According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals there are 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools in the United States. Having a pool built is a big decision and shouldn’t be approached lightly.
We talked to some of our customers about their experiences and wanted to share their learnings to help others.
Where Do You Start?
Pools are a lifestyle and should reflect the owner’s lifestyle for maximum satisfaction. The first question to ask yourself is why you want a pool? Answering this question is a critical step in the process because it should drive the pool design from day one until the end of the build. If you want to play volleyball or other sports then you want a pool design that will facilitate that.
Likewise, if you want a pool for general entertainment you may want to consider a slide, sun shelf, zero-entry walk-in, or attached spa just to name a few options. You also need to consider what type of pool surface you want, what type of deck style, what water features interest you, and even what kind of lights you want. It can quickly become overwhelming, but if you stay centered around how you want to use your pool then you have a higher chance of getting the pool of your dreams.
Once you have an idea of how you want to use your pool, the next step is to start educating yourself about pool styles/options and talking to others who have had a pool installed. Ask friends and family for advice, it’s free and could literally save you tens of thousands dollars in avoided expense or design pitfalls. This is the one most overlooked tips of them all and we can’t stress enough that you need to do this before deciding on a design/builder and before signing a contract.
You Have An Idea Of What You Want, What’s Next?
Once you understand how you want to use your pool and have an understanding of some of the options that are available, you should start putting together a list of pool builders who are competent, trustworthy, and proven. Check out their history with the Better Business Bureau and their customer reviews on the internet and social media platforms. As mentioned previously, don’t forget that friends and family are a good place to start building the list and getting recommendations.
Here are a few questions to consider when interviewing your builders:
- What differentiates one builder from another?
- Do they subcontract or do all the work themselves? If they subcontract, do they always use the same subcontractors, and how long have they used their current subs?
- Ask for a few examples where mistakes were made and what the builder did to make it right for the customer? (This is a key question, things go right all the time but when they go wrong that can make or break the experience.)
- What are their payment terms? (Never ever pay 100% up front, you are asking for trouble if you do that.)
- If their price is lower than others, ask them why that is. Don’t be afraid to pick apart estimates so you understand them. You are spending a lot of money so make sure you are comfortable. And remember, cheaper is not always better!
- Get clarification on their communication processes. This is a problem we hear about all the time. Customers complain that their pool builder will not contact them back and/or doesn’t keep them updated on changes/schedules/progress. Understand their philosophy and ask others who have used them.
- Ask for references, not just ones that went well either. Ask for someone who had a problem and understand what the resolution process was.
- Ask how long the warranty is, for both equipment and the physical pool. Also ask what the process is if something breaks.
- Ask if they will provide a startup service for the first 30 days to help with curing your plaster and keeping the chemicals in range. This will take a lot of the risk out of a bad startup which could damage your new pool.
You Chose A Builder And Signed The Contract, What’s Next?
You are on your way now, however it’s just starting so sit back and relax because the next couple of months are going to be hectic.
Once your builder has all the permits approved and crews scheduled the equipment starts rolling and your yard will be turned into a hot mess! You really should prepare your neighbors because there will be early mornings filled with loud heavy equipment, a lot of mud, and your lawn will likely look awful until they finish all the work and repair their access path. We recommend gifting your neighbors their favorite drinks or baking them some cookies for their patience.
As the work begins, check daily to understand what’s being done and just to make sure that it’s in line with what was agreed to previously. We have seen incorrect spa placement, encroaching on easements, incorrect equipment or materials like pump/filter/cleaner type, lights, incorrect coping, incorrect plaster et cetera. It’s easier to correct if you catch it before it goes too far, so don’t be afraid to take the construction crew some water or snacks and just chat about what’s being installed to make sure it matches the contract. You may also want to take pictures of the plumbing and wiring before the deck is poured so that you will know where all of the pipes and wires are in case you have to do maintenance in the future.
Before You Enjoy Your New Pool, There Are A Few Things Left
Once your pool is finished and has been filled, your builder should walk you through how to operate your equipment and how to maintain your pool. If you have a plaster pool, make sure that you follow all startup procedures as they could void your warranty if not followed and/or documented. We would recommend asking the builder to provide a startup service for the first 30 days (remember, that was a question you asked them before you signed so you should already know the answer, but if you are already in your build and that wasn’t addressed then consider adding after the fact.)
Be sure to take notes during the overview, or if it’s ok with your builder you may want to record the overview of your equipment and maintenance recommendations. Really pay attention to the valve settings and instructions on how to operate your control system as this confuses a lot of people and you could damage your equipment if you just start turning valves or changing settings without fully understanding their function.
If you are satisfied with your builder and your pool, take some time to give them a good review and pay things forward for the next customer with your new found knowledge and experience. And lastly, if you have any other tips or experiences that would help others please let us know and we would love to add them to the list.
Enjoy your new pool!