Pool Installation Problems

Tips on How Not to Have a Pool Installed

By Mark J. Donovan

I recently had an above ground pool installed. In a nutshell it was a huge pain in the neck. And all because I broke my three cardinal rules when hiring a contractor (1) I failed to talk to the pool contractor in person, (2) I did not get the pool installation contract in writing and (3) I did not make reference checks. All I did was select the pool contractor’s name from a “Certified List” provided by the national pool manufacturer that we bought our pool from.
After calling a few names on the pool installer list provided to us, we were eventually able to get one of them to call us back. It only took about a week, in late April, for a return phone call.

You’d think that April would be a prime month for pool contractors to want to flesh out their pool installation schedule for late spring in New Hampshire. Apparently it wasn’t the case.

Anyways, the guy that we did finally connect with told us he’d be out to look at the jobsite in a couple of days. Keep in mind, we were replacing our old pool with a new one of exactly the same size and shape, and I had already removed the old pool. All that was left in our backyard was a nice and level sandy pad area for the new pool to be installed. We explained this fact to the pool contractor and he agreed he would take off a whole whopping $75 from his normal pool installation cost, even though he typically needs a Bobcat and a couple yards of sand to be brought in for a brand new pool installation, usually a couple of hundred dollars in contractor costs. The fact, however, that he was the only pool installer that had called us back left me with no other options. Basically I had to suck it up, and take it like every other homeowner who has been screwed by a contractor.

Three weeks (not days) after our initial phone call, the pool contractor finally showed up at our doorstep, unannounced and while we were not home. He reviewed the pool installation site and simply left his business card in the door. After repeated calls, over a week time period, we finally connected up with him and he gave us a verbal standard fixed price quote, again minus the $75. He said send him a $100 check and he would immediately mail out a contract for us to sign.

My wife and I, in a rush to get the pool installed, sent him the $100 check the next day. Three weeks later we still had no contract from the pool installer, but the $100 check, you betcha, he’d cached it 3 days after we sent it in the mail.

Finally on a Saturday afternoon three weeks later he calls my wife’s cell phone and says his guys will be over in 30 minutes to install the pool. Again, basically no notice and we weren’t home. But the pool did get installed, or at least most of it did. What really set me over the edge though was when we got home one of his worker bees asked for a check for completing the pool install, even though it wasn’t done. He also stated we would need to pay an extra fee for them coming back to complete the installation when they could get water delivered to the pool.

Apparently the pool water company wasn’t open on Saturdays, which the pool contractor knew, but we did not. As a result, the pool contractor, via his worker-bee, communicated to us that there would be an additional gas fee charge of, coincidently $75, for his guys to return on Monday when the pool water truck could show up at our home. In addition, we would have to pay separately for the pool water that he failed to ever mention when he verbally quoted us the job, at the tune of another $480 charge.

After taking the phone from the worker-bee who was on with the pool contractor, and who never showed up at the jobsite during the entire pool installation, I blew up on him for his lack of communication and failure to provide us with a contract after we had sent him his $100 deposit.

In the end, I wound up having to pay for the pool water bill separately and paying the pool installation contractor another $30 for a “gas fee” to have his crew come out another day to wrap up the project.

Tips on installing an above ground pool.

And in the end, my wife and I would up having to spend a couple of hours installing the pool ladder. For some reason, that too wasn’t part of the “deal”. Why not, God only knows.

To conclude, this is a prime example of why you always have a contract in writing. In addition, always have a face-to-face discussion with the contractor so you can look him in the eye and get a sense of what type of person you are going to be potentially dealing with. And finally, always ask for and check references. In my case, I relied on the pool manufacturer’s recommendation. I was stupid and bamboozled. Hopefully after reading this article you won’t make the same mistakes I did.

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