Fiberglass Install Nightmares

Cacori30

New member
Jun 1, 2021
3
Metro Richmond VA
Pool Size
11000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I was so happy to find this forum today. This is a story of an unsavvy consumer and a contractor who has not performed. The story is not finished so I will not mention any names, as there may be legal action necessary. I am writing this partially a warning to anyone who might read it and a plea for advice - and maybe a little bit of a rant, too! An older relative of mine, we will call her Sherry, decided to get a fiberglass pool with a local company last year. Unfortunately, she did not know at the time that the contractor was unlicensed and had many scary reviews online about his inability to finish jobs on time as well as the poor quality of work.

When Sherry signed the contract, the contractor told her (verbally) that the project would be completed by mid-July, a total time of 5 months. It is still not finished. After a lot of email traffic discussing color choices and so forth, the contractor basically went silent between May and September of last year and did not respond to emails or phone calls. Finally, in September, he contacted her to assure her that the pool had been manufactured and just waiting for shipment. The hole was dug in November. The pool arrived on site a few weeks later and it was the wrong pool - the one she was supposed to get had a built-in tanning ledge while the one delivered is just a single depth and is nearly 10' shorter. I tried to convince Sherry to not let them take it off the truck, but the contractor assured her he would provide "something better" and order a separate tanning ledge "for free." This was in December - he did not actually place the order for the tanning ledge until the end of March 2021. It arrived in late April.

When I visited Sherry's house in January, I noticed three things that concerned me: 1, the pool was visibly out of level (we measured 4" difference from corner to corner along the short side!) 2, the contractor had used what appeared to be construction debris for backfill (the hole around the pool was partially filled with big 18-24" chunks of broken concrete, cinder blocks, and other various materials mixed with some gravel) and 3, the side walls of the pool were bowed out significantly.

Some other issues:
  • The contract itself is poorly written and unprofessional. There is no specified completion time or date. There were no drawings or sketches or even a written description to indicate the work to be done, layout, or size of the pool deck. The total amount of concrete in the contract was only for a 3' pad all the way around the pool, despite her telling him she wanted a 10' pad. Of course, now he's saying it will be extra.
  • He used drawings for a different pool from a different manufacturer (obviously from another project) to pull her permit. The first she had seen of them was when I opened the bag where he has stuck the permit.
  • There are several large deep scratches in the paint of the shell from the sloppy install of the backfill.
  • While we did make him level it, pull the trash out and replace it with gravel, he did not lift the pool out of the hole and change anything underneath, so I have no idea if there is debris in the hole or if it has voids. They raised the low corner manually and just tamped material to level it. There is still about 1" drop from corner to corner but she has decided that is acceptable to her.
  • The pool walls were bowed for weeks while it sat full of rain water with no backfill and then incomplete backfill. It looks okay now but was it compromised during that time?
  • There is a bunch of duct tape around the skimmer collar. He says that's to keep rocks out. (The lid itself is not taped down, the tape is around the collar.) I think he's trying to hide a crack.
  • He has not installed rebar or welded wire mesh as called for in the permit drawings. I did some internet searching and the pool manufacturer's installation guidebook also calls for either rebar or welded wire mesh. He says he "doesn't use rebar." I told Sherry she should call her local inspector to make sure they know he's planning to install without the rebar on the approved drawings (which aren't even of her pool.)
  • He set the pool about 4" higher than the lowest stair tread of her adjacent deck area. Now the stairs are going to have to be reworked. He didn't realize this until I pointed it out.
  • He claims to have the saltwater system and pump at his warehouse but ignores all requests to see pictures of it, send copies of the order receipt, or bring it to the house and lock it up. Basically he will not provide proof that he has it in hand.
  • He is supposed to provide and install an automatic cover but claims he can't order it until the concrete has been poured. The one she wants is inset and runs beneath the coping, not on top of the deck. (This actually is stated in her contract, thank goodness) so it needs to be installed kind of at the same time, due to the track. He says he can't measure for it until the concrete is poured. I don't think that makes any sense.
  • He refuses/ignores requests to provide anything resembling a schedule for completing the remaining work. Any time anyone asks, he has to "call his supplier" or some other excuse.

My advice to Sherry is to fire him and hire another reputable company to finish the job. I looked up one who has fabulous reviews online and asked them to come out and take a look. They did and immediately noticed some of the issues I mentioned above. They assured us they would be happy to help her but it would be about a month before they could start due to being very busy with existing work. After starting, they stated they could complete all remaining work in about 2 weeks. Sherry is worried because she doesn't want to wait until mid-July. My thought is that her current contractor, who hasn't been able to get this done in the last 16 months, is unlikely to finish in the next 6 weeks, and if he does, it will probably be a poor build that has many future issues. I also think legal action may be a good idea to recoup some of her losses for equipment that he hasn't delivered yet. And shouldn't he be reported for signing contracts without a valid contractor's license? I looked it up and it's required in my state.

What am I missing? Anything we are not thinking about already? Thank you for any advice or commiseration! I am very sad and feel angry and frustrated for Sherry. She doesn't have any knowledge of construction in general, much less pool construction. She also tries to be very understanding, so some of this stuff has gone on much longer than it would have if it were my pool! When she asks questions, he will call her and smooth talk some excuse. If she emails him (to have communications in writing) he tries to call to respond rather than reply to her emails. A pool is a big investment! I want her to have a good finished product.
 
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jamjam

Well-known member
Jun 25, 2020
614
NY
Pool Size
25000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Does she owe him money? In my state/county an unlicensed contractor has no recourse to recoup unpaid funds from a project. I would not want him touching the pool anymore than he has and I would have your relative take legal action to recoup damages, even if just the max allowable amount in small claims court.
 
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Casey

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 16, 2007
11,982
SW PA
Pool Size
17000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
Unfortunately, some have seen the lucrative business of pool building explode n try to cash in during a pandemic. I believe this to be what happened to your friend. Hed be lucky to not get buried under that pool if it were mine.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
26,240
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
See if you get any ideas from reading this - Fiberglass Pools - Further Reading

My vote is Sherry needs to dump the Contractor and use the reputable builder. There are too many red flags saying she will have on-going problems with her pool if she continues with the Contractor.
 
Last edited:

Cacori30

New member
Jun 1, 2021
3
Metro Richmond VA
Pool Size
11000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Thank you all! I convinced her it was time! She contacted her attorney and sent him a termination letter today. We will be reaching out to someone else and to see what can be done. She told me that two workers showed up yesterday to supposedly work on "installing drainage around the pool." They pushed some gravel around for a bit and then drained the pool shell which is fully surrounded by gravel backfill! I asked if they installed any bracing and she sent me a picture - I'm sure you guessed it, but NOPE! No bracing! No idea why they drained it or what they were doing! They left for several hours, then returned and left her garden hose running to fill the pool. :rolleyes:
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
25,709

APSP 2013 Workmanship Guidelines and Practices

Published on Jan 8, 2020

These workmanship guidelines are for dispute resolution for the construction, installation, remodeling, renovation, and warranty repair of inground residential swimming pools and permanently installed spas as required under the contract covering same. The requirements in this document supplement and do not supersede the design and installation requirements of ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 Standard for Residential Inground Swimming Pools and ANSI/APSP-3 Standard for Permanently Installed Residential Spas in effect at the time of installation. The goal of this document is to provide guidance to city, county, and state agencies having jurisdiction over such disputes.1622824374082.png
1622824374082.png
 
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jamjam

Well-known member
Jun 25, 2020
614
NY
Pool Size
25000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
if he is unlicensed there might be no real remedy other than suing
 
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Cacori30

New member
Jun 1, 2021
3
Metro Richmond VA
Pool Size
11000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
He was unlicensed when the contract was signed. He has recently gotten his license. Fortunately, she has only made 2 of 3 payment installments! The contractor tried billing for the third about a month ago and she informed him that she was not willing to pay any more until he made some progress or could provide proof that he had at least ordered outstanding items (coping, concrete, auto cover, salt system, pump, etc.) Since he did not, she never sent another payment.
 

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Casey

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 16, 2007
11,982
SW PA
Pool Size
17000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
I am just floored with this "supposed" builder. Makes me sick.
 

jonnyd91

Well-known member
Jul 21, 2020
170
NJ
Pool Size
24000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite Pro (T-15)
Any update on this? Do you have any pictures of the pool?
 

Mcow

Well-known member
Jul 5, 2017
230
Wylie, Texas
Wow this is terrible! I think everyone that has ever built a pool can agree it never goes as smooth or quickly as they had hoped but this is extreme to say the least. Hope she is able to get someone to finish it correctly. I would want the pool pulled and inspected then the backfill done properly. I looked in to fiberglass pools (but decided to go with gunite) and everything I read talked about how crucial the proper backfill was.