You have been researching all you can about pools, scrounging Pinterest for inspiration pictures, have read countless articles about what features you should consider for your pool, researched pool companies in your area, and may be wondering what to do now. It is time to pull the trigger and reach out to a few pool companies to begin turning your outdoor living dream into a reality. Picking who you want to build is a tough decision. Which is why we understand that you must get multiple quotes/designs as part of the vetting process; especially with a costly and time consuming investment.
Your senses are usually right…
With your first contact with a pool builder, it is important to go into the meeting prepared with questions and the goals for your outdoor space. For many this is the first pool they are building, leaving them a bit lost on what they should be asking and how to figure out if who they are speaking to is a reputable builder. Even those who have already had a pool built may still feel a bit lost on how to vet the company they are speaking to. The number rule of advice we can provide is… TRUST YOUR GUT. You will be working closely and communicating frequently with this company, you should always work with someone you are comfortable with.
Most important questions to ask a pool builder…
We do have more advice other than trusting your instincts for you though. As mentioned above, it is best to be prepared with questions to ask the builder or designer you are meeting with. Feel free to ask whatever you will help you feel comfortable making a decision. In addition to any questions you may have, we recommend to always ask:
Where does your business operate out of and do you have a showroom? It is not uncommon in the home improvement industry to encounter the guy running the whole operation out of his truck, this is also the case for pool builders. If the answer to this question is they do not operate out of a central business location, this is not a good start for who you are meeting with. By not having their business tied to a specific location it makes it easier for them to jump town with your money. These builders may not have the financial backing if they run into problems while building your pool.
A builder with an office and showroom will have a lot more difficulty trying to run off without completing the project. This also will allow you to meet other members of their staff, look at the products you are being quoted, and get a feel for the company’s operations.
How long has your business been operating in the area and can you provide me proof of your license and insurance? The first part of this question will be very telling based on how comfortable they are answering since this is easy information for you to confirm. It is not uncommon for a company to go under followed by the owner (or license holder) to open a whole new company in a different city a few months later. Some do not even try to run from their previous reputation and will open up shop in the same city! We recommend avoiding any pool company that has not been operating for at least 5 years, even longer is better. It is not too common for a pool company to be around for more than 10 years, which is why we at Island Way Pools take pride in serving Clearwater Beach and the Tampa Bay Area for over 15 years!
The second part of this question will protect you and your property. If the answer to this is a no or a very roundabout answer, run as fast as you can! Sometimes people will try to operate their business using someone else’s pool license or do not have workman comp/general liability insurance leaving you open for lawsuits. An experienced builder will have no issue providing you with these documents and will look to protect you from liabilities.
Can you provide me with references for some of your past clients? This is one of our biggest tips when selecting a builder, if a company is not willing to let you speak to some of their past clients this is a big red flag. Any reputable builder will be prepared to give you references that will be more than willing to talk about their experience. In addition to checking references, look at their reviews online. Take what is in these online reviews with a grain of salt and look at the ratio of positive reviews vs. negative reviews. It is not uncommon for people to leave bad reviews hoping to get a discount or claiming to have a negative experience because of things that are a part of the normal build process.
What qualifies you to build my pool? Not all pools and pool companies are built the same. The pool building process has changed a lot in the past 20 years and it is becoming more common for advanced features to be a more common request. Infinity edge pools, vanishing edge pools, acrylic viewing panels, glass tile installation, and building in difficult sites are not something every pool builder has the experience to handle. It is important to know your builder has experience handling projects similar to yours.
What comes next…
So you have gone through screening the builders and you are ready to begin the design process with a few. What that process will be like and what to expect during that process will differ from company to company. While we can not give you insight into what to expect from other builders, we can give insight into what to expect during the Island Way design process. Next week we will touch on our design process, what you should come prepared with, and what you should walk away with after this process.
If you are looking to start your pool-building journey, Island Way Pools is ready to start helping you transform your outdoor space. Call today to start working with a member of our design team!