Do your research before taking plunge on new pool

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QUINCY — Swimming season has officially kicked off, and, with some hotter-than-normal temperatures in the region lately, a dip in the pool sounds extra refreshing.

If you’re considering adding a backyard pool to your list of summer projects, research contractors carefully before taking the plunge. Investing in a pool is a big decision, but a well-constructed pool can last a long time with proper maintenance. Choosing the right contractor is paramount.

Better Business Bureau received more than 3,000 complaints about pool contractors and related services last year. Consumers report customer service issues, failure to complete work or respond to calls and failure to honor warranties.

Sorting through all the options for contractors can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have a word-of-mouth recommendation. But don’t make a snap decision. Read contracts carefully before signing, don’t pay in full up front and check out companies with BBB.

BBB’s tips for pool owners:

  • Assess your needs. Think about how and when you and your family would use a pool. Decide what type of pool fits your budget and space. Remember that pools can require a significant investment of time and money.
  • Ask around. Friends and family can provide recommendations or let you know if they’ve had a poor experience with a contractor.
  • Check with BBB. You can look up companies and contractors near you at BBB.org. There you can see their BBB Business Profile, which shows their rating, customer reviews, any complaints and resolutions. You can also request a quote from BBB Accredited contractors directly from their profile.
  • Check the years in business. Sometimes, pool companies that start off with a bang can go out of business just as fast. Look for a pool contractor that has been in business for at least a few years and has a strong track record.
  • Get at least three estimates for the same set of conditions. Make sure the estimates specify the size of the pool and an itemized list of construction materials.
  • Make sure your contractor is licensed and insured. If you have any questions, contact the appropriate licensing board.
  • Find out who will be doing the actual work – the contractor’s employees or subcontractors.
  • Ask about site and soil evaluations. Find out whether the builder can make site and soil evaluations for your property. Consider whether your pool needs grading or landscaping work.
  • Ask about warranties and whether the contractor will do maintenance and repairs after the pool is completed.
  • Don’t pay the full amount in advance. While some contractors ask for a deposit up front, you should only make the final, full payment once the work is completed to your satisfaction. Pay with a credit card so you can dispute charges if needed.
  • Get it in writing. Get a contract with all details of the job, including any verbal promises, in writing and review it carefully before signing. Ask for a lien waiver upon completion of the project, which shows that suppliers and subcontractors have been paid.

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at dobrien@quincybbb.org or 217-209-3972.

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