Featured Abandoned Pool Build, Trying to finish

carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
Hi,

I believe this is an ok question, but if not or in the wrong place I understand removal.
I am also not here to mention how I have landed in this situation as I am new to this forum and understand that finger pointing is disallowed.

That said, I am in Austin Texas and entered a pool contract a year ago. After gunite was installed in early December 2020, the only additional progress made has been installation of Tile and Coping. I have a partial delivery of Hayward equipment including a heat/cool heat pump with a 400k BTU heater, cartridge heater, Tristar 950V pump, Omni logic 4 relay
expert series box, wifi module, etc. I was supposed to get a UV/Ozone setup and after reading here am inclined to believe a SWG is preferred, though we have black limestone coping so I'm trying to learn.

I have received input that my gunite has "unusual" and "never seen that before" cracks.

My question if it is allowed: Can anyone recommend someone who might be willing to engage at this point and help me finish this project?
PXL_20210514_140902716 resized.jpg
 

BigPapaSmurf

Well-known member
Apr 23, 2021
172
Magnolia, Texas
Surface
Plaster
I assume the builder you started with is no longer in communication with you and you are not pursuing any legal actions against them. Have you tried contacting any local builders to see if they will complete your project? It will be tough, but there are companies willing to help out when you get into this situation, assuming the first builder didn’t mess things up too bad. Your biggest hurdle will be finding a good company that has the time to finish things.
 

carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
Hi,
You are correct original builder is no longer in communication and we are trying to understand our options. I have spoken to a few local builders and some have no-quoted given the situation with what they are seeing in the gunite. Unfortunately we were supposed to have autofill as required by my city but I don't see that in the gunite or skimmers either so that has been recently added to my list of challenges. I have found at least one electronic solution, but it doesn't have great reviews.

I am continuing to reach out and am getting similar stories "too busy" or "not worth the risk". I am quite a DIY guy, but wasn't planning to do my own pool, and the industry is so tight that most suppliers want me to work through a PB. I also have a garage full of equipment which I want installed in an authorized way, but have not received information from the manufacturer as to how I can do that. We've been trying for about 4-6 weeks now to find an avenue forward and do not yet have one.

I agree with your last statement, and decided to post here just in case.
 

jamjam

Well-known member
Jun 25, 2020
638
NY
Pool Size
25000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
your best bet might be to find someone willing to place the orders from the supply house (acting as a broker) and you do the install and finish work
 

Nikilyn

Bronze Supporter
Sep 3, 2018
1,056
Gilbert, AZ
Pool Size
17000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Will the PB just not respond? Have you threatened him with legal action to maybe kick him into gear? You should post some close up pics of the gunite so you can get advice on that.
 

carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
jamjam- I am collecting names of plumbers and electricians to quote and continue the work for me. I am struggling to understand what is required to maintain warranty, and I also do not have clarity on the plumbing configuration for my dual HP/Propane heater setup. It's also a mess that my pipes are burried in the ground with no stub-outs, so I have to reverse engineer the plumbing a bit.

Nikilyn- Correct, they stopped responding. I have engaged an attorney and so far the PB attitude has been "sue me" so I'm working through that process to recoup losses while at the same time trying to line up someone to finish the work. The pool has been essentially stagnant for 2-3 months now.

Thanks for the suggestion on cracks. Pics to follow
 

carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
The bright white lines are the ones that raised concerns from one new PB that came to look. He offered to help but then his plaster contractor(who installs a particular brand name pebble product) has stated they aren't sure they want to "cover up" someone else's issues and end up liable :(

I've also been told this entire ledge of mortar will need to be removed as the tile overhang+ mortar thickness will require nearly an inch of plaster buildup in this area. This makes sense to me as the 1/2 tiles here were installed with the "sharp side out" after cutting anyway, so some pieces are razor sharp.

In addition, there are at least two areas with rebar/wire protruding from the gunite. I think this last point is a "relatively " easy fix compared to the other concerns raised.mortar gap_resized.jpg
 

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Nikilyn

Bronze Supporter
Sep 3, 2018
1,056
Gilbert, AZ
Pool Size
17000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I don’t understand the mortar being that thick. And the rough cut tile is not ok. But your tile is beautiful.
I hope an expert on here can help.
 

jamjam

Well-known member
Jun 25, 2020
638
NY
Pool Size
25000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
this is infuriating - was your PB some fly by night operation or an established builder with a reputation. I know that even if i couldn't recoup anything from him I would certainly make an effort to make sure his actions lose him as much money as he is costing you.
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
3,802
Morris Cnty NJ
Your going to have to offer a hold harmless to whoever finishes this and just oversee things with a keen eye. The rebar amd shell is minor, easy fix. The tils is a loss, that area needs removal amd a redo, not the end of the world. In this situation nobody will guarantee finishing this based on original guys work. Thats what is turning them off. Add to that the high demand and price increases and you have a bad situation to be in.

Why is the plumbing not stubbed up?
 
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carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
Infuriating is certainly one of the words we have used in my house. Most are much shorter with only 4 letters :) LOL.

I'm not sure why the mortar is this thick. I think the guys laying tile were confused about where the 6" water line was on my faux knife edge section. So they laid mortar down low and the were told not to tile that area. Still doesn't explain the thickness. But, with the 1/2 tiles on top I have been told all the mortar needs to come out and this will likely remove the 1/2 row of tile on top of it.

Regarding the tile... should have known when one of the owners told me that glass tile can't be cut... I suggested otherwise and offered to show them with my wetsaw so they agreed to purchase it. Their tile guy showed up with a 4" angle grinder and broke several tiles so I taught him how to use my wetsaw. He was shocked and impressed.... more red flags and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

As to how I got here: I had a quote from a large reputable PB in our area and then my neighbors suggested this PB. We talked to the company, they provided a quote which was better by a substantial margin. We compared everything: title, plaster, coping, and equipment grade, size, etc, etc and found the quotes were "equivalent" so we figured the brand name PB was charging for that. The PB we used has a nice showroom, talked the talk and we moved forward. We've learned alot since then. We approached our neighbors recently and asked why the referral given this experience and they responded "We didn't say they were good, we just said you should talk to them". Sidebar, the husband is working with the PB now digging holes. :(

I can't explain why the plumbing wasn't stubbed up. I can think of a few reasons but none of them are positive.

As to removing liability for future workers.... this is a big challenge and what prompted me to post here for help.... I've offered to sign waivers. To summarize one conversation with a large and reputable plaster company they said in their experience waivers of liability don't hold up. So we've been stuck.

I am now 4 weeks and counting trying to get the equipment manufacturer to respond with information about what I need to do to maintain warranty and they are non-responsive also. Hoping to find a PB who can step in and leverage relationships to help get this done.

At this point, I have all but given up on having this complete even for my kids birthday at the end of July. :/ That would mark nearly 15 months after signing contract
 

jamjam

Well-known member
Jun 25, 2020
638
NY
Pool Size
25000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
i can't imagine a tile guy not knowing that a diamond blade and a wet saw can cut glass - How do they think glass tiles are installed? Did he miss the entire first decade of this century in which glass tile was pretty much the only tile people were installing in kitchens and baths?

I wonder if you can get a crew from the big guys to do this work as a side gig - i also can't imagine it not being good enough for you to sign a document saying that "I hold the installer not liable for any defects, etc." Unless you guys have some serious consumer protection laws that prevent you from signing your rights away.
 

Nikilyn

Bronze Supporter
Sep 3, 2018
1,056
Gilbert, AZ
Pool Size
17000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Do you by chance know who they used for shotcrete or was it in house? If you could contact them directly and they could come address those concerns as warranty that could help.
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
261
Mobile, AL
So I'm not in any way suggesting I would want the original PB to be the one to finish the job, but how did the work come to the stoppage where it sits now? Did they or their subs just stop showing up? Or did you order them to stop work when you saw the workmanship being done?

Regarding the question about the plumbing not being stubbed up, what am I missing? Or misunderstanding about terms perhaps, I thought the pipes extended out from the floor/walls was "stubbed out/up."
 

carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
i can't imagine a tile guy not knowing that a diamond blade and a wet saw can cut glass - How do they think glass tiles are installed? Did he miss the entire first decade of this century in which glass tile was pretty much the only tile people were installing in kitchens and baths?

I wonder if you can get a crew from the big guys to do this work as a side gig - i also can't imagine it not being good enough for you to sign a document saying that "I hold the installer not liable for any defects, etc." Unless you guys have some serious consumer protection laws that prevent you from signing your rights away.
I thought the same thing RE glass tile. So when the owner told me that you can't cut glass tile I assumed she was just ignorant of what her crew could do. Turns out the crew didn't know either. LOL <- but not funny. Even after giving the lead the wet saw he ruined the first several tiles by slamming them into the blade. I actually had to cut the first several tiles myself to show him it could be done. Worse, I had agreed to pay for tiles scrapped as a result of breaks during cutting (Hey, it happens and I really liked this tile.) Even with this agreement they still installed some broken tiles and just pushed the broken pieces together.

RE the signed document: I expected that wording to work. I am told that one company used that logic with a signed document and later a judge told them otherwise citing that industry experts know better than the consumer and should have known better. I'm still working that angle. Unfortunately, we fell in love with a specific color of pebble plaster and that color was a core ingredient in our pool design decisions to integrate the overall look of this pool in our yard.

Regarding the plaster gunite company: I do know who they are and it's a good point for me to contact them.
 
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jamjam

Well-known member
Jun 25, 2020
638
NY
Pool Size
25000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
well i think the bright side here is that if in your state even after signing a liability waiver the PB was still held responsible, you should have a fruitful claim against the original builder, unless the irony gods are bored.
 

carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
So I'm not in any way suggesting I would want the original PB to be the one to finish the job, but how did the work come to the stoppage where it sits now? Did they or their subs just stop showing up? Or did you order them to stop work when you saw the workmanship being done?
Great question:

We made a change order on the equipment to add a heat pump which required updating the controls system from our original quote. During this discussion, we agreed they would cash the ~$9k check and deliver all equipment the following week. (Note that we paid for the original equipment list and install in January). They cashed the check as agreed and the next Friday part of our equipment arrived. I inquired as to the rest of the equipment and they cited 2 boxes accidentally left that would arrive on "Monday". Monday came and went and the project manager mentioned backorder. Since I had been told twice in writing and once verbally that all equipment was in stock I inquired about the backorder. They could not explain the backorder given previously statement that our equipment had been purchased and was sitting the the warehouse awaiting installation.

In the middle of all of this, they also told use that our preferred color was unavailable. Long story short we had some conflicting information so we contacted the corporate pebble company and the two local plaster installers who confirmed this color had always been available. We presented this information to the PB who claimed they had been calling daily for months and been told otherwise, and further that the color we wanted would be an additional $3500. <- This despite the fact that we agreed in writing prior to signing the contract that this was our color, and it was stated as included, and wording in the contract, etc.

Finally, they stated that they would not delivery the rest of the equipment since we hadn't actually paid for it. They requested the final $8950 (yes, we've paid for the ENTIRE POOL less ~$9k at this point). They stated that this final $8950 covered plaster (a $10k job), the equipment install, plumbing, electrical, completion of the water features, etc, etc. They also demanded the $3500 color upcharge be included with this check or they would "have their lawyers draw up separation papers"

We stated we would happily pay the $8950 once they had delivered and installed the equipment as committed with the previously $9k check, and finished equipment install, and included the color for the previously agreed upon cost. They held firm and we hired a lawyer.
 

carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
well i think the bright side here is that if in your state even after signing a liability waiver the PB was still held responsible, you should have a fruitful claim against the original builder, unless the irony gods are bored.
We think so too.

"Irony Gods"-> That's funny.
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
3,802
Morris Cnty NJ
Man that's painful to read. I couldn't imagine running a business like that. It's not a good sign when they need to be paid so far ahead of completed work, especially in today's market. You shouldn't be more than 75% paid at best with where the pool is at. Thers no incentive for him now, hes making more losing the last 12k he wants, than finishing the job. I hope you have attorney fees in your state and you stick it hard. These outfits give PBs the bad reps
 
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carx7

Active member
Apr 29, 2021
34
Austin Texas
In the last year I have seen support from contractors in general decline steeply. There is too much demand and so the interest in quality has dropped accordingly. This is very unfortunate for the consumers.

I have received some additional in-person evaluations that support the need to remove significant areas of excess mortar and improperly laid tiles that will prevent plaster.

The equipment situation remains poor with zero support from the pool equipment manufacturer in over 4 weeks now. I send weekly follow-ups to ask one basic questions: What specifically is required of the plumber and electrician who install the equipment to maintain my warranty? I'm unclear if I simply need state licensed electrician and plumber or if they need a manufacturer certification.

The gunite remains a question and the company who looked last suggested it was more imperfections they they typically see on a pool refurb job and therefore outside their expertise. he did suggest that a possible solution is to grind out the cracks, fill with hydraulic cement, acid wash the pool and then coat the whole thing with a water proof membrane.

Regarding payment schemes.... I agree on the 75% statement and also their motivations. The more we learn about the personal character of this PB the more sense their business makes.... in a bad way.

We have made no progress in the last month and are still searching for companies who will talk to us to help us get through.

We are expecting some news from our lawyer today but are not optimistic and do not yet have an end in sight.
 
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