SEVEN HIDDEN PURCHASING MISTAKES
(and How To Avoid Them!)
The Seven Secret Pool Purchasing Mistakes are Frequently Made as a result of Simply Not Being Informed and Knowing What Questions to Ask. Avoiding These Mistakes Could Save You Thousands of Dollars and Hours of Heartache and Frustration.
Ask the right questions! It‘s simple. If you ask the right questions you’ll uncover 90% of the potential problems that most pool purchasers commonly face. There’s always that 10% chance that something will happen that you couldn’t have foreseen, but for the most part, you’ll be able to avoid most any surprise.
However, the problem that you and most other pool purchasers face is that you know so little about pools or pool construction that you don’t even know what questions to ask. That is why I wrote this special report just for you. After reading this report you will be one of those few pool purchasers who “know what they’re talking about.”
The first questions you need to ask yourself when thinking about buying a pool is:
- Why do I want a pool?
- What will my family and I use the pool for?
- Who is going to maintain the pool?
Why are these questions so important? Before you can decide “what” type of pool you want, you need to understand “why” you want a pool.
Is it for family recreation, entertaining guest, physical therapy, exercise, and personal recreation or just to “keep up with the Jones?” Knowing the answer to these questions will help you avoid the first pool-purchasing mistake which is…
Not Designing Your Pool for Its Intended purpose
You might have heard the phrase, “Form follows function.” To know what type of pool you want you want you need to know what you’ll be using be using it for. The type of pool you’ll get depends on what you’ll be using it for.
More often than not, people considering the purchase of a pool; have a specific purpose in mind. It is important to write this down and have it ready when you start to talk to pool builders.
For instance, if you are going to use your pool mostly for family entertainment then you will want to include safety features such as gating or fencing that will control access to the pool. If your primary use is for entertainment then you may consider mood lighting features with special landscaping features such as waterfall features in and around the pool. If you want to build a pool for physical therapy or exercise you might include a longer shallow area for swimming.
The Myth of the Large Pool
An interesting phenomenon frequently happens when the majority of first-time pool buyers desire a large pool with a deep end and a diving board. After about a year of pool use new owners find out that the deep end rarely gets used and the diving board becomes more of a safety hazard.
Most of the games that are played by the kids are done in the shallow end and that’s where the adults spend 95% of their time. Because they decided to build a large pool with a deep end only 35% of the pool gets utilized resulting in unnecessary expense and low usage.
Fencing is always an important element of your pool, not only for child safety but to provide a certain level of privacy. You may consider a retaining wall if you yard is on a slope so that you can step down to the pool providing you more privacy.
You should also have an understanding or vision of what you want your entire backyard to look like, not just your pool. Your pool should compliment your existing backyard and integrate with your intended landscaping goals both now and in the future.
Here are some other points to consider when designing for your pool:
- Access – Ensure that there is easy access to your pool from your house, restroom, or entertainment area. You might want to consider how patios, decks, or walkways are positioned to provide a safe and simple entrance and exit between your home and your pool.
- Lines and Cables – Before settling on a location you need to ensure that there are no electrical or telephone wires, sewer or septic lines, or buried pipes.
- Drainage – Water needs to drain away from the pool to avoid standing water or dirt and mud getting into the pool. This is especially important if you’re in a location that has a history of flooding.
- Add-Ons – If you plan to install a diving board, spa, slide, or waterfall, make sure that you plan for adequate deck space for each add-on.
- Sheds – A common method of protecting equipment is to build a shed close to the pool where the equipment can reside.
- Sun vs Shade – The sun can help to keep your pool water warm; however, placing your pool under trees can result in a lot of extra maintenance.
- Covenants – Find out if there are any subdivision covenants regarding the construction of pools.
It is generally required to get a survey or plot plan of your entire property to get a building permit. In fact, you should already have one from when you bought your home. This will help you to decide where to locate your pool and any other accessories.
Make sure you get on-site consultation in the beginning so that you design your pool according to the primary functions and activities of what the pool will be used for and giving consideration to the overall vision of what you want your backyard to look like.
Secret # 2
Choosing the Wrong Pool “Container”
There are two basic types of swimming pools: above-ground and in-ground. In general the above-ground pools are lees expensive to install because of the materials and construction methods involved. Usually a special vinyl lining is laid over a steel, aluminum, or even wood structure. There is a wide range of pool sizes and there are even models available in kit form that the homeowner can build.
Unfortunately, above-ground pools are usually temporary and are not “build-to-last.” The vinyl lining can get easily ripped or torn resulting in leaks that need to be constantly repaired. And because above-ground pools sit above the ground they can be an eyesore and look “out-of-place” with your backyard landscape not to mention they are difficult to maintain and do not improve the value of your home.
Most people, however, choose to build their pools level with the ground. These are called “in-ground” pools. There are three basic types of in-ground pools, concrete / gunite, fiberglass, and vinyl lining.
No matter what type of pool you choose to build you will be required to perform a certain amount of maintenance. However, each type of pool provides its own maintenance challenges. It’s important to understand these challenges by pool type before you select your pool type.
Concrete / Gunite Pools
Concrete and gunite pools are the most common in-ground pool types because they have been around longer than the newer more efficient types of pools. Gunite is a type of reinforced concrete also used to build pools.
Concrete and gunite are sprayed over a framework of steel rods and wire mesh then coated with plaster to give the pool a smooth, paint-able surface. Today, concrete and gunite pools are most commonly used for commercial and public swimming pools.
The nice thing about concrete and gunite pools is that you can virtually build them in any shape or form that you like. Unfortunately, it is the most expensive of the three types of pools and takes a long time to build the pool.
Fiberglass pools are made out of a seamless one-piece, performed fiberglass container that is set in the ground and can be installed in less than five days. The fiberglass itself has a smooth non-porous gel-coat surface.
Although fiberglass pools have a wide range of sizes and shapes, you are restricted to those sizes and shapes that are offered, unlike a concrete and gunite pool. You’ll rarely find a fiberglass pool over 16ft. in width because they come from the factory ready to install in one piece.
Because the fiberglass is non-porous, algae and bacteria cannot stick to the surface. This reduces the amount of chlorine necessary to keep the pool clean to about 1/4th of the amount that other pools use, which can add up to large cost savings over time.
Vinyl Liner Pools
Vinyl Liner pools use a high-density vinyl lining that has a cosmetic textured pool surface. The lining is “seamed” together throughout the sides of the pool. Polymer or steel walls are bolted and fastened together on concrete flooring. The vinyl liner is spread over the floor and paneled walls and connected to the top of the walls by a vinyl rib at the outside edge of the liner. The upfront cost of vinyl lined pools can be inexpensive when compared with concrete and gunite pools and takes much less time to install.
Vinyl liner pools are popular due to their inexpensive upfront cost. However, the maintenance on vinyl lined pools is high because the liner can be easily scratched or cut, especially, if there will be toys or hard objects in the pool (even mechanical pool cleaners!). To repair a vinyl lined pool you’ll need to replace the entire lining, which can cost from $1,500 to $2,500 or more depending on the time of the season for replacement.
Also, algae and bacteria tend to nest in the porous texture of the fabric and seams of the vinyl requiring high amounts of chlorine to keep the pool clean. It’s kind of like a shower curtain that is exposed to moisture and heat on a consistent basis.
Sever problems can arise when algae starts to grow under the vinyl liner because it can start to eat the liner from the underside and is very difficult to treat. You can expect to pay up to $100 or more a month to maintain a vinyl liner pool.
Secret # 3
Choosing the Wrong Developer
The worst mistake that a person buying a pool can do is choose the wrong developer to build the pool. There are many “fly-by-night” pool developers that use temporary workers to install the pools, never to be heard of again. Other developers employ installers (or subcontractors) that have virtually no experience with installing pools.
Pool developers consistently experience a high turnover with their staff so it’s a constant struggle to keep good, experienced people who have installed a lot of pools. There are also a lot of developers who will sell you a pool with no regard for how it will integrate with your landscape and lifestyle.
The salesman gets the sale and they move on to the next person. Installing a pool is a major investment with some risk so you want to make sure you choose the right pool developer to install your pool.
The following are several questions you can ask potential pool developers when you request a proposal or bid to build your pool.
1. What is the average experience of your installation staff or do you subcontract out the construction and do you hire only licensed and bonded sub-contractors?
It isn’t uncommon to find a pool builder that uses subcontractors for the entire installation process. In this case, you need to consider the experience level of the subcontractors being used. A pool builder is only as good as the people doing the installation work on the pool.
Preferably the builder will have his own staff resulting in better quality control and oversight. However, if a sub-contractor is used, make sure that they are licensed and bonded to protect you if things go wrong.
2. Is the builder certified by the National Spa and Pool Institute? What other trade organizations do you belong to?
The National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI) is the association that supports the spa and pool industry. The NSPI has a “Certified Builder” course that teaches builders how to build high quality pools using the latest techniques that meet specifications.
Having the certification means that the builder has at least met some standard education requirements to do the job right and it shows that builders commitment to quality. This one question can weed out a fly-by-night builder from a reputable builder.
If the builder belongs to the Better Business Bureau, a Chamber of Commerce, or even a Rotary Club it demonstrates that the builder intends to be around for a long while.
3. Do you provide financing for the pool construction project?
Even if you have the money sitting in the bank or you plan to get it from a commercial lender, asking this question may result in some revealing information. If a builder provides financing it means that they have been around long enough to build credit and a good reputation with the banks.
It is also nice to have another option for financing the construction if your pool. Another benefit of financing you pool construction is considered a home improvement and the interest payment on your loan is tax deductible.
4. Can I speak with several of your past customers?
This is the killer question. If you can’t speak to a previous customer it probably means that they are disgruntled. Avoid a builder that can’t provide you with testimonials from prior satisfied customers.
The real test is talking to those customers yourself. Ask the builder of you can pick one or two from a list of 10 previous customers. This will ensure that you’ll be choosing a non-biased customer.
Consider the following questions to the customer:
- Were you satisfied with the contractor’s work?
- Did the contractor keep to the project’s schedule?
- Did the contractor stick to the contract terms and costs?
- How did the contractor deal to the contract terms and costs?
- How did the contractor deal with chances and corrections?
- Did the contractor resolve problems?
- Given the end result, what changes would you have made that you didn’t foresee?
You may also want to contact home builders, landscapers, and architects for references to pool companies. These people deal with pool builders frequently and have a better understanding the details of construction.
5. Can the builder present to you a certificate of insurance to prove that they are fully insured?
Ask the builder about any liability and compensation insurance he may carry to protect you in the event of an accident during construction of the pool. It can be very troublesome and costly getting into a situation in which things don’t go as planned and not having recourse for receiving compensation because of damages. Every reputable builder should be fully insured.
You might even go as far as checking the builder’s credit rating and check the county records for any pending lawsuits.
6. Does the builder offer in-home design services?
Many good builders will offer in-home design services that will not only save you money but also demonstrates the builder’s experience and expertise.
7. If there is damage to my yard or landscaping, will you repair it?
It is imperative that you set your expectations up front during the interview process with the builder, especially when it comes to damage. Many pool buyers get taken by surprise when they see the amount of damage to their yard that takes place during a pool installation.
However, there is such a thing as excess damage due to negligence on the part of the builder. Make sure you address this right up front and that it gets into your contract. Some pool builders aren’t willing to take on the risk of paying for yard damage.
8. What are the electrical and plumbing requirements and who will perform them?
Your pool builder should know about existing electrical, plumbing, zoning, building and grading requirements. Never allow a pool builder to force you to take a permit out in your name. It should always be in their name.
9. What type of maintenance training will I receive upon completion of the pool?
Your builder should provide you with some type of training upon completion of the pool. Not only maintenance on equipment, chemical, and keeping the pool balanced. These topics will be crucial to the longevity of your pool.
10. How long will the construction take and when can you start?
Even if a pool builder is good and you feel comfortable with their skills and ability, their schedule needs to synchronize with your schedule. You may want to start the search process early in the season in order to have completed construction by summertime.
11. What is the cost and how much do you require as a deposit?
Ultimately, your pool needs to fit your budget. You should ask for a proposal only from builders that you feel comfortable with and meet your minimum requirements. Make sure that you pay no more that $200.00 down when signing a contract for a swimming pool project. This is a violation of the Contractors License Law. Also, make sure that the contractor does not front load the contract. Frontloading occurs when the contractor takes an illegally excessive down payment or takes payment for work not completed.
Secret # 4
Not Getting a Full Understanding of Your Pool Contract and Warranty
It is certainly a mistake not getting a full understanding of your pool contract and warranty. Pool contracts and warranties can be deceptive if they are not read carefully and if you don’t ask enough questions.
Parts of a pool usually included in the warranty are:
1. Structural – Structural integrity of walls, reinforcements, and concrete.
2. Equipments – Equipment such as filters, skimmers, pumps and heaters.
3. Plumbing – Materials and workmanship on electrical, gas, piping and pool plumbing.
Generally speaking, most pool buyers get surprised when something goes wrong because they didn’t take the time to understand the details of what is included in the warranty and more importantly, what is NOT included in the warranty.
Things like discoloration and effervescence, cracking, chipping, checking, raising and settling of the concrete decking are NOT included in the warranty. The plaster is not warranted against discoloration or staining since such plaster defects generally result from local water conditions, improper use of chemicals, or lack of or improper cleaning of the pool.
Who’s warranting What?
Understand who warranties what. For instance, who warranties the pump and filter? The manufacturer or the dealer and who do you contact to report problems. Who comes out to fix the problem? In some cases, each individual manufacturer will warranty each separate piece of equipment and will have different service providers fixing the problem. There’s rarely a one-stop solution for pool warranties and service.
Ask for a blank copy of the pool warranty as part of the bid process. Sit down with the builder and have them explain each component of the warranty. Ask who warranties the different parts of your pool and services each of the warranties.
Read the warranty carefully with the builder and ask questions. Ask what is not warranted and why. After you’ve seen a couple of warranties side by side, the questions will become much easier.
Secret # 5
Focusing on Upfront Cost Rather than Cost of Ownership
Because in-ground pools can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 and more, most pool buyers are concerned about the upfront price and pay little attention to the daily operational costs. Purchasing a pool that requires little maintenance will usually be the cheapest deal in the long run. Pools that don’t require a lot of chemicals, cleaning, resurfacing, or replacement parts will cost less over the life of the pool.
Additional costs of required basic equipment can surprise some pool buyers. Equipment such as filter systems to insure clean water, steps or ladders, skimmer for surface cleaning are considered essential.
Many pool owners install heating equipment and pool-side decking of concrete or wood. Pool covers are often used to keep water clean and retain heat when the pool is not in use. If used properly, these covers can be a wise energy saving investment.
A wide range of accessories is available for pools including pool and outdoor lights, diving boards, slides, automatic pool cleaners and handrails for steps. While some accessories, such as outdoor lights, can be added after construction, it is more economical to have fixed pool equipment installed at the time of construction.
Non-climbable fencing, self-locking gates with latch and a pool alarm system are required by local building codes and state law.
Before building, pool buyers should talk to their insurance agent to find out about additional home owner coverage for the new pool. Information about possible property tax assessment increases also should be obtained from local taxing authorities so you will know what to expect when property taxes fall due.
As you can see, there are a myriad of potential extra costs that spring up during the purchasing process that aren’t typically in advertisements or brochures.
Secret # 6
Falling for Sales Gimmicks
Once you have decided to build a swimming pool, there is a natural excitement and eagerness to have it installed as soon as possible. This is often the point at which unwary buyers can get into hot water because dishonest salespersons and builders will be quick to take advantage of the situation.
Keep in mind that the late spring and early summer months can bring these unscrupulous people into communities where home swimming pools are popular. Attractive advertisements can turn up, offering deals that seem too good to turn down. Here are some warning signs that signal “Buyer Beware.”:
1. Salespersons who tell you an advertised pool they offer “on sale” is not worth having and then try to switch you to a more expensive model. This is called “Bait and Switch” and is a tactic that is often used in the retail world.
2. Salespersons who use the ploy of offering a reduced price on the basis your pool will be used as a model.
3. Salespersons who pressure you into signing a contract. Remember: no reputable builder and no authorized representative of a reputable builder will rush you into signing any agreement or contract at any time.
4. Never get talked into taking out the “Building Permit” yourself or in your own name. The contractor should do this. Also, make sure that the contract clearly states that the pool builder is required to hire only licensed and bonded “sub-contractors.”
5. If the pool builder will not do an on-site initial visit and they just try to get you into their office, be alerted to the possibility of a hard sale without understanding your requirements.
6. Many times pool builders will quote a cheap price for the pool and overcharge you on necessary accessory items such as ladders, lighting systems, and automated pool cleaners. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Secret # 7
Failing to Call the State Contractors License Board
Make sure the contractor has an active license and you check with the Contractor License Board at (800) 321 – 2752 or www.cslb.ca.gov. To tell how long a contractor has been in business look at the first number of the license (if it starts with a 2 or 3 the contractor has been in business for over 25 years. If the number starts with an 8 the contractor has been in business for a short time.)
Make sure the contractor has workman’s comp and liability insurance. The building & Safety for the City & County of LA do not require that a contractor have liability insurance.
When purchasing a swimming pool make sure you get three bids from different contractors. the reason for getting extra bids is not only to compare prices but get additional ideas.
Make sure that you get a written contract and don’t sign anything until you completely understand the terms and conditions of the contract. Also, you should keep a job file and photographs of different stages of construction.
The contract should include these basics:
1. The contractors name, address, and license number.
2. The approximate dates when the work will begin and be substantially completed.
3. A description of the work, equipment, materials and contract price.
4. A schedule of payments in dollars and cents, directly referenced to the value of completed work.
5. A notice to Owner regarding the state’s lien laws.
6. A description of what constitutes substantial commencement of work.
7. A notice whether or not the contractor carries commercial general liability insurance and the insurance carrier.
The law requires the contractor to give you written notice of your right to cancel a contract within three business days of signing it. You should use those three days to review the contract. Also, you must cancel the contract in writing. Also, it is a good idea to contact the Better Business Bureau at (909) 825-7280 or at their web site at www.bbb.org. You can search the Internet for additional information on swimming pools and spas at www.nspi.org, the website of the National Spa & Pool Institute.
Purchasing a pool can be a scary experience, especially for those first timers who haven’t been through the process. There are a myriad of items to consider…pool type, maintenance, warranties, contracts, liability, plumbing, landscaping, electricity, drainage, restrictions, accessories, and so on. It’s no wonder many pool buyers make mistakes that end up costing them hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
With the information in this special report you will be able to avoid many of the most common mistakes that people make when purchasing a pool. It will equip you with the ability and know-how to ask smart questions that will result in helping you find the right pool for you and your family.
However, even with the information in this special report, you will still find yourself having many questions. I’d like to invite you to give me
a call and speak with me personally so that I can further elaborate on some of things I have explained, and answer any additional questions you might have.
For instance, I’ll give you some more little-known facts about pool warranties that you need to watch out for and I’ll explain how to determine where to place your pool in your backyard to get the most enjoyment, convenience, and safety.
We at Allstate Pools promise to give you as much good information as possible in order to help you make the right pool decision, we want you to buy the pool that is right for you, whether it’s from Allstate Pools or somebody else.
Thanks for your attention and we look forward to speaking with you soon.
You can reach us at (818) 889 2321 or visit our website at www.allstatepools.com