The initial meeting
Once you meet with the builder you have selected, make sure he/she is knowledgeable and does not push you into making a decision on the spot. Be wary of anyone who uses pressure tactics to get you to sign a contract immediately. A good pool builder will come to the preliminary site meeting to collect information to put together a quote based on your wants and needs and the specifics of your property.
It may take approximately a week to put together a proposal for a typical backyard project and possibly longer if it is a large-scale job. If you get a quote on the spot, do not expect it to be accurate. An accurate price requires scaled drawings and measurements to reflect true details and quantities. Some large projects can only be budgeted in the preliminary phase and could be higher or lower by $50,000 without a proper landscape design. That said, it is extremely important to be honest about your budget. Do not start this process unless you have agreed on a budget with your spouse and/or family. Just as important, make sure the builder can work within your budget and they demonstrate proof they can handle the entire scope of work requested.
A builder does not want to know your budget so they can be sure to spend every penny, but rather provide you the most you can get for what you can afford. The builder’s design and recommendations will be focussed around this number and he/she will do their best not to exceed it without your involvement or input.
Depending on the builder, some may even take you on a tour of one of their current projects. This opportunity will allow you to gauge the builder’s quality of work, organization, workers, cleanliness, and possibly even their rapport with clients. The builder should also have a good track record of being truthful about start dates and duration of construction as well as give you a realistic project schedule and promise to keep you well informed and updated.
For larger projects, it is a good idea to work with a company that has in-house design capabilities and is familiar with your local municipal bylaws and permit procedures. This helps in obtaining permits quicker and, in essence, allows construction to commence sooner, and continue without delay due to overlooked details.
Finally, if you are considering two competing proposals, it is important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. The lowest price may seem like the best choice; however, the higher priced quote may be more detailed and include items that will be required, but have not been addressed or included in the lower-priced bid. If you choose the lower price thinking you are going to save money, you may be disappointed to find out later on you need to pay extra for some of the things that were excluded up front (e.g. landscaping, decking, etc.). A good builder will bring these possible costs to your attention right from the get-go, before the contract is signed.