By Janine Wilson


Should you trust a builder?  Reputation and quality should be demonstrated, every step of the way.


How should you compare proposals?  Builders should submit itemized lists.  A reputable builder will also submit a ‘what if list,’ a list with repairs to landscape and with fine print (any and all exclusions).


Is the pool designer really qualified?  Experienced designers create designs during the first meeting and give you copies.    Experienced designers have many years of construction experience and at least 10 years’ of design experience.  They can design and price at the same time!


It is best to ask for the warranty details and a list of any exclusions.   A reputable builder will warrant his work for several years.


Will a superintendent supervise consistently?  Many builders are notoriously negligent in this aspect!   A superintendent is absolutely crucial to supervise the subcontractors.


Insurance coverage is a must, especially for electrical and gas work.

Building in a Timely Manner:

Will the builder complete the work efficiently?  You should check references and/or ask for a construction schedule in writing.

Lien Release:

What is a lien release?  It is a legal document that protects you from debts placed on your property for non-payment.  A reputable builder can supply lien releases, to prove that he paid the subcontractors.

Quality and Workmanship:

Can I rely on high quality workmanship?  Yes, if it is by a reputable builder, but sometimes there are deficiencies.  Please review the recourse below in ‘Punch List.’

Punch List:

What is a punch list?  It is a list of items noted at the end of a job that refer to minor defects or items, not conforming to the contract.

Payment Schedule:

How are payments structured?  Typically, the builder will collect payments during the progression of work in 1/3 increments.   The final payment should be withheld until the punch list is completed to your satisfaction.

Post Construction:

What can I expect after the pool is filled?  A reputable builder will provide instructions and accessories, specifically tailored for the needs of each client.

Expertise thru Ongoing Education:

Does the builder continue to educate himself?  Reputable builders read trade publications and review engineering updates to uphold the best methods.

In the Fine Print:

Homeowners typically make changes during construction, as their project develops.  Changes are normally discouraged by builders.  Penalties are billed, just for processing a change.  A reputable builder will not charge for this processing aspect and will perform the request.  The cost for the change is another matter entirely.

Janine Wilson is a pool builder, designer, pilot, and part-time writer.