I was fortunate to get some additional insight from another subcontractor - this time a pool plumber from Arizona. Chad has been around the plumbing business for the past 12 years and he currently works with a few select custom pool builders. However, about 80% of his work comes from O/Bs.|
Chad told me that he has never done many "cookie cutter" pools and his company is well equipped to handle any type of pool plumbing application.
Here is the rest of our conversation:
What is the process of doing a plumbing job for an O/B, and how is it different when you work with a pool builder?
The process with an owner builder at the onset is a bit more critical than dealing with a builder. The first thing we have to establish are the home owner's wants and/or needs such as type of cleaning system, location of equipment, water features, skimmer location, etc. We then go over cost related issues; length of the run from equipment to pool, size and type of equipment, etc. Then finally we custom fit the plumbing layout to the customer's needs.
What information do you need from an O/B in order to insure that the plumbing phase of the project goes smoothly?
We need a few critical things from the owner builder to begin the process:
- Scaled drawing/layout of the pool
- Equipment location in relation to the pool
- Any obstacles in the yard or home we may have to deal with - i.e. sidewalks, pathways, trees, utilities, etc.
In your opinion, what are the biggest pitfalls that homeowners should watch for when attempting to build their own pool?
The largest thing pitfall I see is that when you use a general contractor to build a pool it is the details that they are responsible for like:
- Making sure of the elevation of the pool necessary for drainage and to correctly correspond with the existing structures
- Deciding who will be responsible for the clean up of the project at the different stages
- Making subs responsible for mistakes
- Details, Details, Details
What other general advice would you give O/Bs who are thinking about tackling a pool on their own?
I would tell owner builders that you get what you pay for. The plumbing phase is the most in-depth trade you will have on your project, and you do not want just anyone out there plumbing your pool. If the plumbing is not installed correctly at the beginning of the project you will have nothing but problems, and most of those problems are not easily corrected. They usually involve jackhammering up deck or shotcrete or both. Secondly you want to make sure that your subs have a solid reputation and will back up their work.
- Check the R.O.C. web site for multiple complaints
- Check with other subs and see who they recommend
- Talk to other people and see who they used on their project
- DO NOT USE UNLICENSED CONTRACTORS
I look at it this way: you can spend the money now and get quality work from quality subs, or you can save money now that you will most likely end up spending down the road for poor craftsmanship. Lastly, enjoy the process. It is always rewarding to know that you were a key part in any major project - especially one that is your own idea.
What kinds of things would you like to have the O/B have decided upon before picking up the phone to call you? What kinds of things would you typically work out together with the O/B during your time with them?
Just have all of your ducks in a row. Have a detailed plan that is clear and to scale. Include all features you would like to have, and be open to suggestion from the subs you choose. Ask questions! Most subs have seen many many projects and should be willing to help!
In closing an owner builder project can save you thousands and as long as you have a little time to follow your project and interact with subs, it will also be very rewarding in the end. Choose your subs wisely and enjoy!
If you would like to speak with Chad about the specifics of your own pool project, check out the Other Subcontractors page for more information.