What does start-up include, in your experience?


Gold Supporter
Jun 7, 2016
Lake Balboa, CA
Oh, TFP. We are at the tail-end of renovation. I dearly wanted to be able to post pictures here and celebrate when we were done, but it's been such an ordeal that my enthusiasm has waned considerably.

The drama, if you want the long version:
In addition to not following the contract regarding plastering over the main drain (they put a fake cover over it... I hate it and wish I could force a re-plaster), start-up was not completed as the PB initially described it to me. I was told there would be approximately a week of start-up -- to include brushing everyday and a full chemical balance. The contracted start-up guy came twice (we put a rock in front of the gate which didn't move, and our motion detection camera never recorded his presence). He brushed only one of those visits. When I went out to check things out after his second/last visit, there was 0ppm chlorine in the pool, low calcium hardness, and I realize he'd swiped our muriatic acid instead of using his own. I was flabbergasted to the point of laughing and emailed the PB. Start-up guy showed up at our door two hours later, apparently to apologize (we didn't answer because we were creeped out). Needless to say, I ended up doing all the research, brushing, and balancing that I was trying to shortcut by paying for start-up.

That all said... start-up was supposed to cost $600. I kept asking them to please let me know what they thought was fair considering the lack of work, and they repeatedly ignored my request. So I went ahead and figured... minus 5 days of brushing, using my chemicals, unbalanced water, and not even showing up 3-4 of the expected days... and wrote them a check for $100. PB has said he's ripped up the check and will be getting a third party. Despite the lack of communication prior to my sending the check, he now claims he has photos from each day during start-up (can't wait to see the EXIF data on those... something tells me they were all taken during his final visit). He says if it was not completed correctly, we would have had cloudy water, and all the pictures are clear.

Basically I just would like some of you to chime in with either what you provide for start-up (any PBs in the house), or what you've received for start-up (as clients). As the conversation about what start-up included was not over email (they've been very sly, not putting much into writing), I'm mostly looking for what would be "standard."

Thank you for any help!


Gold Supporter
Nov 19, 2018
Tuscola, TX
Our startup was nothing more than dumping some acid in the pool. We were put in charge of the brushing for about one week with pump running. After that they did water test and gave us chemicals and instructions on dosing and that was it.


Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
Chapel Hill, NC
Startup that you pay $600 for involves adding and adjusting all chemicals and brushing on a daily basis for one week. Just tell the PB you have security camera confirmation that the guy only came twice, only brushed once, and based on your chemical testing, didn't add any chemicals or test the water. That should stand up in court, if he threatens that.


TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
Morris Cnty NJ
agree 100% ^^^^

let it be known you have cameras and have documentation of what was done and what wasnt. if he wants the 600 make him do more to earn it


Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
Northern NJ
There is not standard startup. What is standard is specific to a Pool Company.

Make all discussions in writing with the builder going forward. Tell him you have your proof of the days service was provided. Tell him you are happy to describe his lack of setvice in public to a Judge in Small Claims Court if he wishes to take it there. Otherwise you can give him another $100 check and stop payment on the one he rippied up. I might up the offer to $150 just to put the hassle and stress behind you.

Hope the Small Claims Court Judge, if it comes to that, is a pool owner and has gone through the games of pool builders.

Good Luck.


Gold Supporter
Jun 7, 2016
Lake Balboa, CA
ajw, that's sort of my worry. We have put every complaint we've had in writing, but hindsight is 20/20 and I should have gotten the start-up description written, too. That said, in our county anyway, small claims supposedly covers "verbal agreements," so perhaps all is not lost...? Man, I really don't want to go to court with this.