Builder Abandoned Project - Need Help

clipsrule

New member
Mar 18, 2020
1
Sugar Land
Hello everyone,

I hired a pool builder to build a pool for us last year (pool dug on 8/29/19), and over 6 months later, the pool is still unfinished; no work has been done on the project since November 2019 and the builder stopped communicating with me completely last month. I hired a lawyer to send a demand letter asking for the builder to finish the project but I am confident that the builder will not be back to finish the job.

The project was quoted at $61K, so far I've paid $58K but I still don't have any equipment or plaster (decking, gunite, tile are done). I need to finish the job because the pool is a fall and health hazard (half-full of stagnant water) but I want to do it as inexpensively as possible because I've already spent so much money for work and equipment that I will never see.

It's been very stressful for my wife and I these past few months, so I'm reaching out to see if anyone has come across a situation like ours and to see if someone might have ideas/suggestions for us. I don't know if I should try to purchase the equipment and hire subs to install it and to do our plaster, or if I should find another pool builder to finish the job; so far I've gotten one quote for $30K - which is more than I was hoping to pay after laying out so much money already. Thank you so much for your time!

Respectfully,

Luis Nunez
 

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SinCityCJ

Gold Supporter
Nov 6, 2019
70
Las Vegas
Hi Luis,
I am sorry to hear of your troubles. I work for a GC and we have seen this on home renovation projects. Additionally, we went through a similar scenario, including the subsequent legal battle, many years ago involving a PB that decided to start taking money and not finishing people’s pools. Ours eventually got finished, with a lot of persistence on our part, but many folks didn’t.

First up, take a deep breath. Then, begin the process of finishing your pool.

I recommend you retain an attorney immediately, preferably one who specializes in contract law and or construction suits. You will most likely need to file a lawsuit in order to recover any funds from the PB, more accurately, their insurance. I will be honest, not to scare or stress you more, but I wouldn’t count on getting the pool done by that builder. They likely won’t just hand over a check either. You may be able to recover some or even all of the funds paid, it just depends on the exact circumstances, insurance policies, state law, etc... I strongly encourage you to act very quickly to start the processes in motion with the attorney. Be prepared, It will cost you more money. Then be ready to wait as it takes time.

You should also contact the state contractors board and file a formal complaint and your local BBB as well. Additionally, most states have what is called a residential recovery fund for situations like this with contractors. License, permit and other fees are used for this fund. There is a process and an application you will need to file in order to be considered for reimbursement. There is a cap, which is typically $50K per incident but it can vary by jurisdiction.

In regards to finishing the pool, you need to consult with the attorney first. They may want you to get bids from a couple of reputable PBs . At a minimum, they will need photo documentation of the exact condition as it sits today and what wasn’t done in the contract. Retain all your docs and all communications to the pb. Compile a log of these for the attorney.

Then, I would recommend draining it. Hire a pool guy, rent or buy a pump and dispose of the water. Spring is here and that water will breed bugs. You also need that to be able see exactly what is done in the pool.

You could get a PB to finish or act as your own contractor to finish. Either way, be prepared to spend some additional cash to get it completed. If you post the info, folks here will help with equipment selection, plaster options, etc...

my .02
 
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PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,518
Damascus, MD
Looks like you just need plaster, equipment, and final hookup. Was any electrical/gas run? Plaster can run anywhere from $10k - $20k. Equipment and installation $5k - $10k. So $30k is probably in the ball park. I hope you end up recovering your funds. After consulting with an attorney, I'd move right to getting someone to finish the pool. You'd probably save some money acting as the GC yourself. Hire the plasterers and hire the plumber/electrician yourself. Get several bids. Your local pool supply store may be able to assist with reputable tradesmen.
 
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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
44,798
Tallahassee, FL
What a pretty pool it is so far! It looks like the work they did was good work so far.

Do you have lien releases from all of the subs that have done work before?

From now on all contact with anyone about the pool needs to be in writing.

Lawyer up and don't move forward until they say you can.
 

Pprior

Gold Supporter
Feb 14, 2018
46
Englewood, FL
If you don't have lien releases, please understand that YOU may still owe all the subs for all the work that was done if they didn't get paid. This is a nightmare. Consult an attorney before you do any further work so you have an idea what your financial downside is. Potentially you may still owe the whole balance of work done so far even though you paid the dirtbag builder.