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Thread: Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa, CA)

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    Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa, CA)

    Hi I'm new to this site, glad that I found it. I'm looking for advice re: hiring a local vs national builder. My plan is to build a basic gunite pool, few bells & whistles meaning no spa, no fancy masonry or slide features. Just a BIG simple rectangle with a heater, a light or two, basic tile, some concrete around the perimeter, and an auto cover. It needn't be fancy, I just want to swim!

    I would prefer to hire a local and reputable builder who has years of experience. However, someone I know who lives in Las Vegas said that hiring a national company that can provide a solid warranty is the better way to go.

    It seems to me that if you hire a national company that subs their work out to questionable or inexperienced subs you could be in big trouble, and so what if you have a national warranty - it could be a HUGE pain dealing with a national company to admit to errors and fix them in a timely manner.

    I could be wrong, but common sense tells me to find the best and most established local builder.

    There are probably lots of anecdotal cases of problems with both. The question is: how can I minimize my risk? Thanks!

    PS the 1st local builder I met this week told me that the basic pool I described (20x40 feet) = $80k. That # was higher than I anticipated. Thoughts?

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    bulldogz400's Avatar
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    Re: Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa,

    I think your best course of action would be to talk to a variety of PB's as a 'feeling out' measure. It's tough to say which avenue is better for your situation because I doubt we can give solid recommendation for the local guys (unless someone on this forum knows the specific PB personally). They could be awesome, or likewise, could be awful! A sit down meeting with multiple companies would probably give you a great idea of which one fits your needs best.

    Quote Originally Posted by KMJ View Post
    PS the 1st local builder I met this week told me that the basic pool I described (20x40 feet) = $80k. That # was higher than I anticipated. Thoughts?
    That price seems EXCESSIVELY high, especially without a spa or extravagant features. You'll have to compare to other guys in the area. How deep are you planning on going?
    IG gunite 32 x 18 on a bachelor budget! Click Here To See

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    Re: Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa,

    I chose a national builder - who I consider a local builder, because they've been in business here for around 30 years. For me it came down to a firm budget, and a timeline (I wanted it installed this summer) but the trust factor was just as important. I did all my online research, then talked to 4 or 5 companies (and took lots of notes) before making my decision. I should have gone and looked at some of the builder's previous installs and talked to the owners, but I skipped that step with no regrets. I then posted the quote here and got some feedback from experienced pool owners.

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    Re: Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa,

    There are no truly "national pool builders." All the pool builders with a national presence are actually just licensed names. Your warranty comes from the local affiliate that built your pool. There are some very large pool builders operating in Florida, Texas, and southern California. I suspect some of the so Cal builders also serve Las Vegas. But there are no pool builders that are truly national companys. In Napa your gunite will probably be shot by a national company.

    Additionally, you are in Napa, a much smaller market than Las Vegas. We are all limited by the pool builders that will serve our local community. I suspect there are not that many PBs who will serve Napa. Most that will are going to be rather small.

    I think an important distinction is whether the PB relies on subs for the work or if they have their own crews. Many if the larger companys have their own crews. They tend to be the larger companys. But its still usually just them, they are not owned by some giant company. If they have their own crews I think it is simpler to get things fixed and the different trades tend to coordinate better. That is my own opinion. Many very high end "custom" pool builders rely totally on subs, but the higher end production builders usually have their own crews. One benefit of an integrated builder is that only the builder and gunite company have mechanic's lien rights. In my case the boulder supplier also had rights. My PB had such good credit that neither sub sent prelien notices.

    A lifetime warranty is worthless if the company is out of business or doesn't have the financial resources to back it up. So I would do homework and investigate. I wouldn't rely on a warranty.

    Look on the Cal Contractors State License Board Website. How long has the builder been in business? Ever had the license suspended, been disciplined?

    tylerlisal makes some very good points above. You should also read the Pool School article.

    As to price: Pool prices vary tremendously throughout the country and in California. We can't tell you whether the 80K is even in the ballpark without a spec sheet, a drawing, and some idea of your site. Concrete prices have never stopped climbing so the deck size may have a huge impact on your price.

    I too went with a "national" company, an integrated builder. I interviewed 4 builders, and got bids from 2.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

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    Re: Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa,

    Quote Originally Posted by bulldogz400 View Post
    I think your best course of action would be to talk to a variety of PB's as a 'feeling out' measure. It's tough to say which avenue is better for your situation because I doubt we can give solid recommendation for the local guys (unless someone on this forum knows the specific PB personally). They could be awesome, or likewise, could be awful! A sit down meeting with multiple companies would probably give you a great idea of which one fits your needs best.



    That price seems EXCESSIVELY high, especially without a spa or extravagant features. You'll have to compare to other guys in the area. How deep are you planning on going?
    Look at my sig line, my pool sounds similar to what you are looking for, its 8' at the deep end. We do have a raised bond beam with three water falls, stamped concrete, and a solar system, but the 80k figure is about right for this area. I have no gas heater. It's been three years so I don't remember the exact number but it was approx 69k for the pool then there was about 5k of french drains and other misc stuff. Our stamped concrete was about 16k. We went with a local company and have been happy with the results.
    DONE, 20 x 40, inground gunite, 30" raised bond beam with 3 12" sheer descents, 8' diving board, pentair 420 cartridge filter, vs-3050 pump, intellechlor ic-40, auto cvr, Tahoe blue pebble tech, 6ea 4' x 12.5' & 2ea 1' x 12.5' helicol solar panels, legend robotic cleaner.

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    bulldogz400's Avatar
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    Re: Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa,

    Quote Originally Posted by bobby1017 View Post
    Look at my sig line, my pool sounds similar to what you are looking for, its 8' at the deep end. We do have a raised bond beam with three water falls, stamped concrete, and a solar system, but the 80k figure is about right for this area. I have no gas heater. It's been three years so I don't remember the exact number but it was approx 69k for the pool then there was about 5k of french drains and other misc stuff. Our stamped concrete was about 16k. We went with a local company and have been happy with the results.
    Interesting!

    What is the approximate sq ft price for stamped concrete / decking in Nor Cal? I assumed that the TS was wanting a some sort of standard, colored spray deck around the perimeter, based on the post. If it was a 5' decking perimeter surrounding a 40x20 pool (600 sq ft of deck), it would cost around ~$5k here based on current concrete prices, as well as the additional cantilever costs.
    IG gunite 32 x 18 on a bachelor budget! Click Here To See

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    Re: Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa,

    Quote Originally Posted by bulldogz400 View Post
    Interesting!

    What is the approximate sq ft price for stamped concrete / decking in Nor Cal? I assumed that the TS was wanting a some sort of standard, colored spray deck around the perimeter, based on the post. If it was a 5' decking perimeter surrounding a 40x20 pool (600 sq ft of deck), it would cost around ~$5k here based on current concrete prices, as well as the additional cantilever costs.
    Mine was $12.00 per sq foot, I have 1318 sq ft of deck, there are also 6 stairs and 1 drain, the stairs were $1200 and the drain $450. Looking at the invoice it was really 18k for everything. Sound Like its a little less expensive down your way. My coping is cast so there was no cantilever done by the concrete people.

    The other cost I forgot was retaining walls at about 8k.
    DONE, 20 x 40, inground gunite, 30" raised bond beam with 3 12" sheer descents, 8' diving board, pentair 420 cartridge filter, vs-3050 pump, intellechlor ic-40, auto cvr, Tahoe blue pebble tech, 6ea 4' x 12.5' & 2ea 1' x 12.5' helicol solar panels, legend robotic cleaner.

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    Re: Starting at zero: what are pros & cons of hiring local vs national builder (Napa,

    We're in the process of getting quotes for a pool as well in the Sacramento area. I've seen a range of $8-$12 per square foot for stamped concrete depending on complexity and total square footage.
    25k IG Pool and Spa (Under Construction)
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