I am posting to share my experience to hopefully help others in their builds. Well earlier this year we bought a brand new house and after baking all summer we decided to build a pool so here we are. We live in the central valley for California home to Fresno State Football, Sun-Maid Raisins, Pelco Cameras, and the salad bowl of the country just to name a few things. That being said in the summers we have plenty of sunshine and 100+ degree days.
I'm a bit of a DIY and have done several projects around the house over the years, I've hired and worked with a few sub contractors so i thought about building this myself but when I came across this site and did some thinking came to the realization that hiring a builder was going to while be more costly on the front end, give me more piece of mind in the long run. Locally we have a little more than a dozen pool builders, and so for this project I started reaching out and getting bids. One of things we decided right away was to go with a build during the off season (fall). After reading several posts of others that built during the summer, and talking to builders it confirmed my suspicions that the labor pool of subs are shared by all the builders. This causes delays in builds because of a shortage of labor/materials and also drives prices up.
Another thing I learned was that there are few different types of builders. One area of variation was the overall project management.
Type A is a owner builder (usually a Licensed General Contractor) the owner runs the entire job from design, bid, construction, and follow up. As a customer the advantage is you only have to deal with one person ever.
Type B is a in-house builder you have a sales person that does the design and bid, project manager that oversees construction and the customer services rep that does the follow up. So here you have multiple people to deal with and I have read posts of people who had issues with mistakes, errors, lack of communication between departments.
Another variation was the use of sub contractors or not.
Company A uses all in house labor for plumbing, tile, concrete and electrical.
Company B uses sub contractors for all aspects of the job.
Here in the Valley all builders sub contract Plaster and Gunite.
As it relates to the labor there was some back and forth, pro's and con's on both sides of this. For the in house, I think they are able to save costs by using unlicensed labor to do the work. Now it is all supervised by a Licensed GC, but do you want your electrical done by the plumber? However what was interesting in a apple to apple comparison of bids, Company A using all in house labor's bid was significantly higher than Company B.
So after getting bids from six different builders, here is how we picked ours.
1 builder took 3 weeks to send us a bid (no explanation why he was late and only after i called and asked for it.)
1 builder tried to sell me for 2 hours, for what was supposed to be a 30 min initial meeting. (we would have then had to schedule an in-person visit at their office to get their bid, no thanks)
2 builders had sales staff do the design and bidding both designs were not what we were looking for and both were pushy about extras we had to have. Which we didn't want including a UV system.
1 builder who was a local franchise for a national builder, had a workable design but limited our concrete finish options (with them we had to have stamped and colored)
The bids were rather interesting 5 of the builders quoted pretty much the same equipment (Pentair) and specs, the other was (Jandy). Number wise from the 5 bids we got Company A's with all in house crews bids were 5k to 8k higher than Company B's with the exception of one bid which as in line with company a's. So my recommendation when getting bids is make sure to compare apple to apples.
As luck would have it the builder we selected was the first builder we met, he had a design and bid to us in the same day. His design hit the mark right off the bat and he listened and applied what we wanted. This is a owner/builder so I get to deal with just him through the entire process.
If anyone has any specific questions please feel free to pm me.
On to the pool.
-32x16 pool with a baja shelf
-425 Sq ft pool
-3.5 ft to 5ft to 7ft
-84 ft perimeter
-white plaster (maybe switch to tahoe blue or French Gray
-890 Pool decking and Patio Cover concrete
-Pentair 420 Filter
-Superflow variable speed pump
-Pentair rebel cleaner
-(2) Globrite LEDs
-no automation other than light timer (may add intellibrite controller later)