Common Items Pool Contractors Forget to Include

There is a good chance that when you are getting an estimate to build a pool in your backyard, it is your first time.  Most people will not experience the excitement of building their own custom pool.  The select few who do will typically only build one in their lifetime.  That being said, there are many things you will not know to look for when getting an estimate.  This is an article to bring a few of those things to light.

There are a lot of contractors that will do anything to sell a pool and there are a lot of common items pool contractors forget to include in an initial estimate.  The trick and challenge for them is to get you signed up for the pool of your dreams for the lowest possible price.  This doesn’t usually come out well, for either party, in the end.  The issue to be concerned with is: “What items are missing from my bid?”  There are plenty of things that contractors can omit from a proposal and say that it was not included because the fact is that the client is not going to know any different.  A lot of contractors take advantage of that lack of knowledge on the clients part and exploit it.

When getting an estimate for anything, the goal is to come to an agreement and when all is said and done have a completed project for the price you originally agreed on.  This may not be the case for the contractor.  The goal of a lot of contractors is to get the number as low as possible and get the contract signed.  Later on, throughout the process, you will tend to run into “additional/hidden costs” when you decide to go with the lowest estimate.  All taking advantage of the fact that you didn’t know what to look for in the beginning.  The following is a list of common items pool contractors “forget” to include in an initial estimate for a pool construction project.

Permits and Expediting Fees:  Not all cities charge the same amount for permits.  Some cities even require specialty permits and multiple types of permits for a single project.  Permits can range from a few hundred dollars to multiple thousands and sometime contractors don’t want to risk the loss of that much money when it comes to estimating that price.  This is a fairly common practice and is not always done in a malicious manner.  It is simply an item to be on the lookout for.

Zone Charges: Zone charges are the cost to haul away dirt from the very pool you are paying a lot of money for.  Some contractors will only charge you to dig the pool but leave the responsibility of hauling the dirt, or paying THEIR excavation crew to haul it, up to the home owner.

Engineering and Steel Reinforcing: Specialty engineering can sometimes be needed depending on many variable from the complexity of a pool to the soil the pool is to be placed in.  Make sure that the pool project you are getting bids on includes the correct type of engineering.

Soils Reports and Surveys:  A soils report/survey may not always be required by the city.  However, in a lot of cases. it is a good idea to have one of the two.  While 80% of pool projects can be completed without either it may be a good idea to consult someone about both on an individual case basis.

Plumbing:  Look for wording that may limit the length of gas/electric runs or limits the scope of work to “hook-up/run only”.  Also, it is possible that the gas and electric is not included at all.  Another item is a P-trap.  Most cities will require this regardless of if your filtration system can be hooked up to it or not.

Gunite/Shotcrete:  Although it’s not exact, estimating the amount of gunite that will be needed for a project can be done fairly accurately.  Use caution when there is verbage about a limit on the amount of gunite to be included.  There are legitimate reasons for additional gunite costs.  Unstable soil, rocky soil that causes large voids to be filled with gunite, and muddy soils conditions are just a few situations that would be considered legitimate means for additional gunite, and therefore, additional costs.

Tile and Coping:  As odd as it might sounds there are a lot of companies that do not include the tile and/or coping.  The key to tile and coping is to know what grouping is included in your estimate.  All tile and coping that is included should be labeled and called out on the proposal specifying what group or cost per unit (i.e. per ton/linear foot/square foot) you are allotted.

Bonding Grid:  This is one of the most commonly “forgotten” items for pool contractors.  Almost EVERY city will require that bonding of some sort be directly connected to the decking around the pool.  Even though it is a state requirement, the individual city/county office has the right to enforce the codes as they deem necessary.

Please understand that writing this article is purely for information purposes ONLY.  It is to help you, as a potential pool builder, of what a pool construction project may need to include and to help you avoid incurring costs at a premium in the latter portions of the process.  None of these items are required to be included in a contract and it is the responsibility of the homeowner to know what they are signing up for when agreeing to the terms set forth in their contract.

Wes Hansen
Hansen Pool Construction
Owner/Licensed Contractor