Don’t Be Fooled When Hiring a CA Swimming Pool Business

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Evan Arnold-Gordon

Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

Nothing says summer quite like a dip in the pool on a scorching hot day. Whether you’re just taking the pool cover off for the first time this season or you’re due for some maintenance, hiring the right swimming pool business can make all the difference. However, with so many options of companies to hire, it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you. In 2017, over 3,000 California consumers turned to your Golden Gate Better Business Bureau with inquiries about swimming pool contractors.

On the other hand, last year consumers nationwide filed nearly 2,000 complaints regarding swimming pool contractors. Complaints varied from 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.

Ensure you’re waist deep in pool water instead of bills and paperwork this summer by following these BBB tips:

  • Do your research. Start With Trust® when looking for a swimming pool contractor should by visiting 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 to 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 here. 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 2017, consumers nationwide filed over 600 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. There are over 400 pool service companies in Oakland alone, so use the BBB Accredited Business Directory 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

You can reach your BBB at or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting