I am seeking opinions on a situatiion we are in the middle of related to contruction of our pool. Here are the facts:
1. We live in Massachusetts and this is our first pool. We want to buld a 18'x36' vinyl liner pool with an exposed aggregate deck. We have been working on planning, permitting, and financing this dream for close to 2 years.
2. Part of our property is wetlands so we are limited by the wetlands buffer zone and property setback requirements to where the pool can be constructed. We obtained conservation commission and building department approval to construct the pool in our backyard.
3. The shallow end of the pool would be located approximately 20' from the back of the house and would run legthwise (36') away from the house to the deep end (7.5') of the pool. Our yard is sloped away from the house, so the grade around the pool would need to be raised approximately 2.5' at the deep end of the pool. Access to the construction area would be through our side yard.
4. We obtained three bids from pool builders. All three bids were relatively close in cost. We made our selection. The pool builder came to our house on three ocassions to discuss details and logistics. The contracted cost of the pool was approximately $28K for the pool and approxiametly $10K for the deck. We understood that the amount of fill that we might need to raise the grade could be an unknown and we budgeted $6K for that contingency. We gave the pool builder a $3k deposit and the deck company a $3K deposit.
5. In prepartion for the pool and deck we did the following; cutdown and removed a very large tree, gave away our daughters swingset, ripped out and disposed of our perfectly good wood deck, installed a 100 amp subpanel, and modified our irrigation system. Our lawn was also damaged from the tree cutting.
6. Construction was suppose to start this week. The pool builder called us last Friday and told us they would be moving machinery to our house on Monday and would start digging on Tuesday. My wife and I both work. Based on his projected schedule, my wife arranged to be home on Tuesday when the digging would start.
7. On Monday the Pool Builder called me at work and told me they were moving the excavator in to our backyard and had driven over a portion of our neighbors front lawn. That neighbor was very upset. We had specifically reviewd property lines with the pool builder in our initial meeting. We also thought that the equipment would be parked on the street on Monday and moved into the yard on Tuesday when my wife would be home.
8. Approximate 30 minutes later, the pool builder called and left a message that there was another problem and asked me to call him. I returned his call and he told me that they had started to dig and had determined that the soil/fill in my yard was "the worst I have ever seen in my career!" He then told me it was unuseable to build on or to even use for grading purposes in the yard and we would need to haul it all offsite for disposal and bring in good fill. I said "okay, how much is that going to cost?" He said "Probably between $8,000 to $12,000 (a 43% increase over our initial pool construction cost), but it could be way more." I then asked him what he was basing his evaluation on and he said the hole we dug. I said "You dug one hole right?" "Thats enough." he said. I told him to stop work and I would be home to look at the soil.
9. I returned home later that day and found they had dug one hole that is approximately 2' x 2' x 2' deep. The hole is located where the deep end of the pool would be located. The soil appears to have some clay content, but overall I thought to myself that looks like pretty good loam. I work for an environmental engineering frim and I am aware that there are certain geotechnical properties necessary to build on soil. Hwever, I was disturbed that they had made their determination and change order cost estimate based on one 2' x 2' x 2' hole. I stood looking at the hole in the ground and couldn't stop thinking that our years of planning had been devastated in the 2 minutes it took them to dig the hole.
10. Subsequently, my wife has talked to the owner of the company. He stated that he doubts we could have ever put a pool in our yard because of the soil conditions, wetlands issues, and access issues through our side yard and that the actual additional cost to install the pool would probably be much higher than the $12K estimate provided by the project manager. He further stated to her that he has been in the business for 37 years and this will be only his thrid pool that they could not put in. I'm not sure why he would even make this statement.
11. We have now informed the company that we want to hold off and try to get a better handle on the soil conditions and associated costs. We requested a refund of our deposit from both companies. The deck company has said they will immediately refund our deposit. The pool builder said they have incurred approximately $1,600 in cost (liner and machine time), but will refund our deposit minus $500. The pool company owners rationale is he is "stuck" with a liner he cannot sell and he incurred cost running his excavator when they dug the 2'x2'x2' hole and they could have been using the excavator somewhere else. Despite the fact it is now Friday and the excavator still is sitting in my back yard next to the tiny little hole.
12. Here is our current state: Ripped up lawn, cutdown tree that didn't need to be (stump still remains because the pool contractor said he would pull the stump if we cut down the tree), daughters upset because we gave away their swingset, demolished our perfectly good deck, incurred $500 in electrical costs, messed up irrigation system, upset neighbor, and perhaps most importantly an emotionally devastated wife and kids. At the end of the day, I am very upset and yes, even mad. But, I am not sure who to be mad at; the pool builder, who I think has acted in bad faith because he never really brought up many of these issues before and was so quick to increase the cost by 50% or more, or me for not doing more investigation into the details of building a pool.
So, if you have read this long and whiny story and care to comment or perhaps provide some suggestions, what would you do at this point? I am also interested if you think we should get all of our deposit back.