The Challenges of Purchasing an In-ground
Resolution Consulting, Inc.
The author gives some suggestions to consider when buying an
in-ground swimming pool.
If you are shopping for a new car you are wise to determine what
model you want and which options your prefer and then go to
several dealers and see who can offer the best price. You can be
quite confident that every dealer will provide the exact same
car, from the same manufacturer, with the same warranty and, if
you saved some money by your efforts you will be considered a
But purchasing an in-ground concrete swimming pool is a totally
different story! First you must choose a design that will be
suitable and determine the details (Depths, steps, etc) that fit
your needs and desires. Assume you have decided what type of
pumps you want, and the filter model, and the heater model and
all of the mechanical equipment right down to their exact model
numbers and manufacturers specifications. Let’s assume that the
service and schedule for all contractors will be the same and,
regardless of who you choose, your pool will be ready to swim in
30 days (A very foolish assumption, but for this illustration
let’s go along with it). Perhaps you think that now you have all
of the specifications it will be like buying a car… call in
several contractors, show them your design and specifications
and choose the one with the lowest price. Sounds reasonable,
doesn’t it? Well, you could be in big trouble.
Consider the fact that no two pools are the same. Unlike your
car, this product will be built, piece by piece, right in your
backyard. Consider who designs and installs the plumbing, who
certifies the structural plans, how is the gunite (concrete)
applied and who, if anyone, verifies it is up to required
strength? What about fill soil or expansive soil or “hillside
creep” that will cause your pool to crack if it is not
constructed properly. Do you know that most contracts place this
burden directly on you the buyer? Other areas of concern are how
the tile is installed or which kind of stone or pre-cast coping
is applied. Consider the electrical system and the electronic
components that are available for the modern pool. Do you, as a
consumer, really know the difference between any of the
components? How about the concrete decking and the drainage
system for splash out or rain? Which of the myriad of interior
finishes will you get? Did you know that just filling the pool
with water can cause serious problems with your plaster and you
are responsible for that? Heaven forbid that your contract
includes a waterfall, infinity edge, patio cover, pergola or
fencing. The options and variations are almost unlimited and
with each one there is an opportunity to cut the quality of
installation and become the lowest bidder. Every single
contractor will tell you his pool is the same or better than the
other guys. It would be impossible to have enough specifications
on your plan or in the contract to protect you and if you
believe the local building inspector will save you… Think again.
So what is the answer? First, don’t shop for price…shop for
quality. Assume your final project is bid by 3 contractors and
the price ranges from $48,000 to $54,000. Of course the
temptation would be to choose the lowest price and, in your
mind, save $6,000.00. Remember that there is a reason why the
prices are so different and it always comes down to quality.
Here are my suggestions:
• Don’t buy from a contractor without a proven track record or
who has only been in business for a few years,
• Insist on getting a minimum of 2 references from customers
with recently completed projects and at least one that is over 3
years since completion. Without the contractor in attendance,
personally visit or call every reference to discuss their
experiences. If the contractor can not (Or will not) provide you
with names and phone numbers then be afraid, be very afraid.
• Check with the local Better Business Bureau or state
contractors licensing board to see what reports have been filed.
• Get a copy of the warranty and see what coverage you will get
when the project is finished.
• Do your homework and determine what products you want included
in your pool and insist on a detailed description and plan
before you sign on the dotted line.
• Get everything in writing and, when changes pop up during
construction, be sure to document it and insist on a written
confirmation signed by the contractor.
• After you have made your decision and the project is under
construction you need to stay involved. Ask questions and demand
answers! If you see something that is a concern get it resolved
before the project moves on. Don’t be in such a rush to “get in
the water” that you allow problems to be swept under the rug or
covered with cement.
A swimming pool installation is probably the second biggest
investment you will make after your home purchase. As I continue
to provide consulting services to homeowners and their attorneys
I understand over and over again that the lowest price was often
the most expensive. Check out my website
In the months to come I will be adding a section to my website
that details some of the problems I have encountered on behalf
of my clients. Perhaps these horror stories will help you when
you are ready to join the wet set with your own backyard resort.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David
David Morrill has been in the swimming pool industry for over 40
years and has been involved in the construction of more than
50,000 swimming pools and spas. Having retired from active
participation in the construction field David now works as a
consultant to consumers in need of advice, expert analysis of
their projects or expert testimony.
Resolution Consulting, Inc.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of
this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as
individual situations will differ and should be discussed with
an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice
on the information provided and related topics, please contact