Hello everyone, this is my first time posting here but I have been reading the forum for a long time now and much of the information I learned through this site has helped me in my decisions for this pool build, which is my first ever in-ground pool. While I would love to have the pool for recreational purposes, I am having this pool built for medical reasons. I have a progressive form of multiple sclerosis and I currently use a wheelchair about 90% of the time, so I must have the pool installed so I can use it for physical therapy every day and hopefully regain more and continued use of my legs. I am hoping that with a prescription from the doctor, I might be able to write this off as a medical expense on my taxes next year??? I will apologize in advance for the incredibly long and detailed post, but I want to try to cover all the details in the first post and then update as my project progresses.
We are on a tight budget but wanted a decent size play pool with a sheer decent water feature and we wanted to keep the cost under $30k, preferably $25K. You will see as you read my posts that I am quite frugal. I tend to be able to find the best deals on just about everything. If you are willing to do a little research and legwork, you can get substantial discounts on just about everything. Before I even contacted any pool builders, I obtained a pre-approval for $30k pool loan. We wanted to get that out of the way first and figured we better make sure we could get financing before we wasted time getting estimates and/or our hopes up. We weren’t sure what the costs would be but we knew we could not afford more than $30k, so that is what we applied for. Thankfully, we were approved the next day, so we contacted Shasta, Presidential, Dolphin and Caribbean for estimates.
All 4 were within a few thousand dollars of each other for similar size/specs (listed below) but in the end we went with Caribbean Pools and Spas for several reasons. First of all, they had the best price, coming in at about 15% - 18% lower than the other 3 builders. I did plenty of research and they had great reviews, have been in business 20 years, A+ BBB rating, and their customer service and responsiveness to our questions, phone calls, emails, etc., has been super impressive and any questions we had/have are answered very quickly by email or phone. So far, they are just really on top of things!
Another deciding factor was the estimated time for completion. Shasta gave us an estimate of 3 – 3.5 months, Presidential gave an estimate of 10-12 weeks, Dolphin said about 9-10 weeks, and Caribbean gave us an estimate of 60 days for completion. I have a ton of anxiety and very little patience, so waiting 3+ months was just not an option for me. I would be in a straitjacket before the end of the build if I had to wait that long! So, with the lowest price, a great reputation, good communication, and a 60 day time estimate for time to completion, we chose Caribbean. I will include the timeline for everything below and update it as the project continues, as well as post photos along the way.
One of the setbacks/issues we faced with all the builders was that our back yard already has desert landscape with red landscape rock, 7 large boulders and a dry riverbed of rip rap running through the middle of it, as well as some stepping stones and a huge Sago Palm. All of the builders wanted us to have this all removed and only have dirt where the excavation and decking were to be installed, so we needed to either pay them for the pre-grade or find someone else to do it. Shasta included the pre-grade in their estimate, while Dolphin and Presidential did not, leaving us to try to find someone to do it and add that to the total cost of the pool build. Caribbean offered to have their landscape people do it for an additional $840, which I thought was more than fair since 2 people from Craigslist came out to our home and both estimated around $1,000 to clear the whole yard of rocks and landscaping, leaving only dirt. It is important that we have ALL the rock removed right now because we are having artificial grass installed once the pool is compete, so we want to get it all cleared out now, so we don’t have to pay for the rest of it to be done later. I will post photos of what the back yard looked like this morning, before the pre-grade. They are actually in the middle of doing the pre-grade right now, there is a bulldozer and backhoe sitting in my back yard, they will be back in the morning to complete the job.
So, here is the timeline from initial contact to present with Caribbean and I will update it as we progress through the project. As you will see, they are on this project like white on rice. J Below the timeline I will list the specs of the pool.
3/15/16: Contacted Caribbean Pools and Spas of Gilbert, AZ through their Facebook page and they had their sales rep, Josh, from the Peoria office call me that day. He set an appointment for the next day at noon. They were the 4th company we contacted. We already had estimates from the other 3 builders in hand.
3/16/16: Josh showed up promptly at noon, took photos and measurements of our back yard, then sat down and discussed what we wanted, our budget, and hand drew a free form pool design and decking, based on our verbal description of what we wanted. He did not offer us a 3D view of our pool, ever, and that is the one thing I wish he would have offered us. As a salesperson for a pool company, he can imagine it but I can’t. I want to see it come alive, and the other 3 builders offered this feature, but he did not. To be honest, if we had not already seen our vision in 3D from the other companies providing us with 3D images to see what it would look like, we probably would not have chosen Caribbean, no matter how much less they were, because on paper, we just could not see what it would look like. Luckily we had already seen our desired design in 3D, so we were willing to accept just the paper drawing. For our desired specs, Shasta quoted us $27,650, Presidential quoted us $26,997, and Dolphin quoted us $26,685. During our visit, Josh quoted us $24,150 (including the cost of pre-grade and access wall R&R) for a comparable/very similar pool package the other 3 companies we offering, but he also included a few features that were standard with them but upgrades for the other 3 companies, such as a large Baja shelf, 5 umbrella sleeves, a 10 ft. bench, and 2 Hayward LED colored lights. We told him we would let him know something soon but impressed upon him the fact that time was of the essence and if we chose the, we would want to get this underway quickly.
3/17/16: After discussing with my husband the prior evening, we decided to move forward with Caribbean and asked Josh to email us the contracts. We signed them and faxed them back, along with our pre-approved financing paperwork, then set an appointment for the next day to pick out our tile and decking colors.
3/18/16: Met with Josh at their Peoria office to choose the tile and cool deck/acrylic lace decking colors. He explained we need HOA clearance and city of Buckeye permit to get started, so we went to our HOA office that day and got them to put on letterhead that we did not require HOA approval to build a pool, then took that back to Josh the same day. So, HOA approval, CHECK, out of the way. Now for the permits…….I called the city of Buckeye and spoke with Jeanine, who was head of the permit department. She told me they would issue the permit same day, as long as all the pertinent information was submitted. Perfect!
3/21/16: Spoke with Kathi at the Gilbert location and told her what Jeanine said about the permit being issued the same day. She said they would send someone the next day and let me know but that it normally takes a few weeks to get the permits.
3/22/16: Kathi emailed the very next day to say that Jeanine kept her word and issued the permit the same day…..HOA approval and permit were out of the way and it was only 7 days since I first contacted their company!!!!!!! Whoooo Hoooooo
3/23/16: Kathi called the following day and said the guys would be at my house on Friday the 25th to do the pre-grade, then the layout would take place on Monday the 28th and excavation was set for Tuesday the 29th!
As promised, the guys showed up today to do the pre-grade and they are the same guys who will be doing the excavation on Tuesday, so it looks like we will have our yard excavated just 14 days after my initial contact with Caribbean Pools. So, as I explained earlier, they are really on the ball. So far, I am extremely impressed with them! I will update this thread as we continue the process and add photos and information as we go.
What we are getting for $24,150, includes permits, taxes, pre-grade and R&R:
1,000 Sq. Ft. Pre-grade
Decorative Post-Tension Retaining Wall R&R
27’ X 15’ Free Form Play Pool, 3’ X 5’
8’ Baja Shelf
Large Entrance Steps
10’ Bench Seating
5 Umbrella Sleeves
350 Sq. Ft. Surface Area
650 Interior Area
3’ Wide Perimeter Acrylic Decking
320 Sq. Ft. X-Cel Acrylic Lace Decking Area
Interior Finish: Ultra Poz Blue
2’ Sheer Decent Water Feature
2 Hayward 320 Colored LED Lights
Aqua Naut Automatic Pool Cleaner
Hayward C3030 Filter
Hayward Variable Speed Pump
4 Looped Returns
6” Waterline Tile and Tile Accenting Benches and Steps
All electric, plumbing, light conduit
I may have forgotten a few things but the package includes the completed pool and everything we will need to run and operate the pool. Maybe I didn't get as good of a deal as I think I did, but we are very happy with what we got for the money.
I took the liberty of coloring the design layout Josh gave me and added some Fisher Price plants, shrubs, and a really rickety rendition of a bench. Where there is not pool and decking, there will be artificial grass and tall privacy bushes along the back wall/view fence. Art and drawing were never my strong suit. This is really why I wanted to see a 3D image of the project, but for the savings, I will deal with it.
BACKYARD1231.jpg Additional Sleeve X.jpg
I will post backyard photos tomorrow. Thanks for reading my incredibly looooooooooooong post!