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Thread: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

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    Lesley916's Avatar
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    Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    We are in the early stages of getting estimates on an IG rectangular pool with spa. Over the course of our research (including TFP) I'm finding more people than I would have thought are acting as their own GC. For those that have been their own GC, is this something you would do again? We would appreciate ALL feedback.

    Thank you from Sacramento!
    Lesley



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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    Yep. No doubt I'd do it again...but I was a mechanical contractor and GC'd my house gut and remodel. I've PM'd $25m in commercial interior improvements in the last couple of years - so Im comfortable around contractors.

    It is not for the faint of heart or those who have no construction background (my opinion) - and you have to know how to work with subcontractors because these guys are never going to see you again... where a pool contractor has the lure of much more work for years to come (in theory). You have to be able to make decisions on the fly and most importantly - you have to know what you are talking about. These guys will not typically walk you thru the process of what they are doing, so you better know what you want and how they are supposed to be performing that work.

    A hybrid approach is to use a pool consultant. They typically have a long list of subs that do work for them and can help get bids. As an added benefit, they can usually order the equipment with a full factory warranty (extended to 3 years in my case) where you buying eqpt. from Amazon or Leslie's might not have much warranty because you are not a contractor.

    Even using a consultant to order the equipment and help get some subs, I still saved easily 35% that I was able to plow right back into the pool with upgrades...BUT I started the process in Mid February and Im just now going to be applying the pebble this week...that's 6 mos now!!! I have a day job and cant just stop life to oversee the pool build. So it usually takes longer.

    .
    O/B Woodland Hills, CA : O/B12x30 inground with 6x6 10-jet spa, 10,500gal, 6' Baja deck, 42" spillway, All Jandy: 400k heater, 2.7 HP VS pump, 1.5HP booster spa pump, SWG, Intellelink controls, (4) LED lights, cartridge filter and BlueSquareQ360 infloor cleaning system, Eclipse drain, glass tiles, Zanzibar white pebble finish. Broke ground 2/18/2016, completed 8/16/2016. TFT 100 kit.

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    This is my second O/B build. The last one was like 10-15 years ago and learned a couple things since then. Amazingly, I am using a couple of the same subs. In Vegas, the subs will let you use their accounts at the local supplier, and the supplier works with you and creates a sub account so you get the wholesale prices (so they say, I'm guessing its bumped up a bit, but still lower than most anywhere and with the 3 year warranty, which is most important).

    I have found its a lot easier than most people think, and the subs here are used to dealing with O/B and will usually give you names of other subs they like to work with, so you get a lot of opportunity for getting multiple bids. If you can afford to pay cash to some of the subs, you can save another 5-25 percent, depending on sub.

    Also, the subs tell you what they do, who to call next and when to get inspections. For instance, I called up the electric sub and asked when they want to come out for pulling the wire, etc, and they said at least 2 days after gunite and we set the date.

    The inspectors are easy to work with too. It's better if you happen to be home when they come, so if you fail something, they can tell you what needs to be fixed, changed or even a work around to get it passed for that part. In Vegas, its a pre-gunite inspection, and then a final. So only two inspections, and the final is done prior to plaster.

    Last, because I am the PB and Owner, I can make changes on the fly without anyone telling me no. For instance, I added a bench and step out, and my steel guy didn't charge me any more, and the gunite didn't charge me anymore either. During the rough electrical I added an outlet near the pool and a light over my equipment, and only minor charges. My tile guy I just pay for the installation, and separately for the product. In any event, you get the idea. It's not as much as you would think, in my opinion, and I can get exactly what I want, and any mistakes are blamed on myself.

    I just keep a folder, for bids, pictures of what I like, samples, etc. It seems to be working out fine, and the only timing issues are really my own.
    Cement Pond <--- build - 15K gal, 16 x 34 Rectangle, All Pentair - 520 Filter, 2 Intelliflo 2VST pumps (3hp) - 1 filter/1 water features, EasyTouch 8, Screen Logic, IC60 SWG,
    Pop-up Cleaners (Wet Deck and steps), 2 LED Bubblers, 3 LED 24" waterfalls, 5G LED Pool Light, Quartscapes Reflections Tahoe Blue plaster, Real Coral coping/deck, TF-100 Test Kit, 1766 Salt test kit.

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    Just finished my owner build with no prior experience working directly with contractors. If I ever build pool 2.0, I would still get quotes from PBs, but expect to end up doing an OB again. Most of the issues I worried about before the build ended up not being issues, and it was things I didn't anticipate that ended up being the problems we had to deal with. There were a number of times during my build that I thought it would have been nice to have a PB who would be responsible for fixing issues, but many of my neighbors who used PBs still had similar issues and they paid a hefty premium to the PB. I definitely liked the flexibility and control as an OB, and I think the key is finding good subs.
    Owner Build. 32x16, with 6x8 raised spa. Broke ground April 1, 2016, swimming July 18. Pentair Intelliflo VS + Whisperflo for Water features; Clean & Clear Filter 420; Master Temp Heater 400k BTU; Intellibrite 120V pool and spa lights; Regular ol' plaster.

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    There are several owner builds around here (including mine) that seem to have turned out well. A surprising many of the people have no prior experience or construction knowledge. At the end of the day, a pool is a hole in the ground with water in it. While there are many complexities during the process, I can't imagine too many issues that can't be answered here on this forum.

    I know for a fact that there are chemists, engineers, and contractors here that selflessly provide a wealth of knowledge and experiences.
    -Brian-
    33K Pool/Spa, Pentair Equipment
    POOL BUILD
    Davis Custom Construction - Home Page

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    In Sacramento a OB will beat the PB price but right now pool prices are low in Sacramento. You can play Premier off of Geremia ( the two integrated builders with volume) or you can get a builder who uses subs. But pricing is relatively low now because they have never recovered from 2008-2009.

    Its going to take 6 months instead of three months and you should figure its going to take 8 months.

    On the other hand

    There are plenty of experienced subs out there to do the work,

    You can hire plenty of pool guys to order and install the equipment and any automation.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    Lesley we just finished our first OB pool and couldn't be happier.

    The process took about 100 days start to finish, and we saved big money. In an effort of full disclosure we built our house so we had experience dealing with subs. I'll also add that I have worked with other people who had little to no experience and they built their own pool.

    With it being your first OB project I would suggest a consultant (as others have recommend), but you'll still save money.

    Good luck on your decision!


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    Lesley916's Avatar
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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    Thank you all for your responses!!! We will continue to gather more estimates and information the rest of this month before making our final decision. Our goal is to break ground early February and be swimming by Memorial Day weekend. So far we have received estimates from Premier and Poseidon - both creating stunning designs For those that have hired consultants on their OB job, do you have any recommendations?



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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    Are you looking to O/B or builders? I've done a design or two
    -Brian-
    33K Pool/Spa, Pentair Equipment
    POOL BUILD
    Davis Custom Construction - Home Page

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    We are in Loomis and currently doing an owner build pool, you can follow it here. New Owner Build Pool with Rock Blasting - Loomis, CA

    We worked with Chris at Reflection Designs to get to finalize design and his brother can do the structural calculations. We were able to get a permit without any corrections to be made. I met another owner builder in Loomis and he shared a lot of knowledge, lessons learned and subcontractors. It is much easier to get subcontractors during the off season.

    PM me if you would like more info or contact information on anyone.

    We had 3 or 4 companies give us a rough estimate based off our plans and due to the size and water slide every quote seemed very high from what we could do as owner builders.

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    About how much would an OB expect to save? I am going OB mine starting right after the new year east of the Dallas area.

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    My experince is limited to my build but I would say 20% conservatively and as much as 40% on the high end.

    The big difference you'll notice is you'll build a much larger pool with more features with an OB pool.

    If you decide to get bids from companies, I would encourage you to do your homework/research on the front end. When you meet with the companies make them quote you on exactly the same thing to get an accurate comparison.






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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    Awesome thanks. I might give you a call when I get things going.

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    I'm filling my new pool with water today and if I was doing it again I would try owner builder. My pool builder was average/sucked, and I'm guessing that is how most are.
    In ground, 45' x 22', 8' spa, Gunite, Quartzscape, Pentair

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    Re: Owner Builder - would you do it again?

    We went PB route after getting several bids. I explored owner builder but quickly realized the savings wasn't worth it to me. We built a rectangular 16x32, deck spitters/jets with 1000ft of deck. We didn't add any particular fancy water features or automation this time; our previous pool had it all and we didn't use any of it after year one. Anyway, our pool bids ranged from $33-$38 and the numbers I was getting to O/B was ~20% less and that wasn't enough savings for me to want to spend the time as a O/B.

    I will also share our pool was execuvated 6/1 and the only reason we weren't swimming by 7/4 was I stopped the builder for 10 days to get a fence installed as I didn't want door/window alarms installed nor the peremiter fence modified to meet code. There was no way a OB could build a 6 week pool around here. In fact most builders are 12 weeks.
    16' x 32' IG 20k Gallon
    Traditional White Plaster
    Hayward Tristar VS Pump
    Hayward Navigator Pro
    Pentair 60 Sq. Ft.

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