The most common problems with newly built swimming pools can all be traced back to one root issue—choosing the wrong pool builder.
Very early in your quest for the best builder, you’ll need to eliminate all of the snake oil salesmen and con artists. Bad builders using inexperienced subcontractors. Companies selling pool designs without ever seeing your back yard. Businesses with no actual office. The list goes on and on.
To help you narrow down your search, we’ve put together a list of the 13 best questions to ask any pool builder. These questions will give you deep insight to how each builder works and thinks, and ultimately choose the perfect contractor for your backyard paradise.
Remember, the search for an ace pool contractor takes time. Don’t rush this process or you could wind up with a disaster in your yard.
The main types of pool containers are concrete/gunite, vinyl linings, and fiberglass. Many pool contractors specialize in just one of these types, and a concrete expert might not know much about fiberglass, and vice versa.
If your contractor does indeed specialize in the type of pool you want, ask exactly how many projects they’ve completed. Pool builders come and go, and you’ll want to avoid working with a brand-new firm if you can.
Also, don’t take it for granted that every contractor knows how to build a deck or patio. While the best pool builders also have significant experience constructing the ‘complete package,’ many don’t know the difference patio and a sandbox..
When subcontracting works, it can provide a lot of value for both the initial pool contractor and you, the buyer. But many times it just doesn’t work.
Your builder might have AAA design plans for your new pool, but if the subcontractors are unskilled or unprepared, those designs will never bear fruit.
Ideally, you’ll go with a builder who provides their own elite construction team. These guys should always be on the same page as you and the design team, making it much easier to build your dream pool.
But if the contractor does use subcontractors, make absolutely sure that they are licensed and bonded—otherwise you could be on the hook if there’s an accident on your property during construction.
The National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI) is the main association that supports the pool and spa industry. NSPI offers a Certified Builder course that ensures builders are producing only the best pools with the most modern technology and materials.
Pool builders who hold this coveted seal of approval means your contractor has met the Institute’s standards, and should be able to deliver top-notch design and construction.
Mainly, you should use this certification to sift through the pool builders who just aren’t serious. Like I said, pool companies shut down every day. If your builder went out of their way to get certified, it shows a commitment to the long game and not quick profits. Also check to see if your contractor belongs to any other business organizations, such as the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
You should still ask this question, even if you have a bathtub full of gold doubloons and diamonds at home.
Pool builders who offer financing also offer something else—proof of good credit, and that they’ve been around long enough to be trustworthy.
And in many cases, building a pool is considered a home improvement, so interest payments on your pool loan can be tax deductible.
Testimonials are nice, but they can be faked. If you really want to know how good your builder is, you have to talk to their old customers. And not just one, but several.
Don’t just accept the contact information for a single person. Ask to see a list of the builder’s past projects with the owners’ phone numbers. Select a few yourself and make calls on your own time.
Specifically, ask these customers if there were any problems with the design or construction process, or if they have had any major problems since the completion of their project.
Pool owners who are thrilled with their pools will have no problem fielding a couple 2-minute calls every year for a superstar pool builder. If you can’t find happy customers, that means there aren’t any.
In a perfect world, the pool company’s owner should be totally involved in the operation of the business. However, we’ve seen some great companies that were managed by someone other than the owner, so this isn’t an automatic red flag.
Find out how the pool company is managed, and it will give you insight to how your project will be managed.
And most importantly, can they PROVE they’re insured?
Every single trustworthy pool builder will carry full insurance coverage, from liability to compensation. If an accident or property damage occurs while your pool is being built, you’ll need the peace of mind that you’ll be fairly compensated.
Builders should be able to provide copies of their liability (for your property) and workers comp (for the workers) insurance policies—you can even make a call to their insurance agent to verify coverage is in place
This is obviously not mandatory, but the best builders go the extra mile to make your project a success, and part of that policy is meeting with you at home instead of making you come to their office. This at home consultation is obviously more personal but a good pool builder knows that before they start viewing the home and surrounding area helps mitigate any mistakes that may drive the cost of the pool up.
You’d be amazed at how thoroughly wrecked your yard can get after a run-in with inexperienced pool builders.
If your contract doesn’t include clear expectations for what is acceptable and what isn’t, you can say goodbye to compensation if your landscaping is torn to shreds. Many builders balk at the idea of paying for yard damage. The best builders avoid excess damage in the first place. Choose wisely.
Qualified pool builders should know zoning, building, plumbing, electrical and grading requirements like the back of their hand. Ask about those requirements. The length and depth of the builder’s answers speaks volumes about their attention to detail.
Also, NEVER let the builder convince you to take out a permit in your name. That’s a big no-no.
Training should take place after your pool is finished, including:
Without training from the guys who SHOULD know your pool inside and out, there’s no way for you to maintain the health and appearance of your new pool.
Many pool builders can get booked solid in busier months, meaning your dream contractor just might not have the bandwidth to finish your project in a reasonable time frame.
However, you should NEVER base your building decision on schedule alone. Speed means sacrificing quality, and you will never be happy with a rushed, shoddy pool in your backyard. That’s why you should start your search for a pool builder early.
Also make sure to educate yourself on average pool construction times so you can discern if your potential builder is blowing hot air up your skirt with their timeline.
Swimming pools vary dramatically in cost depending on material, size and features. If you must stick with a budget, you may have to let go of certain features you had your heart set on.
Better to forgo a diving board and build an incredible patio than build a shaky diving board and an ugly patio.
The sweet spot for down payments is between 2 and 5 percent. Much more than that and you should laugh in the builder’s face, because that’s a complete joke.
Honest pool builders won’t get irritated or bothered by all these questions. They understand that buying a pool is one of the biggest investments of your life, and they’re happy to help.
And once you’ve completed your search, it’s time to get designing, get building, and get relaxing. That’s where we come in.
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