake that a person buying a pool can do is choose the wrong builder to build the pool. There are many fly-by-night pool builders that use temporary workers to install pools,. Other builders emp loy installers (or subcontractors) that have virtually no experience with pool installation.
Pool builders consistently experience a high turnover with their staff so it is a constant struggle to keep good, experienced people who have installed a lot of pools. There are also a lot of builders who will sell you a pool with no regard for how it will be integrated with your landscape and lifestyle.
Make sure the builder has a firm brick and mortar location and is not working out of his garage. Also, do not purchase a pool from the internet.. Take time to visit the location.
Installing a pool is a major investment with some risk so you want to make sure you choose the right pool builder to install your pool.
After narrowing it down to the top two or three builders, invest in the time to visit their location to look at their products and services. See how their staff treats you. (Remember, people who feel good about themselves produce good results).
This is the biggest investment of your life next to your home. Invest your time. Take the family on a fun day out to look at pools and builders. Stop for lunch. Slow down, take your time. Feel comfortable and investigate.
The following are several questions you can ask potential pool builders when you request a proposal or bid to build your pool.
Most pool builders specialize in one of the three types of pools. A builder that is an expert in installing concrete pools may not necessarily be an expert in installing fiberglass pools. Find out how many of the same type of pools the builder has installed. If you are having accessories such as a deck, spa or landscaping done with the same builder, make sure that they have done that type of work in the past with other clients.
It is not uncommon to find a pool builder that uses subcontractors for the entire installation process. In this case, you need to consider the experience level of the subcontractors. A pool builder is only as good as the people doing the installation work. Preferably the builder will have his own staff, resulting in better quality control. However, if a subcontractor is used, make sure that they are licensed and bonded to protect you if things go wrong.
The National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI) is the association that supports the spa and pool industry. The NSPI has a Certified Builder course that teaches builders how to build high-quality pools using the latest techniques that meet specifications. Having the certification means that the builder has at least met some standard education requirements to do the job right and it shows the builder's commitment to quality. This one question can weed out a fly-by-night builder from a reputable builder. If the builder belongs to the Better Business Bureau, a Chamber of Commerce, or even a Rotary Club, it demonstrates that the builder intends to be around for a long while.
Even if you have the money sitting in the bank or you plan to get it from a commercial lender, asking this question may result in some revealing information. If a builder provides financing, it means that they have been around long enough to build credit and a good reputation with the banks. It is advantageous to have options for financing the construction of your pool. Another benefit of financing your pool is that in-ground pool construction is considered a home improvement and the interest payment on your loan is tax deductible.
This is the killer question. The proof is in the pudding and if you can't speak to a previous customer, it probably means that they do not have one or that they are disgruntled. Run from a builder that ca not provide you with testimonials from prior satisfied customers.
The real test is talking to those customers yourself. Ask the builder if you can pick one or two from a list of some previous customers. This will ensure that you will be choosing a non-biased customer. Ask the customer, "I know that the builder does great work but all jobs have at least one or two things that did not go as planned. Can you tell me what were some things that did not meet your expectations?" This question will get the customer off the fence.
You may also want to contact home builders, landscapers and architects for references to pool companies. These people deal with pool builders frequently and hear "talk on the street" about the good, bad and the ugly.
If the owner of the business is not 100 percent involved in the business, it does not mean that you write them off but you should find out how the business is being managed. Quality usually has a direct correlation to the level of involvement by the owner of the business.
Ask the builder about any liability and compensation insurance he may carry to protect you in the event of an accident during the construction of the pool. There is nothing worse than getting into a situation in which things didn't go as planned and not having recourse for receiving compensation because of damages. Every reputable builder should be fully insured. Period.
If you ask and do not receive a copy of worker's compensation and liability insurance, do not use the builder. You may even go as far as to call the agent listed to verify that their insurance is in force. Finally, remember worker's compensation protects people. Liability protects property. You need to have both.
Other things you might consider are the builder's credit rating and you may want to check county records for lawsuits.
Many good builders will offer in-home design services that will not only save you money but also demonstrate the builder's experience and expertise.
It is imperative that you set your expectations up front during the interview process with the builder, especially when it comes to damage. Many pool buyers are surprised when they see the amount of damage to their yard that takes place during a pool installation.
However, there is such a thing as excess damage due to negligence on the part of the builder. Make sure you address this right up front and that it gets into your contract. Some pool builders are not willing to take on the risk of paying for yard damage.
Your pool builder should know about existing electrical, plumbing, zoning, building and grading requirements. It is important to test the knowledge of your builder. Even if you do not know the answers yourself, you will have an idea whether they have a good grasp on the requirements.
By the way, never allow a pool builder to force you to take a permit out in your name. It should always be in the builder's...
Upon completion of pool installation, your pool builder should provide you with training, including: equipment maintenance training; chemical and cleaning training; winterizing training; and safety training. These topics will be crucial to the longevity of your pool.
Even if a pool builder is good and you feel comfortable with their skills and ability, their schedule needs to sync with your schedule. A good pool builder will most likely be booked, so you may want to start the search process early in the season or reset your expectations as to when the pool can be installed.
Never choose a pool or a builder based strictly on schedule. Make your choice on the quality of both the product and the builder. A high-quality builder will never sacrifice quality for speed. Remember, if you are a first time pool buyer, another couple of months will not hurt you. Stay focused on quality.
Ultimately, your pool needs to fit your budget. You should ask for a proposal only from builders that you feel comfortable with and meet your minimum requirements. Although it varies from builder to builder, 2 percent to 5 percent down is an acceptable amount to ask as a deposit. If a builder asks for an amount greater than 50 percent down, it is time to end the interview. Also, make sure you examine the down payment schedule and make sure the builder explains it to you.
Good References are Important
Overall, asking this series of questions will help you get a feel for who may be the best choice to build your pool. Remember, good references are important because they are based on past experience rather than a right answer to an interview question. Call local building departments, call the state, and call the Better Business Bureau. A good builder's reputation will precede them.