Can my Pool Builder keep adding costs?


New member
Sep 14, 2018
phoenix, az
Hi - we are mid-build. And increasingly I just feel like the builder is trying to keep adding costs. Today it’s “we found tree stumps in yard under surface where patio will go.” Before it was, “the panel in garage is too small, it’s $1000 more run to electric to main
panel.” I’ve made some big mistakes....he started excavation without a drawing with measurements that were all signed off. And we’ve just for months been trying to get an updated drawing or plan that is correct. But that’s not the way he works and we don’t have anything that shows the end result. So he ends up telling me we are constantly changing things. Which - to be fair - we are since nothing was ever set especially regarding the hardscape. Each time he asks if I want him to “take care of it” (like the tree stumps), but won’t give me a price. But do I have to keep paying more and more? It’s a huge project over $100k now. Seriously, he can’t just keep adding costs can he? He knew he had to deal w whatever was in my yard, right? (I took trees down prior to starting pool project, but I can’t remember if I told him explicitly. Tree stumps in AZ are close to surface in desert.) Also, and I’m embarrassed to ask all of this because I don’t want to admit to being Taken advantage of, but residential construction is not my background - but the pool on the plan that we do have is mostly rectangular w some juts, but the main measurements are 36’ by 22’. Builder is done w shotcrete and when I measure, pool is 34.5’ by 21’. Is that normal to be off in measurements? I choose this builder b’c a friend had a great experience w his partner (who is owner), and he has been in business for a long time w clean bbb and ROC. We signed contract in early Nov, and pool dig was complete Nov 21.

What do I do? Is this just how pool construction is? Thanks in advance.
Last edited:


New member
Sep 14, 2018
phoenix, az
well - i was able to schedule for the tree stumps to be removed by my tree guy. it's not that big of a deal and he won't charge me much. I think i'm just frustrated at this point in build. perhaps this is normal.


Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
Brentwood, CA
building a pool is an exercise in contract law

you appear to be at the mercy of your PB because you have no formal contract terms covering potential issues (hard digs and tree stumps shouldn't be a surprise item).

You should fix that ASAP otherwise yes....the PB will say we have a problem i will fix for X and you have to pay X or risk stopping your project.

Many of the issues cropping up should have been discussed and negotiated before the process started and the PB got a single penny.

I'm honestly terrified that you say you have no idea what the final project will look like. What did the PB submit for permits to be granted? Get a copy of those at the very least.

You need to have a serious review of your situation and strongly consider stopping the project and addressing your concerns before you reach the point of no return and you throw good money after bad.

Your pool is already in violation of the contracted size and needs to be remedied (either make it the right size or refund/credit that you are happy with).

You have a rocky road to tread....good luck


Silver Supporter
Dec 20, 2014
Highland, CA
Where are the plans which were signed off by the city? Should be somewhere in your backyard for inspectors to review. Should have dimensions on it. I’d not, plans are usually in 1/8 scale so you could measure using 1/8 scale on the plans to find what the pool should be. Ask the inspector about the panel next time he comes. Tell him the issues you are having with the builder and maybe he could verify if the plans match the work done. I feel for you and hope nothing but the best for you.


Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
Northern NJ
Sounds like you are working with a verbal contract and a handshake. Not the best way to do major construction project management. It is difficult to change the path once you start down thst road without putting a halt to work, getting an agreed upon plan, price, and contract, and restarting.

What are your payment plans? How much have you paid to date? Are there progress payments based on specific milestones being completed? Is there a holdback until final acceptance?

You have to manage the situation or put a halt to the work.
  • Like
Reactions: splashpad


TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
Morris Cnty NJ
you jumped the gun and he felt your urge and ran with it. its a big budget to have an informal contract with no final plan/drawings. things do come up but be careful you dont taken for a ride


Bronze Supporter
Nov 6, 2017
What exactly are you getting for $100k? You can do a lot in AZ for that kind of moolah. Pretty much every contractor that has showed up to my house has a copy of the plans and a couple have accidently left them behind. I keep them if they leave them. The city inspector should also have a copy every time they come out during the process for reviews. Post some pictures of the back yard progress so far. As far as the measurements not being a round number that isn't a big deal. Does that measurement include a pool and spa? What type of water feature are they installing?


Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
Informal contracts can deff get u in trouble. My busdy’s Build went 20 grand over on a 60 grand job cause of verbal changes. He constantly was saying what about this vs that and if deff bit him in the end cause nothingcwas in writing. He thought is was a little here or there. So he was all upset but it was all on him.

Be careful. Get it all in writing before moving forward. Even if it takes longer. Don’t trust anyone.


Silver Supporter
Nov 7, 2018
Oklahoma City, OK
I didn't learn a whole lot in law school, but I *did* learn that a very large number of contract cases (issues) we studied involved a construction contract. I have a former classmate that makes very good money litigating nothing *but* construction claims.