Following these rules won't guarantee a bad experience or a bad result, but it will improve your odds of getting both considerably.
1. Don't educate yourself about pool construction or pool systems. Do not read any books on the subject. Do not visit any discussion forums such as poolforum.com or Gardenweb's pool forum or TroublefreePool.com. Do not visit equipment manufacturer's websites. Do not visit poolplaza.com or any other site that explains pool equipment selection and operation in an easy-to-understand manner.
2. Friends and neighbors who have had pools built in the last few years should be avoided at all cost during the builder selection process. Instead, ask your brother-in-law, father-in-law, the husband of your sister-in-law's cousin twice removed, and anyone else who might have an opinion, no matter how ill-informed, especially if he or she has never had a pool built, for his or her recommendation.
3. Don't talk to more than one builder (two at the very most). They're all the same, right? Besides that, the salesman seems like a really nice fellow and you're sure you can trust him, right?
4. Pick a builder you know almost nothing about. Pick one at random from the yellow pages or the one who has the "Basic In-ground Pool Special" for $21,995 in the weekly glossy ad supplemental. Another source for a pool builder you know nothing about is the first one you see when you walk into your local home expo. They've got a big binder full of nice pictures of beautiful pools and landscapes so they must know what they're doing, right?
5. If you insist on talking to more than one builder, always pick the one who gives you the lowest price. There can't be that much difference in quality can there?
6. Don't concern yourself with the scant detail in the contract the smarmy salesman wants you to sign right now (I can't guarantee this price if you don't lock it in today). Take his word for it that this is the way it's doneÃ¢â‚¬