A deep dive into the pool contractor hiring process
As the warmer months arrive, you may find yourself craving those summer activities like bike rides, grilling, and swimming. Investing in and maintaining a pool is a big and exciting endeavor—but the first step is hiring a pool contractor who you can trust to help you unearth your dream pool.
How to Find a Pool Contractor
Before signing a contract, you’ll want to make sure you’re hiring the best pro. Start by searching for local pool builders with experience and good reviews. You can also ask friends and family for anyone they recommend if they recently added a pool to their yards.
Contact licensed and insured builders to inquire about their previous projects and request an estimate. Before hiring, go over the following guidelines for requesting multiple estimates, asking questions, and checking qualifications.
Before Hiring a Pool Contractor
Before making your final decision on a pool builder, there are several considerations and steps that come into play.
Plan Your Pool Project for Accurate Quotes
Include all of the features for your pool project each time you get a new quote because anything that goes into the project can impact the final cost. For instance, it’s a good idea to have a pretty solid understanding of the size of the pool, the type and amount of steps you want, and any add-ons, such as a spa, tanning ledge, or lights.
As you research and communicate with the different builders, compare costs across the board. Ask at least three contractors to provide quotes that break down each cost contributing to the final price. When comparing quotes, look at the total price and each contributing cost factor to see how different builders’ costs differ.
Check Your Pool Contractor’s Qualifications
Necessary licenses for pool builders vary by state. Some states require that a licensed contractor conduct work on a pool that exceeds a specific cost. Research what your state requires when it comes to pool builders and licenses.
Depending on the state, license requirements may require passing an exam, paying a fee, and submitting financial statements, references, and worker’s compensation insurance. If possible, visit previous projects to assess the work and get an idea of the experience of the contractor you’re thinking about hiring.
Questions to Ask Your Pool Builder
In addition to asking about references and licenses, you can ask several other questions to understand your pool builder’s work and what you can expect for the project.
How many years of experience do you have?
Establishing their experience is essential, as it can give you an idea of the builder's familiarity and comfort around building pools.
Can you share some previous projects similar to this one?
Any established pool contractor should have no problem sharing photos and videos of previous pool projects, which can help you decide whether or not you want to work with them.
Do you offer proper maintenance information and training?
As a new pool owner, you’ll have to engage in some DIY pool maintenance. So if you don’t know anything about what you’ll need to do, it’s important to ask the pool builder if they can provide you with maintenance training and information.
If not, they may be able to help you find a pool maintenance pro who can guide you through regular pool maintenance and how to troubleshoot specific issues.
What is covered in the warranty?
It’s important to understand what you should expect if something breaks. Ask your pool contractor about the warranty options, how long the coverage lasts, and what exactly is covered.
Do you offer pool covers and fences?
Homeowners often surround their pools with fences and cover them for aesthetic and safety concerns. Having a cover or fencing is a step you can take to prevent accidents or injuries.
Hiring Your Pool Contractor Tips
There are many ways to be a more cautious consumer when hiring a pool contractor.
Draw Up a Contract and Arrange Payments
When preparing for any home project, draw up a contract. It outlines expectations for both parties, protects you if the work doesn’t meet expectations, and records exact payments for services.
Then, if you come to a disagreement, you always have that contract to pull up, which provides proof of your agreement.
The contract should include information about:
Maintenance and repair costs
Time required to complete the project
Necessary permits or permissions
Payment schedule and any other costs
Before finalizing the deal, make sure you’re clear about what everything means within the contract.
Another important step is checking a contractor's references. A reputable pool contractor will be able to provide you with references from their past customers. If the pro can’t do this, you might want to keep looking.
Once you get references (including contact info), contact them and ask questions regarding the quality of work, timeliness, and any issues they experienced.
Ask for a Background Check
When you’re hiring a pool builder, you may feel more comfortable with them coming onto your property regularly after doing a background check. Most contractors or services should have a system for conducting these checks and looking into any criminal history.
Keep Records of Your Pool Project
Keep records throughout the project so you can look back on anything. This includes records of the contract and whether the pool contractor sticks to it, payment records, details about damage or issues, and any other essential documents such as permits and licenses.
Look for Red Flags and Prepare to Troubleshoot
While you may want to assume the best in everyone—when it comes to hiring someone for an extensive job—you’ll want to note any red flags. For instance, if a contractor offers you a price that seems absurdly low, it may be too good to be true. An in-ground pool typically costs around $55,000 to install.
Do your research on the details of the swimming pool bid and on the builder or company you hire; compare the bid to the other estimates you received. Confirm the company’s physical address and have the contract and records on hand in case of any issues.
After Your Pool Contractor Has Finished
Finally, your pool project is complete, but before you jump in and start enjoying the water, there are a few more things to do.
Take a walk-through with your contractor to inspect the area around the pool and try to find any areas which need repairs or changes. Go through your contract and ensure the pro has completed everything they promised.
This time also provides you with the opportunity to ask any questions. For instance, you can get information on how and when to drain and refill the pool and how long you may have to wait before using the new pool. At this time, ask all your questions about pool cleaning tips.
Finally, you’ll want to establish your payment method and discuss whether you’re going to pay the pro directly or through a third party.