Once you decide that you want a new swimming pool, the next thing to do is find a reputable and knowledgeable contractor to do the work. However, if you’ve never hired a pool construction company before, you may wonder where to start when vetting your swimming pool builder. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
In this article, I’ll cover some of the most important questions you should ask when hiring a pool construction company.
- You should ask questions about the company, including whether they have the appropriate licenses and insurance and how many years they’ve been in business. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, photos, and reviews.
- You should also know how they work by asking questions regarding their design, planning, and installation process.
- Finally, make sure the pricing and contract are fair.
What Licenses and Insurance Do You Have?
When you begin the pool planning process, the first thing you need to know about your pool builder is whether they have the proper licenses and insurance. All companies who build swimming pools must carry a current, valid license to work as a swimming pool contractor in their specific classification. Some general building contractors can also work on pools if they hold a swimming pool specialty classification.
Any landscapers or plumbers that work on your pool should also have the appropriate license classification.
Furthermore, at the very least, swimming pool contractors should have General Liability Insurance. Other policies that they may have include:
- Pollution insurance
- Commercial vehicle liability insurance
- Umbrella insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
Also, ask if they can help you with appropriate pool permits.
Don’t just trust their word that they have appropriate licenses and insurance, either. Make sure you verify everything before signing any contract or handing over any cash.
How Many Years Have You Been in Business?
I also recommend asking your builder how many years they have been in business. It’s worth mentioning that a good percentage of contractors fail within their first three years of business. So it’s best to look for swimming pool builders who have been in business for three years or more.
Where Can I Find Testimonials and Customer Reviews?
Don’t be afraid to ask about customer reviews. I recommend you call at least ten references to get a good idea of customer satisfaction. When talking to other customers, ask them about the best and worst parts of their experience. I also suggest you ask the references if they would use that contractor again.
You should ask the builder how many pools they have installed overall. Then find out how many pools they have built in the past year. Remember those numbers when they give you their references. Be cautious of contractors that provide less than 50 percent of their reviews.
Can I See Some Photos of Your Past Work?
If the pool construction company claims to have been building pools for 10+ years but has no pictures to show off their work, they are either lying or not proud of the finished work. Both are bad omens. A reputable pool builder should have a portfolio of beautifully built pools that they have constructed. So, don’t hesitate to ask to see some of their finished work.
What Products Do You Use?
Ask your contractor for a list of the products they intend to use. Then look at some reviews for those products. Just like choosing a builder with positive customer feedback, you also want products that get good reviews.
Ask about the materials, equipment, and even the type of finishes they use. And don’t be afraid to request changes! If you want a better pool filter or a different tile finish, voice your opinion. After all, it is your pool.
Do You Have a Workmanship Warranty?
Look for contractors who offer a workmanship warranty. This is important because many problems can arise during your pool construction. A workmanship warranty would cover issues like structural problems and plumbing leaks. At a minimum, you want a workmanship warranty of one year.
Beyond determining the warranty duration, it’s also important to find out what the warranty covers. And ask about repairs too. Does the warranty cover the costs of repairs? For more, read my complete guide on pool warranties.
Do You Offer Maintenance Training?
It is no secret that pool maintenance has a massive learning curve. If you have never owned or worked on a pool before, the systems and processes can be very confusing. Many pool builders will offer a few training sessions with their clients to show them how to properly clean and maintain their pools after it is built. This is a great way to ensure you get off to a good start as a pool owner and learn all the ins and outs of keeping your pool in tip-top shape.
Tell Me About the Design and Planning Process
The design and planning process is vital; you want to be a part of that. Your swimming pool builder should give you a detailed plan before construction begins. Some of the questions you want the contractor to answer about the planning phase include the following:
Where Will the Pool Go?
This question is obviously important to ask. You want to know where the pool will be located in your yard and how much space it will take up. The last thing you want is for the contractor to start the job only for you to realize it is not where you want it to be!
What Type of Pool Will Be Installed?
It is also very important to be clear on the pool type the contractor plans to install. Some contractors may only be able to install fiberglass pools, which have a lot of benefits, but they are not as customizable as vinyl or concrete pools. So, ensure you and your contractor communicate about the type of pool that will be installed.
Where Will The Filtration System Go?
It’s easy to overlook the filtration system. But your pool filter takes up a surprising amount of space in your yard, so it is a good idea to work out with your pool builder where it will go.
What is the Fence Layout?
If you’re looking at constructing a fence around the perimeter of the pool, your pool construction company may be able to build this for you as well. However, before construction begins, you’ll obviously want to be on the same page about the fence layout. Ensure the fence works well with your vision for your backyard.
How Will the Pool Work With My Patio?
You want the design of the pool area to be as cohesive as possible. So, ask your pool builder how they plan on integrating the pool with the patio.
Do You Need an Access Lane for Construction?
When constructing a pool, you’ll need space for large machinery to enter your yard. While some backyards are relatively easy to access, in some cases, you may need to knock down some existing fencing to make way for equipment and trucks. Talk with your pool builder to know exactly what to expect regarding how chaotic your backyard will look during construction.
You should also fully expect your yard to be destroyed due to the heavy equipment and trucks! This is why landscaping is a must after pool construction.
How Do You Plan to Install the Pool?
Next, you need to ask the company about the installation process. Ask your builder if they have any unique construction or installation policies that make them stand out. And ask them for details about the construction, including excavation. You need to know what the process will be regarding the dimensions of the pool and the layout of the pool, deck, and pool enclosure. Here are some important questions to ask.
How Do You Plan to Excavate the Pool?
Excavation is one of the most critical parts of the pool construction process. A poorly excavated pool can lead to a plethora of problems down the road. Talk to your pool builder about their plans for excavating the pool. Ask them what type of heavy equipment they will use, how many people they will bring in for the job, and how they will obtain the necessary excavation permits. You should also ask to see a copy of their excavation plans. If you ever feel uncertain about the builder’s plans, get a second opinion. After all, it never hurts to ensure your pool is built correctly!
What Landscaping Needs to Be Done?
After pool construction, there’s no way to put this lightly: your backyard will be a mess. With all the heavy machinery and trucks that have passed through, your grass will be destroyed. This calls for some much-needed landscaping! Consult your pool builder to discuss your landscaping options to turn your backyard into an oasis.
How Long Will the Installation Process Take?
Generally, pool installation will take anywhere between 14 and 75 days. However, it’s a good idea to ask your pool builder how long it’ll take to build your pool specifically. Unfortunately, getting an exact finish date won’t be possible, but your pool builder should be able to give you a rough timeline with an approximate start and end date or an approximation of how many working days it’ll take to complete the project. Make sure this information is in the contract before you sign it!
Pricing and Contract Questions
Finally, you want to get details in the contract about the exact pricing. I would say that the most important things you need in your agreement include the following:
- Service description
- Required materials
- Project deadline
- Weather delays and other contingencies
- Payment terms
- Use of equipment
- Details about responsibilities
One thing worth noting is that some swimming pool contractors try to make their price seem lower than what it will ultimately be by not including everything in their initial quote. Be sure to ask for a complete quote, including all the throw-ins, like patio and fence work.
Here are some important questions to ask your pool builder about the contract.
Is All the Work Involved in Installing My Pool Included in the Contract?
When it comes to contracts, the more details, the better. Ensure every detail of the construction process is included in the contract before signing it. Ask about the pool equipment, such as the filter, pump, heater, skimmers, safety equipment, etc. Also, ask about plumbing, electrical, and equipment installation and whether or not the company includes your pool chemicals in the installation.
Contracts will not always include everything you need. For example, you may need to purchase accessories, cleaning equipment, and chemicals separately. This is okay as long as you and your pool builder are on the same page.
Make Sure the Completion Date is in the Contract
I already listed this as an important thing to look out for, but I want to really emphasize the importance of the agreed-upon estimated completion date. Without an agreed-upon completion date, your contractor is not obligated to finish the project at any particular date and can delay the project if needed. You may also want to consider talking to your pool builder about having specific deadlines for certain aspects of the project. For example, you can agree on individual completion dates for the excavation, plastering, etc.
Red Flags to Look Out For When Interviewing Pool Builders
Now you know the questions to ask when vetting a pool contractor to help ensure your pool is built with the best craftsmanship and quality possible. However, some glaring red flags also help you identify a “sketchy” pool builder.
Bad or No Reviews
In this day and age, online reviews are one of the best and easiest ways to quickly determine how reliable a business is. If your pool builder has several one-star reviews, very few reviews from customers, or simply no reviews at all, I do NOT recommend hiring them. Reviews and testimonials remain your best pre-purchase guarantees that the service will be of tip-top quality.
Price Too Good to be True
If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is! When hiring a pool construction company, you should do your due diligence and get quotes from several different companies. Compare the prices, and if one company is quoting you much less than the others, be wary! You may end up paying much more over time, as the initial price may not include everything. Also, if the company is new and offering a competitive price, it may not have the same expertise as other companies, so your pool may end up needing far more repairs and replacement parts over time.
Lack of Communication
Communication is key! If your pool builder is unresponsive, frequently late, or provides vague or evasive answers to your questions, it’s not professional, and this could lead to a potential communication breakdown during the construction process. That’s the last thing you’ll want when undertaking this huge home project!
Unreasonable Payment Terms
Be cautious if the pool builder demands a large upfront payment or requests full payment before the project is completed. Reputable builders typically follow a structured payment schedule tied to project milestones. And as for down payments, most builders generally won’t ask for more than 10% upfront.
As I mentioned earlier, the more detailed the contract, the better! A vague contract opens you up to a whole host of issues and miscommunication. In fact, it’s better to have too many details than too few. Make sure the contract is overloaded with details on the measurements, the color, the style, and everything you can think of and have discussed with your pool builder. This leaves no room for any potential misunderstandings.
Unlicensed or Uninsured
Ensure that the pool builder is properly licensed and insured. If they are unable or unwilling to provide proof of licensing and insurance, it could expose you to liability and potential financial risks. Yikes!
Asks You to Obtain Permits
It could be a red flag if a pool builder asks you to obtain permits yourself. It might suggest a lack of expertise, an attempt to bypass regulations, a potential liability transfer, or a simple lack of professionalism.
Aggressive Sales Techniques
Be wary of builders who employ high-pressure tactics or use aggressive sales techniques to push you into making quick decisions. A reputable builder should allow you sufficient time to consider your options and make an informed choice. The last thing you want is to be pressured into making a decision you’ll regret.
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And Now You’re All Set to Hire a Pool Builder!
Hopefully, I’ve helped you find answers to some of your questions about vetting a swimming pool builder. Now that you know some things to ask and look out for, you’ll have an easier time choosing the right contractor. Good luck in your search, and don’t hesitate to shoot me a note if you have any questions.