We have never owned a pool before (but have used many and like the idea of having one). So this is our first foray into talking to installers and getting some quotes. We unfortunately ruled out Fiberglass pools due to size limitation and backyard access. So we have talked to a couple of Gunite installers in our area (Eastern MA). Gunite pools are quite expensive to install in the Northeast (or so I have been told) because they use extra material to make sure they don't give in to extreme weather conditions here. So for a 20 X 40 (800 sq ft) pool (shape does not matter according to most of them, within reason of course) is around $36,000. This would include Pool, plumbing, steps, variable pump, DE filter, saltwater, basic lighting and gas heater. It would *not* include any fencing around the pool, tile and patio work. We would also have to pay for any electrical work (conduits, etc.) and gas plubming to the heater. All water features, if any, would be extra. They are highly recommending a spa next to it. Also from what we have been told, heat pumps although highly efficient, do not work very well here in MA. So they (more than one contractor) are recommending Natural Gas heaters, especially because our Gas meter is rated for a pool in addition to home.
So if anyone could help us with the following (I know most of you will say "oh, here we go again"):
1) I tried to search but could not find any guide to new pool installation. If you could point us to one then that would be great. Like to what to look for, what are important things, what is must and what can go?
2) What should be the suggested equipment? DE Filter, variable pump, salt water generator, Natural Gas heater. Is that all? What about automatic cleaning? Can that be added later?
3) What is Pool automation? One of them offers automation package at extra cost.
4) How do we do price negotiate? Is $36K a good price for my area? Some of them are reluctant to give correct price quotes and tend to talk in terms of general pricing.
5) We have been told that the type of material/plaster they use, if taken care of properly (maintain the correct PH Balance), the pool will not need anything for over 20 yrs. If upgraded to pebbletec it could stay like that for 30 yrs. Hmm...
6) Should we take quotes from Vinyl Pool installers too? Is that something worth pursuing if the cost difference is large? From they way they explained, the true difference in cost is the material, time and transportation. The rest of the cost is the same as it would need the same equipment, plumbing, pool fencing, tiling, patio, etc. So if we were to pursue that, should we ask for breakups to the T? Would that be a wise thing to do? I have asked one Vinyl Pool installer to come in next week and give a quote for a basic lagoon shaped pool. So that we can compare.
Any assistance from you folks would be greatly appreciated as we are new to this.
Thanks a lot for reading my first post