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How to properly vet a potential pool contractor



Vetting your pool contractor
How to properly vet your pool builder

FALSE PROPHET

How to vet your pool builder? While the internet is a great resource it can also be a great distraction and a great provider of misinformation. Anyone with a cell phone and a few minutes of free time can suddenly become an online expert or an influencer. Its hard to know who is telling the truth and who is just trying to peddle some new side hustle, magic weight loss supplement, get rich quick scheme etc. While searching the internet its easy to watch a well dialed in video and think that person is an expert, but more often than not just because a someone has hired a good videographer does not necasarilly equate to them being what they portray to be. There are a lot more fake experts out there than there are legitimate ones. Like everything in life, "Buyer Be Ware". After being in the pool industry for the last 27 years we have seen the false prophets come and go and have seen pool owners have to deal with the consequences of making a buying decision based on misinformation and flat out lies veiled in well positioned videos, marketing and sales schemes. At Pool Pros we are pretty old school and built our reputation on hard work and quality craftsmanship, not fancy marketing and sales gimicks. We are here today to help pull back the curtain to reveal the critical aspects that all potential pool owners should heavily research about the potential pool builder they may hire.


THE VETTING PROCESS

Creating lists to properly vet your pool builder is the best way to start your research. Below are a few ideas of the different lists we suggest you create.

  1. Create a list of local pool builders in your area

  2. Create a check list of qualifications you desire in a builder.

  3. Create a list of all key employees within each business that will take part in creating your pool project. I.e: Owners,Sales Person, Foreman, Crew Members and Sub Contractors.

  4. Create a list of the direct industry experience that each of these key employees retains

  5. Create a list of actual qualifications of each pool builder. Industry training, Industry Certifications, Industry Awards and Recognition

  6. Create a list of the length of time pool builders have been in business and demand that number be proven.

  7. Create a list of how many pools each pool builder has built with proof they actually built them.

  8. Create a list of other businesses that are owned by the owner of the Pool Company


VETTING RESOURCES

Now that you have the lists, its time to start digging. Here are a few tips we recomend using to help corborate the info provided by your potential pool builder.

  1. BBB: Do a quick search on the Better Business Bureau Website. If they dont have at least an A rating find out why. If they dont come up on the BBB thats red flag number one.https://www.bbb.org/local-bbb/wisconsin

  2. Website: Does your potential pool builder have a quality website? If they dont have the resources to have a quality website in this day and age that is another big red flag!

  3. PHTA Member: Check with the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance to see if your potential pool builder is a member. The PHTA is a trade association that writes building codes and creates sets of best practices that are used by quality pool builders across the world. If they are not a member then they do not have access to the building codes and training opportunities necessary to provide the knowledge to properly build a pool. Here is the link to search fo ryour pool builder https://portal.phta.org/Directories/Company-Directory

  4. Registered Dealer: Check with the manufacturer of the pool equipment being offered by each to see if they are a registered dealer. Here are links to the big 3 manufacturers. If your potential pool builder is not listed that is another red flag. https://hayward.com/dealerlocator https://www.jandy.com/en/locator https://www.pentair.com/en-us/find-a-dealer/pool-spa.html

  5. Industry Certifications: Find out if your pool builder has any industry certifications. Industry certifications are not given but earned through required training programs and strict testing along with required continued education classes to ensure that knowledge sticks. The best would be the Certified Building Professional and Certified Service Professional from the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance. Here is alink to search if there are any CBP's or CSP's in your area. https://portal.phta.org/Directories/Company-Directory

  6. State Registration: Ensure your potential builder is legit and set up with the state you reside in. This info will typically tell you the date they were originally set up as well so you can vet that as well. Here is an example of the info that can be found for businesses in Wisconsin at this link https://www.wdfi.org/apps/corpsearch/search.aspx

  7. CCAP: In Wisconsin the State provides a Consolidated Court Automated Program Database where you can search for court cases in the state. We recomend using this to search the name of the pool company, the business owners name, and the names of all key employees and any associated subcontractors in the state you live. https://www.wicourts.gov/courts/offices/ccap.htm

  8. Ownership: Verify the ownership of each pool company. If its owned by another company, is a DBA or is owned by someone other than what is being told to you, its another red flag!

  9. Industry Recognition: Does your builder have awards for pool projects, similar to the PHTA Gold Standard and International Gold Standard Awards. If not that should be a red flag!

  10. Google Reviews: While this is helpful there are the occasions where trolls can provide bad reviews and reviews may be provided accidentally providing a false reality. Also some companies have their employees provide them with 5 star reviews to pad the stats. So make sure you really read through the reviews and weed out the bogus ones. It will give you a better idea of what the true ranking is. See an example here.

  11. Display Pool: Ask to see the pool builders work first hand. Most pool builders that are truly invested will have an operating display pool that you can see. If not ask to see a clients pool.

  12. Pool Service: If you are hiring a pool builder be sure they offer pool service and at the minimum offer pool openings and closings. If they dont thats a major red flag.

  13. Actual Employees: Make sure that the company you are vetting has actual employees. We are seeing this more and more but some companies have no employees and simply sub contract out all the work. So you could have a dozen or more companies working on differnt parts of your pool project. Be sure this is disclosed to you before you sign the contract. It can be furstrating when you hire one specific company to build your pool then have another company show up to do the work. In this case your pool company is littlle more than a middle man or project manager. Vet the employees as well. After all, these workers will be in your backyard and around your family for weeks at a time. You want to make sure they are the kind of people you want in your yard.


RED FLAGS

There are a lot of red flags to look out forwhen buying a pool but there are the most common concerns we have come across when trying to properly vet your pool builder.


1: Outlandish Installation Claims: When trying to properly vet your pool builder be wary of pool builders claims of how quickly they can build your pool. While the goal of every pool builder and pool owner is to have their pool built quickly, there are some over the top claims made by alot of pool builders these days that are just misleading. The biggest one is the 3 day pool installation. While it is true, a pool can be installed in 3 days, its not exactly the hole truth. The pool and its equipment can be installed in that time frame typically, but that is not a completed project. There would still need to be landscaping clean up, patio installation, possible hardscaping etc. The total lenght of time it takes to build a complete pool project is close to 2-3 weeks.


2: The use of inferior materials: Flexible PVC is definetly a no no when installing any type of pool, however pool builders that have little to no experience often use flexible pvc because it is quick, cheap and easy. If your potential pool builder is using flixble pvc we recomend removing them from your list. Here is an article about why Pool Pros does not ue flexible PVC.


3: The use of inneffective or improper pool equipment: This is very common with inexperienced pool builders especially in Wisconsin. Alot of new pool builders try to push Heat Pumps on thier clients without an honest explanation of how they work. In general there is nothing wrong with heat pumps unless you live in Wisconsin and have a short swim season. See heat pumps only heat the pool when it is warm out. It has to be above 58 degrees for a heat pump to work and even at that temperature the heat pump will not heat efficiently. The warmer the outside temp the better a heat pump will heat. This eliminates the heat pump from use in Wisconsin unless you want to lose the first few weeks and last few weeks of the swimming season. Because our seasons are so short we need to heat our pools up fast and the only way to do that is with a natural gas or propane pool heater. Or at Pool Pros we like the new Hybrid Pool Heater from Pentair that is both a natural gas heater and a heat pump. You can use the gas heater to get the pool up to temp quickly for the early and later portions of the season and then use the built in heat pump to heat more economically during the season. To offer only a heat pump is doing a huge disservice to pool owners.

Here is a great article about the difference between heat pumps and gas pool heaters.


4: Contracts: Be wary of a pool builder who has a very vague contract that doesnt clearly outline what is included. A contract is a legally binding document that should be created by a lawyer and not some chicken scratch on a piece of paper. If its not in the contract, you wont get it. So ask about seeing a copy of the contract before you sign and go over it. If you have questions or concerns, now is the time to ask.

5: Payment Schedule: If a builder is asking for an unfair payment schedule structure be wary. Pool Builders that are not fiscally sound companies like to "rob Peter to pay Paul" so to speak. To do this they will aks for 50% or more for a deposit and ask for the remainder of the payments long before they are done. This is generally because they dont have the resources to fund the pool build and supplies themselves. They are relying on you the pool owner to carry the burden of over extending payments to cover the builders ineptitiude. At Pool Pros we have our payment structure broken down into 3 payments in a pay as you go scenario. We require a 33% deposit with the signed contract, then the remaining payments are due at specific progress points of the project. This way we dont out work the payments and the pool owner does not pay for something they have yet to recieve.

6: Change Order Policy: If you the pool owner make changes to the pool project those changes need to be made on a written change order. If there is no written and signed change order dont count on those changes being made. It is common practice for all change order payments to be due at the time the change order is signed. Change orders are good and protect the clients but they can also be used by less than ethical pool builders to add more cost to your project. We have seen cases where someone hired the lowest cost pool builder and then once the pool project started the builder started requiring change orders for additional work. Additional work that was not covered in the orignal agreement and cost the pool owner thousands. Be sure you have all factors of your pool project addressed prior to signing a contract or you may end up with unforseen costs and change orders. Which leads to the next red flag.


7: Lowest Priced Builder: As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. This is especially true with fiberglass pools. Most reputable pool builders that have been around for a while are all pretty close in price generally speaking. When there is one quote that is considerably less than the others that should be a red flag. That either means they are using inferior products, inferior labor or are not properly setting there prices to create a sustainable business that can properly, professionally and efficiently care for thier clients. This is generally the case with new pool companies that have little experience running a business and or limited experience building pools. If you are a risk taker and like to gamble you may win or you may lose. A swimming pool is a large investment to gamble on and the cost to fix them after the fact is often more than the cost of hiring the best pool builder from the start. Always be wary of the lowest cost pool contractor or any contractor for that matter.


8: Pool Selection: At Pool Pros we believe in letting the clients pick the pool model and color they want. This however is not the case with other fiberglass pool builders. Often times fiberglass pool builders wll try to force you into buying the pool shell, size and color they have in stock, which is often not what you may want at all. We field calls like this every year where clients tell me how thankful they were that we allowed them to pick the pool. That just blows my mind, but some pool builders let their egos get in the way of providing what the client wants and will only do what they want. Its kind of the complete opposite of the way things should be. We are in business to give clients what they want not what we the pool builder wants. SMH! If a pool builder is forcing you into something you dont want its time to remove them from you list of potential builders.


MORAL OF THE STORY

There is alot of fake news out there these days but with a little bit of time and the resources outlined above this should help get you on the right track to answer the question of, How to properly vet your builder, for your fiberglass pool project.


SHAMELESS CALL TO ACTION

At Pool Pros we don't shy away from competition, we love it. If you are in the market for a new pool please take a look at what Pool Pros has to offer. Give us a call today. Our Pool Designers are on standby waiting to help you to get on the path to creating the poolscape of your dreams.



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Green Bay, WI 

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  • This website contains an abundance of information that has been created over the last decade or more. Some of the content on this site may reflect prices, perspectives, processes, entities, and names that were relevant at the time but may not be as relevant today. Consumers should consult a Pool Pros associate for the most accurate and updated information based on the unique conditions of their property. Consumers should verify specifications with the installing Pool Pros rather than relying on the information on this website, which is not intended to be a final specification.

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