Golden Gate Better Business Bureau
Few things are more refreshing than swimming on a hot day, but traveling to a neighborhood pool can be more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe the recent heat has made you consider building a pool in your backyard. Or maybe you have a pool that you’d like to use, but it needs to be repaired.
Thankfully, you can find help – there are many swimming pool companies eagerly awaiting your call. But it’s important to be careful! In 2016, consumers nationwide filed nearly 2,000 complaints against swimming pool contractors, dealers, and design companies with Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Common complaints included contractors refusing to do repairs that were covered by a warranty, projects not being completed in a timely manner, and contractors making a mess and destroying yards.
Avoid these problems and keep your cool by keeping the following BBB tips in mind:
- Do your research. Your first stop when looking for a swimming pool contractor should be bbb.org! A company’s BBB Business Profile includes their rating, complaint history, and reviews from past customers. You can also ask for recommendations from friends & family. When you first talk to the business, make sure to ask for references – and actually check them. Ask at least three contractors to check out the area in person and provide estimates. Make sure the estimates are for identical scopes of work and specify the size of the pool, what labor is needed, and an itemized list of materials. Watch out for too-good-to-be-true quotes and don’t automatically accept the lowest bid.
- Check licensing. The contractor performing the work will need a special C-53 license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The CSLB advises that “in California, any contracting job—including swimming pool construction or repair—that costs $500 or more must be performed by a contractor who holds a current, valid contractor license, in the classification for which they are contracting”. Check that the license is current and active at cslb.ca.gov. Ask for proof of liability and workers’ compensation insurance as well.
- Understand the contract and keep a copy. Make sure everything is in writing, especially any promises made verbally. The contract should include dates, details, cost breakdowns, and any warranty or guarantee policies. Ask who will be doing the actual work and make sure that information is included in the contract. If the contractor is hiring a subcontractor, make sure they’re properly licensed and insured as well.
- Know if you need a permit. Many cities and counties in California require a special building permit to install swimming pools over a certain depth. Know whether this applies to you and make sure your contractor obtains all necessary permits. Upon completion of the project, someone from the city or county may need to perform a final inspection.
- Need help with maintenance or repairs? In 2016, consumers nationwide filed over 700 complaints with BBB against swimming pool service, repair, and maintenance companies. Many complaints involved unprofessional behavior, no-show businesses, and work not being done in a timely manner. Visit bbb.org to find a service company you can trust. Ask questions about services and prices so you know exactly what you’ll be getting and how much you’ll be paying. Always get a written estimate and be sure you understand the terms of the warranty and costs for both labor and equipment.
For more tips on hiring contractors of all kinds, visit go.bbb.org/generalcontractors.
You can reach your BBB at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting goldengate.bbb.org.