Let’s assume you need to hire a pool contractor for either a new pool installation or a major repair or renovation. You contacted a few local companies, and have received a few bids on the project. You will quickly notice that not all bids are created equal. There are a few red flags to look out for and a few things you should always expect to see when you receive an estimate for a project.
When receiving a bid from a pool contractor, the first thing to look for is the description of the work to be done. You want an estimate that is very detailed and thorough so there are no misunderstandings. If you receive an estimate and the description of work is vague and open to interpretation, it’s a red flag.
Next, the bid should be all-inclusive, meaning that the price on the estimate includes tax, labor and parts. The bid should not change because the contractor ran into “something unexpected”. If an estimate is created carefully there should be no hidden fees over the course of the job. The biggest red flag you can run into when collecting estimates from different companies, is receiving a bid much lower than the rest. Installing a pool is highly technical in nature. If you receive a low bid on your project, there is probably a misunderstanding somewhere. Either the scope of the work was not defined well, or misunderstood, or the products that are being sold are not comparable. It is not uncommon to go with the lowest bidder and then find “unexpected” increases in the price.
When hiring a contractor for a large project, make sure to do some investigating. Ask for their workers compensation or general liability insurance company, and then call that company to make sure the insurance is up to date. If the contractor doesn’t have valid insurance, the homeowner is responsible if something were to happen. Also, keep in mind that documents are easy to forge and some very shady contractors will produce fake documents. That’s why calling to verify the information is important. Also verify the contractor’s license. A licensed person has the required education, experience, insurance and qualifications to obtain a license. They must pass a competency examination before practicing. Licensed individuals are screened for prior criminal history and their license can be revoke if they are not living up to professional standards. Visit www.cslb.ca.gov to verify a license.
Lastly on the list would be to make that the contractor will pull permits, the homeowner is the ultimate say on this, but this adds another layer of protection.
Get everything in writing, as descriptive as possible and be sure to have both parties sign the contract.