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Thread: Our pool saga

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    Our pool saga

    This may get really long and jumbled but I'm trying to type it out basis dates from pictures I've taken along the way.

    To start, my husband and I knew we wanted a pool from the get go. He was in Afghanistan for 2 years after serving 10 in the USMC. We had a goal and it was to move into our dream home then build our dream pool. We worked hard and saved money to pay for our pool in cash. We closed on our house in February then started the pool process in March. We contacted several pool builders then a good friend of ours told us about their pool guy. Our friends have already had one amazing pool built by him and were just getting started on another massive pool at their new house by the same guy. We had him come over on March 27th to do a design. We got to help in the free form design and though I wanted a beach entrance he couldn't get it exactly how I wanted on the design but assured us it would be done properly at build.

    Here's what he sent us.
    pool.jpgpool-1.jpg

    We did not want the sharp points near the entrance and we did want more of the beach entrance not a tanning ledge per se but otherwise it was just what we wanted. He suggested we move the spa away from the house but we do plan on making the two window's nearest the spa, which is the master bedroom, into french doors, as show in the mock up. That's not how it currently looks. So that's our reasoning for that.

    We replied the same night that we agreed on the price and if he assured us the above would be done then we were set to go. No response. I knew he was busy on our friends pool so I gave it time. Finally after emailing again and calling, I get a response on April 15. Nothing again until I text him on April 23. He replied that there's a lot going on and the rain delays had pushed him behind (there had been lots of rain) but then he sends us a proper proposal and this.
    pool-3.jpg

    Our proposal states:
    Pool Size: 32' x 20'6"
    Depth: 3’6” x 6'x 4’
    Surface Area: 420 Sq. Ft.
    Shape: Custom Freeform
    Perimeter Ft.: 88 ft

    CONSTUCTION SPECIFICATIONS:

    1. Contractor‘s structural plans and specifications
    2. Contractor’s plans showing layout of pool
    3. City of La Porte permit
    4. File all necessary HOA paper work
    5. Excavation of pool , dirt hauled
    6. Concrete Gunite structure to be a 6 sack mix
    7. Lifetime Structural warranty thru Royal Gunite
    8. Frost free waterline tile standard tile selection
    9. Fire Glass glow in the dark Spotter Tiles to mark steps and ledges
    10. 1.25 thick travertine coping 12" wide, customer to choose
    11. 6’ benches w/step
    12. 15' bench w/step
    13. 21'' wide beach entry with tan colored quartz & umbrella sleeve


    EQUIPMENT SPECIFICATIONS:

    1. Totally Hayward Equipment set up with 3 year parts & labor warranty
    2. Hayward Aqua Plus control panel , included electrical sub panel and salt capable
    3. Hayward 30" sand filter w/zeo brite filter medium
    4. Hayward Front mount multi-port backwash valve
    5. Hayward 2 H.p Tristar water feature pump
    6. (2) low voltage multi colored led pool light w/transformer, lights come with remote
    7. 320 commercial grade in line chlorinator back-up
    8. Hayward Goldline t-9 40kgal salt cell
    9. 2 skimmers with self adjusting weir doors
    10. 6- 1 “ pressure return lines pool
    11. Poured concrete pad 3’ x 8’
    12. SVR Safety Drains

    SPA OPTION:

    1. 6'6" x 8' id spa with split level benches
    2. 6 spa jets
    3. Low voltage led spa light w/transformer
    4. 1 h.p. Silencer blower
    5. Elevated 12" with stone wrap
    6. stacked travertine stone overflow


    INTERIOR:

    1. Quartz, Barbados Blue


    DECKING SPECIFICATIONS: 4" pour steel 18" oc 3/8"

    1. 450 sq ft textured
    2. 100 sq ft textured decking over existing concrete
    3. 50' deco drain strip along patio and house


    AUTOMATIC POOL CLEANER:

    1. Hayward navigator pool cleaner

    UTILITIES:

    1. All pool plumbing to be schedule 40 pvc
    2. 3/4" direct fill line w/vacuum breaker and valve
    3. Automatic overflow
    4. All electric meter to equipment
    5. 30' backwash line per city code
    6. gas line meter to heater
    7. MISCELLANEOUS SPECIFICATIONS:
    8. Cleaning tools, includes nylon brush, hand leaf skimmer and test kit
    9. Start-up chemical dosage and water treatment and salt
    10. Public liability, workman’s comp and property damage insurance
    11. Clean-up



    On April 24 he shows up with the actual contract for us to sign. He srays the yard with spray paint marking the layout.
    pool-4.jpg
    To be continued...
    Inground Pool Size 32x21 - Depth 3-6" x 6'4" - Surface area 440 Sq Ft - Perimeter 93 ft.
    Supposed to have: Hayward Equipment, Hayward Aqua Plus control panal, Hayward 40" sand filter, Hayward 2 HP Tristar pump, 320 commerical grade in line cholinator back up, Hayward Goldline t-15 40kgal salt cell. TF-100 Test Kit w/Speedstir ORDERED

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    Re: Our pool saga

    After some rain and little communication, they showed up on May 21-22 for excavation.



    On May 28th they laid the rebar then poured the gunite on May 30th finishing up on the 31st. We also chose samples from the catalog of tiles we wanted to see in person. The gunite had been poured in a point as shown in the first mock up pictures and not rounded out like we had agreeded up. There was also no beach entrance rather a sharp slanted entrance.






    June 9th we chose our tile for inside of the pool, the plaster color and the files for around the spa/coping.

    June 12th the subcontractors showed to start the coping and tiles. Some of the coping was cracked which we asked to have replaced. Around this time the PB also came out and was trying to chip away some of the gunite to help make the beach entrance we had asked for and agreed up.

    June 15th the same subcontractors came back to do more work on the tile and coping.

    June 23rd we asked again about when the cracked tile would be replaced. Also, all of the tiles on the stacked waterfall from spa to pool were light colored except for 2 which were side by side. We asked about having those replaced as well.

    June 26th they finished the tile and coping except for the cracked tiles and the above waterfall colored tiles.

    June 29th the actual PB and his assistance came out to work on the plumbing.

    June 30th the decking subcontractors arrived to being forming the decking area. They got it framed out and rebar in place. At this point, the gunite had been chipped in just one small area but not completed to form the beach entrance.

    July 2nd the plaster subs came back out and finished the framing.

    Many many MANY phone calls and texts were made to PB. The pool was said to be 30-45 from dig to swim with another 2-3 weeks after plaster for start up. He guaranteed we would be swimming by July 4th weekend for our sons birthday party.

    July 14th the decking company pours and stamps the decking.

    Again, many many many phone calls and texts later we are preparing to leave for vacation. PB asks me to give him the payment for the plaster. At this point we are beyond the point of being understanding (I have left out tons of conflicts along the way) so we tell PB that we are heading out of town and once he proves the plaster has been poured then we would tell him where the check was. Plaster was poured, check was received. This was July 23.

    At this point the pool is swimable but that is is.

    August 4 PB shows up to work on staining the decking. There is one small portion of the decking that has been stained. He has not been back to do any further work on it.

    August 11 he tried to sneak in when he thought we were't home. He was installing the bubbler when i walked out to confront him. He was making excuses and promised he'd be back that weekend to finish the decking. Nothing. I also showed him that one of the skimmers was not working. He was working on it then I went inside the house to grab a water. While I was in there, he left. Left his tools he was using and bolted.

    August 12th his assistant showed up to instal the inline chlorinator.

    That's the last we've seen of him. If we call or text often enough he'll finally answer and make a promise of a date he'll be there but won't show up nor answer any of our phone calls.

    August 13th around 0730 we receive a knock on the door. It's the plaster company saying that our PB only paid him the deposit but still owes him $1400 and if we don't pay it they will put a lien against our house. PB finally answered my calls on that one after I called over 20 times in a row and said he would have it taken care of but as of yesterday it still has not been.

    At this point we do not have the spa heater, all three of the lights do not work, no pool cleaner, no salt cell, the decking is not complete, the coping is still wrong, the electical is wired incorrectly, one skimmer does not work and landscaping that he verbally promised us due to the delays.

    We are on day 98 of a 30-45 day pool and he will not return any of our calls or texts.

    We've had one new PB out who quoted us $6600 to complete the pool. We have another one coming out tomorrow to also give us a quote.

    I sent a demand letter to the PB via certified mail but at this point he has not signed for it.
    Inground Pool Size 32x21 - Depth 3-6" x 6'4" - Surface area 440 Sq Ft - Perimeter 93 ft.
    Supposed to have: Hayward Equipment, Hayward Aqua Plus control panal, Hayward 40" sand filter, Hayward 2 HP Tristar pump, 320 commerical grade in line cholinator back up, Hayward Goldline t-15 40kgal salt cell. TF-100 Test Kit w/Speedstir ORDERED

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    Re: Our pool saga

    I have read your thread and feel your pain. If it makes you feel any better (and it probably won't) we live in Texas also and our pool build is going on 6 months. So 100 days is not the worst I have seen.

    We have also gotten quotes to finish our pool and it's just not feasible for us right now.

    Our next step is a lawsuit unfortunately. And like they say, you can't get blood from a turnip. We just want our pool done!

    My best advice is to take lots and lots of pictures with date stamps and document as much correspondence as you can with the PB
    15,000 gallon free form Viking fiberglass pool. Hayward Star-Clear Plus C12002 cartridge filter. Hayward Swim Pure Plus T-15 SWG. Testing with TF-100 Kit. 2 speed 1.5HP Supreme pump. Dolphin Nautilus robotic cleaner

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    Re: Our pool saga

    I hate that you are going through all this as well.

    We are at the point of recording any conversations we have with PB which are pretty non existent at this point. In our demand letter we stated he has until August 31st to have the work done or we will be taking him to court. Problem is, you can't get something out of someone who doesn't have it.

    At this point we also don't have the resources to drop another 6-7K on the pool so we are going to have to do it in steps. We spent our savings on this pool. We technically owe the pool guy $1575 however he owes us quadruple that just in equipment.

    My question is this. We were supposed to be moving towards a salt water pool. PB told us we had to use chlorine for the first 3-4 weeks then would move to salt. We do have an inline chlorinator but no salt cell. Should we just continue to use chlorine at this point and if so, is the inline chlorinator effective for our needs? He was putting chlorine tabs in the skimmer baskets.
    Inground Pool Size 32x21 - Depth 3-6" x 6'4" - Surface area 440 Sq Ft - Perimeter 93 ft.
    Supposed to have: Hayward Equipment, Hayward Aqua Plus control panal, Hayward 40" sand filter, Hayward 2 HP Tristar pump, 320 commerical grade in line cholinator back up, Hayward Goldline t-15 40kgal salt cell. TF-100 Test Kit w/Speedstir ORDERED

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    Re: Our pool saga

    A few pics.

    This is the small portion of the decking he stained to show up the colors.





    Inground Pool Size 32x21 - Depth 3-6" x 6'4" - Surface area 440 Sq Ft - Perimeter 93 ft.
    Supposed to have: Hayward Equipment, Hayward Aqua Plus control panal, Hayward 40" sand filter, Hayward 2 HP Tristar pump, 320 commerical grade in line cholinator back up, Hayward Goldline t-15 40kgal salt cell. TF-100 Test Kit w/Speedstir ORDERED

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by grrarrow View Post
    I hate that you are going through all this as well.

    We are at the point of recording any conversations we have with PB which are pretty non existent at this point. In our demand letter we stated he has until August 31st to have the work done or we will be taking him to court. Problem is, you can't get something out of someone who doesn't have it.

    At this point we also don't have the resources to drop another 6-7K on the pool so we are going to have to do it in steps. We spent our savings on this pool. We technically owe the pool guy $1575 however he owes us quadruple that just in equipment.

    My question is this. We were supposed to be moving towards a salt water pool. PB told us we had to use chlorine for the first 3-4 weeks then would move to salt. We do have an inline chlorinator but no salt cell. Should we just continue to use chlorine at this point and if so, is the inline chlorinator effective for our needs? He was putting chlorine tabs in the skimmer baskets.
    Unfortunately, we are just about in the same boat, so to speak. We, too, do not have our SWG in yet so we will be starting with chlorine tabs also and then converting to salt in awhile. There is nothing wrong with starting with the tabs because you need to add CYA anyway and the tabs do that for you.

    Our PB is the same exact way, doesn't answer the phone, bad customer service, etc. I hope you can get yours finished! And at least you are swimmable, we are not. I will say that I love the look of your decking/concrete A LOT!
    15,000 gallon free form Viking fiberglass pool. Hayward Star-Clear Plus C12002 cartridge filter. Hayward Swim Pure Plus T-15 SWG. Testing with TF-100 Kit. 2 speed 1.5HP Supreme pump. Dolphin Nautilus robotic cleaner

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Let him put the lien on your house. Big deal. It will expire in a couple of years anyways and if you want/need to refinance or sell in the meantime you can put a bond up against the lien.
    18k gal AG Sand Filter K-2006

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by Skitch View Post
    Let him put the lien on your house. Big deal. It will expire in a couple of years anyways and if you want/need to refinance or sell in the meantime you can put a bond up against the lien.
    I'll admit, when the plaster guy showed up at our house spouting all this stuff, we got nervous. After speaking with an attorney we found out that it's not nearly as easy of a process as the plaster guy was making it seem to be.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by nlindelldc View Post
    Unfortunately, we are just about in the same boat, so to speak. We, too, do not have our SWG in yet so we will be starting with chlorine tabs also and then converting to salt in awhile. There is nothing wrong with starting with the tabs because you need to add CYA anyway and the tabs do that for you.

    Our PB is the same exact way, doesn't answer the phone, bad customer service, etc. I hope you can get yours finished! And at least you are swimmable, we are not. I will say that I love the look of your decking/concrete A LOT!
    We are not the only one's he left high and dry. Our friends who referred him to us were screwed over as well. They fired him and they had referred at least 4 other people to him. One of them have the hole dug and were supposed to have gunite poured a few weeks ago but haven't heard from him in 3 weeks now.
    Inground Pool Size 32x21 - Depth 3-6" x 6'4" - Surface area 440 Sq Ft - Perimeter 93 ft.
    Supposed to have: Hayward Equipment, Hayward Aqua Plus control panal, Hayward 40" sand filter, Hayward 2 HP Tristar pump, 320 commerical grade in line cholinator back up, Hayward Goldline t-15 40kgal salt cell. TF-100 Test Kit w/Speedstir ORDERED

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Welcome to TFP. Sorry about all the troubles. I think that is one of the biggest fears for any family that decides to invest in a new pool.

    My first recommendation is to purchase one of the recommended test kits so that you can understand your water. The tabs MIGHT be alright for now if no stabilizer was added. But without testing your water, you really have no clue how much CYA you have in the water. You do not want to add the salt cell for the first 30 days. If your plan is to follow the TFP method, liquid bleach/chlorine will be temporary source.
    Free form 17X30. 14,500 Gal. Pentair sand filter and 1.5 hp pump. Aqua-Rite SWCG. TF-100 Test Kit w/Speed Stir

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by jagger2005 View Post
    Welcome to TFP. Sorry about all the troubles. I think that is one of the biggest fears for any family that decides to invest in a new pool.

    My first recommendation is to purchase one of the recommended test kits so that you can understand your water. The tabs MIGHT be alright for now if no stabilizer was added. But without testing your water, you really have no clue how much CYA you have in the water. You do not want to add the salt cell for the first 30 days. If your plan is to follow the TFP method, liquid bleach/chlorine will be temporary source.
    Yes, of course you will want to measure your CYA. I was assuming you were starting at zero like me. I have never heard of waiting 30 days to add the salt cell. Can you explain please ?!?1
    15,000 gallon free form Viking fiberglass pool. Hayward Star-Clear Plus C12002 cartridge filter. Hayward Swim Pure Plus T-15 SWG. Testing with TF-100 Kit. 2 speed 1.5HP Supreme pump. Dolphin Nautilus robotic cleaner

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Salt should not be added to new plaster for 28 days per the National Plasterers Council start-up procedures - same with wheeled vacuums. Sure, you can add the cell at startup, just not the salt until after 4 weeks.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by bmoreswim View Post
    Salt should not be added to new plaster for 28 days per the National Plasterers Council start-up procedures - same with wheeled vacuums. Sure, you can add the cell at startup, just not the salt until after 4 weeks.
    Ahh. So that doesn't apply to my fiberglass pool
    15,000 gallon free form Viking fiberglass pool. Hayward Star-Clear Plus C12002 cartridge filter. Hayward Swim Pure Plus T-15 SWG. Testing with TF-100 Kit. 2 speed 1.5HP Supreme pump. Dolphin Nautilus robotic cleaner

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Just about to sign a contract, and this thread is pretty terrifying!! The biggest PB in the area went bankrupt a month or so ago and the owner killed himself -- dozens of pools half finished -- horrible...

    I would also suggest not worrying about a lien. Can you get some relief from a Home Improvement Fund -- we have one in Maryland with a $25k limit.

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by Helen203 View Post
    Just about to sign a contract, and this thread is pretty terrifying!! The biggest PB in the area went bankrupt a month or so ago and the owner killed himself -- dozens of pools half finished -- horrible...

    I would also suggest not worrying about a lien. Can you get some relief from a Home Improvement Fund -- we have one in Maryland with a $25k limit.

    That is a horrible story. We don't have HIF's in TX, at least I don't think. Do yourself a favor and look at the draw schedule. Make sure to keep at least half of your money until the WHOLE THING is done if it all possible. I know some won't do this, but do your research, for sure. I THOUGHT I had done my research and still got burned
    15,000 gallon free form Viking fiberglass pool. Hayward Star-Clear Plus C12002 cartridge filter. Hayward Swim Pure Plus T-15 SWG. Testing with TF-100 Kit. 2 speed 1.5HP Supreme pump. Dolphin Nautilus robotic cleaner

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by Helen203 View Post
    Just about to sign a contract, and this thread is pretty terrifying!! The biggest PB in the area went bankrupt a month or so ago and the owner killed himself -- dozens of pools half finished -- horrible...

    I would also suggest not worrying about a lien. Can you get some relief from a Home Improvement Fund -- we have one in Maryland with a $25k limit.
    Is this the story you are referring to? WOW, totally crazy!!

    Goes to show that even when you do your homework and go with an established company (in business 60 years!!), you can still get the rug pulled out from under you. A cautionary tale indeed!!
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by nlindelldc View Post
    That is a horrible story. We don't have HIF's in TX, at least I don't think. Do yourself a favor and look at the draw schedule. Make sure to keep at least half of your money until the WHOLE THING is done if it all possible. I know some won't do this, but do your research, for sure. I THOUGHT I had done my research and still got burned
    Yep, on the link.

    You know, the interesting thing is that ALL of the local and regional PBs have set their draw schedules to favor THEM and not us. By the time the pool is dug and poured, I think like 95% of the cost is invested before the water is poured -- and all five PBs here did this -- and it doesn't appear to be negotiable. The economic downturn decimated companies around here for frivolous items like pools, and the PBs are "mean and lean". Any recommendations for me?
    Last edited by Helen203; 08-26-2015 at 06:38 PM. Reason: emphasis on the fact that all PBs are doing this

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by Helen203 View Post
    Yep, on the link.

    You know, the interesting thing is that ALL of the local and regional PBs have set their draw schedules to favor THEM and not us. By the time the pool is dug and poured, I think like 95% of the cost is invested before the water is poured, and it doesn't appear to be negotiable. The economic downturn decimated companies around here for frivolous items like pools, and the PBs are "mean and lean". Any recommendations for me?
    Well, one thing to do is get lien releases from the PB after each step. It's a legal document that the PB signs which states that he has paid or will pay all subcontractors for their work. It relieves you of any responsibility if the PB doesn't pay his subs.

    Another thing talked about here on TFP A LOT is the idea of NOT pre-paying. That is, the schedule of payments is based on when each stage of the work is complete, not when it gets started. That way, you can hold the money back if you're not totally satisfied. It's not at all a common arrangement to do this, but it seems the only way to protect yourself.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    Well, one thing to do is get lien releases from the PB after each step. It's a legal document that the PB signs which states that he has paid or will pay all subcontractors for their work. It relieves you of any responsibility if the PB doesn't pay his subs.

    Another thing talked about here on TFP A LOT is the idea of NOT pre-paying. That is, the schedule of payments is based on when each stage of the work is complete, not when it gets started. That way, you can hold the money back if you're not totally satisfied. It's not at all a common arrangement to do this, but it seems the only way to protect yourself.
    First paragraph, hugely useful idea that we will add into our contract-- thanks!!!

    Second paragraph, if only!!! this is an issue we quizzed 5 PBs about, to no avail -- ALL of the contracts were crazy risky for contract"ees" and presumably intractable. We'll see on Saturday.

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    Re: Our pool saga

    Quote Originally Posted by Helen203 View Post
    First paragraph, hugely useful idea that we will add into our contract-- thanks!!!

    Second paragraph, if only!!! this is an issue we quizzed 5 PBs about, to no avail -- ALL of the contracts were crazy risky for contract"ees" and presumably intractable. We'll see on Saturday.
    Well, I learned about lien releases here on TFP so you can thank TFP'ers for it!!

    As for pre-pay versus post-pay schedules, I often wonder if PBs would be willing to move to a post-payment system if the homeowner and PB entered into an escrow arrangement. One argument PBs make is that they can't do the work because they're afraid you won't pay. Well, if you have a clearly defined escrow payment account whereby money is paid into the account and released on a schedule that can only be stopped by a specific condition, then that argument is somewhat moot. That way, the PB knows that the money is there and the homeowner has a safety valve to close if they feel the work is sub-standard. Obviously this is all speculative since the pool building industry seems to solely operate on a pre-payment type schedule.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner Dolphin S300i robot, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    Re: Our pool saga

    I'd go for that -- we have cash on hand - presumably most homeowners do? I think DH has been dangling me out there with the PBs knowing he has the contracting chops to make sure everything turns out OK... possibly annoying?!

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