Swimming Pool Buyers Beware - How To Hire A Pool Installer
Are you in the process of looking to hire a pool builder or pool installer? You probably were excited to send out contact requests to your very carefully selected prospective pool builders...and none of them even bothered to call you back or send an email. Maybe this is not a carbon copy of the experience that you are having while shopping for a contractor to build you a swimming pool, however this is an indication of how the buying process will probably not go as smoothly as you might imagine.
As someone who has spent the better part of three decades building, renovating and repairing swimming pools I would like to try to help you to understand how to hire a good pool builder...but not the common things like references, or making sure they have insurance. My advice is intended to help you "read between the lines" in regards to both the technical aspects of your pool installation project, but the nature of the person building your pool also. I think that you will find the information and videos on this page uniquely helpful in your pursuit of finding the best pool builder.
Q - How do you find a good pool builder?
A - I have worked exceedingly hard to develop my skillset and expertise in the pool and spa industry. Putting in time is not enough to make you a well versed pool technician. It takes a passion to learn, a passion to understand, a passion to figure out and troubleshoot. It is this passion that would push me to learn not just how to do something, but why it needs to happen. The "why" is really important. When you start asking why something is the way it is, you really start to develop an understanding of the subject matter.
Q - What do you want your readers to know about the pool industry?
A - The swimming pool industry is an anomaly. It is a trade however it is not governed like a trade as we fall under the classification of seasonal workers in most areas. It takes the same level of certification to be a pool builder as it does to be a roofer or a landscaper - which is to say, none. In 2015 it is crazy to me that this is how the pool industry operates as I can not think of many things that need regulation and certification standards more than swimming pool builders. Buyer beware. Buyer very beware in this industry.
Q - In layman`s terms, what does that mean to pool owners and perspective pool owners?
A - Pools are complicated and hard to build well. They are however relatively simple to install however it is very difficult to install one that will stand the test of time. Look at it like this - imagine there were no car manufacturers and the only way you can buy a car is from an independent guy that builds cars, of which there are hundreds in every city. Now imagine that there is no such thing as safety standards or congruent manufacturing process. Every car is almost completely unique in design, function, quality and potential longevity. Just imagine how different each car would be, and how would you possibly know whether one car is better or worse than the other? This is exactly what the pool industry is like.
Q - What is the biggest mistake home owners can make when shopping for a new pool?
A - The biggest mistake would be to think that by choosing the largest company you will be getting a superior product. In many industries choosing the "industry leader" is a fairly safe bet. In the swimming pool industry this can be a disaster. While there are of course many completely reputable companies some of the largest pool and spa companies are responsible for giving the entire industry a bad reputation. The larger pool stores are often the ones who sub contract their work out to third party installers. Without a trade certification this subcontracting process boils down to any person who is willing to work for cheap. The installer shows up in your backyard wearing a shirt from the company you called so everything seems OK to you. In general, the largest pool companies are usually the ones you want to avoid most of all for the simple matter that they just don't need you as a customer. Go somewhere where your business matters to the primary holder of that company.
Q - Are small pool companies better to deal with than large pool companies?
A - As a general rule, yes, since your business inherently means more to a smaller company. However, since a pool builder is only as good as their knowledge and experience level, the onus is on you as the customer to decide if the person you are dealing with is up to the task. Consider this - would you hire this person to build you a car instead of a pool? That kind of puts things into perspective for you from a technical standpoint. I can easily say that I would not let at least 50% of independent pool builders wash my car, let alone build me one.
Q - With all of these difficulties how do you pick a good pool builder?
A - There are a number of traditional ways to accomplish this such as references, seeing projects they have completed etc however I feel that while important, they leave the door open for unscrupulous pool builders to pull the wool over your eyes. To avoid a pool building nightmare I suggest to choose a smaller, independent pool installer where you can speak with the person actually doing the work, not just a sales person.
Q - Surely it is not all doom and gloom - What is something good about the pool industry?
A - It is definitely not all doom and gloom, and don't call me Shirley. This is actually a great time to be a pool builder. The technology of swimming pools has been relatively unchanged for about 40 years until the last decade when technology and swimming pools finally caught up with each other. Now there is no limit to what you can do and how well you can integrate control and functionality. You want a whisper quiet, ultra energy efficient pool pump that costs 75% less to run than normal pumps yet powerful enough to run a multicolored waterfall & fire feature that is choreographed to music, and you want to control it from your bedroom with your iPhone? No problem. Welcome to the future. Still waiting on my hoverboard.
Questions pool buyers need to ask their contractor