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Thread: Maryland Builders

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    Maryland Builders

    Hello everyone -

    We are starting the process of talking to builders to understand what each offers and would appreciate any advice or experience anyone has with the following builders. We are planning to build a gunite on the order of 20x40, with brushed aggregate decking,slide and maybe a diving board.
    • Maryland Pools
    • Hohne Pools
    • Browning Pools
    • Lothorian Pools
    • Anthony Sylvan

    Also, if there is any general advice you found particularly helpful - I'd be very interested in hearing.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    My builder is one of your 5....take a look at my thread and then decide or ask questions if you'd like. I can say I would not recommend them mainly do to poor management and lack of communication....but in the end the pool turned out correct.

    http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...l-games-begin!
    18k gallon IG Sunstone Pearl pebble finish pool, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWG, Jandy 1.5HP VS E-Pump, Jandy 60sqft DE filter, Jandy Legacy Propane Heater, Polaris 3900 Robotic Cleaner, TF-100 w/ SpeedStir, Anchor Mesh pool cover

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    I am in MD and went with a fiberglass builder, so not help for you there.

    What I can offer you is this. Figure out how much decking you want and then double it. You will never regret too much deck, but will always be upset at too little.
    Jim

    Southern Frederick County, MD - Leisure Moroccan 38 Fiberglass Pool - 19,800 gallons
    Pentair 1.5 hp 2 speed pump - Cartridge filter - Dolphin robot - TF-100 Test Kit - SWCG

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    Thanks to you both for the quick replies.

    Omnipotent - I'm glad to see everything turned out beautifully in the end, but you nailed one of my chief fears - that we'll sign a contract and have a difficult time communicating with them as work progresses. I may need to get your wife on retainer.

    Winger - Thanks - I will keep the decking advice in mind as we talk through with PBs.

    Has anyone ever heard of using an attorney to review any of the PB contracts - are PBs open to revisions or are these pretty standard and inflexible?

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    We had a good vibe from Johnson Pools but didn't use them. We chose Vista Pro Landscape & Design because I really liked the owner, James (whom I interacted with a lot) and their being a Stonemakers dealer (which is a system of working with concrete to make stone appearances) as our installation was heavy on site-work due a large slope. They also do a lot of paver and stone work and the owner loves to do waterfalls (though we didn't indulge him).

    On the contract review question, this would always be an option. Our PB was very reasonable to work with on the contract. I drove him a little crazy because I had them specify every piece of equipment by model number and any other options. I was as detailed as possible on that phase. His payment terms weren't too bad and he was very flexible in coming back for warranty work after the summer for something that needed be addressed (sort of a big deal to me) but that we didn't want to address until swim season was over (after he had all my money for several months). He was good to his word and pretty good about telling us when someone would be here. It wasn't always the quickest getting people on-site but he always got back to me reasonably quickly to discuss scheduling or issues. We had a few issues but he was good to work through things with and, though I err on the perfectionist side, I also know when it's best to let something slide.

    Good luck. BTW - I liked our timing which was a fall design/contract negotiation and a February dig with plaster in May. I spent that whole previous summer researching what we wanted and I think it was time very well spent.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    Thanks Bmore. I walked through your build pages last week - looks incredible. Really like the stone work. I am on the same page as you on the summer research and spring build. We are looking into the same type of wire for the fence - we have about an acre fenced in already - so I think I can make it meet code spending a weekend with a staple gun and save a bunch of $$.

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    I'm just next door in VA and we used Anthony and Sylvan. Everything turned out pretty well, but that was mostly because of me. I would not recommend them at all.

    Here's a brief run down of my experiences:

    1. They cut my powerline and phone line when digging the pool out.
    2. The concrete deck they poured had 5 or 6 sections with major cracks (2 inches wide) after the first the first winter. They replaced those sections free of charge but the concrete is not the same color so it looks a little weird.
    3. They forgot to install the diving board when they poured the deck. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I much prefer the look of the deck/pool without the board.
    4. There was a major delay (at least 6 weeks) when nothing happened at all on construction. It was due to the county not issuing a permit because of the sub-soil conditions or something like that. The PB said this is a costal issue and they've never heard about it where I am. No big deal, I thought. They'd get an engineering firm out there and figure out how to take care of the problem. It was at this point that they just sort of went dark and wouldn't return my calls or answer my emails. I was not pestering them or being a jerk by calling or writing daily. Once a week or so, I'd call and leave a message or send an email looking for a status update and I would never get a response. I finally sent an (almost apologetic) email saying could you give me an update, and if there's no update, just repsond saying "no update, still waiting on the county". They NEVER responded to that email either!!! When I finally made contact with them weeks later, they told me they were waiting on the engineering firm and that they were the source of the delay. We'll, as luck would have it, I was there when the engineering firm came by. They told me they just got the call from Anthony and Sylvan the day before.............meanwhile Anthony and Sylvan told me they were waiting on this firm for weeks! This was a 6 week delay in the height of the summer, so the pool that they told me would be open by July 4th, didn't open until Columbus day!
    5. I have water marks/stains on the pool from where they filled it. You can tell exactly how many trucks it took to fill the pool by counting the rings.

    The salesman who sold me the pool was great, and they guys who service the pool are great, but the guy who runs the construction operation was a nightmare.

    If I had to do it all over again, I'd do everything the same except I would use anyone except Anthony and Sylvan.
    700 sq. ft./30,000 gal, gunite pool; 48 SF DE filter; 1.5 HP pump; Salt Water Generator; Solar Heat

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    PS - I forgot about this one..........

    After they hit and broke my power and phone lines, they told me it wasn't their fault (!) and that I'd have to get it taken care of!!! Turns out it was only a couple of phone calls (from the neighbor's phone!) but I loved the attitude................"not my fault. the fact that I was controlling the backhoe that broke the lines is irrelevant"!!!

    I'm pretty sure there were a bunch of other problems that I've blacked out, but I have them in a file at home. IT's all too painful to relive!
    700 sq. ft./30,000 gal, gunite pool; 48 SF DE filter; 1.5 HP pump; Salt Water Generator; Solar Heat

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    Thanks Bart - I see a trend developing... I will still meet with A&S, but they are at the bottom of the list.

    I am adding Elite Pools to my list - although I had a heck of a time getting them to respond to my estimate request through their website. I had to call in a leave a message for a callback - that took a few days. I've heard good things about them and they seem to be highly regarded at the BBB site...

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    Ok, forgot about Elite. If Johnson is like having your father's very professional business partner build your pool, Elite is like having your buddy from college build it (not in a bad way just in an attitude way.) I did like them too and could have chosen them. If you haven't seen it, bobinbaltimore's thread documents a build with them. I like the main drain they use. Ok, it's a little thing, but i end up looking at ours a lot to appreciate the water clarity. I suppose I could have spec'd it but didn't.

    A good friend of ours built an A&S pool in '11 or '12 and they suggested we not use them. I did talk to them to hear them out. It's a very cookie cutter process. Of course you can customize anything and they will get you a price immediately. I almost preferred the back and forth of the process elsewhere to dial into exactly what was right for us and look at all the pros and cons of various decisions. Our friends felt their salesman was a bit of a sly dealer and not the type to make you feel comfortable. I tend to agree as we ended up with the same person. I waited until after meeting with A&S to get their opinion.

    Backyard Creations out of Frederick flaked out on us after coming out to see us. They never quoted and seemed to drop off the earth. Wierd. I called twice then crossed them off the list.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    @Bmore - After speaking with one of the owners this afternoon - I get the analogy... I'm looking forward to seeing what they offer and their approach. I think I'm going to narrow it down to the three we feel best about in July/August and then do something like a RFP - ask them to bid on a specific, set design to try to do as much of an apple to apple as possible.

    This is becoming a part-time job... But I'm having a lot of fun already....

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    Quote Originally Posted by Sykesville001 View Post
    then do something like a RFP - ask them to bid on a specific, set design to try to do as much of an apple to apple as possible.

    This is becoming a part-time job... But I'm having a lot of fun already....
    Some of the PB's might get a little funny about that approach (it was funny to watch) but i think its a good one to take.

    Yes, always try to have fun with it.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    I'm also in Sykesville.

    Have you checked with Catalina? They were the lowest priced bid I had by far. I ended up contracting it myself so I can't give any good reviews though.

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    I figured there had to be a few more of us here Andy. I've seen Catalina but didn't consider them - can't remember why. I've requested an appointment based on your price note - Thanks!

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    Sounds like Lothorian is out - they are out of our price range. Based on the call I had it sounds like they do a fine job and use top notch materials and parts - just more than we want/need...

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    @Bmore - I forgot to ask - what was it specifically that you liked about the Elite drains?

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    The drain which is by A&A Mfg. (AVSC Drain) sits flush with the pool bottom versus having a concave shape that protrudes up off the pool floor which keeps debris from entering it easily. That and the AVSC drain has much larger openings allowing debris to be brushed right into it. It also would have looked sharper in our rectangular pool being rectangular instead of circular.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: Maryland Builders

    Thanks for the drain info - I've added to the list of stuff to think about. The list is getting longer by the hour...

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