The Ultimate Swimming Pool Builder Vetting Checklist
If you are seriously considering an inground swimming pool, you’ve probably discovered that there are a lot of decisions to make!
At the top of this list stands one preeminent question:
How do I select a reputable swimming pool builder?
This question is so important because the expertise and integrity of your pool builder will play a huge role in determining the final outcome of your project.
To assist you in this process, we at River Pools have put together a checklist to help you vet potential pool builders. This checklist is based on our experience of not only working with over 1,000 inground pool customers throughout Virginia and Maryland, but also from helping hundreds of folks who found us through the internet find reputable swimming pool builders in their area (see more about this below).
So, regardless of where you live or whether you are looking for a concrete, vinyl liner, or fiberglass pool, this checklist will help you identify various criteria to look for when selecting your swimming pool builder.
Okay, let’s jump right in!
The Ultimate Swimming Pool Builder Vetting Checklist
Contractor Name: ___________________________________________________________
1. Business Information and Experience
__ The company is licensed and insured
Note: ask if the name on the license is the same as the company name. If not, find out why.
__ Find out how many years the company has been in business
Years in business: __________
Note: 43% of contractors fail within the first three years after start-up
2. Customer References
Ask the following questions of the pool builder:
- How many pools have you installed since in business? __________
- How many were installed last year? _________
- Of those installations, how many references can you provide? ________
Note: if the swimming pool builder provides less than half of their customers as references, we consider this to be a red flag. Our experience has been that the vast majority of people when asked are willing to go on a reference list. In our opinion, providing less than half of the customers as references equates to less than a 50% chance of being happy in the end.
__ Call at least 10 references
When Calling References, Be Sure To Ask The Following:
- If you could do it over, would you use the pool builder again?
- What did you enjoy about the experience?
- What was least enjoyable?
- What pool, options, and accessories did you choose?
- What would you do differently?
- How did the pool builder handle challenges and problems when they arose?
For more guidance regarding obtaining and calling references, read The One Key to Choosing a Swimming Pool Contractor Without Getting Ripped Off.
3. Reviews and Ratings
__ Collectively, the swimming pool builder has at least a 5:1 good review to bad review ratio
__ They responded reasonably to negative reviews when possible
4. Products Used By Pool Builder
__ The products the pool builder uses have good reviews in the marketplace
__ The customer references you called gave the products used by the builder positive ratings
__ The products are backed by competitive warranties
5. Workmanship Warranty
Note: a workmanship warranty would cover issues that could arise such as pool movement, plumbing leaks, structural problems with the patio, etc. The minimum workmanship warranty by law in most states is one year.
- What is the duration of the swimming pool builder’s workmanship warranty? _______________________________________________________________________
- What specifically does the pool builder’s workmanship warranty cover? _______________________________________________________________________
- What happens in the event that a repair is needed? (who pays to replace water, chemicals, repair yard, etc)? _________________________________________________________________________
6. Installation Practices
Does the swimming pool builder have any installation or construction practices that distinguish them from the competition? ________________________________________________________________________
- Are these practices relevant? ________________________________________________________________________
7. Design and Project Planning
__ The Swimming Pool Builder will present a plan to you before the project begins showing the following:
- exact pool location
- location of pump and filter system
- the elevation (or height) of the pool in relation to your existing yard
- patio dimensions
- access lane for construction
- fence layout if applicable
- retaining walls if applicable
- deck and yard drainage if applicable
For a more detailed explanation, check out Inground Pool Planning Meetings: The Key To A Successful Project.
8. Pricing and Contract
__ Whenever possible, the price for all work is included in the contract or at the very least as a formal quote.
Note: try to avoid going into an agreement with the understanding that patio, retaining wall, fence work, etc., will be priced by the square foot after the project has began. This is a tactic some pool contractors use to make the initial price of the project seem lower than what it will be.
__ Estimated completion date is listed on the contract
__ All "throw-ins" are listed on the contract
To learn more, check out these articles:
- 5 Things Every Pool Shopper Should Know Before Receiving An Estimate
- How Much Do Inground Pools Cost?
9. Things That Are NOT All That Important
- The size of the company: great swimming pool builders come in all sizes :)
- In-house construction vs sub-contracted work: at the end of the day, great pool builders get it done either way and make sure you are happy in the end.
- Website and Marketing: Shiny brochures and updated Facebook posts are nice, but not necessarily an indication of integrity or expertise.
We hope you will find this helpful on your quest to finding the perfect pool builder.
If you'd like to see a variety of design examples, take a look at our fiberglass pool designs.
Our River Certified Installer Program allows you to find a builder in your area that strives to uphold the same standards we do.
If you have any questions or comments feel free, as always, to leave them below.
Thanks and good luck!
Editor's note: This blog article was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated and revamped for accuracy and appearance.