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Pool Builders


I wanted to visit a variety of pool builders so that I could get a feel for the range of features, services, and costs associated with building this pool.  I visited a few large, well-known, reputable pool builders (thousands of pools a year), some middle-tier builders (hundreds of pools a year), and some smaller, mostly obscure startups (less than a hundred pools a year).

The larger builders in Arizona included California Pools, Shasta Pools, and Paddock Pools.  The middle tier builders were La Paz pools and Hawaiian Pools (which BTW, have since gone under).  The smaller pool builders included Imagine Pools, Canyon State Pools, and Tropicana Pools.

One thing that I noticed off the bat was that while the larger, more established pool builders did charge a premium, the cost differential wasn't that much greater than the mid-tier companies and even some of the smaller companies.  The cost of the pool I wanted to build was in the ballpark of $42K - $50K when I threw in everything I wanted.  This was consistent across the largest and the mid-tier companies.  

CONTINUED BELOW


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During this time of visiting with the various builders, we had an opportunity to go down to the New Home Expo at the Civic Plaza in downtown Phoenix.  It was great.  Tons of builders together in one small area.  I didn't have to make independent phone calls and drive all over town to visit each one.  One company in particular caught my attention that afternoon.  They were called BYOP (Build Your Own Pool).  It was a company that is dedicated to showing the average homeowner how to be a general contractor to build your own pool.  For the first time, I was introduced to this concept.  The idea is that the homeowner can save thousands of dollars by making their own calls to get bids from the various subcontractors, scheduling in the work.  BYOP would assign to you a consultant who would help you throughout the entire pool building process.  BYOP would provide you a list of approved subs that they knew were reputable, a schedule of which sub you would need to schedule when, and consultation during each phase of the building process.  They also informed me that since they started the company, they have never received a single complaint (registered with the Registrar of Contractors).  Wow - what a concept!  I raced home to read all their literature and by the time I was done, I was convinced this was the way I was going to go.

I scheduled an appointment with them the next weekend to see if this was everything they said it going to be.  One of their consultants met me and we started the process of drawing/designing out the pool I had in mind.  After visiting a handful of other builders by this point, I knew exactly what I wanted.  After he was done, he had some way of figuring out what the approximate cost of the pool was going to be even though he had no clue which subs were going to be used.  I was shocked to find out that the cost of the pool was going to be close to $40,000 - and that was without all the extra BBQ island and other hardscape things I wanted to put in.  While this was less than some of the bigger pool builders, it was actually much more than some of the smaller builders.  This didn't really make sense to me since I was going to be doing all the work.  I couldn't see how I could be paying more to be doing most of the legwork myself.  So either the smaller builders were making little to no money, or cutting huge corners somewhere, or BYOP was making a huge profit off of doing practically nothing.  I compared the pool specs and equipment costs of BYOP and some of the smaller builders and they were very similar.  At that point, I started to lean towards going with the smaller company.

As I was processing all of this, something suddenly struck me.  What if I could somehow compile a list of approved subcontractors myself and figure out the scheduling order of the subs?  Maybe I could do this on my own.  Well, I knew BYOP wasn't going to just give me theirs.  That would like be handing over the crown jewels.  Could I somehow determine the subs using a different method?  Was there someone who could provide that?  But then again, who would give me that kind of information?  But then there was also the problem of figuring out which subs need to come when.  I started to think about now knowing entry and exit criteria for each of the subs.  What did each sub need to know from me before they could start their work.  Was I supposed to tell the subs what to do or do they just go off and just figure it out.  How much was I expected to know?  What if I forgot to tell them something and they totally screwed up?  Then it would be all my fault.  Also, what about warranties?  What about knowing about structural engineering?  Was I expected to understand all those numbers and be able to communicate that to the steel and shotcrete subs?  How would I go about getting the pool permits?  As these and a thousand other questions began to flood my mind, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the enormity of the task.  There's no way I could pull this off myself.  Or so I thought ...

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