I just learned - the hard way - all about building a pool!

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,756
Central California
Could you do me a favor please, and try to find out (casually) whether the guys who come to plaster are employees of the company or independent subcontractors. That will help me a lot with my situation.
Keep in mind, the plasterers are most likely independent sub contractors. Even if the PB has his own plaster crew, there will be no knowing from Tim that your PB didn't use some other plaster sub contractors for your job, or his. And either way, there is no knowing from Tim that your PB used the same plasterers. He likely has a pool of plasterers to choose from, so he can keep his jobs on track if one of them is busy. I'm curious what you would do with the information of who the plasterers were, even if you could determine who it was. Or why you wouldn't just ask your PB who it was (though I get that he wouldn't likely get back to you on that). And not to belabor my previous thread, I don't know what action you could take, with or without knowing, until you establish your dispute with the PB and write and deliver the dispute letter. Did you get to that yet? Your resolution is through him, not the subcontractors. I had mentioned you can legally circumvent the final payment, but without the letter there is a time table you must adhere to, or else you are in breech of the contract, which will weaken your position.

BBB is not the next step. They can't force a resolution to any dispute, as they have no authority over anything. If a contractor uses and cares at all about his BBB rating, he'll know how to maintain his A rating without actually providing any resolution at all. The BBB is not interested in the resolution per se, only that it was addressed (not necessarily resolved). A virtually worthless organization, that maintains a sham of a rating system based on a glaring conflict of interest.

The next step is the Florida contractor's board. But you can't go to them yet, which is why I didn't mention it yet. Not until you deliver the letter. I mean, you can, of course, but they'll first ask you to write the letter. You can't take any action until you do, you have to describe what you want done, and then allow the PB a reasonable amount of time to perform. Any resolution starts with that: board, lawyer, court, whatever...

But perhaps you have your own, better way of getting this done. I hope you'll share, as it will no doubt help others...
 

timglidden

Well-known member
Nov 20, 2017
84
fort lauderdale fl
Judith- almost all the crews are subcontractors. mine just finished filling today. I'm actually happy with how it turned out all things and price considered. I actually took the low bid as the higher priced companies seemed to have issues as well.... I plan on waiting a few weeks before I jump in as well....my house is still under renovation so the back yard isn't really conducive to enjoyable swimming at this point.

The company that did my gunite also did my finish. Company was called team prestige I think.



- - - Updated - - -

And the approach I took with the PB since the beginning was a "you get more bees with honey" approach as I knew who these builds could turn out..... They weren't always super responsive but I politely stayed on them and in the end got what I feel is a great deal for the pool....
 

judithleah

Member
Oct 10, 2018
21
Boca Raton, Florida
Tim, your pool looks gorgeous! Hope you have many years of happy, healthy use and enjoyment from it :sun:I'm assuming that you have paid them in full and that they have provided you with lien releases. If not, please let me know. The reason I inquired about whether the workers were subcontracted or employees is that I am concerned that I may have an issue with subcontractors putting a lien on my property if they haven't been paid by the PB. At this point I don't take anything for granted.

As far as our pool is concerned, I have informed the PB in writing about the deficiencies, and still have hope that we can resolve this peacefully. I still have a good relationship with the salesperson, but never had any real communication with anyone else. I haven't heard from them how they intend to remove the footprints, but they did make an attempt to fix the escutcheon problem by snapping on cheap plastic escutcheons instead of the marine grade stainless steel ones I had purchased to match the railing. That is not going to be acceptable.

And now we have noticed a new problem. I think that the paver installation job is below par, but would like to hear what all you folks have to say. Apparently, instead of laying the pavers outwards from the pool, they laid them towards the pool and were then left with a few awkward gaps, which they filled in with slivers of tile. Does not look very good at all. Is this acceptable? Paver issues 1.jpg
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,627
Tallahassee, FL
Sigh :( really? Nope. I can see how it happened. The stone your right foot is on should have been shaved back to allow those other two to sit even with the coping. That should be fixable without a total tear out. If they shave that stone to allow those other two to sit even then work out from there they should be able to even out the gaps to the other side so you would not even need tiny pieces to fix it.
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,862
Damascus, MD
Wow that sucks. No one that has any pride in their work would do something like that. "Acceptable" is in the eye of the beholder. That said and as sloppy as it is, I don't think it is a battle you will win. This is what you get when stop by the local Home Depot to collect your day's employees on your way to a job.

Also are you saying your rails are permanent? I had just assumed they were removable since most are nowadays. Did you ever confirm if they are connected to your bonding grid?

BTW: My build was similar. Great salesman but the rest of the company was a bunch of jerks. My beef fortunately for me was work not done but the work they did do was acceptable.
 

judithleah

Member
Oct 10, 2018
21
Boca Raton, Florida
So....I'll address the two issues that Kim and PoolGate brought up.
Kim, I see what you're saying about how to fix the pavers. Unfortunately, the issue is rampant around the entire pool - I only posted a sample picture. I think that in order to fix it, all the tiles would need to be lifted. They aren't grouted in, though, so maybe this is not such a big deal. And on that subject, is it common practice in Florida not to grout outdoor pavers? And if so, why?
Regarding the hand rail, you are right, in most cases, the rail should be easily removable from its anchors. This is something that people do upgrade from time to time. However, in my case, the gunite was installed before the railing and the plaster afterwards. The end of the pole that sits in the stairs is plastered right into the floor, so I don't know how it can be removed without breaking up the plaster. Here's a shot of it again.Handrailinstep.jpg. I don't know what I can reasonably expect them to do to fix this in a way that won't seriously damage the pool, but I do know that their plastic snap-on escutcheon is not acceptable.

Regarding the bonding, I checked with the city's inspection process of the job, and the bonding was in fact done and passed inspection. I asked and was assured that the railing, which was installed afterwards was also bonded to the grid. However, I don't know if that, in fact, is the case. I'm with PoolGate on acknowledging that this pool is not likely to pass final inspection (hasn't yet) without proof of it being bonded. So if they have to dig it up anyway, that might give them an opportunity to slide up the correct escutcheons from the bottom. Makes sense to me, but I don't know, at this point, what they are thinking. (Or if they are even thinking about it at all :scratch:). I do know that they haven't come after me for the holdback yet, so let's see what happens. Always hopeful.:sun::sun:
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,862
Damascus, MD
Since you have a paver deck, it should have been easy to bond the rail hopefully they did do that. Mine the bonding wire is under the poured concrete deck so fairly inaccessible. As mentioned above, you can confirm/test that the rail is part of the bonding grid with a multimeter. I would not break it up to add an escutcheon. You can get a nice 2 piece one. But without using a rail anchor on the pool end, the constant stress from being used could crack the plaster around the rail on that step. What is your guarantee on the plaster? Does it say they will repair the plaster if the crack is around the rail?

Looking at your deck end of that rail, and since it is pavers on sand, you could most likely carefully lift up those pavers, dig down and expose the end of the rail and slip on the proper escutcheon. While in there you should also see the bonding wire attachment. I assume it is bonded on the deck side and not the pool side.

View attachment 87633
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,756
Central California
I don't know much about pavers, but if they are set on a concrete base (or maybe even if they are not), shouldn't there be an expansion joint? Where's the expansion joint?

Someone else here had pavers jammed up to their coping and cut them back and added an expansion joint, so that is possible, and would fix both issues in one go (the expansion joint, and the shoddy fitting).
 

judithleah

Member
Oct 10, 2018
21
Boca Raton, Florida
I'm pretty sure the pavers are set in sand, not concrete. And because the other side (away from the pool) of the pavers just taper off into the lawn without any barrier, I don't think the lack of an expansion joint should be a problem. I just don't know, given all the other issues, whether I should insist that the tiles be relaid properly or just let it go.:confused:
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,627
Tallahassee, FL
It is very common to use polymeric sand (do a search for it. It is neat stuff). They should be able to lift them up and remove them as needed. Me? Out they all go and do again!

Where the decking meets the grass, how tall is it? I have an idea for that side.

Bonding of the handrail-how can it be bonded if it was added after? Did they lift up the decking and run the bonding wire to the rail? This is a VERY important safety thing. IF something goes wrong and electricity get to the water someone could die. A good (sad) example is someone with a pacemaker and the "tingle" causes it to not work. This is not something to take any chances with.
 

scdaren

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
May 20, 2018
390
Clovis, CA
I really hope that we can resolve this without an attorney, because it is only the attorneys who win out on these cases in the end. But if it comes to it, yes, of course, I will definitely play that card!
I think, given the number of things that have gone wrong, contacting an attorney would be a really good idea. But make sure you find someone with good references. It should not cost you very much at all for a consultation, and for them to engage in some communication with the PB, which hopefully should be enough to get this resolved. If actual litigation is required, there is very likely an attorneys fees clause in your contract that will require them to pay your attorneys fees. Of course, you need to make sure that you would in fact prevail in litigation. From what you have said, it sounds like they have pretty clearly breached your contract on numerous points.
 

judithleah

Member
Oct 10, 2018
21
Boca Raton, Florida
It is very common to use polymeric sand (do a search for it. It is neat stuff). They should be able to lift them up and remove them as needed. Me? Out they all go and do again!

Where the decking meets the grass, how tall is it? I have an idea for that side.

Bonding of the handrail-how can it be bonded if it was added after? Did they lift up the decking and run the bonding wire to the rail? This is a VERY important safety thing. IF something goes wrong and electricity get to the water someone could die. A good (sad) example is someone with a pacemaker and the "tingle" causes it to not work. This is not something to take any chances with.
Hi Kim,

Sorry I didn't get to this sooner - I am very interested in your ideas. When you ask how tall it is - do you mean how tall is the grass? Since we haven't resodded or anything yet, it's just weedy and pretty much the same height as the pavers. I'm having trouble uploading a picture, but it's just a 40 ft length of pavers alongside empty grass. What do you suggest?

As for making sure that the rail is properly bonded - you are right that that is a safety issue and cannot be ignored. If they are going to be honorable about their work, they will lift the pavers, dig down in the area of the railing to check the bonding, fix it if necessary, and install the proper escutcheons, thereby killing three birds with one stone. However, at this point they are refusing to do any repairs until the last payment is made. I suspect that doing the repairs properly will cost them more than I still owe them, so they are stalling. They also just sent me a Notice to Owner document, (six months after work commenced), informing me that my property may be subject to liens placed by unpaid subcontractors - a mildly threatening tactic.

I also checked with Boca's permitting department and discovered that the job failed the last electrical inspection, and other final inspections have not been done yet. Again, they are saying that they won't do final inspections until the last payment is made.

As per Dirk's recommendations, an official letter to them, detailing all the many deficiencies of the job, is coming soon!

Judy
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,756
Central California
Hi Judy,

I'm hearing good news (in a round-about way). When you write "they are refusing to do any repairs until the last payment is made," how was that news delivered? By phone, email? It'd be great if you got that in writing.

"They also just sent me a Notice to Owner document..." might just be standard procedure. I wouldn't read anything into that. Did you ever get any preliminary lien notices? I'm not up on exactly how the lien process works, especially in FL, but it was my understanding that no subcontractor can later enforce a lien unless he first provided you with a preliminary notice. How else would a consumer be able to check that all sub-contractors that could lien their property have been paid, unless the consumer was first informed of who has a right to? The preliminary lien notice establishes who has the right to lien, and so only those that provide one can lien your property. Something like that. You'd have to check FL law on that point.

The round-about good news is the continuing demand for final payment in light of the failed inspection. Getting his demand for final payment in writing, if you haven't yet, would be especially valuable. You need to find a way to orchestrate that. At this point, I would cease all verbal contact with your PB. In some states, demanding final payment with a failed inspection is fraud. Actionable fraud. Which can entitle you to additional damages, beyond just correcting the work. If Florida is such a state, you could actually profit (so to speak) from this debacle.

And the second half of the round-about good news is: if he has, in fact, demanded final payment with a failed inspection on the books, I don't see any way clear of declaring that despicable, illegal behavior. I don't see how that can be explained, or justified, in any way that would define this guy as honorable or legitimate. He just isn't, and in my opinion I can see no advantage to you hoping, or waiting, for this guy to come around and do the right thing. If that is what he has done, then he is not a good guy, and won't later suddenly become one. You'll have to force good behavior out of him, and so it's time to go after him. And by the way, I think you earlier wrote something about him coming back to finish the work. I had the same dilemma. I was relieved when my deadline to perform passed. I didn't want my guy to come back and do any more shoddy work. Neither do you. Your best case scenario is for this guy to get your demand letter and ignore it. Once your deadline passes, then you can get everything fixed, by someone better at their job, and then just bill your PB. That worked out great for me. That last thing I wanted was for my PB to come back and make a bigger mess than he already had.

But as I suggested previously, it's imperative that you send that letter. You're not clearly in a good faith dispute until you do.

If you're not feeling confident in my advice (and there's no real reason you should, to be frank about it), and/or haven't yet done your own research about FL law as it pertains to your situation, then maybe seeking an attorney to guide you would be in your best interest. I was especially intrigued by PoolGate's post (#18), regarding damages pertaining to violating that "day off" clause of the contract. Those damages could easily surpass the small claims court limit. You should definitely pursue that, which would require an attorney (because you'd be headed for superior court). I know you want to avoid an attorney, and court, and you could possibly prevail without going there, but maybe a consultation with one is in order. You might have a bigger, stronger case than you think, and knowledge is power, even if you later decide not to go down that road. A short meeting could also help you ascertain what of the ideas I've shared with you apply in FL.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,627
Tallahassee, FL
Grass/patio meeting area ideas and thoughts:

-You do NOT want the grass touching the decking stone. The reason being it will start growing over in time. Then you will need to weed wack it or edge it. All of which could cause damage to the stone over time.

-Adding edging of some sorts along the decking stone. There are plastic and metal kinds. Look around and see what you can find. Some are pound in some you make a small trench, press it in then "backfill" to hold it in.

-adding pretty stone about 5" out with edging of some sort to help keep the rocks in and grass out. You would have to have a good weed block under it. This is my less liked idea due to thinking it will require more maintenance over time.

I have a sad over them trying to strong arm you. They are trying to scare you into paying and calling it good. Nope, nope, nope! Time for hard ball on your side. The failed inspection alone would scare me then add in the other inspections not being done??? What is he thinking? If this is not fixed now you will not be able to sell the property down the road if you ever want to!
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,756
Central California
I have a sad over them trying to strong arm you. They are trying to scare you into paying and calling it good. Nope, nope, nope! Time for hard ball on your side. The failed inspection alone would scare me then add in the other inspections not being done??? What is he thinking? If this is not fixed now you will not be able to sell the property down the road if you ever want to!
This is actually a "happy," Kim. This is the start of him playing right into her hands. Back in my original post, I cautioned: "He'll bully whoever he can to squeeze out payments, to make ends meet." and "Some rely on bullying and blustering and empty threats. In the ensuing letter exchange between myself and my contractor, on multiple occasions, he put in writing the very things I needed to be able to prove my case in court, but would have been hard pressed to do so had he not provided that proof! He inadvertently admitted to all sorts of wrong doing."

If Judy writes her letter and insists on only written exchanges, this guy will hang himself. That's what she wants. If he has, or will, issue a written demand for final payment, before final inspections, along with an existing failed inspection, then that is both illegal and fraudulent, all wrapped up in a nice bow. If Judy ends up using a lawyer, she'll be all set with that kind of evidence. And one of the reasons I believe I didn't end up in court is because, once I gathered all my contractor's fax paus (all written by him, and delivered by certified mail, so he had no way of denying them), and gave them to the CA Contractors Board, and even pointed them out to the contractor in subsequent letters, he had to cave. Almost all the evidence I collected regarding his illegal behavior was from his certified letters, which he provided in response to my letters!

I'm predicting Judy's scenario is going to play out much the same way. That's one of the reasons I advised her not to engage this guy on the phone, and to perhaps avoid any unnecessary meetings. If she writes that letter, and the deadline it must include expires, with all the outstanding work still incomplete, no final sign off etc, that's perfect. That constitutes abandonment, and, at least in CA, that is huge! The CA Contractors Board can really go after a guy for that, as I suspect a judge would as well... Just picture him in court, or before the FL contractors board. What's he going to use as an excuse?

"Sir, why didn't you finish the job?"

"Well, she didn't pay me the final payment?"

"Sir, why would she make the final payment before you completed the job?"

"Uh, well, uh, well..."

Now if he gets the letter, and realizes she means business, and comes back to finish the job, to her satisfaction, then she'll lose a lot of her litigation footing, but she'll get the job done! Either way, she wins.
 

judithleah

Member
Oct 10, 2018
21
Boca Raton, Florida
Yes, John and Val, I upgraded to the Shellock Oceania in Tan color. Like them?

To update my story, yesterday I received a message from them that they won't address any of the issues until I give them a certified check for final payment. Obviously, that is not acceptable. I am in the process of putting all my claims into a letter and will send it out this week. I'm also looking for a good, but inexpensive lawyer to consult with in the Boca area. Anyone have any suggestions?
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,756
Central California
Hi Judy, so sorry to hear that you're dealing with an unreasonable contractor. Hang in there through this next phase. The letter, the lawyer, all good. Take it step by step as your contractor continues to hang himself. You will prevail.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,627
Tallahassee, FL
Document, document, document! Make sure you can save any and all texts and such. You do NOT to lose your phone without the info being saved in some way.