What To Know Before Signing Your Standard Pool Quote
Updated: Aug 10, 2019
Too many people spend their hard earned money on a pool that doesn't meet todays product, design, efficiency or quality standards in the eyes of industry experts because they don't know any better.
If you're like most people and don't fully understand what's involved in the sale and construction of a swimming pool, but you want to make sure you get a quality product without being taken for a ride, this post is for you. I've put together a list of what to look for on your standard pool quote for most people looking to have a relatively straight forward, 15' x 30' swimming pool installed in their backyard.
Make sure you're getting the most for your money, not the leastDon't pay for a brand new pool and get the bare minimum with inefficient, old and outdated equipment.
I receive a lot of questions about pools by friends, family and acquaintances looking to buy a new house with a pool or have a new one built in their backyard - and rightfully so. The pool industry is a highly specialized, niche market and swimming pools themselves are an entirely different animal than anything else you may be experienced with regarding design, construction, and functionality. It's why architects, developers, engineers and contractors hire pool consultants like Aquatic Consultants, Inc. because
although they can draw up a set of plans for a multi-million dollar home, they aren't familiar with the complexities involved in the structure, sanitation, filtration, hydraulics, lighting, heating, waterproofing, automation and even acoustics, that goes into a fully functioning body of water...If they did, I'd be out of a job.
For the most part, people don't really understand how a pool gets built or the intricacies that go along with it. So how can we expect them to completely understand what they're looking at on a pool quote? It's probably safe to say that there's a lot of trust put into the pool contractor by the homeowner.
But what's not yet widely understood is that most pool companies, that are your local, typical, everyday pool contractors are like car salesmen.
Unfortunately it's not as simple as a "yes" or "no". What you need to understand about your local, everyday #pool #contractors is that they're primarily in the business of #selling swimming pools; kind of like a car dealership. It's a quantity over quality game and a large company can have over 100 employees and put out hundreds of pools per year.
We refer to these pools as "cookie cutter pools." These companies offer a standard pool package with a couple different shape and water feature options for a fixed rate. Companies like this stamp out a typical shape on average between 60-90 days at a relative bargain - and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, for the most part this is exactly what people want: A beautiful looking pool and yard to enjoy with family and friends without breaking the bank. After all, swimming pools are a #luxury.
The problem with this process is it's not always in the swimming pools best interest. This business model is tailored more for margin than quality and efficiency which can result in increased long term operational costs, maintenance costs or premature failure of a product or material. And you wouldn't be the wiser because lets face it, what do you really know about pools? It is however, extremely #efficient and #lucrative for the builder.
Now that's not to say there aren't plenty of reputable companies who can build you a quality pool at an affordable price because there are. I happen to know a few myself. It's just worth doing your homework over.
With that in mind, just recently I had a good friend from middle school reach out to me:
"Jonathan! I want a pool! Help me. Lol. We want to put in a pool in our backyard. We looked into (insert anonymous pool company here) and got a quote. They quoted us about $30,000.00 for a 15ft. x 30ft."
This is actually what influenced me to write this post. We spoke a little bit about what had already transpired and I had her send me the quote she received. I took a look at it and noticed some bullet points that I strongly believe NO pool in 2019 should have.
Here's some of the red flags I came across and the sort of things you should consider before signing your pool agreement:
1. Incandescent or Halogen Lights
It's 2019 so I shouldn't have to explain that LED lights are the new standard and have been for quite some time. I'm actually alarmed that companies are still installing the same style lights that were around before I was born especially since LED pool lights have been around for almost a decade now and their benefits are fairly obvious. There's absolutely NO reason to include an old style, less efficient, less reliable light in your swimming pool and just to be thorough, the quote reads: (1) 300W Halogen light for ENERGY EFFICIENCY... I won't stand for it!
2. A Single Speed Pump
Aside from the fact that a single speed pool motor is the second most consumer of energy in your household, second of course, only to your A/C, it's required by CODE to have a Variable Speed Pump on all new pool construction as mandated by FPL in 2011, because of that exact reason! Also, that was 7 years ago... It's actually been so long that single speed motor technology has already started to be rendered obsolete by some of the larger manufacturers like Pentair. They've already released their 2019 product manual with all single speed motors that now utilize the TEFC technology in Variable Speed pumps. Furthermore, the quote reads in parenthesis that you can add a 2-speed motor for an additional $700.00. (I just threw something metaphorically across the room...) Do yourself a favor and pay the extra money for THE BEST VARIABLE SPEED PUMP you can buy currently selling for $944.90 on Amazon right now or better yet find a quality builder who includes a Variable Speed motor as part of their standard package.
3. No Deck or Grading Included
Don't assume you're going to get a complete backyard with pool, deck and landscaping under the guidelines of your standard pool quote without asking how much extra that's going to be. Get a specified area and sq. ft. price for decking in writing and include any grading that may need to take place before misinterpreting what's exactly included. You don't want to be "sold" on your dream backyard to find out you didn't "read the fine print" and have to dish out an extra $10,000.00 on top of what you were quoted for the pool because "decking and landscaping" are not included. If $30,000.00 gets you a hole with water, find out what the rest is going to run you.
4. A Single Skimmer
You should have 2 skimmers in your pool, period. 800 gal. above ground spas have single skimmers so have your contractor explain why your 25,000 gal. pool only needs one skimmer...I'll wait.....Skimmers should be located in opposite corners or sides depending on your pools orientation, shape, site and wind direction at separate times of the year. One skimmer is not adequate nor will it be very useful when the wind direction changes for the second half of the year. It's also possible your skimmer line gets clogged or even springs a leak at some point. There's no reason not to have a second skimmer. I've also never designed a pool with one skimmer.
5. Only 3 wall returns
I can't think of one good reason to only include 3 wall returns rather than having a complete plumbing loop and adding a fourth. Four returns allows for better overall circulation, even flow among all returns and reduces system back pressure. It also just makes sense. A return in each corner.. If you think about it, having only 3 wall returns means you either didn't create a complete plumbing loop around the pool and you won't get even flow to each return and there's not even a center point to run the main return line to the plumbing loop because 3 is an odd number OR you did complete the plumbing loop and just decided not to include a return in one corner. Either way it doesn't make sense and I've also never designed a pool with less than 4 wall returns.
6. No Salt Chlorine Generator
Salt Chlorine pools are really the new standard in sanitation and have been for a while now. We put a salt system on every single pool we design and few quality pools get built today without one. This is however more of a personal preference and not by any means something that's required for hydraulic or electrical efficiency but I do feel pretty strongly about it.
You should be getting the most for your money, not the least.
As far as I'm concerned, these 6 criteria on your standard pool quote need to be remedied. Some are industry standard, others required by code, and some just good practice but they are all things I would not accept on my pool quote. If you're paying upwards of $30,000.00 to $40,000.00 for a brand new pool and it doesn't have something as current and industry standard as an LED light, I would shop somewhere else or advise the company they need to include these things within the cost you were initially given. It's unacceptable and part of the reason the pool industry gets a bad rap.
Also be weary of the "too good to be true" scenario. If one company stands out and includes all the bells and whistles like a shallow lounging area, laminar deck jets, bubblers, etc. for around the same price as all your other quotes, this could be a red flag. In some instances these companies use cheaper building materials like smaller gauge #3 rebar that you can bend with your hands rather than the recommended #4 bars in order to reduce their cost and increase their quotes "curb appeal."
What I usually tell people is to get as many quotes as you can, within reason of course, and compare them to one another. Try to stay somewhere in the middle, not being the least or most expensive and understand exactly what you're getting. At the very least, look into the 6 criteria above and this will give you a good starting point.
Oh, and here's a copy of the quote that started this rant for your reference.