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Why you shouldn't build your own pool ...
Posted on Saturday, May 15 2004 @ 12:28:16 EDT
Topic: News and Updates
News and UpdatesWhy shouldn't you? What are the legitimate downsides of building your own pool as an owner/builder? There are two sides to every story. Here are the potential pitfalls ...

  • Don't do it if you don't have the time - its true. Doing it yourself will require a bunch of your time. You have to research and call the subs yourself, FAX in your pool drawing, go over details, schedule them in, meet with them, go over what you want with them, hammering out the details.

    How much time does this really translate into? Its hard to say. Every locale is different (and this makes a big difference) just like every individual is different. Some folks will do research on subs ad nauseum, while others prefer to just get a pre-compiled list and call to get bids with one sub per trade. Some folks will endlessly tweak their design even while interior is going in, while others like to nail things early on and stick with it.

    In fairness, most of these things I just mentioned will have to be done whether you are an owner/builder or are contracting with a pool company. The big difference is that when you go with a pool company, you don't have to do the background stuff yourself (e.g. select subs, FAX drawings to them, schedule them in) and you typically deal with one person (field supervisor / construction project manager), and you don't deal directly with the subcontractors.

    With all that said, it will still take a bunch of your time. If you don't have the flexibility of being home in the morning when the subs show up, then you are potentially getting yourself in over your head. You need to deal with the subs when they arrive. You need to let them know what your expectations are upfront. You need to guide them at a high-level what you want for your pool. Although not mandatory, it would be good for you to periodically check their progress during the time they are there to make sure that there are no surprises. At the very least, you need to be able to check their work when you get home in the evening to see that everything is done in accordance with your wishes.

    All of this takes time. This is what you pay a pool builder to do. The money you are saving requires you to take this on now. The buck really stops with you. If something gets by you, you are ultimately responsible. With all that said, I should point out that one of the biggest complaints I hear from folks who decided to go with a pool builder is that their field supervisor was rarely around when they needed to consult with them. I know that for the larger pool builders in the valley who have literally hundreds of pools being constructed concurrently, its virtually impossible for the field supervisors to visit all their client sites when work is going on. This is especially true if you are having a more basic, lower-end pool being built. The field supervisors are going to spending more of their time on the more difficult and involved (i.e. more $$$) projects that have more challenges. I can definitely understand that, but I can also understand the perspective of the homeowner whose pool is going in. Granted it may not be a $100K pool, but its still their pool and it will probably be their pool for some time to come, and if something gets screwed up, they have to live with it.

  • Don't do it if the money you are going to save isn't worth the time/effort you are going to expend. - Its hard to know exactly what you are going to save. It really depends on how complex your pool design is. Generally speaking, the more complex and expensive your project is, the more you will save. Realistically, you can expect to save roughly in the ballpark of 25 - 45%. If that 25% - 45% in your mind isn't worth the time it will be required of you to call subs, secure bids, schedule them in, and work with them throughout the project, then going the owner/builder route is not worth your trouble. If money is not an issue, why worry about taking a lot of effort into doing something that someone else can deal with? If throwing money at a problem is a legitimate option for you, then by all means more power to you.
  • Don't do it if you don't care to have fine grain control over the small details of the pool and its construction. - Some people just don't care about how its done as long as its done. They don't want to be bothered with the details, they just want it to be usuable and functional. They want someone else to manage the details and could care less how, say, Jandy valves work. They just want something that holds water so that they can start swimming. Any pool is a good pool as long as its a quality pool and it allows you to swim in it.
  • Don't do it if you don't like dealing with a lot of people - You will be dealing with a LOT of people during your 1-3 month journey. If dealing with people gives you a headache, you may not be a good candidate to go the owner/builder route. There will be around twenty (20) different trades involved with building your pool. Each of these trades may have 2-3 companies that represent that trade that you will be getting bids from. And each company will typically have 4-6 people that you will be interacting with, either on the phone or in person when they arrive at your site to do work on your pool.
  • Don't do it if you live in an area where pool subcontractors are in scarce supply - Actually, if you live in those areas, you most likely *won't* be able to do it. In warm sunny regions (e.g. Arizona, California, Florida, ...) where the swimming pool construction industry thrives, you will be more apt to find multiple subs in every trade than in places like Virginia or New Hampshire. In areas where IG pool construction are more of a specialty item, its doubtful that you'll be able to find very many subs that are willing to work with homeowners let alone securing competitive bids from multiple sources. For folks in those locales, going with a professional pool builder may be the better alternative - and actually, it may be the *only* alternative.
I hope that this was a fair and accurate look from the other side of the world. Anyone who is considering being an owner/builder would be wise to consider what they are getting themselves into when they embark on this rewarding, yet demanding journey.

If none of these things presented here describes your situation, then I would say that you should press forward and continue plowing through this website!

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