Quote Review for First Time Buyer in Houston, TX Area

DanielHobley

Active member
Apr 19, 2019
32
Houston, TX
My family and I would like to have an in-ground pool installed at our home. We've been researching for months and, frankly, it's all a bit overwhelming. I've reached out to 8 builders for quotes and only *1* has actually made it out, provided a design, and returned a quote.

The quote is not itemized and includes items selected by the builder (i.e. we were not provided options for the interior, coping, equipment, etc.). The only thing we specifically mentioned as desirable is the tanning ledge.

Should I use this as a strong reference point when comparing quotes? Anything seem odd, out of place, or missing altogether? I know it's not much to work with, but I'd appreciate any insight.

Pool Dimensions
Shape: Free Form
Perimeter: 82’
Area: 387 sq. ft.
Envelope: 29’x18’
Depth: 3.5’-5’-4’
Interior: Wet Edge Technologies, Signature Series Pebble, Color TBD
Coping: Bullnose Travertine, Color TBD
Tile: Standard 6x6, TBD
Features: Tanning Ledge with 2 Bubblers and 1 Umbrella holder

Equipment
Pump(s): Pentair, VSF 3HP Variable Speed Pump
Filter: Pentair, Cartridge 520
Heater: Pentair: MasterTemp 400K
Cleaner: Pentair, Prowler 920 Robotic Cleaner
Chlorinator: Pentair, Rainbow 320
Lighting: Pentair, IntelliBrite Color Changing LEDs (2)
Automation: Pentair, IntelliConnect with App-based Controls

Decking: 619 sq. ft. of new concrete with Spray Deck, Color TBD
359 sq. ft. of existing concrete with Spray Deck only, Color TBD
Up to 100 Linear Feet of 4” Drain Lines, Ran to Front of Property

PROJECT TOTAL: $47,203 with heater; $44,203 with no heater

Price includes all city permits and inspections. Price also includes fence removal and re-installation as needed for access.
Site will be cleaned, graded, and ready for sod upon project completion. Sod and landscaping are not included in stated
price, but can be arranged upon customer request.

Warranty
1 Year “Fence to Fence”
3 Years Equipment (Including Cleaner)
5 years Electrical and Plumbing
10 Years Structural (one time transferable)
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
22,455
Laughlin, NV
Welcome to the forum!
Have you thought about a SaltWater Chlorine Generator? Read this.

Intelliconnect is the basic automation. Few here have them - the newest automation from Pentair is IntelliCenter. You can package it with an appropriately sized SWCG. Be sure it is rated for 2X your pool water volume.

I suggest you read ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry and consider reviewing the entire Pool School eBook.
 
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DanielHobley

Active member
Apr 19, 2019
32
Houston, TX
Welcome to the forum!
Have you thought about a SaltWater Chlorine Generator? Read this.

Intelliconnect is the basic automation. Few here have them - the newest automation from Pentair is IntelliCenter. You can package it with an appropriately sized SWCG. Be sure it is rated for 2X your pool water volume.

I suggest you read ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry and consider reviewing the entire Pool School eBook.
Yes, I've read some pretty positive things about Pentair in general. A SaltWater Chlorine Generator certainly sounds nice. It is not something we had considered, but it also looks like it might be a bit more expensive. We're already on the fence about the price we've been given here.
 

melgerhart

Silver Supporter
Feb 14, 2019
42
Rowlett, Texas
FYI,

Make the project as turn key as possible. last thing you want to do is yard redo after they walk away, have the PB sod the yard, and drainage and sprinklers!!!

Trust me I am cleaning their mess right now...

John
Thanks for this information John. I've been wondering how we were going to handle the mess after the PB is done and gone. We haven't even poured the shotcrete yet (hopefully tomorrow) and we have no grass left! They gave us the option to sod for $500, but I wasn't sure if we wanted to do it ourselves or have them take care of it. We have no landscaping background, so doubt we could handle it ourselves.
 
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setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
1,594
Stuart/FL
Congrats on the new pool and Welcome to TFP. This can be a great resource for you as we have pool experts on everything from planning, construction to pool care at your fingertips!

Looks like you've made a lot of good choices on equipment. Couple of questions:
  • Agree with other comments here on site cleanup. Make sure it's detailed in writing. Grading to what slope. Topsoil? Tough to do with just Houston gumbo soil
  • What are the PB and your obligations during the initial start-up and curing period.
  • What are the PB requirements for quality?
  • Who does electrical supply and what is the capacity of the sub-panel?
  • Payment terms? What are the milestones and criteria. Make sure they are clear and easily measurable.
  • Final payment should be AFTER completion criteria are met and they should be clearly measurable. Things like: Pool and finish are complete, it holds water, equipment has been tested and works etc. This can also be covered with a retainage of 5-10%
  • Get warranty well defined in writing. "Fence to fence" does this mean parts and labor? If not , what?
  • If the contractor cannot do "turn-key" in other words there are other contractors he does not manage (such as electrical) then you will have to manage the interface. You will also be responsible for potential delays from one contractor that causes extra cost of the other. That's why most owners prefer "turn-key".
I think you get my point and there are other things to cover. The reason I am making these comments is we see a LOT of owners that have huge problems from misunderstandings or incorrect assumptions after the contract is in place. Then when the problem surfaces and the owner finds out these items are clear as mud and not in his favor. The discussion with the builder shouldn't be confrontational. Most good builders welcome the fact that you want to know the details so there's no problems later on. Also, no matter how good the agreement is there will be some unpredictable events that you both need to cooperate on to get past. If you can work together to create as specification that includes fair terms and conditions you can have a great build experience. Do you plan to get other bids? If so it would be good to get the same requirements for all the bidders.. Also you should pre-qualify all bidders.

I hope this is helpful..

Chris
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
1,594
Stuart/FL
Everybody has to fit a budget and nhamp07 has a good point. I'd add that you should make the equipment pad and power center large enough for an easy install later on. You'll still save a couple of thousand $.

Chris
 
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Bvacchiano

Well-known member
Apr 6, 2018
189
Sugar Land, Texas
Living in Sugar Land these are the things I would not go without:
1. SWG. Ive said this several times on here but I’d rather cut my arm off than be without an SWG in Houston
2.*overfliow drain. Mine drains to the street and with the amount of rain we get here you will want this! My neighbor doesn’t have one and his pool is overflowing constantly. Makes me worried to be honest. I’d get the auto fill as well.
3. If you don’t have a spa don’t really see the need for a heater. I think I’ve heated my pool once so far. I was in today and water was 75 deg.
4.Chiller. Yes it a luxury item but in July when you are Rediculously hot and sweaty and want to jump in a nice cool refreshing pool you will Be jumping into a hot tub
5. Pentair Easy Touch Or IntelliCenter if you want. The automation is great and would never build a pool without it.
6. Not sure what the signature series is but if you can get the ultra smooth Primera Stone for same price do it. Well worth it.
 
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DanielHobley

Active member
Apr 19, 2019
32
Houston, TX
Congrats on the new pool and Welcome to TFP. This can be a great resource for you as we have pool experts on everything from planning, construction to pool care at your fingertips!

Looks like you've made a lot of good choices on equipment. Couple of questions:
  • Agree with other comments here on site cleanup. Make sure it's detailed in writing. Grading to what slope. Topsoil? Tough to do with just Houston gumbo soil
  • What are the PB and your obligations during the initial start-up and curing period.
  • What are the PB requirements for quality?
  • Who does electrical supply and what is the capacity of the sub-panel?
  • Payment terms? What are the milestones and criteria. Make sure they are clear and easily measurable.
  • Final payment should be AFTER completion criteria are met and they should be clearly measurable. Things like: Pool and finish are complete, it holds water, equipment has been tested and works etc. This can also be covered with a retainage of 5-10%
  • Get warranty well defined in writing. "Fence to fence" does this mean parts and labor? If not , what?
  • If the contractor cannot do "turn-key" in other words there are other contractors he does not manage (such as electrical) then you will have to manage the interface. You will also be responsible for potential delays from one contractor that causes extra cost of the other. That's why most owners prefer "turn-key".
I think you get my point and there are other things to cover. The reason I am making these comments is we see a LOT of owners that have huge problems from misunderstandings or incorrect assumptions after the contract is in place. Then when the problem surfaces and the owner finds out these items are clear as mud and not in his favor. The discussion with the builder shouldn't be confrontational. Most good builders welcome the fact that you want to know the details so there's no problems later on. Also, no matter how good the agreement is there will be some unpredictable events that you both need to cooperate on to get past. If you can work together to create as specification that includes fair terms and conditions you can have a great build experience. Do you plan to get other bids? If so it would be good to get the same requirements for all the bidders.. Also you should pre-qualify all bidders.

I hope this is helpful..

Chris
This is all incredibly helpful! I've actually got a nice list of question to go back to the PB with now. This PB offers turn-key service, but landscaping is optional. It sounds like we need to take that option and run with it. We do plan on getting a few more bids, but it's also been so hard getting anyone to respond. I think our project is too small (even at almost $50k) for most -- some have come right out and said as much. While a little disappointing, it's great to not have anyone's time wasted.

Again, I appreciate this immensely!
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
I think our project is too small (even at almost $50k) for most -- some have come right out and said as much.
I wouldn't let that prevent you from having a pool. Keep shopping and keep all options available for the family ... even the type of pool (plaster, fiberglass, vinyl). We opted for FB in our area for two main reason - cost and this ridiculous clay/gumbo soil. I know of at least two neighbors who went with the same company. Of course in our area of San Antonio, there are hundreds of all 3 types, so I suspect the decision is based on similar factors such as cost, soil, features, depth, etc. And in some cases, simply personal preference. But stick with it. I fought tooth & nail wit the wife about a pool, but once we got it, I can't imagine never having one. It transformed our backyard into a new living area. After reading some things above, here are some of my thoughts:

Cost savings:
- I agree with those above. I don't have a heater because for the most part, I get about 7 months of swimming. By the time Oct hits, I'm ready for a break to be honest.
- If you can't afford the SWG right now, speak to the builder about installing longer runs of PVC at the pad between components and of course after the filter. Make the pad a little bigger for that reason. Later you can install a union or two so that if/when you do get an SWG, it's a fairly easy DIY project. Same applies to the electrical. Se if you can have some extra availability at the pad so power is available. Cheaper to do it now that later.

Other considerations:
- Pool position. Take note of your predominant wind direction. Hopefully you will be able to position everything so that the poolside skimmer is on the downwind side so surface junk makes it to the skimmer. Of course the wind changes, but you probably have a typical direction.
- Safety. If you have pets or small children that may be in the area, make sure the pool has a separation boundary to protect them.
- If you did consider a FB pool, insist on a gravel base and not sand. It's more stable.

Stick with it. It's nice to have a pond in the backyard when May hits. :swim: Good luck!
 
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BayonPools

In The Industry
Apr 21, 2019
4
Phnom Penh
Did you mention what type of pool....it seems too cheap for gunnite, but i know houston is pretty price competitive. Liner price would seem okay, and fiberglass would be too expensive.

Also you are asking for "bids" when the industry is red hot right now...Most builders that are good are sold out for a year already. Some are trying to scale to build more pools, but it is harder said then done.
 
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setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
1,594
Stuart/FL
This is all incredibly helpful! I've actually got a nice list of question to go back to the PB with now. This PB offers turn-key service, but landscaping is optional. It sounds like we need to take that option and run with it. We do plan on getting a few more bids, but it's also been so hard getting anyone to respond. I think our project is too small (even at almost $50k) for most -- some have come right out and said as much. While a little disappointing, it's great to not have anyone's time wasted.

Again, I appreciate this immensely!
Daniel,

You're most welcome and hang in there. Pool builders are out there that want a customer like you. In a hot market it's more time consuming and difficult to find a builder that wants you as mush as you want your pool but it is NEVER a good outcome when you have a builder that does not appreciate his customer. You'll be at the end of the line every step of the way, it's not fun! Way better to wait to find the perfect builder that wants you as much as you want him. When you pre-qualify bidders one of the most important factors is to assess the "fit". "Fit" is all about right job, right size, right relationship for both you and the bidder. When hot markets prevail there are many that want to become "super pool" builders. Worst thing in the world is for you to end up with one of them because he's "doing you a favor" by taking your job.

My $.02 and good luck to you!

Chris
 
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Jbrillo

Gold Supporter
Jun 11, 2018
327
League City, Texas
Daniel,

Welcome! I had a hard time getting quotes as well last year when we started the quote process. I had several not even respond to my request for a quote and one that said my project wasn’t big enough but at least he was really nice about it. I guess the pool building market is massive here(and it probably is with all the people and the hot humid summers) that PB’s can be picky with their jobs. I live south of Houston and the PB I went with was all the way from Tomball. Just keep researching. There are good ones out there. Just be diligent in your research and take your time. This is their busiest time of the year as people scramble to get a pool built right before summer. You’ll get a lot of good help here. Just be patient and be sure to thoroughly research any potential PB’s. Pretty much all PB’s can build what you want, but not all can do it well. Once you pick a PB and sign, your married to them for better or worse pretty much. Use BBB.org, AngiesList, Google, Facebook, Yelp, Houzz.com just to name a few. It stressed me out searching for one but IMHO it was so worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but only with the help of TFP!
 

Poolbella

Silver Supporter
Jun 28, 2018
246
Houston, TX
Thanks for this information John. I've been wondering how we were going to handle the mess after the PB is done and gone. We haven't even poured the shotcrete yet (hopefully tomorrow) and we have no grass left! They gave us the option to sod for $500, but I wasn't sure if we wanted to do it ourselves or have them take care of it. We have no landscaping background, so doubt we could handle it ourselves.
I would definitely pay them $500 to do that. Laying sod is awful work, not to mention lugging it round to the back of the house.
 
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Poolbella

Silver Supporter
Jun 28, 2018
246
Houston, TX
I contacted probably 6 pool builders last summer, only 2 came out to see the lot and both quoted me.

Without a spa, I think you’re getting a good price there. We paid slightly more for a similar size pool and spa, but no decking. We also didn’t have to do permitting and they didn’t do anything beyond putting sand down to finish the ground once we were done.

I tend to agree about maybe not getting the heater. We have heated the pool probably 4 times since January. It’s not super expensive in gas but the heater is noisy and I feel bad having it on for so long with the neighbors being right next to us.

Also keep in mind that you are going to have a potential cost for moving your electricity line if it cuts through your lot (I have heard $1500-2000), and then another $350 to move the gas. If you get a heater, it’s an additional $350 for a new meter.
 
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DanielHobley

Active member
Apr 19, 2019
32
Houston, TX
FYI,

Make the project as turn key as possible. last thing you want to do is yard redo after they walk away, have the PB sod the yard, and drainage and sprinklers!!!

Trust me I am cleaning their mess right now...

John
Good call! I've asked the PB to let me know how much he'd charge to handle, at the very least, sodding the yard. Thank you!
 

DanielHobley

Active member
Apr 19, 2019
32
Houston, TX
Being in Houston and without a spa you could easily drop the heater for the SWG. Overall it seems like a good quote especially for the sq ft of deck you are getting.
Interesting point. I am still on the fence about the heater. I can't imagine I'd ever heat the entire pool (or would be reluctant to do so), but I've been toying with the idea of having the PB add a spa. Thank you for your input!