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Thread: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defined?

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    PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defined?

    Long story that i'll try to make short....

    We have a large pool, per my signature line below. The pool and assorted elements (spa, waterfall, ramada) are all "built" but certainly not totally functional to my satisfaction. Minor and major issues:

    1. Minor issue: He has agreed to do more cleanup prior to final payment, but I worry about how much. - funny how my definition of cleanup doesn't exactly match his. They basically ruined all the landscape rock between my driveway and the pool area - mixing dirt heavily into the rock. They have since cleaned out most of the dirt, but still not to the point where I can replace the landscape rock and have my RV gate swing freely, as it did before the build started. I think another 2-3 inches of dirt needs to be removed. He thinks it does not. That they have removed dirt "down to the original level" - which is essentially true, but in fact, the original level had landscape rock, not 99% dirt and 1% remaining landscape rock. I have my pop up camper at a friends house, and want to get it back asap, but can't do so til this area is cleaned up and rock replaced. The camper originally sat behind the RV gate on top of the landscape rock - easily hidden under the wall and gate per HOA requirements....
    Contract is fairly silent on all this with a single line for "clean up."

    2. Minor issue: They also cut through the water line for my front landscape drip system, and ruined the valve box. They replaced the valve box but not the valve or piping or wiring. Valve is probably still good, just buried. He agreed reluctantly to fix all of this, but I wonder if he really will...contract does say something to the effect that they aren't responsible for this stuff, which I never should have agreed to. They also cut my satellite cable, which cost me $65 to get repaired and he didn't offer to pay for.

    3. waterfall. It's built, yes, but more water pours out the west edge than the east edge - by far. Waterfall guy here today and is trying to divert more water to other edge. Wet steps very steep and slippery, so he is applying some kind of grit to the rock. Wonderful.....
    Grotto seat underneath has edges of cement that stick out above the tile line 3-4 inches, jabbing you in the back when you lean back. Not all of the grotto area, but 2 places significantly. Waterfall guy here today to fix the steps a bit, and he did nothing and voiced concern that they could do little to "chip away" and repaint the cement as I asked them to do. I'll bet the PB does nothing here. Grotto IS built, but certainly not to my happiness.

    4a. Spa. Again, it IS built. Two big issues. I over did the design in creating this with the PB's support (and encouragement). We put in 16 jets - about 8 "large" ones and 8 small originally, but when PB went to buy the jet heads, we (with his ok) converted all 16 to the large ones. Now the VS pump won't supply sufficient pressure for all 16 of the jets. He is blaming ME for this design. Wants to either: a) add another VS pump (he originally said booster) or b) add electric valve to supply one set of 8 or another at a time, using the remove controller - something we never agreed to but is not a bad idea. We requested the extra pump as the option to go with and he responded with a demand for payment. I think he totally screwed up this design personally, and he is basically demanding final payment before this is corrected, so he can charge me more or do a **** poor job finishing it - or take forever to get it done. He even threatened to "bring the ROC out to inspect it" - I said bring them in. I'd love to hear their opinion. AM I being too demanding here?

    4b. The design of one side of the spa has a ~60 degree slant to it, and eight jets in the wall. This is so you can relax back and watch the big screen TV under the ramada. Unfortunately, jets normally stick out ~inch from the wall which is fine when the wall is 90 degree with a small ledge over the top of the tile. When you lean back against this side of the spa at this time, several of the jet-heads jab you hard in the back/lower back. I saw this as they were about to apply the pebble, and they tried to "mound" the pebble higher around a couple of the jets that stick out really far, but it simply doesn't work. His suggestion is to remove the pebble and tile and reapply thicker pebble to lessen the "angle" to about 70 degrees and create a "bowl" around each jet head, allowing a persons back to rest against the pebble and not hit a jet head. Fine suggestion, and i'm all for it, but I think it needs to be done before final payment. Again, he says the ROC will look at the jets and say "yes, that's completed." Does the ROC not look beyond completion to functionality??? Really???? I worry who is paying the ROC (the PB, not me) and wonder who they will side with.

    Other minor issues remain that he says will be corrected today, such as copper colored step lights that were ruined when the acid wash was done to the pebble. "We'll polish them up as good as new but they'll always turn that color eventually." They also did not apply pebble (like PB said they would) to the underside of the bar top that is over the water. He said they "sealed" the cement...i worry they didn't.

    Lots of lessons learned here...

    Happy to hear any opinions. Did I also say he asked for final payment (minus a few bucks) a few days before pebble done - "I've had customers go into foreclosure right after I did the pebble and lost thousands of dollars". I refused and thus started the bad experience. His own contract states final 10% upon completion. Why change it now????? Crazy....

    I HATE losing sleep over this !@#$%^&* and it has ruined a pleasant experience and the joy of having a new pool wonderland.
    RawhideKid
    Phoenix, AZ (Goodyear actually)
    Pool finally complete!!! IG, 40,635 gallons w/2080 gallon spa with 16 jets. Pool is 40x21 ft with 10 ft deep end; two baja steps
    Pentair Cartridge filter - 520 SQ. PebbleSheen interior. 2 Pentair VS pumps. Pentair Intellichlor SWG
    4 deck jets, 2 bubblers, fake rock grotto/waterfall with wet steps. 3 surrounding half-pergola's with misters in future
    Sunken covered ramada with cabinets, fridge, and wood fireplace. (soon to have big screen TV)
    Basically, 14 years of planning on how to survive this blistering AZ summer!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!!

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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    RHK,

    I haven't even read your post yet, but I read the title.

    Once you lose financial leverage in ANY business transaction, you are at the mercy of the other party.

    Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't but I have learned NEVER to relinquish that leverage.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    no-mas's Avatar
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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    don't lose sleep - your builder is doing this because he is shameless. As duraleigh said, once you pay, you lose leverage. Don't feel bad for doing what you know is the right thing.
    18k gal inground, everbrite finish, 505 sq ft; 1.5 hp two speed whisperflow; rheem 5100ti 100k btu heat pump; 3 sheer descent falls; DE filter; swg (cell out and using trichlor for now)

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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    I had issues years ago with a sneaky builder. it took over a year to get resolved. He conned me into paying him before the job was finished and then didn't finish the job. He even told his workers i was the reason they were not getting paid. I had to write many letters to the Attorney General to get satisfaction. Every time I complained to the attorney General his response was that it was all taken care of and I am happy. This went on for months until I refused to pay the homeowners loan I took out for the initial work. I learned that you need everything in writing, including waste removal. Word of mouth or an oral agreement doesn't hold up for anything.
    I ran his company out of the area but I aged immensley doing it.
    Good Luck

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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    Thanks all. I called the AZ ROC. I think they won't be of much help here. The spa is built per ROC standards - it simply isn't putting out the water pressure that is "per normal" standards of a spa. I could be wrong and I would like them to do a formal inspection per the PB's threat frankly. But the ROC person did say that if I can get other PB's to agree that the construction isn't to "normal standards (water pressure)" then I would have a case.

    Meanwhile, his contract has a heavy interest rate for every month I don't pay...this would get very costly if I didn't pay him and lost the case. Documentation is sketchy here. I think i'd win frankly, but it would age me, as odlaw notes.

    Ugh....RK
    RawhideKid
    Phoenix, AZ (Goodyear actually)
    Pool finally complete!!! IG, 40,635 gallons w/2080 gallon spa with 16 jets. Pool is 40x21 ft with 10 ft deep end; two baja steps
    Pentair Cartridge filter - 520 SQ. PebbleSheen interior. 2 Pentair VS pumps. Pentair Intellichlor SWG
    4 deck jets, 2 bubblers, fake rock grotto/waterfall with wet steps. 3 surrounding half-pergola's with misters in future
    Sunken covered ramada with cabinets, fridge, and wood fireplace. (soon to have big screen TV)
    Basically, 14 years of planning on how to survive this blistering AZ summer!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!!

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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    You both made the agreement that final payment isn't given until completion... stick to it. Show him that it's part of his contract if you have to. If you give payment before you're satisfied, he will claim the job is done and he will move on... even if he verbally agrees to finish something don't trust it. Final payment essentially means you're satisfied and he's done... legally, since it's written in his contract.

    I've worked w/contractors before and unfortunately they do not always follow through with what they say they will do. Sometimes you have to pick your battles and chose the ones that are most important to you because with a long laundry list you will likely not get everything no matter how hard you try. Make them too upset and something else might become a problem.

    Hang in there! Hope you get to enjoy your pool soon!
    Indiana, ABG 24'x52" Galveston by Blue Cascade (Craigslist buy w/part of deck included), 13,500 gallons, Intex SWG, solar panels mix 2, TF-100 test kit.

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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    I ran into this situation with my builder. Did a few changes along the way and he always said it was not that big of a deal. Then came close to the end and he was hinting around that it would be a lot more money than we discussed. He actually bailed on me and I ended up finishing the pool. Luckily I had contacts with all the subs and it worked out ok. Lesson learned there is to get any changes in writing. But as far as your problem, do not pay till you are satisfied. He will complain about it, but tuff.....
    http://www.circledspecialties.com

    44,000 IG Salt Pool - Pentair VF, Quad 100, Polaris 280, IC60, 400 Mater Temp

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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    Don't pay and remind him you need a release of lein first from all subcontractors, the final inspection signed off by the county, and that the warranty does not start until the pool is completed - so the warranty on the pool is essentially being extended. If you pay him he will never fix your problems.

    Send him a registered letter stating all the problems (with photos if applicable) and let him know you will be happy to pay the final 10% as soon as all those issues are worked out, because technically, installed and not working properly is not "completed".
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
    SWG, 1 HP Max Flo Pump, C-900 cartridge filter
    Solar heat

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    XsAllOverIt's Avatar
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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    Same issues with mine. I never got my caulking completed and had a lot of other issues. You're not in the boat by yourself. Here is a URL of my entire experience. Fortunately, I documented everything and held off final payment and we're currently in a standoff. I'm going to complete the caulking myself and not pay the final payment, since it was never completed. It certainly sounds the same in your case.

    [Added] Also one thing we never looked at when we signed the contract (DUMB for us), all of the proposal document listed items specifically. The contract didn't. We didn't get a separate 2-speed pump for our hot tub as stated in the proposal and we didn't get 6 jets in our hot tub as stated in the proposal. I find from reading here, PB's must go to some school where they are taught to be very very dishonest/sneaky/or whatever you want to call it. Personally, I'm very glad they're gone. If they come for the payment, I'll counter sue for a lot of things that weren't right and I've got some pretty good documentation.

    http://www.golfmd.com/baurphotoalbum/poolconstruction

    Good Luck!
    18 x 36 Inground Gunnite, White Plaster 21K gallon
    18" raised spa, 8' Diameter (620 gallon)
    Triton II Sand filter, Intellichlor IC40 SWG
    Pentair Pump, Max-E-Therm 400 BTU
    Lamotte ColorQ PRO 7-Plus test kit
    TFT-100 test kit

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    It is time to get a lawyer. All of those points are debatable to one extent or another, and a lot of it will rest on the wording in the contract. You really need a lawyer to interpret the contract and tell you what your options are and what you have to do to exercise those options.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    Ugh....anyone know of a good lawyer in the Goodyear/Phoenix area who handles this kind of stuff?

    I read the contract....25% interest compounded monthly for late payment. Isn't that high, even illegal? Also has a required arbitration clause. Wonder if the interest compounds while we are in arbitration, which could take months....

    I'll admit, many of the "add-on's" or enhancements done verbally were not put down in writing. Now, I'll stand by my word and pay for those things I verbally agreed to, but I want him to make the spa function correctly, and I want him to pay for the corrections. An additional VS pump is not cheap!
    RawhideKid
    Phoenix, AZ (Goodyear actually)
    Pool finally complete!!! IG, 40,635 gallons w/2080 gallon spa with 16 jets. Pool is 40x21 ft with 10 ft deep end; two baja steps
    Pentair Cartridge filter - 520 SQ. PebbleSheen interior. 2 Pentair VS pumps. Pentair Intellichlor SWG
    4 deck jets, 2 bubblers, fake rock grotto/waterfall with wet steps. 3 surrounding half-pergola's with misters in future
    Sunken covered ramada with cabinets, fridge, and wood fireplace. (soon to have big screen TV)
    Basically, 14 years of planning on how to survive this blistering AZ summer!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!!

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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    Don't know how it can be "late" if final payment is upon completion and they've not completed the project per contract agreements.
    Indiana, ABG 24'x52" Galveston by Blue Cascade (Craigslist buy w/part of deck included), 13,500 gallons, Intex SWG, solar panels mix 2, TF-100 test kit.

    Test kits compared
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  13. Back To Top    #13

    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    In his definition, it is complete, and I worry a judge/jury might feel the same. It is completed, but simply not "fully" functional to MY definition. Is it normal, in a fake rock grotto, to have the rock stick out 2-3 inches laterally, right above the tile line, and poke you in the back? The bench seat (underwater) is a good 14 (?) inches wide, so you only feel this rock if you lean back into it. I think it's ridiculous, and needs to be carved back. PB says the waterfall builder says it'll ruin the look of the grotto. It'll lose the contours of "natural" rock. I say i'd rather have it look bad than poke me in the back...Again, functionally complete but not what it should be, in my opinion.
    RawhideKid
    Phoenix, AZ (Goodyear actually)
    Pool finally complete!!! IG, 40,635 gallons w/2080 gallon spa with 16 jets. Pool is 40x21 ft with 10 ft deep end; two baja steps
    Pentair Cartridge filter - 520 SQ. PebbleSheen interior. 2 Pentair VS pumps. Pentair Intellichlor SWG
    4 deck jets, 2 bubblers, fake rock grotto/waterfall with wet steps. 3 surrounding half-pergola's with misters in future
    Sunken covered ramada with cabinets, fridge, and wood fireplace. (soon to have big screen TV)
    Basically, 14 years of planning on how to survive this blistering AZ summer!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!!

  14. Back To Top    #14

    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    From the perspective of a licensed contractor (not a pool builder, but currently building my own pool), it is always a difficult balancing act building anything custom. No matter how detailed your discussions are with a customer you will occasionally enter into an agreement with someone with whom you are unable to adequately manage their expectations. In a lot of cases it is neither party's fault, it just is what it is... Both sides have different expectations.

    In your case, IMHO, the clean up and damage to landscape/etc. should have been expected. Concrete trucks, excavators, etc. are not landscape friendly. If you had drawings that were the basis for your agreement with the PB, things like the jets sticking you in the back, steepness of the waterfall stairs, grotto design, etc should be called out and he should have built them to the agreed specs. However, even IF you had extremely detailed drawings and specs, some things simply don't translate well from 2D to 3D so sometimes what looked good on paper doesn't work at all in real life. The question is who should pick up the tab. Some customers will gladly pay over and over to have something redone so it is perfect for THEM...these people are rare and usually wealthy. Many people will accept whatever they are given...less rare. Most people in my experience (I put myself in this category) have reasonable expectations in cases like this. Although they would like things perfect for them, they are both unwilling to pay for that service and unwilling to make a contractor do things over and over again for free.

    I would suggest sitting down with the PB and just discussing things. My opinion is that the landscape/cleanup items are not worth picking a fight over. The tub jets were a judgement call that didn't work out. You may have been equally unhappy with the smaller jets and the cost to rectify that may or may not be more than another pump to fix your current difficulty with that issue. The grotto/waterfall is an artistic design thing, again what works for the guy that actually built it may or may not work for you (obviously didn't in this case). But who should pay to change it to your liking is the question? The jets sticking out, seems to be a reasonable complaint and it sounds like the PB has agreed to change that. The damaged copper should be replaced.

    If it were me, I would ask the PB to install the pump at his cost. I would also ask for him to have the subs rework the grotto/waterfall to your satisfaction with the understanding that he receives no financial benefit (again you pay his cost). Promptly pay when done.

    You clearly spent a small fortune on your oasis, these extras, while not insignificant, are not likely budget busters in the grand scheme.

    JMHO
    Uncle Paul

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    XsAllOverIt's Avatar
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    Re: PB pressuring me to pay - how is "pool completion" defin

    I've got to give you my perspective. I am clearly a "handyman" and can do many things by myself. I have been much happier leaving the pool as it was delivered and will make all the corrections myself rather than having my PB come back and make the same mistakes again. I've also gotten estimates from other PB's in order to determine the costs in making the pool correct in case I am required to fight the final payment in court. BUT, quite frankly, life is too short to dwell on what appears to be pretty straight forward fixes. I feel that the frustration level with that is much higher cost than to simply get it done. Even if I wasn't a handyman, I would probably have someone else do the changes and fight it in court, if necessary. Clearly the job isn't complete. Go get estimates from other contractors and if he isn't willing to make some of the changes that Bryantch indicated, perhaps then it's time to fight him if he fights you. The one thing I always have to say with respect to my pool, it functions well, it looks good and most people don't notice the issues we went through. I've got 2 large cracks in my concrete, but most of the people that come over don't see them. Eventually, I'll take all the concrete out and replace it with pavers, but right now, I'm just enjoying my pool for the summer. The one big lesson I learned from my PB, I don't want them doing any more work for me, and I've learned to be REALLY cautious with any other PB in my area. I've had another PB come over for warranty work on my SWG which they replaced. It took over 1 month to get it replaced. I'm not sure if that is normal for receiving a replacement, but it leaves a question in my head on how responsive they are for the future. The old one worked, but it had some LED's in the unit that didn't work and since it was under warranty I had it replaced and the old one continued to work while I was waiting. I'm not sure I would have been as happy with the response in the middle of the winter when my heater failed. They seemed really nice when they came out, but so did my original PB when they came out. We had some really weird moments during the build where I was flabargasted by their responses - vulgar and non-caring. Anyhow, use it as a lesson and move on and enjoy your wonderful pool. I am.
    18 x 36 Inground Gunnite, White Plaster 21K gallon
    18" raised spa, 8' Diameter (620 gallon)
    Triton II Sand filter, Intellichlor IC40 SWG
    Pentair Pump, Max-E-Therm 400 BTU
    Lamotte ColorQ PRO 7-Plus test kit
    TFT-100 test kit

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