Swimming Pool Left Unfinished
"Help! My pool builder pulled a no-show!"
"Swimming pool left unfinished by contractor."
"Left me with a hole in the ground!"
"Took my money and ran"
I really hope that you are not a home owner who has been left in the lurch by an unscrupulous or inexperienced pool builder half way through your new swimming pool installation project...but unfortunately many people face exactly this situation every year. No matter what stage of the project you were in, having your pool installer pull a no-show is a disaster. Most people do not take having a new pool installed lightly. Most people do exhaustive research into what they want, features the pool should have, which contractor to hire...only to have all of this hard work blow up in your face in the worst way possible.
Whether your pool builder took your deposit and ran or whether they actually started the project but have left it unfinished for an extended period of time, the end result to you is the same. This costs you money. This costs you time. Most of all this costs you in unneeded frustration. So how do you go about picking up the pieces after this happens to you? Or, is there any way that you can avoid this happening to you in the first place? Yes, there are definitely things you can do to reduce the potential chance for experiencing something like this with your new pool installation, however there are no guarantees in life and you can not plan for every possibility.
Why do so many pool projects get left unfinished? - The reasons why a pool might be left unfinished are numerable but the majority of cases this will be from a result of poor time and money management by the pool builder, or poor communication between the builder and the home owner. At the root of the problem is the largely unregulated industry of swimming pool construction. Without established trade certification it is essentially impossible for a home owner to fully vet their potential pool installer. You would need to be a very savvy person to be able to weed out potentially problematic pool builders from the interview stage. You can not verify the level of skill or experience a pool builder has in any other way other than contacting references from previous projects in your area. It is incredibly important, more so than other contractors that you might hire around your home, to ask for references from your potential pool builder. Here are some tips to help you to ask for references:
1) Ask for a list of 10 references of which you will select three to contact
2) Ask for references to be from projects very similar to yours
3) Ask for references to be as close to your house as possible
4) Ask for at least one of their older clients from a similar project (10 years+ ideally)
The point of asking for references in this format is to help you garner as much information as you can from this typical request, and to limit the ability of the builder to cherry pick only their happiest clients to be your reference. The older reference gives you an idea of the longevity of the company you are dealing with. If the oldest reference they can give you is only two years old then this company has not been around long, or has only recently started to build pools...neither of which would be a good sign.
Asking for 10 references is hard as the builder will complain they don't want you bothering their clients, which is why you will agree to only contact three. But this limits their ability to only use their cousins and best friends as references. Next, by asking for projects that are very similar to yours, and specifically by asking for them to be located in the same area of town as you, you are able to determine how many clients this company has had in the past, and whether they are actually very active in your area or not. None of this information will give you black and white answers as to the quality of your pool builder, but they will certainly give you insight into the nature of the company you are dealing with.
Unless you are a contractor yourself then you will probably lack the technical ability to interview your pool builder about the quality of their construction methods. Since there are no congruent building methods for pools you never really know what you are going to get. Sure it might look like a pool but the details of construction determine everything as to whether a pool works well, lasts a long time, or operates efficiently day to day. If you are thinking about having a new pool installed and you are trying to do research to determine how you can protect your interests, you might like to buy this guide that I wrote which explains how to get the most value with a new pool installation. This is a great resource for helping to understand the pitfalls of having a new pool installed and questions you can ask to help interview and vet potential builders.
How To Get Someone To Finish My Pool
It can be a real challenge for home owners who have had a bad experience with a pool builder running out in the middle of their project. Usually this leaves the property in a total state of disaster, and quite often the home owner a lot lighter in the wallet. Since many pool projects are abandoned due to money problems this means that you likely have paid for something and have not received it. Getting your money back is a different article for a different day...for now let's talk about why you are having so many problems finding another pool builder to help finish your pool.
You probably know the pool industry is "full of crooks" or at least that is how it would appear to many people. Especially if you are left with a half finished pool in your backyard. Interestingly, from the professionals side of things, pool owners can be "crooks" as well. Pool industry professionals deal with deadbeat pool owners constantly and as a result we are very wary of non paying clients, always-a-problem clients, people slandering company names on social media etc. This is not to say that you did anything wrong at all to cause your pool builder to run out mid project, but any new contractor you interview to hire is thinking about it in the back of their mind...are you a problem customer and that is why the last pool guy split? Don't blow this idea off - this is a big part of why people are not returning your phone calls right now.
Funny article (with truth in it) about how to get a pool company to actually call you back
The next biggest hurdle you have in finding someone to help you finish your half-built pool is that the person who left the job unfinished is probably not good at their job. I mean if they were any good you would be swimming by now, right? This means the further along your project is the less inclined a new contractor will be to take over. We have to assume the jack-hole who started building your pool and buggered off probably made all kinds of technical mistakes. Some of those mistakes will be hard to fix, but the real problem is that some of these mistakes might be hard to see or know about. So why would a contractor want to take on your project with a bunch of unknown elements? It can take a long time to fix mistakes that the last guy made, and time is money for good pool builders, plus what happens if there is a problem with the finished product? What if something like plumbing runs were done poorly but all that is already done and buried? There is a risk to the new contractor that they are going to take longer than normal on your job with a higher chance that the finished product is not the same quality they normally build to. Now their brand image is potentially being compromised and that can have innumerable consequences to a pool builder. In total there is just not much in the way of incentive for someone else to take over your botched pool project.
Tips for hiring a pool contractor to take over your unfinished pool - It is going to end up costing you more to hire someone to finish your pool than it would have to hire them in the first place. This is a reality of your situation if you have a half built pool that you need finished. If you communicate to potential builders that you understand that they will need to spend additional time to fix potential problems they find, and you accept that as part of them taking on our project, this will help a lot to get a new builder interested. It definitely stings to have to spend more, especially when you are probably taking a loss on the last builder already, but you need this pool finished and finished properly to avoid the danger of an open pit in your backyard, and to prevent from damaging the real estate value of your home. Being too frugal or pushing too hard during price negotiation will definitely work against you when trying to deal with the disaster of a half built pool.
1) Accept and communicate your willingness to spend whatever it takes to get the job done properly
2) Forget deadlines for completion - you must be happy enough to have it finished when they are available to do it
3) Be willing to compromise and listen to reasonable suggestions to expedite the project from experienced builders
4) Do not let your previous bad experience tarnish your relationship with the new builder
In a word compromise is the name of the game at this point...and deep pockets. Not exactly revolutionary advice, but then again this is kind of a worst case scenario when you have a pool that was abandoned by the builder. At this point I encourage you to change your vision of swimming this summer and every frill your heart desires to instead be a recovery mission. At this point you need the pool to be finished and be good quality. You will spend more but at least you will end up with something that you can benefit from long term. One day the harsh memory of this experience will start to fade, but your family can be swimming in this pool for decades to come. I promise you will forget about the hefty price you paid but not if a deficient pool and ongoing repairs remind you daily. So is that it? Is there no other help for someone who had a pool contractor take their money and leave them in such a bad situation? Well, no. That is what lawyers are for. Get a good one and go after the company that took your money and ran. But even this can cause more losses than gains and it is definitely worthwhile thinking about cutting your losses.
What if you can't compromise your vision? Or afford a new builder to take over? Or what if you have spoken with every pool builder from here to Timbuktu and nobody wants to touch your pool with a 10 foot (telescopic) pole? I certainly have seen many of these projects over the years, and in fact built a good part of my business taking on projects that other less skilled pool builders could not or would not touch. For example, check out this insane story about a half built concrete swimming pool installation from my swimming pool hall of shame section where I took over a (disastrously) botched pool job: finishing a half built (disaster) pool installation.
If you can not find a builder to finish your pool for you then you might be wondering about the possibility of just finishing the job yourself. This is something that I hear about almost daily from frustrated home owners who just want to go swimming - or simply can not afford to hire a new builder. Whether you can or can not build your own pool boils down to the scope of your project, the stage of your project, your finances, and of course your ability to perform skilled trades work...or at least your ability to find and manage subcontractors and various trades like electricians, plumbers, masons, gasfitters, landscapers and probably more. In short, a determined person can do anything they put their mind to. If you want to, or you need to, then you might be able to finish the pool yourself. In an ideal world then you should hire someone to install your pool if you do not have pool building experience yourself. However it is possible to build your own pool, or at least finish what was already started, if you are willing to put in the time and work to do so. I consult with dozens of "self build swimming pool" projects every year with my swimming pool consulting service and if you are in a bind and are forced to try to build your own pool, or finish the pool that was started by someone else, then I strongly encourage you to explore my pool installation consulting service which will drastically increase your ability to build or finish a quality swimming pool.
Consulting help for self build pools
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