Choosing a pool builder

1. Getting referrals

Once you understand the process of building a pool and have developed an idea of what you want, you may set off to find builders to quote on your pool. Getting referrals from friends, family and colleagues who have had a pool built is an excellent way to assess any builder’s performance. How did their build go and would they recommend the pool builder? If it didn’t go well, ask why!

When people can’t go by referral most buyers spend time researching using the Internet to ascertain what is available in the market. Smart buyers look beyond the photos and create a list of questions to ask.

2. Questions for pool builders

What is their level of experience? Can they really handle a complex build project? (sloping, elevated, inaccessible or custom-designed). Look for proof in their past projects. Research their track record (by what others say). Have they built in your area before? Are they a licensed builder? Are they members of industry bodies? Who are they accountable to if something goes wrong? Are their contracts in plain English? Do they require upfront payments or progress payments? Do they offer real advice before you’ve signed up or paid them?

Building a pool is a major investment for most homeowners and you’ll need to be sure your selected pool builder will be there from start to finish… and well after the completion of your construction. You can find information at the Master Builders Association on the correct way to engage a pool builder and have them scope your project. The available info sources should be able to guide you on the acceptable terms for paying and retaining the pool builder

3. Engaging a builder

1. Get at least three bids. A pool is a major investment. Getting more than one bid will give you an opportunity to compare builders not just on price but also on other intangibles, such as how comfortable you are working with the builder. Also, consider whether they are members of a credible association such as SPASA or Master Builder Association.

2. Don’t go by budget alone. Yes, everyone has a budget, and it’s reasonable to stay within a prescribed budget. But getting seduced by a builder whose bid comes in dramatically lower than other builders is a common mistake. As with all things in life, you get what you pay for.

3. Find out how long they’ve been in business. This is one of the many questions you should ask before hiring a builder. It’s recommended the builder tell you how long they’ve been in business under the current name and current owners. Unscrupulous builders often change the name of the business when they get into financial trouble or go bankrupt. They may have left dozens of unfinished pools in their wake. Don’t be afraid to ask straight out: Have you declared bankruptcy or gone out of business before?

4. Ask for references. Reputable builders should be able to give you 30 to 50 names of people they’ve built pools for, and who are happy with the work that’s been done. If the builder can’t supply that many names, you may not want to work with them. Also, get names and addresses of client’s that have had special features similar to the ones you want. Ask if the features work as expected, and how it was working with the builder on them.

5. Ensure the builder has worker’s compensation and construction liability insurance. Workers’ Compensation insurance protects you from having to pay for the subcontractor’s lost wages. Construction liability protects you from lawsuits and other liabilities related to the work and workers. Questionable builders may have neither of these policies and put you at risk. Qualified builders should have both.

6. Make sure you understand the terms of the contract. It’s difficult to know what builders will find when they start to dig. There could be unexpected rock, utilities or other surprises. Make sure you’re clear about how these uncertainties will be handled and that it is clearly enumerated in the contract.

4. Resolving building issues

The most important step towards successfully resolving a problem is to know and understand what you are entitled to under the Contract, Agreement and the Law.
Knowing and understanding your rights and entitlements under a Service Agreement, Quotation, Product Purchase or Contract gives you the ability to properly outline your complaint.
Understanding your rights also gives you a better opportunity for a successful and speedy resolution process.

From the beginning

– Keep all written records of events. This includes emails, notes and other correspondence of when you informed the other party of the problem, the date and time, the person you spoke with and what was said or agreed
– Keep a copy of any documents in chronological order and in one place for ease of access
– Take photographs or a video if you feel this may assist you with your complaint

Speak to the contracted party immediately

Once you discover or are notified of a problem, you should immediately inform the Retail Outlet, Supplier, Service Provider or Swimming Pool Builder, either in person or with a phone call and/or email.

Make sure you sufficiently are able to:
– Explain the problem or concern
– When it developed or when you first noticed it
– Ask what action they are likely to take
– Ask what the time frame will be for them to inspect and/or rectify the problem

The SPASA Complaint and Dispute Resolution Process are available to those consumers who have contracted or dealt with a SPASA member ONLY. When submitting a complaint in the prescribed format consumers are required to provide sufficient supportive evidence (copies of the Contract, Agreements, Invoices etc and any other relevant correspondence).