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Important Questions to Ask When Building Your Dream Pool

When building your dream pool, it's wise to do a bit of research and homework ahead of time to stay well-informed. While there's always a chance something unexpected can happen during a pool build, many problems are preventable if you're well-prepared and educated. Below are some of the most important questions you should ask your pool builder before and throughout the pool building process.

What is My Dream Pool?

building a dream pool

Before you contact a pool builder, determine what your pool goals are and whether your backyard and budget can accommodate. A smaller backyard likely won't fit an Olympic-sized lap pool, and a modest budget probably won't cover extra features like rocks and fountains. Having a practical plan and realistic ideas will set you up for success from the beginning.

If you need design and layout ideas, a great place to start is in your neighborhood! Ask a few neighbors if they'll let you check out their pools and backyards. Not only is this a good opportunity to get some inspiration, but you can also ask for their contractor and pool-care company references. And as always, perusing the internet for ideas is a terrific way to get your creative juices flowing.

Knowing what you like and having a clear vision in your mind will drastically benefit the outcome of your pool build. Make sure to plan where you want planters, what type of tile or stone, extra features such as water slides, waterfalls, etc. Having this information on paper will keep your build on track with the budget and result in a beautiful, functional pool.

How do I Find the Perfect Pool Builder?

With your dream pool vision board assembled, it's time to research the most important and crucial component: a pool builder. Finding the right pool builder to fit your goals, budget, and timeline may seem daunting, but with a bit of research, you'll find a great fit.

Ask around for recommendations

how to find the perfect pool builder for your dream pool

It sounds simple, but word of mouth can be one of the easiest ways to find a great pool builder. Next time you're at someone's house, check out their pool and ask about their experience with their pool builder. Your neighbors, friends, and family will likely have a recommendation at the ready, or they'll point you in the direction of someone else who does. Plus, you can trust that your family and close acquaintances won't steer you wrong.

When looking for recommendations, ask people who live close to you and have had their pool for many years. Pool care, longevity, and maintenance requirements can change depending on location. So if you live in a busy, warm city, maybe don't ask for a recommendation from someone who lives in the cold countryside.

Check company websites and social media

Checking out a pool builder's website is a great way to see what kind of company you'll deal with. When looking online, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the pool builder's style align with what I want?
    It's possible to find a great pool builder that doesn't necessarily jive with your style. If there is a builder you're interested in, reach out and ask for an example of something similar. The builder might have done something similar that you like. Don't assume they understand your vision, ask for visual representation to show they are aligned with your goals.
  • Are their social media accounts or website professional and up-to-date?
    A clean, professional-looking website will show you what kind of business owner they are. A well-designed website means the owner is invested in the company and cares about their appearance. A business that cares about their image is likely committed to upholding that image with excellent service.
  • Does this business post reviews and comments?
    Comments and reviews are a great way to know that a company cares about their clients. Look at the good and not-so-good reviews. Check to see how they handled any negative situations and if the customer was pleased.

Does the pool builder have a local, physical store or office?

Not having a brick and mortar store doesn't make a builder untrustworthy. However, not having a physical business or office can sometimes be a red flag. For instance, a pool builder without a physical address can quickly pack up and move if a job doesn't go well. This is not the same for local pool builders who stay within the community. Finding a pool builder with a permanent place in the community and good reputation is the best place to start.

Visit the pool builder's office or showroom

Taking some time to drive to the pool builders office and talk to the staff is in your best interest. Ask yourself, do they seem interested and knowledgeable? Am I getting a good feeling from them? If not, move on. Remember, if a problem or issue arises, they will be the people who you will be working with to solve that problem.

Are You Really the Pool Builder for Me?

Once you've narrowed down your list of potential pool builders, take your research one step further and inquire about the following topics.

Ask for references

Any reputable pool builder will have easily accessible past customer experiences. Since you will be using your pool for years to come, it's critical to get references of customers who had pools built years ago to predict how your pool will hold up over time.

Are you a member of the BBB?

References are important, but getting a birds eye view of past business dealings is just as important. Any experienced pool builder will have plenty of reviews, telling you they are safe to do business with or one you should avoid entirely. Looking up the builder's reputation using the Better Business Bureau will give you a better understanding of how they operate.

How many pools have you built in my area?

Different types of pools work better or worse in different climates, and good builders will know this. Always check if the pool builder has been doing business in your area for a while, to ensure they know what they are doing.

How many pools like mine have you built?

You'll want to make sure your pool builder has experience installing the type of pool you're considering. Just because they have built several fiberglass pools does not mean they have the expertise of a seasoned concrete/gunite builder.

Do you have workers compensation for all employees?

Pool businesses can have a high turnover for employees, so you'll want to make sure their employer is taking care of them. This is for good reason, benefits and steady pay keeps workers with the company for longer periods which, in turn, produces more experience in any given field. Ask for a copy of the general liability and worker's compensation documentation. This protects the company and the home owner. Worse case scenario for the homeowner; if they do not carry the liability and something goes wrong, home owners can be liable.

Are subcontractors licensed and bonded?

Subcontracting work to another company is not uncommon, but you will want to verify the company the work is being contracted to is fully licensed and bonded. This will make things much smoother if something goes wrong. The last thing you want is some disagreement between the builder and subcontractor to delay the completion of your pool build.

How Much Will My Dream Pool Cost?

While talking about money is usually the most uncomfortable part of building your dream pool, it's undoubtedly the most important part. As soon as you choose a pool builder, schedule a meeting with them to discuss your budget and expectations. Never start demolition or construction without having an ironclad document detailing expenses and payments.

Document all agreements on paper

document all agreements when building your dream pool

Every agreement and plan between you and your pool builder should be clearly stated on paper. This holds both you and your builder accountable, and prevents small details from being forgotten. Say, for example, you wanted blue tile in your pool, but your builder installs black tile. If you have documentation stating you wanted blue tile, your builder is likely obligated to fix the mistake on their dime.

Agreements made on paper prevent this type of miscommunication down the road, making the pool building process easier. If your pool builder seems hesitant to keep a record of your agreements and budget, find a new pool builder.

Ask the builder about their "Draw Schedule" for payment

Pool builders commonly ask for payment of your pool build in installments, but a lump sum payed to a pool builder early in the pool build can cause issues. The problem is this can make it tempting to abandon a pool build if the builder runs into cash flow problems. A common rule of thumb for builders is to collect no more than two thirds the amount at the time of cement or gunite.

Request an itemized list of all expenses before starting each phase

If possible, ask your pool builder for an itemized list of material, labor, and service costs before they begin each stage of your pool build. Cross reference the itemized list with your original agreement plan to ensure the pool builder doesn't charge you for unnecessary parts or services. This protects you and the pool builder. Having a written breakdown of the can settle any disagreement by simply referring back to the original document.

Will payment checks go to a personal or business account?

This may not seem important, but checks made out to a single person can be cashed at your bank, off of your account. This can be done to avoid taxes and save money. If the IRS finds out about this, the home owner can be held liable for the unpaid taxes. So how do you protect yourself? Make checks out to the business. Checks payable to a business must be deposited in the business account, which reduces the likelihood that the builder will avoid taxes or run off with your money.

Protect Yourself

Like any major type of construction, building a pool is a serious undertaking and may not always go to plan. Which is why it's crucial to ensure your pool builder is insured in case things don't go as planned. This protects not only you, but the pool builder too. Any reputable pool builder will have the proper insurance to protect himself and the homeowner during the construction process.

Ask what back fill will be used

Choosing the right material to backfill your pool is important. If the material does not drain well, your pool can crack, bow, or even pop out of the ground due to excessive pressure. Different areas and climates call for different back filling techniques and materials. Adequate drainage is particularly important for pools in extremely cold climates. Without proper drainage, excess water can freeze and seriously damage your pool. Do your research and talk to your pool builder, then come to an agreement on the best backfill for your area.

Who will pay for potential landscaping or yard damage during the build?

Building a pool is a messy, dirty job that can leave your backyard looking like a disaster. Avoid being stuck with a torn up yard post-build by speaking with your builder about yard clean up and repair ahead of time. Ask about trash removal and disposal, landscaping, and damage compensation before construction begins. Many pool builders have insurance policies in place to cover costs caused by patio or yard damage.

What kind of warranty is offered, and who services it?

Warranties are only as good as your pool builder or the manufacturer that constructed your fiberglass or vinyl liner. Make sure you do research on your pool builder and manufacturer if you have not done so already. Pay attention to the fine print and details listed in the warranties. Look for items covered and any requirements needed. Below are things to consider when looking at your pool warranty.

  • Fiberglass pools have two kinds of warranties: structural and gel coat finish. Make sure to look at both.
  • Check to see what's covered if buying a vinyl lined pool. Many vinyl liner warranties cover the seams on the liner, but only replace them if there is an immediate problem.
  • Gunite or concrete pools generally don't have a manufacturer warranty, but should have a workmanship warranty covering various things. Workmanship warranties cover major issues, such as: plumbing leaks, leaks in pool fittings, and structural movement or settling of pool/patio. Ask who will service the warranty and for how long. Many times, problems arise after temperature changes occur in the winter.

We know this article probable made your head spin, but this is important information to know as you begin your pool building journey. Our goal at In The Swim is to make your life as a pool owner easier than ever by offering expert advice and high-quality pool products! Shop online for the best pool accessories, water chemicals, and maintenance items.

In The Swim makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and In The Swim assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. In The Swim assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.