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Backyard Expectations

What to expect regarding payments and financing options

A 10 per cent payment is usually required as a deposit to secure your project in the builder’s current or upcoming construction schedule. Do not expect any commitment from the builder until a firm deposit is made as this shows you are ready to move forward as agreed. Payments can be made by personal cheque, bank draft/money order, certified cheque, e-mail money transfer, or debit card.

Never offer to pay cash for your project, it is illegal. The builder is required to charge federal and provincial taxes on all work. Be wary of builders that will accept cash and avoid charging, collecting, and remitting government taxes. You will likely not get any paperwork or receipts and you will run the risk of not having any warranty or recourse in the future should a problem occur.

There is no single way to make a good project go sour other than not paying your builder according to the terms of your agreement. Providing the builder has lived up to his/her responsibilities and has provided the materials and services you agreed to, it is important progress payments are made as per the contract and corresponding project milestones. The builder’s representative will usually remind you as each payment milestone approaches; however, the onus should not lie on them to remind you. It is your responsibility to monitor progress as well and to know when your next payment is due.

If you prefer the builder to walk you through the project at each milestone, make sure this is agreed to in the contract. If there are any issues noticed during the walk-through, make note of them and ask the builder when they will be addressed and/or rectified. Do not hold back payment if the builder agrees to take care of it.

Payment in full is not required or recommended. Be careful if a builder asks you for a large sum of money up front. When dealing with fibreglass pool projects, however, a larger down payment may be required, especially if the shell has to be special ordered and delivered.

In addition to the original contract amount and payment terms, there will likely be some extra work that comes up during the detailed design process or construction. A builder will provide pricing in the form of a ‘change order’ or ‘extra work order.’ These will have all the same terms and conditions as the original agreement; however, they will have their own separate payment terms, which will likely need to be paid in full at signing for minor changes, or 50 per cent down at signing and 50 per cent at completion of the change order work, for larger changes.

Another option is financing, which is slowly being introduced by a limited number of companies, including TD Canada Trust, Laurentian Bank, Home Trust, and Financeit.

The construction process

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One to two weeks prior to the construction start date, a good builder should come to your home and map out the pool and major landscape elements on your lawn with fluorescent paint.

One to two weeks prior to the construction start date, a good builder should come to your home and map out the pool and major landscape elements on your lawn with fluorescent paint. Changes cannot be made at this stage as all materials will have been ordered. Minor changes such as moving the pool a foot or so will likely not be an issue.

Before starting, the builder will schedule a pre-construction meeting at your house with the project manager who will be introduced as your main point of contact. A walk through will take place and any last minute details can be discussed. The builder will perform a final check to ensure he/she has all utility locates and then give you a firm start date (plus/minus a day or two).

The project manager will likely spend one to two hours on-site each day, or every other day, depending on the work phase being completed. He/she will keep you informed on the progress, usually on a daily basis, or at least a few times per week as well as be available for meetings during the work day or, if necessary, after hours or on weekends.

During construction, you will be required to provide water, power, and access to all workspaces. Further, adequate street parking will be required as there are a number of trucks, trailers, and equipment that will be used. You should notify the city that work trucks will be parked on the road during the construction of your pool as this will prevent the builder’s vehicles from being ticketed. You will also need to provide a location on your property for construction materials. In some municipalities, unloading of materials on city property is not permitted; therefore, you may need to use your front lawn and pay to have it repaired. In other cases, a road occupancy permit may be required at your expense. Some of the more valuable materials like the pool kit and mechanical equipment (e.g. pump, filter, heater, etc.) will need to be stored on-site until it is installed. Ideally, your garage is the best place; if this is not an option, a fenced backyard will do. Either way, a properly insured builder will have coverage that protects all of these materials from theft or damage.

Another important component to proper insurance coverage (as mentioned earlier) is an ‘installation floater.’ This is an extension of CGL and covers you and the builder against the perils that can occur while a project is under construction (e.g. vandalism, wind, or water damage, etc.). An installation floater provides compensation, up to a certain limit, to replace the damaged work or goods.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of working with an experienced pool builder that will handle all project design and permit work is the fact everything will be designed according to zoning bylaws and be shown on the permit drawings. Therefore, if there are any issues relating to the setback of a pool house, for example, it will be caught in the permit stages for the pool when it does not cost anyone anything—not even time. If the pool builder is not doing the landscaping, then the permit applications will likely not include much (if any) details about the landscaping. After a pool enclosure permit is issued and your pool is installed, if the landscaping is designed later and a structure is built in an area it should not be, you can face problems. For instance, a structure installed too close to a property line, or built too large or too high, will need a variance from the Committee of Adjustments. If you are not successful in getting the variance approved, you may have to remove or modify the structure at your cost.

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