“Every Year, Many Pool Builders Go In and Out of Business,
Leaving Many Home Owners With Empty Holes In Their Backyards.”
We at Cobalt Custom Pools™ want you to know as much as you can about the purchase of a pool before you sign any contract. We want you to be delighted with your pool and your pool buying experience – no matter who you buy it from. That is why we want to offer you this helpful guide. By doing this we are giving you the information you need to separate the competent and trustworthy pool builders from all the rest, and then chose the best fit.
So Before You Sign Any Contracts…
We at Cobalt Custom Pools™ suggest you interview prospective builders over the phone, via e-mail, or better yet, in person. Ask them a series of questions to determine their competence, their credibility, and their commitment to customer satisfaction. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether you can trust the builder you are dealing with. With these questions I am providing you, this should give you some insight into the person and company you’re about to do business with.
We at Cobalt Custom Pools™ want to wish you a great pool building experience and if we could help you out in anyway, please let us know..
THE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE CHOOSING THE ONE:
“Can I have some of your references?”
Without hesitation, you should be able to receive a list of at least 50 names or more. If they cannot provide you with a list of names or make excuses, this should be a huge red flag.
You should definitely talk to at least five people randomly from the list. You could also arrange a meeting at one of the homes to meet the customer and to see the finished product. You will be able to get a good feel about their experience with how they talk and act..
“Can I have the names and phone numbers of at least two different suppliers that you’ve done business with?”
This is a great source of information, because suppliers who’ve been cheated by a pool builder will be more than happy to tell you about it. Even more importantly, if the pool builder doesn’t pay the suppliers’ bills, then the homeowner may get stuck paying it again.
“Are you a member of the APSP and the BBB?”
The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) both demand ethical business practices from all their members. The fees to join are by no means burdensome, so there’s no reason for a bona fide, ethical-minded pool builder not to join.
The APSP writes the construction standards for the pool industry, and its members commit to the adherence of those standards. If a pool builder is not a member of both the BBB and the APSP, that should be a clear warning to look somewhere else.
“Will my checks be made payable to a business account or to a personal account?”
When the company name and the principal’s name are the same, it can be difficult to discern between bank accounts. For example, if the pool builder’s name is Johnny Smith, and the check is made out to “Johnny Smith,” then he could go to your bank and cash the check and avoid paying any state or Federal income taxes. If the IRS discovers this, you might be held accountable.
When you write out a check to a company that is incorporated (“Inc.”), or has the principal’s name as only part of the company name (e.g., “Johnny Smith Pool Construction Co.”), then the bank is required to deposit the check in the pool builder’s checking account. This greatly reduces the likelihood that the builder is going to run off with your money.
“Do you have workmen’s compensation and general liability insurance?”
A “subcontractor” is someone who is hired by the pool builder to do work on your pool, but is not an employee of the pool builder. He could be a plumber, a laborer, or even an electrician. Anything that happens to one of these laborers on your property could turn into a liability for you.
Workmen’s Compensation insurance will protect you from having to pay for the subcontractor’s lost wages. A General Liability policy will protect you from lawsuits and other liabilities to these laborers. An inexperienced pool builder may have neither of these policies, and put you at risk. A professional pool builder will have both, and protect you from any liabilities.
“What insurance company should I call to get a copy of your certificate of insurance?”
Watch their reaction when you ask this question. If they start to squirm, start looking for another builder. Likewise, if they say “I’ll get you a copy,” or just show you something from their briefcase, find another builder. Anyone can easily alter the dates of an expired policy. That’s why the certificate of insurance must come directly from the insurance company to you. A professional pool builder won’t hesitate to give you the name and phone number of his insurance company.
“How many projects have you done that would qualify you to build my pool?”
This is another good question to help weed out the inexperienced, inept or blatantly dishonest pool builders. Today’s pools are substantially more sophisticated than they were 20 years ago. New features like “puddle pools”, “negative edges”, “in-floor cleaning systems”, “grottos”, “weeping walls” and countless others that take experience and engineering know-how.
There are stunningly beautiful, but can be very expensive and disappointing disasters if built by someone with insufficient experience.
Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of the pool builder’s clients that have the special features you’re considering. Call them and ask if the features work as promised, and if they had any trouble with dealing with the builder. A professional pool builder will be more than willing to give you all the names you want or need.
“Is all needed work for the pool included in my contract?”
Some pool builders do not include electrical work or patio work in their contracts. If this is left up to you to arrange, you’ll have to go search for an electrician or other contractor you can trust, and hope that you don’t end up with someone who’s unfamiliar with pool construction codes and requirements. If you have a problem, the pool builder who dumped this task on you is going to plead innocence and point to you and the electrician to go work it out. This can delay your pool project for weeks or even months.
The safest bet is to choose a builder that includes all the requirements for completing your pool in the contract, and won’t charge extra for things they should handle.
“Will you provide lien waivers from vendors and subcontractors alike, to prove they’ve been paid?”
This is VERY IMPORTANT!!!! The biggest nightmare for any homeowner buying a pool is to pay 60% to 75% of the money for the pool and have the pool builder skip town when he’s only done 20% of the work. These builders usually leave the subcontractors unpaid, which means they’ll all come knocking on your door looking for payment.
A lien waiver is a receipt showing that funds have been paid to a supplier or subcontractor, and that they have no lien rights against your home. When your pool is complete, you should have lien waivers from all vendors and subcontractors to prove you don’t have to pay them again. A professional pool builder will provide you with lien waivers for all work and materials used for your pool – no questions asked
“Why should I trust you to build my pool?”
If your pool builder has survived all of the previous questions, Congratulations! You may have found a good solid pool builder to handle your project. But there’s still one more issue – How do you feel about them personally? There is no right or wrong answer to the above question, but it’s a great way to get a sense of the personal integrity of the person you’re dealing with. This question should let their true personality shine through. After all, you’re going to be working closely with this person for the next two to three months or more (depending on the size of the project). You’ll want to make sure it’s someone you feel good about, and can trust.