How do you evaluate and make a decision on a swimming pool builder? If you search the internet, you will find numerous blogs and articles that address the topic. So is this blog another write-up on the usual elements you should consider? No, it is not.
Let’s see, how should you go about evaluating the right swimming pool builder for your project? It’s a big decision not just financially, but because a swimming pool is a permanent structure in your backyard.
In my view there are really TWO levels of evaluating the right builder. There are the obvious, non-negotiable factors and then there are the not-so-obvious but game changing factors. The best way to explain the difference is to liken it to a song. We’ve all listened to a song. A song, as you know is made up of notes, has lyrics, composed by somebody, and performed by someone. These are all essential, non-negotiables; otherwise it would not be a song. But then there are songs, that actually stick in your head and you could even hum parts of the song – that is the melody and it’s the most important part of the music. A memorable melody is the game changer.
Here are important basic and non-negotiables that you should consider in a pool builder.
- Contractor is Licensed, Bonded and Insured – This is one of those NO DUH items. Of course, the builder should have all of it. I would not even consider one without this first item checked off.
- Pricing – Fair and makes sense based on your budget and what you want done. Remember, price is what you pay; value is what you get.
- References – Current, updated and numerous
- Warranties – Can explain, outline and put in writing what is truly covered in the warranties
- Ratings and Reviews – Check out various sources from social media, Better Business Bureau, etc.
- Years in Business – Longevity in both good and bad economies is a good indication that the company is good at what they do.
- Materials – What materials will be used in building your pool? Type and quality matters here.
- Portfolio – The builder’s past projects is in effect their resume. How many pools has the company done and does the type of work resonate with your project.
The factors above can be overwhelming but create a checklist and just work through them. You may even array them from high to low based on importance to you.
Now, let’s move on to the not-so-obvious but ever so important elements in evaluating your pool builder.
- Industry Knowledge and Expertise. “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Einstein was one smart guy and he had a very good point. Yes, years of being in the business can connote knowledge in the industry. But another way to see the level of expertise is really how the company can explain in simple language what the process would be like, the required pool equipment, the challenges if any in your backyard terrain, and why certain things are recommended. Remember that “we are better than the other builder because …” is not industry knowledge, it’s a comparison.
- Communication. First impressions do matter and it starts with the first time you contact or email the builder. How quickly do they respond to your voicemail, email or social media inquiry? Are they courteous and enthusiastic? Are they patient when you ask for information or need clarification? These are so telling signs on how they will communicate with you even after you sign on the dotted line and throughout the building process.Another way to take a pulse on how they communicate believe it or not is how consistent their “tone and manner” is in all the social media outlets. Are they engaging and easy to relate to? Do you feel like this is the type of company you would like get to know? This is one good way to gage the culture and personality of the firm.
- Envision. Let’s face it, not all of us are good are trying to imagine what a structure would look like in this angle or that, or by the trees yonder. I know friends who can’t image a yellow wall painted blue! The builder you are looking for needs to be able to help you not only design but help you visualize that backyard design. An illustration, CAD drawing and even an actual life size template are great ways to help you feel more comfortable with the design and tweak it as needed.
The elements almost seem simple, but yet they are not. It’s really all about paying attention to the things that are basic and tuning to a higher frequency to take your evaluation to the next level.
By: Angela Calestini