Small family owned installer vs. large company installer

Jan 23, 2019
12
New York
#1
New to TFP and on verge of choosing our first pool! Fiberglass! Difficulty deciding pros and cons of choosing local small pool installer (great reputation, 40 yrs experience, new to fiberglass installation, great guy and can continue with care of pool, Viking Dealer) or larger pool center with many sales agents (average reputation online, installs 5 or 6 fiberglass San Juan pools a year for many years, not close enough to continue on as our “pool guy/gal”). Both use Pentair vs pump, Pentair cartridge filter, gravel backfill, etc... very similar packages. Most confused about how to choose the installer. Thoughts? Thanks in advance.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
10,508
Bedford, TX
#2
Buck,

I would think you would get better service from the small guy... That said, I would not go with them if they have not successfully installed several fiberglass pools and I'd want to visit them to check out their workmanship.. I'd also want to talk with the owners of the pools about their installation experiences..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

zea3

Mod Squad
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Jul 10, 2009
10,921
Houston, Texas
#3
Ask if they can detail the installation method, and compare that to some of our fiberglass install threads. When I get a chance I’ll post some links for you.
 
Jan 23, 2019
12
New York
#4
Buck,

I would think you would get better service from the small guy... That said, I would not go with them if they have not successfully installed several fiberglass pools and I'd want to visit them to check out their workmanship.. I'd also want to talk with the owners of the pools about their installation experiences..

Thanks,

Jim R.
Thanks for quick reply! This site is amazing! ...What do you mean by check out their workmanship? Other than externals like coping, is there something in particular I should look for on the pool itself? Good suggestion to visit past customers - will do. Thanks.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
10,508
Bedford, TX
#6
Buck,

I am not a fiberglass expert, but it is a lot more than just plopping the shell on the ground and pushing dirt around it. It has to be level and supported so that it does not sink when the water is added... That is why I would want to check out his past work to ensure the pool buyers were happy with the builders work.

They will be willing to tell you if there were any major issues.

Jim R.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
May 3, 2014
12,217
Laughlin, NV
#8
What is the advantage to have a "pool guy/gal"? Are you thinking for repairs or maintenance? TFPC teaches that the pool owner is the best one to maintain the pool water chemistry.
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
#9
To check the credentials of the seller/installer, you might ask the following questions in a "skeaky" way to see what they say:
- What type of base material is used under/around the shell?
- What exactly is their backfill process?
- Can you explain how the pool is grounded/bonded? (hint - two different things)
- Are French drains or sump pump items required in your area if you have a high water table (prevent upheaving)?
- What type/size pump comes with the pool package?
- What type & size filter comes with the pool? (sand, cartridge, DE.... and what size?)
- What type of chlorination do they offer (salt or liquid/manual chlorine)? If they push UV, Ozone, or mineral (which we know are pretty-much worthless for outdoor pools), those are warning flags of extra marketing.

Once you get a good quote, post back with the pool details and we can help review for you.
 
Jan 23, 2019
12
New York
#10
What is the advantage to have a "pool guy/gal"? Are you thinking for repairs or maintenance? TFPC teaches that the pool owner is the best one to maintain the pool water chemistry.
Pool will be at our second home so typically spend only half the week there. On top of that, to help pay for cost (so much more than I thought!), we will need to do some summer renting. Plan to study this site and get good at pool care, but will probabaly need back-up help due to lapses in being there. BTW - does anyone have experience with being away from pool for part of week? Would this lead to a harder time balancing chemicals once we arrive each week? Will having an auto cover closed for several days be bad? Hope it’s ok to keep asking more questions.
 
Jan 23, 2019
12
New York
#11
To check the credentials of the seller/installer, you might ask the following questions in a "skeaky" way to see what they say:
- What type of base material is used under/around the shell?
- What exactly is their backfill process?
- Can you explain how the pool is grounded/bonded? (hint - two different things)
- Are French drains or sump pump items required in your area if you have a high water table (prevent upheaving)?
- What type/size pump comes with the pool package?
- What type & size filter comes with the pool? (sand, cartridge, DE.... and what size?)
- What type of chlorination do they offer (salt or liquid/manual chlorine)? If they push UV, Ozone, or mineral (which we know are pretty-much worthless for outdoor pools), those are warning flags of extra marketing.

Once you get a good quote, post back with the pool details and we can help review for you.
Ok - will do . And I’ll look at the links zea3 sent so I can know difference between grounding and bonding!
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
10,921
Houston, Texas
#12
The links I sent you don't really go into that aspect of pool installation. Use the search bar with the terms "bonding vs grounding" and that should pull up some good threads for you. If you are only at the house part time you may want to look into a saltwater chlorine generator to chlorinate the pool.
 
Jan 23, 2019
12
New York
#13
The links I sent you don't really go into that aspect of pool installation. Use the search bar with the terms "bonding vs grounding" and that should pull up some good threads for you. If you are only at the house part time you may want to look into a saltwater chlorine generator to chlorinate the pool.
Ok, prefer saltwater so great to know it’s prefered for our situation. Thanks.
 

bmoreswim

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TFP Guide
Jul 16, 2012
4,309
Central MD
#14
Yes, a SWCG will be the perfect solution for you. And coupling that with an autocover, you will be able to maintain it well. There's always a 'however'. However, when you use an autocover, it changes the amount of sunlight hitting the water, which in turn, lowers the use of FC. That's a good thing, but you will need to be routinely adjusting either your pump run time or your SWCG output % to maintain a somewhat consistent FC level. Other factors that will affect it are early/mid/late season sun hours, pollen season, etc. An autocover just adds one more dimension to maintaining FC levels. Overall covers are great though so it's a small price (in brain use) to pay.

As an example, four days away from the pool with no changes made to run time or % may increase your FC from normal of say 6 to 12 or more if the pool is covered. And if so you just dial it back to 0% until its back in range.
 
Jan 23, 2019
12
New York
#15
Yes, a SWCG will be the perfect solution for you. And coupling that with an autocover, you will be able to maintain it well. There's always a 'however'. However, when you use an autocover, it changes the amount of sunlight hitting the water, which in turn, lowers the use of FC. That's a good thing, but you will need to be routinely adjusting either your pump run time or your SWCG output % to maintain a somewhat consistent FC level. Other factors that will affect it are early/mid/late season sun hours, pollen season, etc. An autocover just adds one more dimension to maintaining FC levels. Overall covers are great though so it's a small price (in brain use) to pay.

As an example, four days away from the pool with no changes made to run time or % may increase your FC from normal of say 6 to 12 or more if the pool is covered. And if so you just dial it back to 0% until its back in range.
After I do some TFP reading on pool chemistry basics, I may have some questions! Can’t follow well what you just described above, bmoreswim, but I’ll do some reading and then swing back to you if I need help. Appreciate the input!
 
Jan 23, 2019
12
New York
#17
Thanks for earlier offer to review estimate - got as many details as possible so this community could let us know your thoughts on this potential install. Whatya’ think? Thanks very much!!

Viking fiberglass: Empress 12x26, 3’6”-5’8”:
(Rectangle with SunLedge Entry Combo with additional Separate Entry Stair Two Deep End Lounging Benches.)
- Permitting Fee’s (up to $ 1,500)
- Excavate and Install Empress Fiberglass Pool (gravel backfill)

- Premium Finish Diamond or Crystite, UPCHARGE INCLUDED (May choose less expensive standard Gelcoat)
- One Skimmers

- One Pool Standard Light: Pentair GloBrite LED Color (#6-2055)
- Three Returns
- One Ladders

- One Handrail
- Concrete Pad for Pool Equipment

- Pool Plumed in all 2” SCH. 40 PVC
- 4 x 8 Drywell
- Pentair Variable Speed and Flo Pump: IntelliFlo VSF
- Pentair Cartridge: Clean & Clear CCP320.
- Auto Pilot Salt Chlorine Generator: PPM1 (Manifold w PPC1 cell) with a 75003 power supply
- Water Chemistry Balanced

-
Winter Safety Cover: Loop Loc
TOTAL: $43,000


+ Cover Star automatic electric safety cover with SS brackets, $11,000.

TOTAL WITH AUTO COVER: $54,000

Says 12” bluestone coping would add about $3,000 - we’ve asked for price of cheaper option.

(We are holding off on “Pentair Heater 400,000 BTU MasterTemp“ until we see how auto cover helps with heat - May install next year.)
 

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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
35,931
Tallahassee, FL
#18
I love, love,love the design of this pool. Something for everyone! SWEET!

Lets talk about the SWG a little more. How many gallons is the one you listed good for? We suggest getting one that is twice the size of your pool. This saves you on electric and cell life.

Kim:kim:
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
May 3, 2014
12,217
Laughlin, NV
#19
And be aware that the pump and SWCG should be from the same manufacturer if you are installing automation.

If no automation, be absolutely sure that the SWCG is wired so that it only is powered when the pump is ON. Do not let them rely on only the flow switch.
 

bmoreswim

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TFP Guide
Jul 16, 2012
4,309
Central MD
#20
Since you are getting an autocover, you will need to have some type of 24" wide modular cover pieces over the pit, sitting on the referenced SS brackets. This could be formed concrete blocks, bluestone, etc. I will say that I like the way our bluestone coping and bluestone autocover lid blends together. Mind you it gets hot (but just get it wet and it's fine). Especially the darker stones (ours is varied in color - especially over the cover pit). You can see pictures of the coping and cover stones around page 3-5 of our build thread linked in my signature for a visual, which may help you one way or the other with that decision.

@Jimrahbe - Any reason to get a Pentair SWCG in this setup versus an Autopilot? JUST ANSWERED BY MARTY.