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You’ve decided to make that leap and invest in the swimming pool you’ve always wanted. Congratulations! You’re on your way to hours of fun and relaxation in the sun. Before you can proceed with your project, however, you have to select a designer to build your pool for you. If this is your first time, you may be wondering where to even begin.

What Should You Look For in a Pool Builder?

Choosing a pool builder is no small task and definitely not a decision to make lightly. The wrong decision could cost you up front or years down the line, so it’s important to take a little time to make a careful choice. The following 5 tips will help you narrow down the candidates and find the best builder for your custom pool.

1) Verify credentials

A solid place to start when choosing your pool builder is to check credentials.  Ask for the company’s phone number and physical address as well as the full name and number of the sales representative.  Find out how long they’ve been in business and how many pools were installed last year.  Ask who handles the construction and if subcontractors are used. Verify licensing and certification of all those involved in the actual pool installation. If possible, visit the office location, meet employees, and tour the showroom if there’s one available.  

2) Assess customer satisfaction

Learning about others’ personal experiences is a great way to learn more about the company.  Gauge customer satisfaction by requesting and checking references; keep in mind that a small list of references is not automatically a bad thing, but be more thorough when checking these names.  Choose at least 3 contacts from different parts of the list to contact.  Ask many questions including when the customer did business with the company and what type of pool was installed, whether the crew was professional and courteous while on site, timeliness of work completed, how payment was handled, and whether there were any surprises during construction.  

Take caution if you’re given only old references – this could indicate cherry picking by the contractor.  Finally, check the contractor’s rating with the Better Business Bureau and consider paying for a second report through ContractorCheck.  Keep in mind that every business will receive a negative review eventually, but pay attention to how the company handles complaints.

3) Check affiliations

Trade associations often provide lists of members who adhere to a code of business ethics and promote professional development.  Find out if your contractor is affiliated with any such associations.  A good example of a trade association is The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (ASPS).

4) Trust your gut

First impressions are important, but they can be wrong.  Don’t jump prematurely into business with a contractor based solely on a positive first impression.  Visit the contractor’s place of business and observe how they conduct day-to-day business.  This is a good indicator of how they will handle business with you.  While interviewing and spending time with your potential contractor, watch out for red flags.  

These warning signs could include:  no official place of business, an unrealistically low estimate, requiring payment in cash or demanding a large deposit up front, pressure to decide quickly or to finance through the pool company or affiliated lender, or a general lack of professionalism in appearance or behavior.  High-pressure sales tactics, scare tactics, and bullying are huge signs that you should walk away immediately.

5) Ask about insurance

Ask which insurance company you can contact to see a copy of the contractor’s certificate of insurance.  The contractor’s reaction to this straightforward approach will speak volumes.  A legitimate, professional builder won’t bat an eye at this question and will have no problem giving you the name and number of his insurance company.  If the question makes the contractor uncomfortable or if they say they will “find you a copy” or show you something they happen to have on hand, find another builder.  Many contractors also work with subcontractors.  Find out if your prospective contractor has general liability insurance and Workmen’s Compensation insurance to cover any expenses that may arise with subcontractors.

Money Matters

Great, you’ve decided on a builder!  Before signing the contract, review the document thoroughly.  Make sure it contains a full description of the work that will be done including materials, a timeline, a payment schedule, and warranty details.  Verify payment arrangements up front, and if you’re financing, shop around to be sure you’re getting the best possible rates and fees.  Avoid paying in cash and do not pay in full up front.  At most, pay in ⅓ increments.

Don’t Settle for a Sub-Par Builder

You want your completed swimming pool to be the backyard oasis of your dreams.  In order to make that happen, you need the best pool builder for you and your home. Get started with these tips and you’ll be well on your way to days of fun and relaxation in your own backyard oasis.

Contact Us to learn more about designing and building your dream pool or come by and visit our showroom for ideas and inspiration.