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Thread: Being your own general contractor

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    bulldogz400's Avatar
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    Being your own general contractor

    Split off of this topic. JasonLion

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyOptimism View Post
    . . .

    Do not try to be your own general contractor!! Unless you have experience in that, you are wasting your time. As well, most PB GC's like to use their own subs based on past working experience. They know the plumbers that do the job right, they know the PebbleTek crews that do good plaster jobs, etc, etc. You do not. You will waste more money trying to cut out a GC by going DIY on a pool build. The best way to find a good PB is to do lots of research and interviews.

    . . .
    I agree with everything you said except the red. It may not be for everyone, I am with you on that. But saying you need "experience" to manage your own pool project is false. The information is out there, you just need to be a diligent researcher and have the motivation to stay on top of the subs.

    As far as "wasting more money trying to cut a GC by doing a DIY pool build" - I also disagree. A PB would laugh me out of his office if I took my estimated project total (by doing it myself) and asked if they would do it for that price. I know this because I got quotes based on my exact pool plans, from 2 reputable builders, before deciding on doing it myself. They were not close. Not by any stretch of the word.

    I don't mean to divert attention from the TS's question, just had to point out my experience has been vastly different with regards to subcontracting the job.

    To add to the conversation - I chose cash, and it has been another tool in the negotiation phases. These guys want cash jobs, and their prices reflect as such!
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    Re: Should I finance the costs of building a pool or should I pay cash

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyOptimism View Post
    Do not try to be your own general contractor!! Unless you have experience in that, you are wasting your time. As well, most PB GC's like to use their own subs based on past working experience. They know the plumbers that do the job right, they know the PebbleTek crews that do good plaster jobs, etc, etc. You do not. You will waste more money trying to cut out a GC by going DIY on a pool build. The best way to find a good PB is to do lots of research and interviews.
    I don't agree with making a blanket statement of "Do not try to be your own general contractor". We are almost finished with our DIY pool project which we started 6 weeks ago with no prior experience and have loved it so far. In reading all the build threads in this forum, it seems most of the people who have had problems are the ones who went with pool builders, most who DIY seem to do well. We love that we have more control of the building process using the same subs as the big PB use and saving even more with paying cash. Doing lots of research and interviews to find a good PB is important, it is twice as important when you try DIY. Our project is bigger than most, but we are looking to save about 40 to 50K which is about a 30 to 35% savings over a PB, how does that compute in your investment calculator?
    32K gallon 24'x41' IG, 8'x10' spa, mini pebble,
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    Re: Should I finance the costs of building a pool or should I pay cash

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyOptimism View Post
    Do not try to be your own general contractor!! Unless you have experience in that, you are wasting your time. As well, most PB GC's like to use their own subs based on past working experience. They know the plumbers that do the job right, they know the PebbleTek crews that do good plaster jobs, etc, etc. You do not. You will waste more money trying to cut out a GC by going DIY on a pool build. The best way to find a good PB is to do lots of research and interviews.
    I also disagree with this statement. Being your own general contractor is a huge amount of work, but it is quite possible and can save you a lot of money. Many people on the forum have done this, most starting with next to no knowledge, and in almost all cases it worked out well.
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    Re: Being your own general contractor

    I think there are specific instances on both sides of the argument where folks have had great successes and miserable failures. And I'm sure we all could get into a shouting match over our particular examples.

    I'd have to research the statistics more (if they even exist) but I don't think you can make the general statement that everyone can build DIY pool either. There are just too many variables that can go wrong and most people have jobs and lives that won't make taking on a big project like that feasible.

    There are also other aspects of DIY projects of that size and significance to your home that make it inadvisable in my opinion. The biggest issue I see is warranty. My gunite shell has a lifetime warranty and my PebbleTek is warranted for 10 years. Those warranties come from the PB who provides the insurance to cover any such costs should they arise and they are transferable to another owner should I sell.

    Who provides the warranty for a DIY job? If I were buying property from a homeowner who has a DIY pool, that would seriously change how and what I would expect in the transaction.

    Also, by not using a licensed PB, you expose yourself to a whole world of possibly unscrupulous subs. That's made even worse if you start engaging in cash transaction with no documentation or proof of workmanship. The individual has no idea if a particular plumber or gunite crew has the experience needed for a particular job. Some pools are simple holes in the ground others are complex raised-beam structures. No two subs are the same and you could easily find yourself with poorly done gunite job and have a raised wall collapse on you.

    Don't get me wrong, when DIY fits within your existing skill sets, you save money and time. When DIY is far outside if your skills, you open yourself up to needless liability and, at minimum, waste an enormous amount of your personal time.

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    Re: Being your own general contractor

    I didn't have much of a choice and had to take over the building of my pool when my PB quit my job (after taking most of my money).

    I got quotes for other PB's to jump in and finish the job but they wanted way more than I thought to project was worth.

    After some of the PBs heard about my plight they even suggested a few subs to call. The process went very smoothly once I took over. I saved about $10k over the price other PB's quoted me.

    This was late 2010 in Houston and we weren't in the building boom that we are seeing now which helped me find subs ready and willing to do the work. Today it might be a different story.
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    Re: Being your own general contractor

    Sunny, during the recession, several PBs went out of business or filed bankruptcy. What if your PB went belly up? What happens to your warranty then? Well lucky for you, on page 41 in the document Workmanship Standards for Licensed Contractors, June 2009 for general contractors in Arizona, if structure is cracked, torn, or otherwise separated, contractor should make necessary repairs. By law here in Arizona, warranties on gunite or shotcrete shells are lifetime. And yes, I do have lifetime warranty on my shell as you do. The warranty is not thru your PB, its thru the gunite or shotcrete contractor. Well, what happens if the company that shotcrete your pool goes belly up? Arizona has money in a fund that will help pay the cost to repair the shell if it is determined that the belly-upped company was at fault. I also have 2 years warranty on plumbing and 10 years on my mini pebble.

    I think you meant contractors but first and foremost, always use contractors that are licensed and bonded which you can check on azroc.gov. I also never made the statement that everyone or anyone can DIY, it is not for everyone. I said that doing research and interviews is twice as important if you try DIY. Paying cash does not mean you should not get paper documentation. You should get the warranty in writing.
    32K gallon 24'x41' IG, 8'x10' spa, mini pebble,
    Pentair equipment [Intellitouch I9, IC-60 SWG, 520 sq Clean + Clear Plus cartridge filter, 3 VS pumps(1 FX, 2 intelliflo)], Dolphin M5 cleaner.
    2 rain shears, 2 water shears, 2 blubbers, 4 laminars, water slide, rock waterfall.

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    Being your own general contractor

    HouTex,

    Glad to hear it worked out in the end although I'm sure at the time it must have caused lots of indigestion.

    By no means is hiring a GC/PB going to mean automatic success either. I also have local stories of people here in Tucson that were left with half-dug holes in the ground after a local fly-by-night PB folded up shop and left with their money.

    My wife and I had no major home renovation experience and no time to even consider a DIY project, so I spent what little time I did have researching every PB in town. I finally found one who had a book of over a hundred personal references and I called about a dozen of them. Nothing but goodness from that and so we went with that PB. We now own a beautiful pool!

    Was he the cheapest PB, not by a long shot! But what I got for my extra expense was a three month long, day-to-day relationship with a great PB who would take my calls to his direct cell phone number anytime day/night/weekends. We also had the usual snafu's that pop up on a big job and he fixed everyone of them without asking me for more money or just blowing it off. If I said I did not like something, he would listen to my concerns and make whatever changes I requested. Not many PBs will do that once a job starts and in a DIY situation, all of the snafu's are on you to fix.

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    Re: Being your own general contractor

    I don't have any interest in a shouting match, no worries there I do agree there are circumstances where each has its benefit - I just didn't want people to have the misconception that it's "wrong" to do it this way.

    Responses below:

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyOptimism View Post
    I think there are specific instances on both sides of the argument where folks have had great successes and miserable failures. And I'm sure we all could get into a shouting match over our particular examples.

    I'd have to research the statistics more (if they even exist) but I don't think you can make the general statement that everyone can build DIY pool either. There are just too many variables that can go wrong and most people have jobs and lives that won't make taking on a big project like that feasible.

    I have a fulltime job, and I'm able to manage. The subs work around my schedule. That is just one of the benefits - I know exactly what day someone is showing up, and can be there if necessary (typically not necessary). They know what they're doing, they don't have to have someone standing over their shoulder telling them what to do next. Likewise, I have a hard time believing a PB will have someone stay on site for every minute a subcontractor is there, scrutinizing their every move. If issues arise at a later time, we deal with the subcontractor just as the PB would - I'm just skipping the middle man.

    There are also other aspects of DIY projects of that size and significance to your home that make it inadvisable in my opinion. The biggest issue I see is warranty. My gunite shell has a lifetime warranty and my PebbleTek is warranted for 10 years. Those warranties come from the PB who provides the insurance to cover any such costs should they arise and they are transferable to another owner should I sell.

    Who provides the warranty for a DIY job? If I were buying property from a homeowner who has a DIY pool, that would seriously change how and what I would expect in the transaction.

    The subcontractors provide the warranty. I have a lifetime warranty on my gunite shell....as well as electrical work, plumbing (pipes only - 3 years on equipment), 7 year warranty on the tile work, etc. The warranty aspect is handled with each subcontractor individually. Which leads me to the next point ....

    Also, by not using a licensed PB, you expose yourself to a whole world of possibly unscrupulous subs. That's made even worse if you start engaging in cash transaction with no documentation or proof of workmanship.

    ...the payment is made WHEN a Release of Lien is signed! That is the documentation of payment AND warranty. I see no issue there.

    The individual has no idea if a particular plumber or gunite crew has the experience needed for a particular job. Some pools are simple holes in the ground others are complex raised-beam structures. No two subs are the same and you could easily find yourself with poorly done gunite job and have a raised wall collapse on you.

    I could say the same for any pool builder. How do we know the subcontractor they choose to use is the best in town, and not the cheapest to save money on their end?? We hope for the best, but in reality, THEY control who does your project! I interviewed 4 shotcrete companies, all of which do pool work around town, and all of which were referred by other subcontractors in the business. I chose the one I felt most comfortable with, not the one a pool builder chose.

    I'm not stopping by the nearest Home Depot to pick up a few workers to let them know they're trying their hand at shotcrete today. These are licensed, bonded, specialized subcontractors...the same ones the pool companies use. There is no secret list of subs that only do work for pool companies. Anyone who is available for a pool company to use is equally available for an owner/builder pool. They don't turn down work because you aren't a pool company, trust me on that one!


    Don't get me wrong, when DIY fits within your existing skill sets, you save money and time. When DIY is far outside if your skills, you open yourself up to needless liability and, at minimum, waste an enormous amount of your personal time.

    It's only far outside your skills if you believe it is. 2 months ago I didn't know a Pentair Intelliflo from a flux capacitor (I wish that was a joke). Any motivated person who is willing to learn and put in the time, can do it.
    IG gunite 32 x 18 on a bachelor budget! Click Here To See

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    Re: Being your own general contractor

    SunnyOptimism, you are just way off in a number of respects. I've heard of thirty or forty people who decided to be their own general contractor, and not one of them ending up as a "miserable failure". The only at all common negative was that it was way more work than they expected.

    It is certainly not "everyone" who can be their own general contractor. But it is way more people than you seem to think. Most anyone who has a reasonable amount of spare time, doesn't mind making phone calls and sending e-mails, and is capable to keeping track of a lot of details can handle it.

    Much of the warranty coverage is provided by the sub contractors. Most gunite subs warranty the shell. The equipment supplier warranties the equipment. And so on. Besides, the large amount of money you save more than makes up for even serious problems.

    There are just as many unscrupulous builders as there are unscrupulous subs, and the damage is much more serious when the builder is cheating you. None of the subs charge anywhere near as much as the builder would, so you can't be out nearly as much from a bad sub as you can be from a bad builder. Similarly, just about every risk you mention is just as likely, perhaps more likely, with a regular builder.

    Building your own pool isn't for everyone, or even most people, but it certainly worth looking into if you are willing to trade a lot of your time for a large savings and don't mind negotiating with/managing contractors.
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    Being your own general contractor

    Funny, but the only common statement that we have all made is that DIY takes a lot more time than most people expect AND "it's not for everyone"...

    Ignoring the "I have a friend of friend..." stories for the moment, not one of us (me included) has provided any real statistics on DIY vs GC pool builds in terms of associated costs, build times and schedule delays, accidents & mishaps, etc.

    So for the moment, I have no real reason to see it as a viable starting point for people looking to install a pool (except maybe those blow-up Intex pools you get at Walmart).

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    Re: Being your own general contractor

    If you care to come up with some actual information PM me and I will reopen this topic. In the meantime, this is going nowhere and I am locking this topic.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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