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From Poolandspa.com Online Newsletter
March 2012
Las Vegas, NV USA

Since first moving into their home in Canada more than six years ago, Duane and Lisa Johnson knew that one day this pristine one-acre property deserved the addition of an outdoor swimming pool. This past June 2011, ten months after breaking ground, they finally completed the backyard transformation and are now enjoying their oasis both day and night.

However, there were quite a few problems that they encountered while having the whole job completed.  They ended up firing the original swimming pool builder, and had to sub-contract out the rest of the job themselves.

The complete overhaul included the construction of an inground swimming pool complete with 4-foot walk-out stair in deep end surrounded by extensive concrete decking with built-in deck jets. Water feature complemented by a river rock border. Separate elevated private spa area including sunk-in 6-person round therapeutic whirlpool hot tub. Outdoor seating area complete with built-in gas fireplace. All of the above complemented with spot and deck lighting.

To further complicate the job, they wanted to add a covered high-end outdoor kitchen complete with BBQ/rotisserie/smoker with 2 side burners, microwave, deep fryer, beverage station, dishwasher, ice maker and fridge, overhead gas heater,  hot dog, popcorn and Slurpee machines all surrounded by slate tile and granite counter-top.  Topped off with a 50-inch flat screen TV.

So here's what ended up happening.....

Lisa Johnson tells the story this way:

"The lack of communication between him (the pool contractor) and us (the Johnsons) was the beginning of what was to be a long drawn out battle.  We should have known after he requested a second copy of our property layout, as he had “spilled his coffee” on the first, that this contractor was by no means professional.  This was the first pool we had ever built, and understandably were going to have questions at each step of construction.  Whenever we approached him with a question or suggestion, we were constantly given the response:  “It can’t be done that way…….I know what I’m doing, I’ve been doing this for 30 years”.

After just the first 2 weeks of the build we had to constantly hound him to get things done.  There was always an excuse as to why he could not do things “right now”.  These constant excuses caused anger and delay.  We were not only building a pool, but also renovating the back yard.  He knew our backyard overhaul plans right from the start.  We needed to coordinate with our landscaper as well as the pool contractor as to what was being dug where, removed, brought in, etc. Our pool contractor seemed to always have an excuse as to why the trenches could not be dug for the lines,……or why the pool house floor could not be poured,… or why the concrete could not be poured in the pool bottom,…….or why the deck jets would not work……..or why the pump had to go where he wanted it,….rather than where “we” wanted it…..or why we would not be able to install a $3400 walk-in stair, rather than ladder in the deep end. It was so annoying that at that point my husband started doing things himself to ensure it would get done, such as dig out an area for installation of the walk-out stair!

After 6 months of our pool sitting with no advancement on the project, we finally took over the job ourselves.  We just got tired of fighting with our contractor to do the job he was contracted to do.  Before we let him go we had other pool companies come in and give us their thoughts on completion of the project.  We were constantly greeted with shock and told the same thing by each subsequent pool contractor: “this pool should have been done months ago, why is it sitting in this state?”  We were asked the same questions we had been asking our contractor as to why things were not getting done and what is the reason it has been left this way? 

"In the end, we hired a few other specific contractors to pour the pool bottom and decking, but just finished the remainder of the pool ourselves.  Even after firing our initial contractor, the completion of the project was not without difficulties. 

Not a day after the first of a few other pool contractors came in to quote on finishing the job, our original pool contractor already knew that we had another company come in to give us an opinion on our situation.

Beware that they tell you one thing to your face, and something else to your back. In the end we got what we wanted - but not with the help of our original pool contractor."

Some of the things that every person building a pool should do before hiring a pool contractor:

1 - Ensure everything is in writing, I mean everything.  Make sure the contract is itemized with all inclusions and exclusions.  Many contractors will provide a price to “build a pool”, however, this does not include plumbing the pool, or hooking up gas and electricity, or prepping the coping edge of the pool for the deck to be poured around, etc.

2 - Ensure contract has strict payment terms.

3 - Ensure contract details a finish date with a penalty clause for delay.

4 - Do not pre-pay for anything, only pay when the items on the contract have been put in place and the work is finished to the point stated in the contract.

5 - Always ask for references, and actually speak with those references.  Do not just take a look at the finished pools which contractors state they have built, speak to the owners to ask how the build went.

6 - Understand how long a pool should take to build

7 - If you hear the statement: “Don’t worry I have been building pools for 30 years”  Find someone else!

More Photos From The Job:

Contractors Who Helped Finish The Job:

Parkview Landscaping Ltd
10302 244th Street
Maple Ridge, BC  V2W 2G3
Tel: 604-306-5983
Contact:  John

Pedron Contracting Ltd.
909 Sherwood Avenue
Coquitlam,  BC
Tel: 604-936-8484
Cel: 604-418-5375
Contact:  Remo

Special Thanks to Lisa Johnson, who provided the photos and much of the information above.

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