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More good news if you are still on the fence ...
Posted on Saturday, January 26 2008 @ 20:17:14 EST
Topic: Subcontractors
SubcontractorsI had a chance to sit down this week with one of my former subcontractors to talk about a wide variety of topics concerning swimming pools. Mike was my layout person, but he has been around the pool industry since 1983, so his knowledge about the business and the industry is very extensive and wide-reaching. I hired him for only one phase of my pool project, but I found out that he does much much more for owner/builders.

If you recall from my Layout page, I hired Mike to come in to do the layout of my pool in preparing for the excavators. It was during that meeting with Mike that I found out that for a nominal fee, he would come on-site and inspect each phase of the construction and perform a comprehensive review of that subs work. I ended up calling Mike a few times to bail me out of some jams when I felt I was in over my head and he came to my rescue.

Over the years, Mike has probably been the most frequently sought after sub due to the unique service he provides to owner/builders. I have always wanted to sit down with him to go over the details of his work experience and services.

Recently, that opportunity presented itself, and this past weekend, I had a chance to sit down with Mike over coffee to do a more in-depth inverview. We covered a wide range of topcs - everything from the current state of the pool building industry to getting the low-down on the full range of services that he provides to owner/builders.

Right now, as we kick off 2008, Mike said that the pool building industry is in a major slump. He said he spoke recently to a person employed by a well-known pool builder in the valley and he said that they are down significantly since the boom period of a couple of years ago. To give you an example, he said that in January of 2007, this company built over 80 pools. In January of 2008, they have only done 8 pools to date. In addition to this, many up and coming pool builders have gone out of business. Sommerset Pools and Sun Valley Pools (>25 yrs in the business) have gone under and there will probably be more to follow.

The good news for owner/builders is that the good subs are available now and ready to do work for you. If there was ever a time where owner/builders have the full and complete attention of pool subcontractors, that time is now. They will do more, travel further, and spend more time with you than ever before. Take advantage of the situation now as it won't last forever.

The nice thing about the breadth of services that Mike provides is that it goes from minimal involvement all the way to full super-intending of the project. You can choose the set of services you need based on your time, budget, and comfort level acting as the general contractor. Before jumping into the details, first a little on Mike's history:

  • 1983 - pool plumbing laborer - Mike started out in the business doing pool plumbing. He basically provided the labor and did this for 5 months.
  • 1984 - AZ Pool Builders - Mike joined a full service pool company and was involved for 5 years. At its peak, the company was one of the Top 10 builders in AZ. He was a freelance consultant for the company and did everything from layouts, startups, customer support / warranty work. He was really a jack of all trades. He was doing around 100-250 pools a year. He stayed with this company for 5 years.
  • 1989 - Malibu Pools - Mike then joined another pool company that a friend had started up doing the same type of work, but was also serving as a super-intendent managing multiple pool projects at a time. At this point, he was doing 100-200 pools a year and put in another 5 years at this company.
  • 1994 - LaPaz Pools - Mike then left for LaPaz pools where he continued as a super-intendent and was there for another 5 years. At LaPaz, Mike was doing 200-280 pools a year.
  • 1999 - Ocotillo Pools - in 1999, Mike decided that he would start his own business to give him more flexibility and control over the operations and he has been there ever since. Mike still considers layout his bread-and-butter, but he also loves working with owner/builders to give them additional confidence as their pool is being constructed.
In all, Mike estimates that he has been involved in the overseeing and construction of anywhere from 4000 to 4500 pools total. He has done layouts for over 7000 pools and as of 2008, he has been in the industry for over 25 years.

With that bit of history in mind, here are the current set of services that Mike provides and current prices for each of those services. Keep in mind that the set of services listed here is listed in order of increasing involvement with your project and as a result, increasing cost as well. This list should give you an idea of how much it will cost for increased "hand-holding" during your project. The more help you need, the more it will cost you.

  • $100 - $150 - Pool/Spa Lay-outs - Mike will lay-out the shape of your pool on the ground in preparation for the excavation subs to start the dig. They layout is done with spray paint and sturdy nails (in case of rain).
  • $300 - $400 - Pool/Spa Start-up - includes chemicals, equipment startup and instructions on on-going maintenance of your pool and equipment.
  • $75-$100/trip - Subcontractor Inspection - reviews the quality of the work performed by your sub and will provide information on potential problem areas
  • $850-$1200 - Pool Supervision - (Lay-out & Start-up additional) - this includes general super-intendent visits to review the work of your sub-contractors (which is approx 10 visits). And he will meet directly with your shotcrete and deck subs as these phases are two of the most critical ones in your pool project.
  • $1800 - $2500 - Pool Supervision w/ Subs and scheduling - (Lay-out & Start-up additional) - In addition to on site super-intendent duties and review of work of your subs, Mike will also select your subs, do the bids on your pool, and schedule the work. This is essentially the same thing as what you get when you pay a full service pool builder to build a pool for you.
In addition to these services, Mike also performs remodeling services with fees that vary with the degree of remodeling work done. For example, if you are getting tired of the regular on-going routine of adding chlorine to your pool, he will install a salt system on your pool for $1200-$1500. Salt systems are great in that they automatically generate and inject chlorine into your pool every time the filtration system kicks, and the maintenance time for chlorine addition to your pool goes down to almost zero.

If you would like more information about Mike or his involvement with your pool project, head over to the Subcontractors Page on this website to get his contact information. You can also see some of the Reviews about Mike as a sub himself. He would be more than happy to sit down with you to discuss your dream pool. Cheers!

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