Installing a pool is one of the biggest decisions a homeowner can make, and choosing a swimming pool contractor is a key part of the process. Without the right one, you can end up unhappy, out thousands of dollars, or worse.
The proper installation of a swimming pool is a complicated process involving legal permitting, logistical planning, engineering, landscape design, budgeting, and more. One false step can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees or repairs.
Hiring an experienced swimming pool contractor can prevent heartache, frustration, and financial strain.
Luckily, you can prevent a bad pool-building experience with a little bit of planning. This list of mistakes to avoid when selecting a swimming pool contractor will help you make smart decisions about the new addition to your home.
1. Skipping the Swimming Pool Contractor Research
Before selecting a swimming pool contractor, make sure to spend plenty of time researching. Learn what you should and should not expect from the contractor, as well as approximate timelines and prices for the swimming pool installation.
Even if you’re unsure what you are looking for, you’ll still have a much better experience if you do some general internet reading before reaching out to potential swimming pool contractors.
Another idea is to talk with friends and neighbors who have swimming pools. Ask for recommendations, not only regarding the contractor they selected but also any good or bad decisions made along the way.
Once you find a few potential options, dig in even deeper. Find out what each contractor specializes in to make sure it fits with your plans. Check out customer references and reviews on sites like Angie’s List to get an idea of the contractor’s reputation.
2. Picking the Cheapest Contractor
Price comparison is important when deciding which swimming pool contractor to choose, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Of course, you still want to check out estimates to make sure the price is fair and reasonable. However, the work your contractor provides is complicated and time-consuming, and their level of professionalism may warrant a higher price.
If you sacrifice quality for a lower price, the contractor may not actively disclose what you might be giving up in exchange. Make sure you compare both final prices and any included guarantees, certifications, and insurance policies. Note differences in time commitment, and pay attention to how the contractor intends to deal with any concerns you might have during the process.
Once you realize what you are losing in order to pay less, you may decide the price difference is not as significant as it seemed on paper.
3. Not Making a Plan
So you’ve researched contractors, and you have interviews set up. Now what? Don’t head out empty-handed – make a plan before you talk with them. Having a clear idea of what you want helps the swimming pool contractors design your dream pool rather than fill in the blanks and deliver something that doesn’t fit the bill.
Think about why you’re installing the pool. Are you hosting big pool parties or using the pool for exercise – or both? Is it important to have all of the bells and whistles, or are you more concerned about cost and functionality? Consider the ages and lifestyles of those who’ll be using the pool, and list any limitations or dream details.
Think about where you’re installing the pool. The location of your pool matters. For example, building the pool over electrical systems or under power lines is dangerous and could lead to injury or death. You and your contractor will need to survey the area where you want to install the pool to remove any dangers or relocate the pool. An experienced contractor can help you build the perfect design and plan based on your wants and available backyard space.
Think about how much you can spend. Going into the process with a predefined budget will help you select a contractor within your budget and limit your spending. Use your research to discuss any financial limitations with the contractor. Be wary of any swimming pool contractor who pushes you to go beyond your budget.
4. Assuming the Contractor Knows What You Want
As with most things in life, you have to ask for what you want. If you don’t tell your swimming pool contractor what you’re looking for, you may not get it. They can’t read your mind, so be as specific as possible, and allow them to educate you on what is possible based on your budget.
A multitude of variables goes into swimming pool design and installation. It is vital to discuss important issues with the person who is going to manage this process for you. This may or may not be the person who gave you a quote.
While many people start with financials, you may want to tackle space and style issues first.
You should also consider practical issues. Remember, your contractor is going to be at your home for an extended period of time. Are you planning to take a vacation during installation? Do you work from home and noise could be an issue, or do your children do activities in the yard at certain times of the day? These are all things you need to mention to your contractor to make sure you’re on the same page.
5. Forgetting to Check Their Insurance or License
Hiring contractors without verifying liability insurance is one of the worst mistakes you can make when installing a pool. If there is an injury on the job and the contractor lacks insurance, you risk carrying the financial responsibility for paying medical bills, damages, etc. So before you hire a pool contractor, find out not only if they have insurance but to what degree their insurance provides protection.
You should also ask if subcontractors will be handling any of the work. In some cases, if a subcontractor without coverage experiences an injury on the job, you can be responsible for their bills even though you didn’t hire them directly. It doesn’t hurt to check your homeowner’s insurance, too, as some policies will provide protection.
It’s also essential to make sure your chosen pool contractor has an actual license to do their job. It is illegal for them to operate without one and means they never took the required certification courses. They will likely lack the essential knowledge needed to install the pool to industry standards. The final product could even be faulty or unsafe.
Related: Pools and Spas 101
6. Ignoring Red Flags
A pool is a significant investment, so you should listen to your gut when it comes to choosing your swimming pool contractor. Even if the person seems perfect on paper, pay attention to any red flags.
One example is if the company doesn’t have a main office or an online presence. Without a central location, you have nowhere to go with questions or complaints, which should set off alarm bells.
Another red flag is when the contractor hesitates to put anything in writing. Make sure you get a written contract designating the specific project terms. The contract outlines expectations on both sides and provides proof of the agreement in case any disputes arise.
Finally, if the contractor asks for a large upfront payment, you should probably look for someone else. The standard for most contractors is a small payment to begin the project, with the rest paid in increments as they complete the work.
In the end, there are probably many local swimming pool contractors who will do an excellent job for you. Still, it’s always best to be prepared and make informed decisions to ensure the best possible experience.
Looking for a top-tier contractor to deliver the pool of your dreams within your budget? California Pools has the best professionals in your area. Find a local office here.