Finding the right contractor to work on your swimming pool is similar to hiring any contractor – it’s an often-confusing process involving tons of uncertainty, doubt, and confusion as you try to identify someone who not only has the skills to nail your pool construction but also is someone you know you can trust to complete the job.
The good thing is that most pool jobs aren’t life-and-death, in most cases, a pool installation won’t cause your roof to collapse on you while you’re sleeping. That’s also the dark side of pool installation – the lack of serious health concerns means it’s a ripe opportunity for sketchy contractors to sneak in and bluff their way to a pool job that’s beyond them.
So how do you save yourself the time, money, and energy that comes along with getting your pool built? Here’s a simple guide.
Swimming Pool Contractors: Just As Important As Others
Sure, a swimming pool is a luxury item – a construction project that exists solely for the pleasure and relaxation it provides – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a significant investment. Ask anyone who’s had a pool built – it’s an often grueling process that takes days, weeks or months to complete.
The right contractor can not only make the entire process easier through professional skill and good communication, but they can also ensure that your investment yields dividends by delivering a pool that not only meets your expectations but also enhances your property’s aesthetic appeal and value.
According to Pool Pricer, a well-constructed pool can add as much as 7% to your home’s value. That’s nothing to sniff at!
What Makes A Good Pool Builder?
When selecting a swimming pool contractor, several factors should be at the forefront of your decision-making process:
- Experience: Experience is probably the most critical factor to consider, especially when it comes to pools. They’ve likely encountered and overcome every possible challenge that can arise when throwing a pool in, so they know how to deal with any issues quickly and effectively, decreasing costs and the time it takes to install your pool
- Reputation: Contracting is a local business, and your contractor’s reputation will speak volumes to the work they deliver to people like you. Online reviews and references are invaluable resources when assessing a contractor’s reputation. Look on Google and on their personal website for testimonials or other reviews straight from the horse’s mouth.
- Licenses and Insurance: It’s essential to verify that your contractor is licensed and insured. In most states, this is a legal requirement – and knowingly hiring an unlicensed contractor can put you in hot water legally. In states where it’s not a legal requirement, it’s still advisable to ensure these two pieces are in place to protect you and your home.
- Portfolio: A contractor’s portfolio provides insight into the quality and style of their work. Especially considering the high aesthetic needs affixed to pools, having someone who can fit the style you’re going for is important.
- Communication: Last but certainly not least is effective communication. Your contractor should be responsive, open to your ideas, and able to articulate their plans clearly. This is perhaps the most underrated aspect of an effective contractor and can be the difference between a good and a great pool install.
Where to Find Pool Builders?
Finding the right pool contractor starts with knowing where to look. Here are a few places to start your search:
- Online: Websites like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List provide directories of contractors in your area, complete with ratings and reviews. This is a great place to start your search – but it always requires a little more legwork to verify their quality.
- Referrals: Ask friends, family, or neighbors who have recently installed pools for their recommendations. Chances are that someone in your community has a pool contractor they can trust.
- Local Home Shows: Home shows are a great place to meet contractors face-to-face and see examples of their work in real-time. These are rare, so stay abreast of any coming to you locally.
- Pool Stores: Local pool stores often have relationships with contractors and can provide recommendations. Be wary, these relationships often come with jacked-up prices as they’ve got to cover their own referral costs.
How to Negotiate the Best Price?
Negotiating the best price with your pool contractor requires a balance between ensuring you get a fair deal and understanding that lower costs can sometimes mean lower quality. Here are some tips:
- Get Multiple Quotes: This will give you a sense of the average cost and provide leverage in negotiations. By having a baseline of understanding what it will cost, you can understand who is trying to take advantage of you.
- Understand What’s Included: Make sure you know exactly what each quote includes, down to the color tile on the walls. This will prevent surprises down the line and help you compare quotes accurately as well.
- Be Upfront About Your Budget: Letting contractors know your budget from the start can help them tailor their proposals to meet your financial needs. You can be as firm as you need to be, as most contractors want the work and will be flexible to book your job.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask: If a quote seems high, don’t be afraid to ask the contractor to explain the costs. There may be areas where you can compromise to lower the price while still getting the same quality.
The Selection Process
Begin by conducting thorough research on local contractors. Examine their websites, review their portfolios, and read online reviews. According to a survey by HomeAdvisor, homeowners on average reach out to four contractors before making a decision.
After narrowing down your options, schedule interviews with each contractor. This is your chance to ask detailed questions about their process, timeline, and costs. Pay attention to their communication style and level of interest in your project.
Following the interviews, request a detailed quote from each contractor. The quote should include all costs, such as materials, labor, and any potential extras. This will enable you to compare contractors effectively.
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to build a pool is $35,000, with most homeowners spending between $28,000 and $55,000. Pay attention to this ballpark, as it’ll help you anchor a price and establish boundaries.
With all the information gathered, it’s time to make your decision. Remember, the cheapest quote isn’t always the best choice. Consider all factors, including experience, reputation, and your impressions from the interview!
In many cases, it’s worth it to pay more for a contractor whom you can trust. You’re already spending thousands on something that is frankly not essential to your life, so why not spend a few more on the right person?
What To Do If Your Pool Contractor Doesn’t Meet Expectations
So what if, despite all your best efforts, you still end up with a pool contractor who has no idea what they’re doing, or worse yet, knows what they’re doing (when it comes to taking your money and running)?
In many cases, you’re left with a half-finished pool – usually no more than just a big hole with a mound of dirt next to it – in your backyard, and you’re often out thousands of dollars.
In that case, it’s important you not only report your contractor to your state’s regulatory agency – like the CSLB in California – so that you can begin the process of reclaiming your funds, and flagging this contractor so no one else gets burned like you did.
Once the contractor is reported to the regulatory agency in your state, usually they will also have a pathway to open a civil suit against the contractor. In this situation, you’d take the contractor to small claims court to reclaim the money you sunk into the contract that was not fulfilled by the contractor.
Once a judge has ruled in your favor and your contractor is legally required to pay you back for your costs, this is where your journey ends, unless there are serious consequences to the project like bodily injury or death. In that situation, you will probably be involved in a criminal case against the contractor.