With this summer breaking national records for high temps and heat waves, it’s understandable if you’re fantasizing about having your own pool in your backyard. Taking a dip is a great way to cool off, and an even better way to entertain guests.
But it can also be a time-consuming and costly investment. So, how do you go about tackling this project? And how do you find a contractor to get the job done right?
Before you begin your search for the right pool builder, you first have to figure out what type of pool you want and determine your budget.
Then, you must follow the three crucial steps below to avoid costly mistakes when hiring and working with a contractor.
Decide what type of pool you want
Every major endeavor starts with a plan, and the only way you’re going to be able to plan properly is to figure out what you want the outcome to be.
Before you even start pulling names of potential contractors, be sure you know exactly what you want pool-wise”
So, “before you even start pulling names of potential contractors, be sure you know exactly what you want pool-wise,” says Robert Douglas of Certified Leak Protection.
He adds, “Materials can affect the price, and not all contractors may be experienced in the exact type of pool you would like to add to your home. Be sure to have a budget, not only for the pool but for any landscaping or fencing you want to place around it.”
For example, if budget (and time) are a big factor, a generic, above-ground pool would be the easiest option to pursue and would probably require very little outside help in setting up. However, if you prefer an in-ground pool in your yard, you’ll need help from contractors.
This detailed guide will help you figure out what kind of pool you want and what the costs will be.
Select the right pool builder: set your budget
Once you have a better idea of what kind of pool will be best for you, it’s time to assess your budget.
Materials can affect the price, and not all contractors may be experienced in the exact type of pool you would like to add to your home. Be sure to have a budget, not only for the pool but for any landscaping or fencing you want to place around it.”
A free-standing above-ground pool can cost as little as $1,653 and require very little maintenance. When you get into the construction of lap pools and larger in-ground pools, costs can skyrocket to a range of $17,500 to more than $60,000.
The average cost of installing a recreational in-ground pool is $44,535.
But don’t worry; there are ways you can cut costs. There are several financing options you can consider to help you fund your pool installation.
Once you’ve figured out what type of pool you want and set your budget, you’ll be ready to find a contractor.
Below are three vital steps to finding and hiring a pool contractor you can trust.
Narrow down a list of top contractors
Now that you know your budget and what type of pool you want, it’s time to select the right contractor to make it a reality.
The first step is to create a list of the top contractors you’re considering working with. That starts by knowing where to look and what to ask.
See a great pool in your neighborhood? Or did one of your friends or family members just add a pool to their own yard? Ask them who their contractor was and what their experience was like working with them.
Personal referrals are always a reliable place to start. You can also solicit recommendations on Facebook or your other social media networks.
Read online reviews
Read through all of the reviews, both positive and negative, to discover the general opinion of a contractor you’re considering. Be on the lookout for any negative feedback a contractor receives. You’ll also want to see if the contractor has ever been sued and how it was resolved.
Choose the right builder by asking the right questions
Once you have a number of contractors who seem like a good fit, you’ll want to screen them even further to find the best fit. Remember, in this situation, you’re an employer and the contractor is interviewing for a job from you.
Don Barlow, Founder & Owner of Finyl Vinyl, advises people to “ask for references of past customers, and ask them how they felt about the pool-building process, both prior and after completion.”
You’ll also want to inquire about certain details that will help you narrow down your list to include only the best options.
Do they take on projects of your size?
The most important question to ask a potential contractor is whether or not they even take on projects of your size. If they don’t, they might be able to refer you to other contractors who fit more within your range.
You might also want to consider other aspects of their work, such as how many other projects they’re overseeing at a given time, how long they’ve worked with the subcontractors they’re using, and who their previous clients have been.
Are they certified to build swimming pools?
Just because a contractor has completed several projects in your area, it doesn’t mean they’re properly licensed.
Ask the contractor if he has a CBP Certified Pool Builder on staff.”
So you’ll want to “make sure they are certified,” warns Barlow. He adds, “Ask the contractor if he has a CBP Certified Pool Builder on staff.”
And, if they say they are licensed, it’s a good idea to get proof. That way, if you run into any legal issues, you’ll be able to prove that the contractor claimed to be properly licensed.
Does your pool builder have insurance?
Speaking of legal issues, you’ll also want to ask contractors about their insurance details to protect yourself from a potential legal battle.
Ask for proof that they have worker’s compensation and liability insurance. If they aren’t insured, your home insurance may not cover any unforeseen injuries or other accidents– this could land you in a legal battle that you won’t want to be in.
Can your builder obtain proper permits?
If you live in an area that requires certain permits before any construction work can begin, you’ll want to make sure that your contractor agrees to obtain them. You can be fined if he or she fails to do so.
Does your pool builder offer a warranty?
While it’s important to get the right warranties for your pool, it’s equally as important to work with a contractor that offers a workmanship warranty. Without one, you’ll be finically responsible for any mistakes that pop up down the road.
For example, if something gets overlooked or a mistake is made during installation that causes issues in the future, a warranty could cover the cost. It typically covers issues like plumbing leaks, leaks in the pool fitting, and structural settlement.
Since most of these problems usually don’t pop up for at least a year, it’s important to make sure the contractor offers the warranty for longer than one year.
2) Solicit swimming pool bids
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a handful of contractors who might be a good fit, it’s time to figure out exactly how much each of them will charge.
Have them assess your property
It’s important for a contractor to see your property to provide an accurate quote for their services.
For example, building a lap pool in a yard full of hills or trees will be a very different project than building a installing a lap pool on a perfectly flat plane of grass. Different project come with different price tags
Once a contractor knows what type of pool you want and what kind of space they’re working with, they’ll be able to give you an estimate of how much the project will cost, including their fees.
“The bid needs to be very detailed,” says attorney Alexis Moore.
She says it should be so detailed that, “at any point of the process, you can walk out and see that it is happening. It should spell out how the shell is being built, how many jets, how many drains, how many lines, etc. The more details, the better.”
3) Finalize the deal
After you’ve selected the contractor you want to work with, you’ll have to put some systems into place to get things moving in the right direction.
Agree on the contract
It’s important to have everything you and the contractor agree to in writing. Review the contract carefully before signing. Make sure both of you sign the contract to avoid any future disputes about the original agreements.
Having a contract in place will protect both parties if unexpected obstacles or expenses come up in the construction process or the contractor is not delivering work according to plan.
Set a payment schedule
Part of the contract will stipulate at what point in the project certain payments are due. Paying for construction in installments is a great way for homeowners to be protected if a contractor is not delivering according to plan or failing to come through on other promises.
“Make sure to withhold 5-10% of the total contract value until they very end,” advises John Bodrozic of HomeZada.
He says, “You want to make sure you don’t give the final payment to the contractor if the project is not completely finished. This will help ensure the contractor comes back to make sure everything is working in order to get final payment.”
How to fund your pool installation
Unfortunately, building the pool of your dreams isn’t something you can do by yourself. That’s true not only for the construction but also the cost.
A contractor will help you build the pool, and a personal loan could help you pay for it.
However, different personal loans come with different rates, fees and requirements, so check out what the best personal loans are to ensure that you choose the best option for you.
Use SuperMoney’s personalized loan offer engine to get pre-qualified offers from leading lenders today. Using this tool will not negatively affect your credit score.
You can also head over to our personal loans review page to find the best rates and terms from top lenders. You’re one step closer to turning your dream of having a pool into a reality.
Dustin Clendenen is an LA-based screenwriter, journalist, editor, and all-around storyteller. He spends most of his time thinking about the “Big Picture” and obsessing over its details.