DO YOUR RESEARCH
A pool is a huge investment. You want to make sure it’s installed properly. For starters, find neighbors who have inground pools and ask them about their experience. They may recommend a reliable contractor – or tell you who to avoid. You might also check Internet forums and consumer websites for additional insights and recommendations.
Talk to at least three contractors when getting estimates. If a contractor is willing to give you a lengthy list of references, that’s a good sign. If you’re given a small list, that doesn’t necessarily disqualify the contractor, but you might want to ask some pertinent questions to make sure the references are legitimate. Some things to ask:
When did the contractor perform work for you?
What type of pool did the contractor install?
Did the contractor complete the work on time, and only ask for payment for completed work?
Were there any surprises?
Were the builders courteous and considerate of your needs while onsite?
INVESTIGATE THE BUSINESS
Look closely at the business by contacting the Better Business Bureaus to see if there are any complaints against the contractor. You might also want to see if your contractor is a member of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP). Finally, it’s a good idea to check out your state’s regulations on swimming pool construction to ensure the contractor is bonded and properly certified.
GO WITH YOUR GUT
First impressions can be wrong, but you don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a bad choice. If you sense something isn’t quite right with a particular pool contractor, then you may have a good reason to be cautious. Some red flags to look out for:
Offering an unrealistically low estimate.
Pressuring you to make a quick decision.
Asking for payment in cash.
Asking for a large amount of money upfront.
General lack of professionalism in appearance or behavior.
Before signing with a pool contractor, be sure to visit the contractor’s place of business. How a contractor manages its office and conducts routine day-to-day business might give you hint of how they perform on the job. And if the contractor doesn’t have a place of business? That’s a definite red flag.
PROTECTING YOUR INVESTMENT
Maybe you’ve heard horror stories about poorly constructed pools. The common theme of each story is a bad pool contractor. While unexpected issues can arise when undertaking such a large project, an experienced professional can usually handle it without missing a beat. If you do your homework up front, there’s a better chance the finished pool will shape up – and fill up – the way you expected.