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Thread: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

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    New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Hi -

    My wife and I have decided to build a pool. At this point we have had five companies out for design meetings and I have proposals from four of them. We didn't give any of the companies a budget but we did give them all the same parameters in terms of overall pool size, amount of decking, features and we let them all know the purpose of the pool (fun for the kids/family.)

    I will post company names and such once we sign a contract.

    Bids have come back and are a pretty wide range (~$25K difference between high/low.) I was surprised that one of the well-known, national companies is the low bid. "Low bid" company had us come in and refine our design and then had a special and knocked another 3% off our price. We research the heck out of everything and online reviews for low bid company are - in general - very positive. We like the salesperson for low bid company and I think we're very close to signing a contract with them.

    That being said...any suggestions for negotiating? I generally suck at negotiating so any pointers would be helpful. I've already dropped emails to two of the higher bid folks to let them know the score. Basically emails that say, "we really like your design but you're 15% higher than the next bid and the features/size are almost the same - do you want to review your proposal to see if there's any additional discounting available?" I also plan on calling them each today to give them an opportunity to say their piece and see if they want to move.

    One company in particular has a sales rep that talks way too much and feels very car salesman-ish. He's quietly arrogant, very pushy, and neither of us like him. In doing research on his company (a national branded one), we've discovered a large number of customer complaints about their warranty and lack of customer service. This jives with our experience from their company thus far. Even though their bid is competitive I really just want this individual to go away. I'm not entirely sure how to politely do that. I figure I'll start with the truth (warranty/service concerns) and when he gets pushy about it we'll just have to agree to disagree.

    Anyway - any suggestions on negotiating price? I will share photos, design and details once past the negotiation phase.

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Quote Originally Posted by smartypants1000 View Post
    Hi -

    My wife and I have decided to build a pool. At this point we have had five companies out for design meetings and I have proposals from four of them. We didn't give any of the companies a budget but we did give them all the same parameters in terms of overall pool size, amount of decking, features and we let them all know the purpose of the pool (fun for the kids/family.)

    I will post company names and such once we sign a contract.

    Bids have come back and are a pretty wide range (~$25K difference between high/low.) I was surprised that one of the well-known, national companies is the low bid. "Low bid" company had us come in and refine our design and then had a special and knocked another 3% off our price. We research the heck out of everything and online reviews for low bid company are - in general - very positive. We like the salesperson for low bid company and I think we're very close to signing a contract with them.

    That being said...any suggestions for negotiating? I generally suck at negotiating so any pointers would be helpful. I've already dropped emails to two of the higher bid folks to let them know the score. Basically emails that say, "we really like your design but you're 15% higher than the next bid and the features/size are almost the same - do you want to review your proposal to see if there's any additional discounting available?" I also plan on calling them each today to give them an opportunity to say their piece and see if they want to move.

    One company in particular has a sales rep that talks way too much and feels very car salesman-ish. He's quietly arrogant, very pushy, and neither of us like him. In doing research on his company (a national branded one), we've discovered a large number of customer complaints about their warranty and lack of customer service. This jives with our experience from their company thus far. Even though their bid is competitive I really just want this individual to go away. I'm not entirely sure how to politely do that. I figure I'll start with the truth (warranty/service concerns) and when he gets pushy about it we'll just have to agree to disagree.

    Anyway - any suggestions on negotiating price? I will share photos, design and details once past the negotiation phase.
    This is probably your best bargaining tool. Undersell your budget, if it is $70k, tell them its $60k. Be prepared to "go over your budget" but don't immediately settle for the "best price" they can give you...it usually isn't the best price.

    My husband and I are, we believe, good at negotiating on our personal items. It helps that he works in project managing and I work in legal, so we negotiate all day for work giving us a certain level of "comfort" when negotiating. I know that a lot of people find it awkward. When we bought our car, a friend that works for the warranty dept. ran across our contract and told us he couldn't believe what a good deal we got. We were pretty excited to hear that

    (1) Know what you want and what the market rate is. If PB is already lower than everyone else, that's a great start! Also, it is always good to get a gauge of their profit. If you look into the features you want, plus tack on 100% for profit (pretty standard in construction industry), it gives you bargaining power to let them know, you aren't trying to have them work for free but you also expect a reasonable profit margin.

    (2) Know your budget and most times the contractor will try very hard to meet you. They would rather cut a few thousand off their profit than lose an entire job! However, that being said...you need to have a "range" so you are flexible too. You can't say, for instance, $40k is my budget and I'm sticking to it and every PB quotes you at $60k. It is unrealistic to expect them to knock that much off!

    (3) Decide what is a must have and what is flexible. Start with the "I want it all" quote and then start knocking things off or "downgrading" if you need to make up a few thousand.

    (4) Don't insult them!! As I stated earlier, they don't work for bread crumbs and we all need to make profit, within reason. Don't get so hung up on nickel and diming that it turns them off. It may result in (a) them deciding the job isn't worth their time and/or (b) them cutting corners because they are annoyed at their profit margin to begin with.

    (5) If you can, pay cash! Cash talks! We always negotiate as much as possible, get someone down to their lowest point and then hit them with "if we pay cash, can you do it for $XX". 2 out of 3 times it works!

    (6) Finally, don't be afraid to ask! If you are friendly and non-demanding, always ask! The worst they could say is "no" and you can negotiate off of that.
    No pool yet...will update once we sign the dotted line and begin construction :)

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Also, remember price isn't EVERYTHING. It is very important obviously but don't go with someone only based on price. If you get a bad vibe from the company or sales man, it isn't worth a few thousand bucks! If something feels off...it probably is!

    Lastly, the actual moolah isn't the only way to negotiate. Your PB might not be to knock $5k extra off but maybe they can upgrade items for no charge (i.e. more allowance on stone, led lights vs standard, etc.)
    No pool yet...will update once we sign the dotted line and begin construction :)

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Hi Smartypants1000, We just went through the same process here in the Austin area. It can be complicated comparing bids as there are a lot of what seem to be small details that can add up quickly. I found a lot of small details such as number of skimmers, inlets, pipe size, plaster type and especially equipment that can add up very quickly. We received a bid from one of the national brands also but decided to go with another builder.
    Gunite Phase || 16500 gal FreeForm 33'x18' IG, 89 perim, 491 sq ft. || Blue Surf Pebble Sheen || Pentair Intelliflo VS || Pentail C&C 520 || 2 Pentair Intellibrite 5G
    Previous Pool || 13500 gal. FreeForm 31'x19' IG, 87' perim, 481 sq ft.|| Pebble Sheen || Pentair IntelliFlo VS || Pentair C&C 420 || Pentair Intellibrite 5G

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Hey welcome to the Austin "I'm going to build a pool" club! I am mid process and probably know the pushy guy you were talking about. I cannot really say how I would pick a builder but for me the one we went with was due to design. We pretty much said what we wanted and the one we choose was best and understanding what we needed/wanted. Don't go with someone who when you ask for something they don't think is necessary tries to push you away from your idea. The reason I say this is pushy guy (if it is the same guy) basically ignored what I asked for and then tried to sell me on a design that was easier for him. He basically said that my pool build would be more difficult if he did it the way I wanted. Then when I got a design that matched what I wanted that guy got the job. I told pushy guy that he didn't get the job he offered to copy the design of other PB. I denied that because he was so adamant that my pool would be too difficult to build my way and that is what the new design was so why would I let him build something he didn't want to do to begin with.

    I would say go with the person that can meet your budget, listens to what you want, and you feel comfortable will fight for you with the construction manager if they give push back or try to cut corners. My sales guy has been great even calling the city of Austin to figure out things that the construction manager was refusing to do. He has always fixed any communications issues I have had thus far because he knows what we want and wants to deliver it.
    Pool is done! Only took 17 months! - Natural shape in-ground pool: 37x23, 505sq ft, 96ft perimeter, 7ft deep end, 18,950 gallons, tanning ledge, blue surf pebble sheen/luminous blue blend, Belgard coping, 910 sqft paver deck/walkways, retaining walls out the yinyang. Jandy SWG, 2 LED Color lights, VS 2HP Pump, 460sqft cartridge filter, PDA RS P8 controller. My build

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Ok - all of the negotiating advice was much appreciated. We signed a contract with Anthony & Sylvan last week. A&S was one of five pool builders we worked with and we were happy with their design and overall cost. Dave was our salesperson, was willing to work with us and tweaked our design several times. We appreciated his low-key approach and never felt pressured.

    All of the builders put effort into our proposal/design, so if anyone is interested in additional details feel free to send me a private message.

    I updated my signature (I think). In addition to the pool, we have contracted for 660 sq. feet of decking. We have plans to add a cabana next year and made accommodations for one in the decking. We have some challenges in our back yard with elevation - I think there's a 10' overall drop from our existing patio down to the fence in the back of the yard. When we chose our lot five years ago (we had our house built), I made the stupid assumption that the elevation change would make a pool cheaper. They don't have to dig as much, right? Hah. That got dispelled during our negotiations. In any case, the elevation change allows for us to have some nifty stuff occur with our decking and we plan on taking full advantage.

    Comments and suggestions are welcome. I anticipate permit/HOA approval in the next week and hope to have our pre-construction meeting within two weeks. I will take some pre-construction shots of our yard and will post them in a bit.

    -B
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    17'x32', 14.6K Gal Salt IG FreeForm, 7' Spa, PebbleTec Mini-White, Jandy 2HP VS, Fusion Soft Salt Chlorinator, Raypak 400K BTU Heater, Zodiac TR2D

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Very exciting that you picked a builder. Let the fun begin!! Design has some nice flow, really like the different decking elevations!
    Free form pool 90'3" prim, 14180 gallons. TF100 Kit In pool table with travertine top, 3sheer descents, Depth 3.5-5-4, Jandy 2HP pump, Inline Chlorinator, Wetedge Satin Matrix Antigua.

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    My wife and I are on vacation this week and have been doing quite a bit of swimming. The local pool here has a 6' deep end and my wife is telling me (already) that we need to change our design so that the deep end of our pool is a maximum of 5'6" so that she can touch bottom in the deep end. We have two small children and her concern is that if we're playing with them in the deep end that she'll want to be able to touch bottom while catching/supporting them. Our pool is currently slated to have a 6' deep end.

    Any thoughts and/or opinions?
    17'x32', 14.6K Gal Salt IG FreeForm, 7' Spa, PebbleTec Mini-White, Jandy 2HP VS, Fusion Soft Salt Chlorinator, Raypak 400K BTU Heater, Zodiac TR2D

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Children will grow up and move onto wanting to jump/dive into the deepend. I couldn't imagine doing a pool and not having a deepend.
    2015 Pool Build --> HERE IG 19'x47' w/ 7'x7' in pool spa; 3'6"-8' deep.
    Pentair 520 Filter, IntelliFlow VS XF Pump, IntelliChlor IC60 SWG, IntelliBrite/GloBrite LEDs, IntelliTouch w/Screenlogic2. 400K BTU heater. A&A G4V in-floor cleaning system. WetEdge Prism Matrix Pebble finish. TechoBloc Pavers and Coping.
    Test kits - Taylor K-2006 FAS/DPD, K-1766 Salt, SpeedStir

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    I understand where she is coming from BUT like spool said the kids will grow. Get a deep end. Make sure there are lots of floats around for when your wife has to help the kids out in the deep end.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    We are in the process of building as well and I thought a lot about the deep end. Personally, I would want at least 6 feet of depth, I actually stepped back to 6 ft from an original 7 ft in our build. It is fun to swim down in the deep end and the kids can dive down for rings and such when they get older. You probably have some flexibility over the size of your deep end and the transition from shallow to deep can be varied (that was our experience). You do have to watch out for dangers with diving into the pool from the surface, even at 6 feet. The steeper your final slope the longer you can hold slightly shallower depths and extend the "touch the bottom" territory. I like the decks in your design, it looks like the space will be very appealing and the grade makes for a striking look.
    2015 Freeform shotcrete pool build in FL. RE: New Builder Build in FL, advice/comments please!!

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    I can see a volleyball net looking nice across your design! What's your family in to? Diving, sport, or just fun pool time. I have been in both type pools. Both great for diff activities.


    Free form | 14k gal | 81 pf | 3.5' - 5' - 4' | Dolphin M500 | intelli FLO VS 3 hp | heat pump ultra temp hp 90 | quad 60 DE | ic40 swcg | Aqua blue mini pebble | 5g LED

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    We are building and are doing 3.5-5-4.5 for the exact reason. We like to walk anywhere in the pool.
    Free form pool 90'3" prim, 14180 gallons. TF100 Kit In pool table with travertine top, 3sheer descents, Depth 3.5-5-4, Jandy 2HP pump, Inline Chlorinator, Wetedge Satin Matrix Antigua.

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Honestly I would have her play with the kids while they are little farther up in the pool. It is your pool though and you need to do what you want. Our pool is 7' but it has a break so most of it is at or under what your wife wants except for the last part where the drop off is. This way when the kids are older I won't be stressing about them jumping as much (I'll probably be stressing). We also spoke to Dave and I didn't mind him that much but he wasn't willing to do what I wanted with the design until I told him I had decided to use someone else.

    Your pool looks great! We too have a sloped yard and honestly it really does cost a bunch more. I wish my lot was only a 10' drop but I think I have 45' of drop over my lot (it is almost .4 acres though). The slab on my house is over 10' tall on the side with the pool. I wish my pool lined up with the slab but that would have cost another 100k so I am not complaining about it being below the house

    On another note A&S built 3 pools for my old neighbors and they love their pools so nothing bad from me on A&S and the end product. Their pools range from 35k all the way to 100k.
    Pool is done! Only took 17 months! - Natural shape in-ground pool: 37x23, 505sq ft, 96ft perimeter, 7ft deep end, 18,950 gallons, tanning ledge, blue surf pebble sheen/luminous blue blend, Belgard coping, 910 sqft paver deck/walkways, retaining walls out the yinyang. Jandy SWG, 2 LED Color lights, VS 2HP Pump, 460sqft cartridge filter, PDA RS P8 controller. My build

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    How's the build going? A&S is on our list...


    Just getting started! Inground freeform gunite pool, 17x32, 3.5-5ft depth, SWCG, French Grey mini pebble Stonescapes, NPT Arctic Lagoon glass tile, raised wall with 3 sheers, Polaris robotic cleaner, Cartridge filter, 550 sqft concrete/Kool-dek; Dig to begin 10/2017!

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    I would want to be able to stand on the bottom too! Six feet really isn't deep enough for diving and would only irritate me being over my head. Especially with small children!


    12K Gallon IG Lap Pool (c. 2001)
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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Haven't posted for a bit!

    I think we had the fastest dig in Austin that I've ever heard of. We have an access road behind our house due to the fact that there's a retaining pond behind our home. When submitting my request for HOA approval I also requested use of the access road, which we received.

    Backhoe and workers arrived at approximately 630am to remove my fence and begin work. Some minor drilling to put some forms in and then work with the backhoe commenced. Dump trucks were able to pull directly up next to the backhoe and so there was no back/forth down the side of our home. We insisted in putting a clause in our contract to ensure that any rock excavation would be covered by the PB (which they had no problem with.) At approximately 3pm on the same day, workers, backhoe and trucks have departed and I have a gorgeous hole in the ground. There wasn't a sign of rock anywhere in the pool. They didn't have to pull out the jackhammer once. It was rather painful to have to give a substantial sum to the PB after less than eight hours of digging - I feel as though I should get a partial refund considering how easy it was! That being said, it's all part of the process and ultimately we want a pool, so them's the breaks I suppose.

    PB has since been out to place rebar and some plumbing. City has come out to inspect and that was a week ago. We're currently waiting for a gunite crew and we haven't been given a date yet. Pool equipment appears to have been placed on the side of our home, and it's slightly disappointing that they didn't pour concrete but rather put a couple of what appear to be 2x4 prefabbed concrete slabs underneath the equipment. Everything went very quickly so far and the weather has been perfect (if hot), but at this point we seem to have stalled. Time will tell - the experience has been pretty decent thus far.

    Some pictures of the process are below.

    Update: I'd upload more photos but apparently I'm over my quota. Not sure how to overcome that, but if someone wants to send me a private message on how to do so I'll load more!

    IMG_3377.jpg
    17'x32', 14.6K Gal Salt IG FreeForm, 7' Spa, PebbleTec Mini-White, Jandy 2HP VS, Fusion Soft Salt Chlorinator, Raypak 400K BTU Heater, Zodiac TR2D

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    How to add pictures to a post (full guide with screenshots)

    Here is a link to one way. I use photobucket.

    We REALLY want to see!

    Equipment pad-------Do you think it is thick enough? NOW is the time to "push" for what you think you need. I think that should be your next pic so we can get it right if it needs to be changed.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Thanks for the instructions on how to post photos. Looks like I got it working hosting them through Flickr. Slow response is due to real life getting in the way!

    We went browsing today for pool furniture. My wife and I like iron/aluminum but the salesperson indicated that these might not be the best choices for a salt pool. Any thoughts or suggestions from the group here?

    Lovely paint on my grass:



    Hole's been dug (in less than a day):



    Some rebar has been added:



    PVC pipe going every which way:



    Some delicious gunite has been applied:



    The only closeup of the spa that may occur during its lifetime:



    Shot of gunite from spa end of pool, with bonus kids from the neighborhood photobombing:



    Tile's been added late this week:



    This is the somewhat disappointing installation of my pool equipment - any thoughts about the free-standing slabs? Plumber was here yesterday and installed gas, so it's getting rather far along in the process I think.



    Closer view of aforementioned install:

    17'x32', 14.6K Gal Salt IG FreeForm, 7' Spa, PebbleTec Mini-White, Jandy 2HP VS, Fusion Soft Salt Chlorinator, Raypak 400K BTU Heater, Zodiac TR2D

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool Build - Austin, TX

    Great work on the pool! SO fast LOL

    That slab?????? It looks like they did not pour it there. What is it made of? It looks like it will crack/break over time. It looks like they put big rocks in some spots to "level" it. I do NOT like how that looks. There is no water in it yet so what happens when there is AND when the pump turns off and on?

    I would ask them to do a pour instead of having the free standing. I see unions so it should be be too hard take the equipment off and do the pour the correct way.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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