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Choosing an inground pool installer - key decision

Once you have decided on an inground pool, it is extremely crucial to get the next move right. The pool construction business is known for unscrupulous salesmen and shoddy and even incomplete construction. It is important to know what to ask your potential builders. Here is a general checklist.

How many years has the company been in business and have they been in business under any other name? The longer the better, but don't take a verbal answer. Check up on the company with the local Better Business Bureau and check with county records to make sure there are no legal disputes still hanging around. Ask for references, and if there are pools they are currently constructing. It would be helpful to interview those partial pool owners about how the construction is going and if there are any problems. A reputable company should be fine with any of these requests. Ask if the company has a certified service professional (CSP) on staff and go with a company that gives you an affirmative.

Is the builder licensed and bonded? Even though some states do not require a license, it is important that your builder has one. Then check up their record with the licensing agency. Sleazy, unlicensed operators promise to save you money and then are gone in the night. And do not require just the builder to be bonded and licensed but his sub-contractors as well...and get it in writing.

How much insurance does the builder have and what kind is it? Any kind of harm done to your property or to anyone in and around the property during pool construction needs to be covered.

Warranties are notorious for small print, but it is important to get the warranties in actual print. Make sure you know what is and isn't covered. Considering "Acts of God" are damages occurring that are out of your control, such as tornado damage, make sure you are covered. And if there is some harm done make sure you know who will be responsible for correcting and the costs of correcting. What if a gas line, a water line, etc., is broken during excavation? This is not unthinkable and can cause incredible damage. Any promise or claim that will affect your pool or home property needs to be in writing.

Pools require building permits. Make sure your builder will be the one applying for and picking up these permits from local authorities.

Finally, go on the internet and see if anyone has logged in a horror story that references your potential pool builder.

Then on your own...

It is important to educate yourself on what goes into a successful pool construction. The more you know the better off you will be and less likely to be taken in. The builder will not take you under his or her wing and give you the information you want. Go to the library and the Internet to find out as much as you can about building a pool so you are prepared for each eventuality.

Get the estimates

If you get one or two estimates, it is likely you will not get good value. Get ten or twelve estimates, and it is likely you will get confused. It is better to ask around and find four reputable companies that will give you estimates based on the same specifications. Make sure they visit your site and ask about your plans rather than give a generic quote.

Although picking the cheapest option might be great for small mass produced items, it is not the rule of thumb for choosing a pool builder. There is an adage that states "If you think the cost of a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur."

Do not shop for a builder by the sound of their voice. Make sure you see their completed product. And visit their office or showroom. Is it a professional group and do you feel like you can work with them? Will they be responsive to you or put you on hold? If you get a bad feeling about the company, you do not need to hire them.

Down payments can be significant. Make sure you know what is required and when. A substantial chunk of change down before any work may signal an unscrupulous dealer. Check with your list of contractors and compare the down payments and payment requirements before signing that contract.

Signing the contract is a binding act. Keep in mind that if you sign at the contractor's office but there is no financing on their part, you may not have the right to rescind the agreement after the three day cooling off period. It is the finance contract that enjoys this three day "think about it" phase. Canceling may cost you over a thousand dollars. The contract should include the start date, the completion date and the total costs. If you are being financed by the builder, all these particulars need to be clearly stated.

Red lights

  • Bait and switch sales techniques...you are offered one pool on "sale" and then the sales personnel attempts to convert you to a more costly option.
  • Your pool is at a reduced price because it will be a "model" for their company.
  • Pressure to sign a contract.
  • Requests for significant down payments. In some states deposits are fixed at no higher than ten percent of the total cost and no more than $1,000. Although pool prices continue to climb, keep these parameters in mind.

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