Not trying to bash PB’s here as it appears many do a fine job! I just wanted to share information I learned during my recent build (Houston, TX area).
Before construction, our PB estimated completion in 3-weeks ”max”! I doubted him and even said I’d prefer a realistic estimate. He then gave us reasons behind the typical 2-3 month construction jobs. The valid one’s are of course rain & inspections/city code; in his experience, Houston/Harris County (TX) being the worst. But the excuses involving lack of sub-labor or no-shows are the most surprising. He said in most all cases it’s related to the builders being financially over extended. At the time it didn’t strike me as too important. But, he explained dealing with various sub-contractors is very simple; find the “good one’s” and have 2 back-ups, treat them with respect, inspect the work on a daily basis and most important-“pay them honest” in cash after satisfactory completion "every day".
Being bilingual helped me in many discussions with the subs (confirmed my instructions/design). I even asked their opinion on small changes and details; these were important changes (related to long-term structural soundness- waterfall construction, decking tie-in to our existing patio, coping & tile placement). But what amazed me the most was the contractor’s willingness to share the stories and bad practices of the major pool builders (most of the ones I was familiar with and interviewed). These skills / contractors have been in the business a long time, some 20+years. They know the owners, sales-guys, city- inspectors and company profit margins (sometimes even their wives/girlfriends with all their antics). It was amusing to hear them parrot some of the sales guy’s promises and quotes and how behind the scenes the company foremen instructed them to do otherwise.
Anyway, I realize there are two-sides to every story and I admit a bit of luck in my pool construction, but I was fascinated how quickly and wide spread the dirty details of a Pool Company migrate through the sub-contractor network. It’s not always the case but I feel using a small/medium PB with a main-group of contractors (not necessarily on the pay-roll) can eliminate some of the headaches. It’s definitely something to consider in a PB interview.