The 10 Things You Need To Know Before Signing A Pool Contract
1. How long has the contractor been in business?
Look for a well-established company. Contact your local and or state consumer protection agencies to determine whether the contractor has had complaints and the disposition of the complaints filed. In Broward County, the Consumer Affairs Division can be contacted at (954-357-5350). It is important to recognize that if there is no record of complaints against a particular contractor it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no problems with the contractor. It may be that problems exist, but have not yet been reported, or that the contractor is doing business under several different names. However, even good companies may have complaints, what is important is the number of complaints and whether they were resolved.
2. How many projects like mine has the contractor completed in the last year?
Ask for a list, and ask for references. This will help you determine how familiar the contractor is with your type of project. The contractor should be able to give you the names, addresses, and phone numbers of at least three recent clients who have projects similar to yours. Ask each how long ago the project was completed and if you can see it. Also, tell the contractor that you’d like to visit jobs in progress. The following is a list of questions to ask the reference:
• Can I visit your home to see the completed job?
• How was the quality of the workmanship?
• How well did the contractor stay on budget according to the original estimate?
• Did the contractor use a change order form for any changes?
• How timely was the contractor during the course of the job?
• Were you happy with his/her attitude when problems would arise?
• How were the subcontractors and workers that were on the job?
• Did they keep the job site clean and safe?
• Was the contractor himself on the job to supervise?
• Would you ever use this contractor again?
• Would you refer them to a friend?
• How did you find the contractor?
3. Ask to see a copy of the State of Florida license issued by the Department of Business and Professional Regulations.
Florida requires that pool contractors obtain a license issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at www.myflorida.com/dbpr. Examples of state contractor’s licenses include electrical, roofing, pool, and plumbing contractors. Broward County residents can verify contractor license (certificates of competency) issued by Broward County at the website of the Broward County Building Code Services Division. Always request that the contractor provide you with his or her company’s licensing information and verify the information by performing a license check at the agencies listed above. To find out if a contractor has a Broward County Certificate of Competency or a Florida Contractor’s license, call 954-831-4000. You can perform online Florida state contractor license search at www.myflorida.com/dbpr. In addition, ask the building Department of the city or municipality where the work will be performed if there is any problem which would prevent the contractor from obtaining a permit.
4. Ask if contractor will you be using subcontractors on your project?
If yes, ask to meet them, and make sure they have current insurance coverage and licenses, if required. Also ask them if they were paid on time by this contractor. A “mechanic’s lien” could be placed on your home if your contractor fails to pay the subcontractors and suppliers on your project. That means the subcontractors and suppliers could go to court to force you to sell your home to satisfy their unpaid bills from your project. Protect yourself by asking the contractor, and every subcontractor and supplier, for a lien release or lien waiver.
5. What types of insurance do you carry?
Contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. Ask for copies of insurance certificates, and make sure they’re current. Avoid doing business with contractors who do not carry the appropriate insurance. Otherwise, you could be held liable for any injuries and damages that occur during the project. Ask to see the Contractor’s Certificate of Insurance showing coverage for General Liability and Worker’s Compensation.
6. Will my project require a permit?
Most states and localities require permits for building projects, even for simple jobs like decks. A competent contractor will get all the necessary permits before starting work on your project. Be suspicious if the contractor asks you to get the permit(s). It could mean that the contractor is not licensed or registered, as required by your State or locality. Also, if you pull the permit, you become responsible for any problems, including failure to have the work inspected and code violations.
7. Read your contract and understand it.
Ask questions on anything that is not clear. Make sure the contract covers entire project from start to finish. Be specific in explaining exactly what you want. Be sure to approve any architectural plans that are involved before the contract work begins. Compare costs before making a financial commitment. Discuss bids in detail with each contractor.
8. Does the contractor have a “real” office?
Make sure the company has a true physical location and that it is a permanent one. Ask for a website address as well and take time to visit the website.
9. Do not succumb to salesmen’s pressure tactics that sound sarcastic or intimidating.
Beware of companies that advertise unbelievably low prices. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
10. Guaranteed completion dates are given only by weak companies with financial problems.
Make sure your contractor is financially sound. Unfortunately, the pool industry suffers a 75% failure rate. Remember that a reliable contractor will help you avoid expensive repairs due to faulty or cheap construction.