6 Things to Look for Before Hiring a Company to Install Your Pool
So many times customers come to our retail store and say, "I wish I had known about you before I bought." Or, "I have spent more money fixing my pool after the original installation." To help you avoid similar experiences, here are a few steps you can take to ensure your pool investment is a quality purchase.
1. Choose a contractor with a valid contractor’s license.
While not all states require contractors to have licenses, this is something you can consider when deciding on the person or company to install your pool. For swimming pools, this may be a general contractor’s license with a swimming pool endorsement or a swimming pool contractor’s license. You can go to your state’s building license office and inquire about the company (assets of a company qualify for licensing) or the individual (personal assets used for qualification). Usually when a company name is the contractor, it has a qualifier and is a larger company that’s been in business for a longer period of time. In our fragile economy where businesses fail every day, it’s imperative to use a licensed contractor — regardless of whether the total of items purchased (pool, deck, etc., from one company) are $30,000 or above. (This amount may vary from state to state.) The reason for this is that if the contractor goes out of business during your pool installation or runs into problems above their expertise (such as ground water) and leaves you with a large hole in your backyard, you can turn to the Homeowners’ Recovery Fund — if you have signed with a licensed contractor. If you did not, then it is up to you, your money and your lawyer regarding whether they have any assets to levy against.
2. Check to see if they belong to their trade organization.
Belonging to a trade organization often comes with a set of ethics by which you must abide. Reporting of problems to the trade organization will bring harsh actions against a company. A respectful company has a set of ethics, regardless, and does not transgress them. Members of a trade organization are also more likely to have up-to-date information regarding their trade. With new technology in pool treatment and energy efficiency, your professional pool installer will know how to save you money — and work. The old way may not be the best way anymore. Trade members will also be updated on codes, both locally and nationally. This could save many headaches with approvals and building inspections.
3. Check the Better Business Bureau listing.
Be sure to look at the volume of business the company you’re considering does in relation to the number of complaints. Are the complaints of administrative nature (billing) or regarding a repair or an actual installation? Large companies will, more than likely, have more administrative or scheduling conflicts. Did the company try to resolve the problem?
4. Visit their place of business.
Is this a company that looks reputable and has a stable office location, or do they work out of their home? Do they only offer installation, or do they service what they sell? Can they test your water, or do they refer you to someone else? Do they offer other pool services? Do they have a professional appearance?
5. Ask how long their employees have been with them and whether or not they use sub-contractors.
Be sure to ask if they and their sub-contractors carry liability and workers’ compensation. If someone gets hurt on your property, and they do not carry insurance, you could be liable. Ask for a certificate of verification. This is a normal business request.
6. Check their references and visit some of their projects.
Be sure to ask a potential company about whether the pictures on their website are of their work, or if they are simply stock images. Inquire about visiting a few of the pools, or ask to talk to their owners. Ask to speak with a customer they had a problem with so you can see how they handled it. Remember, this is construction, and if you hear of no problems, then something is not true!
To further help you make a decision about hiring a prospective pool builder, here are a few questions to ask — before you sign on the dotted line:
- How long have you been in business under your current name?
- Do I make checks payable to a business account or personal account?
- Have you ever closed and restarted under a new name?
- Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
- Do you have a permanent showroom/design center?
- Are you a member in good standing with the BBB?
- Are there provisions in the contract if you hit rock/water/other?
- Do you handle all the electrical connections to and from the pool?
- Do you promise a price without looking at the yard first?
- Is your Certificate of Insurance direct from the insurance company?
- Do you have general liability coverage of at least $1M per event?
- Will you provide copies of all lien waivers as contractors are paid?
- Do you have workers’ compensation coverage?
- Is all plumbing pressure tested?
- Do you have experience with advanced water features? (infinity edge, etc.
- Are you willing to give references?
- Is your business open year-round?
- Is a specification list supplied (that lists manufacturer and model of all supplied equipment)?
- Is there any warranty or guarantee on labor?
- How are warranty claims on equipment handled?
Just a few moments of your time can save you years of misery. Remember, "It is wise not to pay too much, but foolish to pay to little."