Adding a pool to your backyard is a huge investment, and the success of your project in large part relies on the company you hire to manage its construction. As is the case with most projects, you need a company that’s well-organized, reliable and easy to communicate with. That being said, because of the scope of the project, there are a few more requirements that you should keep in mind before you make any hiring decisions. Read on to find out how you can tell you’ve found the right company for the job.
Find a Company Specializing in the Pool You Want
First things first, the easiest way to narrow down your options is to look for companies who specialize in the specific kind of pool you’re looking for. Generally speaking, there are three popular pool material types: fibreglass, concrete and vinyl liner. Most companies will specialize in the design and installation of one of these materials.
Once you’ve done some research and decided on the type of pool you’re looking for, ask companies about their experience with these kinds of projects. Don’t be afraid to ask to see photos of their work and speak to past customers as well. If the company refuses to provide these materials, they aren’t the right company for your project.
Ask Who Will Be Working on Your Project
Once you’ve found a few companies specializing in your material of choice, you want to ask who will actually be working on your project. Often times, businesses contract parts of the project out to third-party staff who may not be experienced, licenced and bonded. This practice is not necessarily a red flag – most projects will require the help of certain trades – you just want to make sure the people who will be in charge of your project are knowledgeable, reliable, and can be held accountable for the quality of their work.
While it’s not uncommon for businesses to hire third-party workers, you’ll want to verify that the owner of the company will be involved in the day to day progression of your project. Having the owner of the company on-site to supervise improves the odds that your project will be completed on time and can improve the quality of the final product.
You should also take note of how well the owner communicates with you during your first conversations. Do they always answer your phone calls and emails promptly? Are they making an effort to move the project along? The owners set the standard for the rest of the company – if customer service is lacking before the project even starts, it’s not likely to improve.
Check out Licenses, Accreditations and Reviews
While licenses for pool construction vary based on your location and the details of your project, there are a few easy ways to verify a company’s credibility. Websites like HomeStars and The Better Business Bureau can give you insight into the company’s past work and reputation in your community.
Use HomeStars to read reviews from customers and browse photos of past projects. Make sure to look at reviews over the years – you want to make sure your pool will stand the test of time. Finally, look for a Verification badge on their HomeStars profile. This badge means the company has passed both criminal background and credit checks, is registered with the government and is up to date on the right professional licences.
Ask for Proof of Insurance
Building a pool is a huge investment, so this step is especially important. When asked, your builder should be able to produce documentation proving that they have both worker’s compensation and liability insurance. In the rare case that an accident occurs during your project, these measures will ensure that you will not be held responsible for damages. If they aren’t, you could end up with a lawsuit.
Determine the Scope of Services Being Offered
With a project this size, you’ll want to know exactly what the company will be responsible for. You’ll need to ask about permits, zoning, grading, plumbing and electrical. If the builder seems unclear on any of these aspects of the project, it’s time to move on. Confirm with the builder whether or not they offer design services as well as construction – having the same company design and build your pool will make your project that much easier.
Review Your Contract Carefully
The final (and arguably the most important) step to take before hiring a builder is to carefully review your contract. Your contract should provide detailed information on all of these key points:
The Payment Plan
Your final contract should include a detailed breakdown of the final cost. It should note any necessary deposits and a timeline for payment in full. It should also mention who is responsible for additional and unexpected costs (for example, in the case of property damage).
The contract should also include a firm start date and note how long the project will take. These details are particularly important when it comes to seasonal projects like pool installation. A delay of one month means you will only get to use the pool for half the season.
You’ll also want your contract to include details about maintenance. Will you be given a rundown of how to properly maintain your pool? Will you be given the necessary equipment? Does the builder have preferred maintenance companies to work with? Do they offer discounted services?
Last but certainly not least, you’ll need specifics on what is and isn’t covered under the builder’s warranty. Typically, your warranty should cover the pool’s structure, equipment and plumbing. Make sure that your equipment (like your heater, pump, and filters) is made by the same manufacturer, and covered by that manufacturer’s guarantee. With a project this size, you also need to read the fine print. Some builders will offer a pro-rated warranty that will only provide a credit for damages based on how long you’ve had the pool.
Once you’re done reading your contract, you should have a solid understanding of who is responsible for what warranty (builder, dealer, or manufacturer?) and who will come out to service your pool in the case of a malfunction. With each potential company, go through a blank warranty with the builder and ask questions. With multiple options on the table, you’ll have a better understanding of what should and should not be included.
Installing a pool is a big undertaking, but with the right planning, research, and, of course, professional, your build will be efficient and problem-free. Armed with these 6 tips, you should have no problem finding the right company for the job. Just remember to take your time, evaluate your options, and always read the fine print. When you’re ready to start your research, head to HomeStars.com and find the right pool builder for you.