During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw a massive influx of people that decided to have swimming pools built and backyards renovated. With this influx of home owners that were ready to create their very own backyard staycation resorts, we also saw more "pool pirates" emerging. Pool pirates is a term we(reputable pool companies) in the pool industry, use to describe someone that is "catfishing" homeowners.
If the price is your ultimate guide when deciding between pool builders, bear in mind the costs associated with remodeling, if your pool must be renovated or completed by another company. For example, last year, we were called out to 2 customers that both fell victim to Pool Pirates. There was a total of 8 homeowners that were "catfished" by this one specific pool builder. He operated under several different names, so no one knew the trail of uncompleted pools we was leaving in his wake, until it was too late. One homeowner spent $55,000 on his pool, it was the only one of the 8 that was fully completed and operational, but it was underbid by $15,000 to get the job done correctly. Even though the pool is completed, they hate it and they want it redone. At the moment, they are looking at roughly $45,000 or more to renovate the pool. To save $15,000 in the beginning, they are now going to pay triple that amount for the remodel project to get the pool to where they want it to be. The 7 other homeowners do not have a completed, functioning pools. They are now having to rely on the availability of other pool contractors to re-bid and complete construction.
This is not to say all pool companies are bad, because a lot of us are good reputable companies! Every home owner's fear is to hire a contractor that will leave them with a an expensive headache that's close to impossible to fix. If you are a price driven customer, this blog will hopefully shed some light on how to avoid falling victim to Pool Pirates. Below we have listed some of the red flags and questions that you should consider when choosing a Swimming Pool company to work with.
A custom gunite swimming pool is a large investment that generally starts around $45,000 depending on the bells and whistles that you're hoping to have. Understandably, most people are on a budget of some sort and typically shop around. You want to make sure you get your money’s worth and that you can trust who you are working with. The goal is to have a gorgeous pool to show off at the end of this whole process, right?
Below are the few questions you should ask yourself and your contractor when deciding who to work with:
Does each company appear to be real?
That is an odd thought, we know, but confirming addresses and cross comparing with other sites, like social media are important in this digital age. Does the website look sketchy or are they not listed on Google with a Google My Business page? Today, every reputable company should be listed on Google with a website, even if they are using a Facebook page instead of a website. It should look and feel legit with lots of posts and information. Look for an about us page and poke around the images. Does it look like they only have 1 pool under their belt? These may be some red flags.
Is the contractor asking for all, or most of the money up front?
Has the contractor asked for more money since receiving a deposit…without doing any additional work? A reliable swimming pool contractor should not be asking for an unreasonable amount of money up front without any real work being completed. Many reputable companies require a deposit (usually around 10-15%) up front to start construction and then a percentage at each phase completed, i.e. dig day, gunite, plaster, etc. A red flag should go up if someone is asking for 50% or more up front before the work is even started. Or asking for more and more money without completing the work.
Does the contract include all the details for the pool that you discussed?
If there are changes, is there a written agreement, like an addendum, or email with confirmation from both parties? Did you want a pool and spa, but only the pool specs are listed on one of the companies contracts your considering? If you want an extra-long tanning ledge, those specs should be listed in the statement of work. Do not rely on a great conversation to hold both parties accountable. It needs to all be in writing.
Does it sound too good to be true?
Are there any major structural differences, or are both contracts for "the same pool" but one is $25,000 less? A massive price change that is supposed to be the exact same scope of work should raise another red flag. Ask each pool company to explain their pricing and what is covered. "My trades are cheaper" is not a good explanation. Remember what we talked about in the previous point? Each contract needs to have all the details for the project you both have agreed upon. It may seem logical, but for the most part, vendors are going to charge each pool company the same. Project quotes will vary between companies, but a massive drop like $25,000 is not normal for the same project.
Do you have a list of references you can call?
If you want a better idea of how each contractor performs, ask for a reference list to reach out to. Some companies will provide it up front. This is just an additional layer to help weed out anyone that does not have the reputation you are looking for.
To build a gunite swimming pool and/or spa in the state of Texas, a person does not have to be insured, bonded, or licensed. Any person can go out and organize trades to build a pool. However, that doesn't mean that they know how to do everything correctly. It's a process, properly bidding the scope of work, choosing trustworthy trades, and completing the job correctly.
Put the well being of your money and backyard into a reputable company that you can trust! If you are ready to start building our backyard oasis, give us a call at 430-235-1059 to book your free consultation! Liquid Oasis has a team of experts ready to help!