Deceitful and Inexperienced Pool Contractors Can Turn Residential and Commercial Swimming Pool Projects into Expensive, Time-Consuming Construction Nightmares
Last week, we inherited an abandoned swimming pool project at the Marriott Hotel in Mahwah, NJ. The defunct indoor pool and spa was in complete disrepair and not even close to meeting standards required by the board of health. While we were grateful to consult with engineers, the Mahwah health department, and the property owner regarding repair options, and equally grateful we were eventually awarded the bid, we feel that a valuable lesson can be learned from the abandoned Marriott Hotel project.
What was wrong with the pool? It was all-around poorly constructed. The engineering plan and the actual pool construction had serious inconsistencies. (Whether this was intentionally done to cut corners or unintentionally done out of simple ineptness, we do not know. Both issues of honesty and experience seem serious enough to question either way.) First of all, the swimming pool slope into the deep end was too drastic and didn’t match the plans. The spa plumbing and construction was not up to code and condemned. It was so hopeless that the safest and cheapest solution would be to demolish it and start from scratch. The equipment room included three pumps, but instead of the pumps specified in the plans, the previous contractor used smaller substitutions. The two heaters on the project also failed to meet code and had to be removed and replaced. Lastly, the saltwater chlorination system was removed because it can’t be the sole chlorination system for a commercial grade pool. Imagine, for a second, that the project was not abandoned. Since the pool and spa were not up to code, the spa and the swimming pool would have required complete demolition after the final health department inspection.
What are the odds that the dishonest contractor who cut corners is going to have enough integrity to go back and responsibly fix everything? More often than not, it is easier for a contractor to claim bankruptcy than to fix a non-compliant swimming pool. Abandoned or not, the inexperienced pool contractor dug a very deep hole for the property owner, literally and financially.
But how might homeowners and property owners see these major shortcomings before awarding a bid to a pool contractor? It does seem slightly unreasonable to think that these disreputable pool companies would represent themselves honestly from the start. The same company that started the Marriot project also abandoned a residential swimming pool in Haworth, New Jersey this past year. This pool company was infamous for taking pictures off association websites and posting them on his own. Believe it or not the owner went as far as to take a photograph of a pool built by a Long Island company, mirror it in Photoshop, and use it in a full page advertisement in 201 Magazine. This is by no means an isolated incident. Another local pool contractor currently advertises as “The Leading Swimming Pool Design & Construction Company” and claims to be a full-service pool and landscape company; not surprisingly, this firm just removed another company’s landscaping pictures from their website. The problem is that these companies often pay big money to marketing firms in order to create an aura of expertise with bogus testimonials and quotes taken out of context and other dishonest tactics. Unfortunately it’s so easy for an unsuspecting consumer to fall into these traps!
What can you do to assure yourself of a company’s credibility? On our website: PlantNJ.com, we offer a contractor disclosure form that homeowners and property owners can use to review pool contractors based on ethical advertising practices, general business standing, professional licensing, and overall experience. The contractor disclosure will hopefully weed out fraudulent and inexperienced bidders on your job. The disclosure agreement also leaves a place for the contractor to sign off on the information provided in the checklist, acknowledging that any misrepresentations are in violation of the NJ Consumer Fraud Act. In general, the Marriott Hotel project demonstrates that contractor credibility, experience, and dedication are invaluable. A contractor disclosure checklist may be a good way to find out which NJ inground pool builders really possess all those qualities in order to keep this nightmare from happening to you.