Anticipating problems doesn’t make them go away, but it can help you, as a pool installer, mitigate unpleasant surprises that often arise with installations and remodels. While we’d all love for every project to go off without a hitch, communicating with your clients about potential setbacks and how your business will handle them is an important part of the process. Here are 11 expectations regarding pool and spa builds that can get everyone on the same page.
#1 Expect the Unexpected
Anytime you go into a remodel or new building project, you can expect a little bit of the unexpected. Let your clients in on that fact before starting the project. Go over some of the common hiccups that happen with a pool and spa build or remodel and how you handle those situations.
#2 Build in the Budget for Going Over Budget
Going over the designated budget is a common theme in remodeling and building projects. Go back to expectation #1 — there will be things that are unexpected that will require more time and money. Sharing some of those budget-breakers will help clients deal with the inevitable. Also, make sure that clients are aware that prices are fluctuating a great deal, and locking them in can be a great way to avoid higher costs down the road.
Permitting is very much out of the control of the contractor as well as the homeowner or facility manager. All the stakeholders need to understand that while getting permits typically takes one week, it can vary by location and by the complexity of the design and structural requirements.
#4 Timelines Aren’t Written in Stone
While most pool and spa installs take around 8-12 weeks after you break ground, it’s important for homeowners to reread tip #1. The installation and permit pulling will take time, but so will designing. Encourage pool and spa buyers to factor in approximately 2-8 weeks to get their designs created, revised, and finalized. Timelines have to be somewhat adaptable.
- 2-4 Weeks - Design and Permit
- 1 Week - Breaking Ground/Excavation
- 1-5 Days - Plumbing and Electrical
- 1-4 Weeks - Build Shell
- 1-4 Weeks - Patio and Landscaping
- 1 Week - Pool Fill and Chemical Adjustments
Keeping homeowners and facility managers updated regarding the target completion date will yield the best results. Withholding information will not minimize the negative effects of a delay. Schedule an update meeting, one to two times a week, so that the point of contact knows exactly what is happening. Make sure you consult the same “point” person each time so you aren’t playing telephone with the homeowners and messages don’t get relayed inaccurately.
It’s also beneficial if both parties got all communications in writing and archived them so that they have them for future reference should you need them. In fact, you might even have them printed and signed off by your point of contact.
Contractors, unfortunately, have a lot of uncontrollables to contend with at the macro and micro levels which can affect their projects, for example:
- Labor shortage for the day
- Equipment breakdowns
- Delays in traffic
- Materials and inventory issues
- Delays in material
- Architectural mistakes
- Engineer miscalculations
- Surprises in the ground, in the walls, any and everywhere
Helping your clients to foresee some of the challenges that you can’t overcome on occasion can alleviate frustration.
Letting the client know the situation with materials and their availability will set you up for success. Of course, there are a lot of issues out of your control — for example, unexpected freezing temperatures in Texas that closed chemical plants and a hurricane that caused a fire in a chlorine production plant. Depending on what material they choose, there could be additional adjustments to the timeline as well as to the pricing.
Because pools with vinyl liners have concrete floors, there could be issues with concrete availability as well as weather conditions that could affect installation.
While these arrive manufactured, the increase in demand and the problems with shipping could lead to delays.
While these take the longest to install, they do offer the most in the way of creative design. The weather could cause delays as could a shortage of Gunite (the type of concrete for pools).
If there is a problem, like a particular material doesn’t look like it was supposed to, a contractor will try to make it right. But, (yes, there is that word), because the contractor can’t control all materials from the manufacturer, both the contractor and the builder may have to assume some of the responsibility to right any of those wrongs. Being willing to meet halfway is essential for the contractor’s business and the client’s wallet.
Making your stakeholders aware of the need for inspections and that there could be inspection delays will help keep them in the loop. Let them know that although you will do everything in your power to ensure that everything is done to its highest standard, there could be delays in getting the inspection completed since you are on the inspector’s timeline.
#10 The Weather
While the stakeholders most likely understand that weather can cause delays, they may not be aware of when and how. Let them know ahead of time that weather patterns can cause delays in construction to ensure they aren’t surprised when your team is absent because of high wind warnings, or the weather dips below 40℉ so you can’t pour concrete, or your excavation caves in because of too much rain.
#11 Pool Fill & Chemical Adjustments
Homeowners and facility managers need to understand that the fill and adjustment of chemicals will vary greatly. Let them know that you will help them balance out their pool to ensure it is safe for swimming, but that it can take time to prep and adjust.
Whatever the unexpected event or condition, you can expect that something you didn’t plan to happen will happen. But, if your homeowners and building managers are made aware of some of the most common issues, they will be much better prepared to handle anything that life and the pool or spa installation throws their way.