How often did your pool builder show up? (and contract issues)

KDee

Member
Jul 7, 2021
17
Southern CA
We chose our pool builder because the price was slightly lower than the bigger name guys and he said he could get it done sooner (other guys were a few months out). He had very few reviews but is a smaller name and we like supporting smaller businesses. The reviews were mixed, but so were the ones for the bigger name guys. Anyway, he subcontracts out and these guys show up without the PB. We have no idea what guidance they were given. He basically said at the beginning to make sure we communicate through him, but he’s slow to respond and now he’s saying to just tell the subs what we want. Isn’t that his job? Then he wanted us to pay $10k now (they have only chipped off the old plaster). He says it’s to pay for the coping but it keeps getting delayed, so how do I know it’s even being worked on? We settled on giving him $6k and the other $4k when the coping arrives. But I’m losing faith in this guy.
What was your experience like?
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
4,226
Palm City/FL
Pool Size
12800
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
K,

You describe a lot of warning signs about a job that has a high probability of going bad. All of the questions you have should be addressed in your contract. You obligations (mostly things like payment schedule, site access etc) and PB obligations should be very clearly spelled out. What does your contract say? If it does not adequately define obligations if it were me, I would meet with the builder and negotiate an addendum that covers these items. The scope should be very clearly defined. Payment requirements shouldn't be a mystery and a negotiation at each step. They should be tied to progress and minimum quality should roughly tie to work in place cost. There should also be a performance test before final payment is made. This should be no less than 10% of the total contract. Extremely important in your case is a release of liens process so you don't find out that he hasn't paid the subs and they have put a lien on your pool in retaliation.

You are early in the process so you still have a little leverage and may be able to get this right. You should approach this professionally and not be combative. If he sees that you are quite willing to pay when he performs and the criteria are fair and clear he may realize this can be beneficial.

I'm so sorry to hear you're having this problem and I hope this is helpful.

Chris
 
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BigPapaSmurf

Well-known member
Apr 23, 2021
224
Magnolia, Texas
Surface
Plaster
I completely agree with Chris. The key is communications. Maybe the PB uses his subs in this way, you just need to be informed this. Like Chris said “You should approach this professionally and not be combative. If he sees that you are quite willing to pay when he performs and the criteria are fair and clear he may realize this can be beneficial.”
 
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KDee

Member
Jul 7, 2021
17
Southern CA
I think more than anything, I’m wondering how often someone in charge showed up to supervise the work. It feels like we keep having to ask this guy to come and see what’s going on, especially when a couple of things have looked wrong.
Payment schedule says first $10k due after chipping, coping manufacturing, and start of Baja steps. We were supposed to get the coping 4 weeks ago which is why we said we wouldn’t pay the whole thing until we actually see the coping because he hasn’t been able to tell us when we’d actually get it. They started the steps on the day we paid.
Trying to be civil but communication with this guy is like pulling teeth :(
 

AQUA~HOLICS

In The Industry
Jul 19, 2021
97
Southern California
KDee, frequency of supervision really depends on your builders working relationship with his subs and how well he is able to relay your request to them and that they understand that. I personally meet with the contractor and pool owner at the job site at the beginning of all the major steps of the pool build. When the customer has concerns about work being performed and it can’t be explained or corrected in conversation I will be there ASAP. Everyone does things differently but I hope this helps you with your question on how often some one should show up to supervise the work, Ray.
 
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jmtaylor1228

Member
Oct 20, 2020
18
Central NJ
We are almost finished with our build. We used a large builder and paid more as I wanted someone with experience. The process was tough— constant chasing, showing up when not expected, etc.. we never saw the builder here except the first day when he told me we had to pay more for a drywell we did not need. However, since it is a vinyl pool I thought it doesn’t hurt to have insurance.
Friends who went fiberglass and used a smaller builder always saw their PB, but it was equally as spotty when they would show.

A contractor friend said he does not recommend Poolbuikders as they are all equal in terms of not showing up and communicating.
 
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TampaKathy

Gold Supporter
Oct 2, 2020
294
Tampa, FL
I am currently having a pool built and the PB has been here a few times checking on the work and doing some things himself and talking with me but has only been here at the same time as the subs once (on gunite day).
 
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texasAUtiger

Well-known member
Jul 10, 2021
80
Waco, TX
Pool Size
15600
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
When we broke ground and when we shot gunite, my PB was there. He would drop by occasionally to check on the work, but we communicated by text and/or phone mainly. Subs often showed up without my PB and sometimes showed up without me knowing they were coming, but that never seemed to be a problem at all.

They are probably building a lot of pools simultaneously and if the PB has a good relationship with his subs, he doesn't need to stand over them while they work, so I wouldn't get nervous unless you think something isn't being done correctly.
 
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TexasTomKat

Gold Supporter
Feb 9, 2021
75
Frisco, TX
Pool Size
18000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Communication was the most important aspect pf our decision process. Prior to selecting out builder, they were proactive in communication and always followed up after each of our meetings. Our PB was consistently on site before, during and after any work was done. We received daily email communications, morning and evening as well as in person visits. He has several builds going at the same time, but makes it a point to communicate. If we have a question, we send an email we usually receive an immediate response. To be clear, we had a few hiccups throughout the build, but at least he communicated.
 

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setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
4,226
Palm City/FL
Pool Size
12800
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
I think more than anything, I’m wondering how often someone in charge showed up to supervise the work. It feels like we keep having to ask this guy to come and see what’s going on, especially when a couple of things have looked wrong.
Payment schedule says first $10k due after chipping, coping manufacturing, and start of Baja steps. We were supposed to get the coping 4 weeks ago which is why we said we wouldn’t pay the whole thing until we actually see the coping because he hasn’t been able to tell us when we’d actually get it. They started the steps on the day we paid.
Trying to be civil but communication with this guy is like pulling teeth :(
K,
Direct answer to your first question is: Yes the owner or his quality inspector should be there frequently. Often for each crew there is a supervisor that is a working supervisor. This varies depending on the craft and how long the builder has worked with the specific crew. It's also important to recognize there's a difference between quality inspection and supervision of the work in most cases.

On your payment issue, I think it's interesting they seem to be "hand to mouth" on payment. You may still want to "clear the air" with the builder and try to establish the expectations on supervision and payment. If it were me, I'd want to make sure I know what is being done to inspect and supervise. There are certain things you should pay a lot of attention to such as in any kind of coatings work surface prep must be almost perfect so I would want to know how he's accomplishing this. Also, payment would be only in full after the entire milestone was met, not partial payment for partial work. That can work out badly in many cases.

Wish I had better advice for you but at least it does appear that you're improving your position by negotiation so far.

Chris
 
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Haku84

Well-known member
May 20, 2021
57
Southern California
Pool Size
18000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-20
My PB showed up the first day of the dig, again when there was some property damage, and for the first inspection. I have been managing and GCing the build myself. There have been a lot of issues with the build, had the PB been there to supervise or inspect after each step the process would have been smoother. Instead I have subs showing up with no plans of the build, not fluent in english, and some times not sure what it is they are supposed to do. I am forced to contact the PB with concerns at each step and the buck gets passed on to the next sub that is supposed to show up. Unbeknown to that sub, they have been selected correct an issue that they are unable to fix. My experience has been a bit of a nightmare instead of an enjoyable one. Thanks to COVID I was home to manage the project, and catch a sub using the side of my shed to catch his urine.

Make sure to create a paper trail and put your concerns in writing. Hope things work out better for you than they are for me.
 
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johngault007

Bronze Supporter
May 12, 2021
42
Pensacola, Florida
Pool Size
14000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
We did a new pool build. Our PM showed up at least once or twice a week when a phase of construction happened. If they weren't there while the subs were working, they responded to questions via text and/or phone calls within a couple minutes. We were lucky and had very few issues, but the ones that did pop up were resolved pretty fast.

I do have to say, after lurking on this site for the past couple months that I think we were the exception to the rule and probably not the average experience.
 
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klanel

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2021
134
Athens, GA
My builder has shown up one time and that was dig day but he sat in a chair off to the side making phone calls, etc. Other than that, he comes when he wants a draw. I have an issue and it was me that had to notify the builder. No one supervising or looking things over to make sure they are done correctly. Even after I emailed, sent text with photos, he still didn't come. Just says he's going to get the workers boss out here but it's been weeks and still no one comes. Work has come to a halt. I'm sure they are working away on other's pools and don't want to fix mine so work can proceed. I just want to get through this but I am documenting this and much more. If things don't turn out well on the finished product, I will do everything I can to inform his future clients of the experiences I've had. Not a happy customer!
 
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klanel

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2021
134
Athens, GA
Adding to earlier suggestions about contract stipulations. His quote was non-specific. He stated the shape, length, width and depth of the pool. Mentions the types of equipment but no model numbers, no timelines. Says how much decking will be included and then there is a section on extra services not included such as retaining walls/sq ft, additional concrete decking/sq ft, kool deck/sq ft, States no dirt moved in or out. As for draws, it was 9K at signing, 17k at dig, 17k at plumbing/steel/shotcrete, 17k after equip installed, and I think $2500 at completion. It added up to $62,500 but we will have much more in it with retaining walls, additional concrete, kool deck, and heatpump instead of gas.

I have been very civil and have gone to great lengths not to explode. It was due to my frustration and need for an outlet that I found this forum. He was the only builder that I contacted and I had a really good 'feeling' about him. He spent lots of time during the sales pitch, patient and answering whatever questions I could think of. Unfortunately, I really didn't know what to ask. I have footprints left in my steps and the bottom of the spa, hairline cracks side to side, end to end, a skimmer concreted 1" lower than the other. All I get from the builder is that will fix. As for the footprints in the spa bottom, he says they usually make it look better. He saw some of the issues when he came for his draw as I pointed it out to him. He saw the skimmer issue with my photos I sent to him. I doubt that all his clients get this poor customer service as he builds pools for a lot of wealthy people who also have wealthy friends that may want pools. I have been waiting weeks for someone to come, check and repair the incorrect skimmer installation. He just says the contractor supervisor will come and he is getting a day. Been waiting for a day for a month now. I see several here that seem to have great experiences with their builders. I just wish I was one of them. I'm two months past when it should have been finished and have given up on being able to use it this year.
 

KDee

Member
Jul 7, 2021
17
Southern CA
Adding to earlier suggestions about contract stipulations. His quote was non-specific. He stated the shape, length, width and depth of the pool. Mentions the types of equipment but no model numbers, no timelines. Says how much decking will be included and then there is a section on extra services not included such as retaining walls/sq ft, additional concrete decking/sq ft, kool deck/sq ft, States no dirt moved in or out. As for draws, it was 9K at signing, 17k at dig, 17k at plumbing/steel/shotcrete, 17k after equip installed, and I think $2500 at completion. It added up to $62,500 but we will have much more in it with retaining walls, additional concrete, kool deck, and heatpump instead of gas.

I have been very civil and have gone to great lengths not to explode. It was due to my frustration and need for an outlet that I found this forum. He was the only builder that I contacted and I had a really good 'feeling' about him. He spent lots of time during the sales pitch, patient and answering whatever questions I could think of. Unfortunately, I really didn't know what to ask. I have footprints left in my steps and the bottom of the spa, hairline cracks side to side, end to end, a skimmer concreted 1" lower than the other. All I get from the builder is that will fix. As for the footprints in the spa bottom, he says they usually make it look better. He saw some of the issues when he came for his draw as I pointed it out to him. He saw the skimmer issue with my photos I sent to him. I doubt that all his clients get this poor customer service as he builds pools for a lot of wealthy people who also have wealthy friends that may want pools. I have been waiting weeks for someone to come, check and repair the incorrect skimmer installation. He just says the contractor supervisor will come and he is getting a day. Been waiting for a day for a month now. I see several here that seem to have great experiences with their builders. I just wish I was one of them. I'm two months past when it should have been finished and have given up on being able to use it this year.
Wow, this is terrible! I’m fortunate that I have people in my household who know what to look for because I would be at the mercy of the PB if I was the only one dealing with them. Isn’t that the point of a PB? You pay them to make sure all the work is done properly and to know what they are doing. I’m so sorry you are going through this. My experience isn’t quite where you are yet, but I am fearing the worst. Best of luck to you in getting this resolved. We signed our contract in April and went with this builder because he gave a great sales pitch and promised he could get it done by June, while others said they couldn’t start until August. We had a good feeling about him, too :( We are end of July now with still no coping. Should be coming today. We’ll see…
 

KDee

Member
Jul 7, 2021
17
Southern CA
My builder has shown up one time and that was dig day but he sat in a chair off to the side making phone calls, etc. Other than that, he comes when he wants a draw. I have an issue and it was me that had to notify the builder. No one supervising or looking things over to make sure they are done correctly. Even after I emailed, sent text with photos, he still didn't come. Just says he's going to get the workers boss out here but it's been weeks and still no one comes. Work has come to a halt. I'm sure they are working away on other's pools and don't want to fix mine so work can proceed. I just want to get through this but I am documenting this and much more. If things don't turn out well on the finished product, I will do everything I can to inform his future clients of the experiences I've had. Not a happy customer!
We recently went to a showroom to look at samples for tile and pebbletec and the person working there mentioned that our PB might be retiring soon so even if our pool doesn’t work out, leaving him nasty reviews may not do us any good :( This is all so frustrating.
 
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KDee

Member
Jul 7, 2021
17
Southern CA
My PB showed up the first day of the dig, again when there was some property damage, and for the first inspection. I have been managing and GCing the build myself. There have been a lot of issues with the build, had the PB been there to supervise or inspect after each step the process would have been smoother. Instead I have subs showing up with no plans of the build, not fluent in english, and some times not sure what it is they are supposed to do. I am forced to contact the PB with concerns at each step and the buck gets passed on to the next sub that is supposed to show up. Unbeknown to that sub, they have been selected correct an issue that they are unable to fix. My experience has been a bit of a nightmare instead of an enjoyable one. Thanks to COVID I was home to manage the project, and catch a sub using the side of my shed to catch his urine.

Make sure to create a paper trail and put your concerns in writing. Hope things work out better for you than they are for me.
Thank you for the suggestions. Most of the concerns have been voiced through text message but I think we will do emails as well just to cover bases.
 

KDee

Member
Jul 7, 2021
17
Southern CA
My PB showed up the first day of the dig, again when there was some property damage, and for the first inspection. I have been managing and GCing the build myself. There have been a lot of issues with the build, had the PB been there to supervise or inspect after each step the process would have been smoother. Instead I have subs showing up with no plans of the build, not fluent in english, and some times not sure what it is they are supposed to do. I am forced to contact the PB with concerns at each step and the buck gets passed on to the next sub that is supposed to show up. Unbeknown to that sub, they have been selected correct an issue that they are unable to fix. My experience has been a bit of a nightmare instead of an enjoyable one. Thanks to COVID I was home to manage the project, and catch a sub using the side of my shed to catch his urine.

Make sure to create a paper trail and put your concerns in writing. Hope things work out better for you than they are for me.
Could I ask which part of California you are in? I’m trying to see if we are using the same guy :(
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
4,226
Palm City/FL
Pool Size
12800
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
Adding to earlier suggestions about contract stipulations. His quote was non-specific. He stated the shape, length, width and depth of the pool. Mentions the types of equipment but no model numbers, no timelines. Says how much decking will be included and then there is a section on extra services not included such as retaining walls/sq ft, additional concrete decking/sq ft, kool deck/sq ft, States no dirt moved in or out. As for draws, it was 9K at signing, 17k at dig, 17k at plumbing/steel/shotcrete, 17k after equip installed, and I think $2500 at completion. It added up to $62,500 but we will have much more in it with retaining walls, additional concrete, kool deck, and heatpump instead of gas.

I have been very civil and have gone to great lengths not to explode. It was due to my frustration and need for an outlet that I found this forum. He was the only builder that I contacted and I had a really good 'feeling' about him. He spent lots of time during the sales pitch, patient and answering whatever questions I could think of. Unfortunately, I really didn't know what to ask. I have footprints left in my steps and the bottom of the spa, hairline cracks side to side, end to end, a skimmer concreted 1" lower than the other. All I get from the builder is that will fix. As for the footprints in the spa bottom, he says they usually make it look better. He saw some of the issues when he came for his draw as I pointed it out to him. He saw the skimmer issue with my photos I sent to him. I doubt that all his clients get this poor customer service as he builds pools for a lot of wealthy people who also have wealthy friends that may want pools. I have been waiting weeks for someone to come, check and repair the incorrect skimmer installation. He just says the contractor supervisor will come and he is getting a day. Been waiting for a day for a month now. I see several here that seem to have great experiences with their builders. I just wish I was one of them. I'm two months past when it should have been finished and have given up on being able to use it this year.
K,

This is a great post and thanks for being so candid about your experience. Contracting is a topic that doesn't get a lot of traction on here until it's too late. Sadly, only a few really act on recommendations to make sure you have a fair and complete contract is as important as any of the design specifications. I think the reason for this is just what you say here. They "feel good" about the builder and so good they often just can't believe he would do anything less than keep them happy. After signing more than a few go down the same road as you are right now. They have a contract that is devoid of content important to they buyer because it was prepared by an attorney that he paid. So there's no quality requirements for payment just he tells you completed something is complete and there's not even a measurable milestone definition of what that means. Everything in the contract is this way... extremely one-sided and buy has virtually no recourse other than to stop the job and pay up or go to court in which case he will lose even more. I would urge everybody that's in the process of finding a builder to just step back and objectively assess where they are compared to our best practices wiki. Worst case you verify your builder really is a good one and your contract really is fair and complete. Best case, well you can read a lot of those stories on this forum that you just avoided.

Now as I listen to what I just wrote it sounds like building a pool is a terrible experience and often it's not at all that way. The fact is that you as owner have to do contracting at least as correctly as you select the specifications. There are many, many quality builders that are in business for the long term. I have no idea what percentage of jobs are done by really quality builders and what percentage go bad. All I can say is that my experience in construction indicates the constructors that have been in business for the long haul realize their reputation is everything and they don't operate the way I describe in the first paragraph. And there are even newbie's out there that are destined to become great builders these also have a customer satisfaction driver that you can discern in the selection process. These builders are also never the cheapest cost but they always provide the best value to the buyer. Finding the good ones is not rocket science and it's well worth the effort.

I hope this helps to at least help others avoid the problems you're experiencing now.

Chris
 
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