Story by Jessica Tomes
The dog days of summer will be here again before we know it. We do live in Texas after all! Wouldn’t you love to spend this summer swimming and lounging in your very own backyard oasis? Yes, please. Sign us up! Building an in-ground pool involves a lot of decisions. But the most important decision? Choosing the right pool contractor. All your careful planning and saving can go right out the window if your contractor turns out to be incompetent, irresponsible, or unethical. Instead of a backyard oasis, you could end up with a nightmare of a backyard. So how do you make the right choice?
You’ll want to start with a list of qualified candidates.
Talk to friends and neighbors who have pools. Who have they used? Were they happy with the experience? Would they use the same company or contractor again, given the opportunity? You’ll want to do your own online research as well. Look at honest consumer reviews. Consider checking the Better Business Bureau — make sure there aren’t any complaints against the potential contractors. Look into your state’s regulations on swimming pool construction, and make sure the pool contractor is properly certified. Check out pictures of past work on the contractors’ websites. Don’t expect someone to step too far outside their comfort zone (from a design perspective). Usually, what you see is what you get. You’ll want to choose a contractor whose body of work matches your chosen style. Once you’ve created a list of candidates, you’re ready to interview each one before making the big, backyard decision. We recommend talking to at least three.
Ideally, the contractor will come to your home to see your yard, and create a personalized plan for your space. Ask about credentials and experience. Communication with your contractor is important — problems sometimes arise on pool construction jobs. Choosing an honest and forthright contractor is also important. Ask for a written bid with a time schedule that includes both an estimated start and completion date. Don’t know exactly what kind of pool you want yet? Ask for bids for several types of pools.
You may even want to ask for references, including the last three pools the contractor built. Be wary of someone who doesn’t want to provide this information. Mismanaged jobs can get expensive quickly. And don’t make your decision based solely on price — if your budget allows you to be choosy. Consider all factors when making your decision. Some contractors with solid reputations charge more. Which contractor seems like the best fit for the job? Which company seems like the best fit for your family’s needs and desires?
Ultimately, you will have to go with your gut. Red flags to watch for might include offering an unrealistically low estimate or pressuring you to make a decision quickly. A swimming pool is a major investment, and you should be allowed the necessary time to make the best decision possible. Pushing you to get financing through the pool company or an associated business, asking for payment in cash, asking for a large amount of money upfront, or displaying a general lack of professionalism are all signs that you should find somewhere else to help you get your swim on.