In 2016, Georgia adopted the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code as the state’s mandatory construction code for all new swimming pools built for residential customers.
These guidelines protect homeowners and swimmers from faulty or unsafe pool construction since inspectors now have a formal set of rules to follow when inspecting a pool during construction or upon completion.
However, there’s not as much protection for homeowners who get taken in by one of the hundreds of scams being run yearly by unscrupulous fraudsters who take advantage of the opportunity to illegally profit off people’s desire to have a nice place to relax.
Here are some of the more common pool contractor scams and how to avoid them.
The Pool Contractor Asks for a Cash Deposit
This is the most basic and easily avoided of the scams on the list. A contractor knocks on your door or runs an ad online, offering a terrific price on a custom-built in-ground pool. He shows photos of prior pools he built, and some quick math shows that he can get you into a pool much more affordably than anyone else you’ve spoken to.
There’s just one catch – he’ll need a 30% deposit in cash before he can start construction. And that’s when it’s time to ask him to leave.
No reputable contractor will ever require a cash deposit before beginning work. Many reputable contractors will simply need a credit check before work begins but won’t require payment until work has already started. Others, who do require a deposit, will seldom require more than 10-20% before work starts and will be able to show you in the contract how you can recover your deposit if the job goes sideways.
In short, never part ways with even a single dollar of your hard-earned money until you’ve taken all the steps in our blog post from last month, 5 Tips For Choosing the Right Pool Contractor.
The Pool Contractor Suffers the Never-Ending Delay
This scam may never cost you a dollar, but it will undoubtedly waste months of your life. This contractor approaches you with a more-than-reasonable price, offers a beautiful custom pool built to your specifications, and may not even demand a deposit upfront.
But once the contract is signed, you wait and wait for a call saying that work will start, but it never comes. Every time you call, there’s another excuse as to why your project hasn’t started yet:
- They’ve run into a snag on another job
- Parts are unavailable, or equipment is out of order
- There’s a delay in securing permits for your job
- There’s been a death in the owner’s family, and they’re away tending to family business
Regardless of the excuse, months pass while you delay family events, hold off on other purchases, and put other important things into a holding pattern while you wait for your pool to be built.
You may wonder how the contractor makes money on this scam. That comes at the end of the game when the crew finally arrives, months late. By this point, your job has been in limbo for so long that you don’t care what they’re doing out there so long as they’re doing something. So, instead of the beautiful, well-built, custom pool that you were promised, they’re counting on you grudgingly signing off on a lower-quality, hastily built pool that won’t last and will leave you shelling out significant expenditures on repairs long after the contractor has left the scene.
When you sign a contract for a new pool, make sure that a start date for construction is listed in the contract. While that date may slip a few days because of weather or equipment availability, it shouldn’t slip months at a time. A reputable pool contractor will include an escape clause in their contract, allowing you to nullify the contract and get a refund on any money spent if work doesn’t start within a reasonable amount of time.
The Pool Contractor Tries the Last-Minute Switch
This scam is related to the Never-Ending Delay. In this variation of the con, the contractor promises you a gorgeous pool with all the amenities for a price considerably lower than their competition. They’ve even included features the other bids don’t include, like a decorative-tile apron, splash pad, and exquisite LED lights. How can their bid possibly be that low?
Because they never intend actually to install any of that stuff. Instead, you’ll be told halfway through construction that the supplies have dried up, there’s been a recall, or the manufacturer has discontinued the products you were promised. Not to worry, though, the contractor has some solutions:
- He has an alternate vendor who’ll provide you with the same thing, only better, and for only a slight increase over the agreed-to price. In this case, your pool will be fitted with a vastly inferior, cheaper version of your desired feature, and you’ll spend more money for a lousy knockoff.
- He can remove the feature, but since it was part of a promotional price, he won’t be able to take any money off the cost of the pool. You’ll end up without the desired product but won’t save any money, either.
If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. If a contractor has promised you certain products, make sure your contract shows the exact make and model of every product that will be installed and lists a price for each one. Also, make sure that your contract specifies that in the event of a supply failure:
- The contractor is required to replace the unavailable equipment with a product of similar function and equal or greater value
- You have final approval for all equipment substitutions.
If a substitution becomes necessary, take the time to research exactly what will be replacing what. And if the substitution isn’t to your liking, make sure you can get some kind of discount or another value-add in return.
Mid State Pools and Spas is Middle Georgia’s Choice for Beautiful, Custom In-Ground Pools. Give Us a Call Today and Let Us Get Started Building Your Backyard Oasis – 478-953-7300
Mid State Pools and Spas builds custom pools for residential and commercial customers in:
- Warner Robins
- Lake Oconee
And all across Middle Georgia!