5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Pool Contractor
Another benefit of living in the South: Summer is always right around the corner. Dreams of summertime prompt many people to consider adding a backyard pool. If this is a construction project on your horizon, we’ve got some tips to make sure things go swimmingly.
A backyard swimming hole can range from a straight-forward lap pool to a dramatic retreat complete with whimsical waterfalls and lazy rivers. Yet above all else, complying with local building codes and putting safety first should top your design parameters. To turn your vision of a backyard oasis into reality requires a contractor you can trust. Here are 5 steps to finding a pool contractor who can deliver:
- Don’t shop contractors by price alone.
Start your search for a contractor by asking friends and family for recommendations. Another idea is to talk to building inspectors; they know which companies routinely meet code requirements and those that do not. Ask for the bids to be broken down into the cost of materials, labor and other expenses. To compare bids, remember that looking only at the bottom line estimate can get you into hot water. All pools are not created equal. A low-ball estimate is a red flag alerting you that some corners may be cut. Research pool contractors by carefully checking their personal references, your state’s consumer protection agency or by using the local Better Business Bureau resources to check contractor history and reputation.
- Three imperatives: licensed, bonded and insured.
Any construction project is stressful, but hiring someone without the proper credentials multiplies the stress and could do the same to your costs. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation reported more than 1,300 complaints about unlicensed contractors during the last fiscal year. There are many dangers to hiring unlicensed contractors. Typically, they do not have the education and qualifications necessary to deliver quality work.
- For pool mechanics, put wallet appeal ahead of “eye candy”. Enjoying a pool all season long has much to do with keeping it clean. Summer sun and frequent rains make this a challenge. Get educated about the various chemical management systems that are available before you build. The choices you make regarding pumps, filters and hydraulic design are important to the long-term costs of pool maintenance. Your choices depend on the size of the pool, location and how you intend to use it.
- Demand a detailed, written contract.
Written contracts define both the costs and details of construction and should include details of every step of the project, including a payment schedule. If any changes are made to construction materials, pool equipment or the completion date, those changes should also be made in writing. Both you and your contractor should sign the written contract.Additionally, it’s helpful to keep a job file of the paperwork involved in your pool project. Keeping invoices, cancelled checks and photos of the job in progress may be helpful for reference, and you’ll enjoy showing off the before and after pictures.
- Discuss pool safety options with your contractor.
Pools are delightful – and they can be dangerous. Most communities have safety ordinances for swimming pools, and the wise pool owner considers layers of protection during the design phase.Talk to your insurance agent to make sure your investment in outdoor living is properly insured. Frontline Insurance recommends discussing the personal liability coverage available on your homeowners insurance policy. You’ll want to understand how it works and be sure it’s sufficient to cover the costs of injuries in or around your new pool. In most cases, you may want to request additional coverage for a pool screen or the pool fence you’ve just built. With the responsibilities of pool ownership comes an understanding that being in the swim of things starts well in advance of warm weather.
Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.