Posts Tagged ‘pool contractor NJ’

How to Choose a NJ Pool and Landscape Contractor or Company

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

How to Choose a NJ Pool and Landscape Contractor or Company

How do you choose the right NJ pool or landscape company for your project? This can be an overwhelming task. Any homeowner looking to build a pool, design a landscape, or begin any other type of home improvement project is faced with a significant investment. Knowing how to choose the right contractor is essential to every one of these endeavors. There are great pool and landscaping companies out there. The key is finding the most qualified contractor for your specific project. This task can be difficult as you sift through all of the experience, services, and credentials being offered by all of the companies. Given the crucial significance of this aspect of the pool or landscape construction process, let me offer a few tips on what to look for in a landscape and/or pool contractor.

What to look for:

1. Happy Customers

The easiest, and yet the one most ignored, is to speak with, or better yet, visit past customers. If you speak with former customers, you can get a feel for how the landscape or pool construction process went, the timeline of events, and the follow-up care or relationship the customer has with the contractor. If you go visit the customers, you will be able to see the projects, first-hand, how they stand today. This helps to ensure that the beautiful luxury pool and landscape you saw online or in an ad has stood the test of time and not fallen apart since the photograph was taken.

2. Solid Background

Do a little background check on the pool or landscape contractor. Any filings for bankruptcy or past lawsuits will give the homeowner an idea of a pool company’s credibility. A good place to start with the background check is the Better Business Bureau.

3. Licenses and Insurance

Try to make sure that the contractor has the proper licenses to complete whatever work you are looking to have done. Licenses mean the contractor is actually allowed to perform that work. Most licenses require some kind of background, so they can help with the overall background check as well. Along with proper licensing, the contractor should have liability insurance.

4. Trusted Leadership

Homeowners should try their best to verify that the owner of the company will be involved in the day-to-day operations of construction. Choosing a landscape or pool company like this will ensure your ability to communicate directly with the owner in order to track progress, address concerns, and simply feel more comfortable about the investment.

5. Complete Bids and Contracts

There should be little to no grey area in your contract. In regards to bidding, you might have an architect or engineer prepare a bid package. A good bid package contains the entire project specifications needed to get a complete apple to apples comparison. It also asks the contractors to certify that all of the items are included in their bid. If items are missing from the bid, you can set it up that the contractor is liable for those associated costs. When dealing directly with a contractor, avoid bundled or lump sum pricing. Insist on a unit pricing structure; this transparency protects you from price gouging because all of the unit pricing is established prior to the start of the project.

6. Professional Memberships

Active memberships to professional organizations can be a good benchmark for credibility. These organizations typically have a rigorous process for acceptance into the organization. Many times they also call for a certain amount of continuing education to stay up to date and maintain that professional membership. For pools, look for APSP members and Certified Building Professionals with the APSP. For NJ landscaping, look for NJLCA, NJNLA, and organizations like these. For a landscape design professional, the ASLA is key.

7. Variety of Services

One favorable quality of the right pool or landscape contractor may be a diverse set of services that eliminate the need for multiple contractors on the site of a single project. If you can hire one company to install a natural stone patio and install the landscape design, this will make for efficient planning and swift completion of the work. The proper planning will cut costs and prevent you from doing things twice.

8. Type of Experience

For whatever service you are looking, find out how much experience the contractor has with this type of work. When all things appear equal, experience can be the best deciding factor. Remember, a 25-year-old landscaping company may have only begun building pools 2 years ago. It’s important to get down to specifics when you look into a landscape or pool contractor’s experience.

9. Levels of Experience You Should Expect for Your Project

We wouldn’t build you a vinyl liner pool because that’s not our specialty; similarly, you wouldn’t want a vinyl liner pool company to construct your luxury concrete swimming pool. The experience should not simply be determined by the services offered but also by the level of difficulty for the project at hand. Make sure you can find multiple example of the things you want in the contractor’s brochure or on their website. Extensive experience with luxury features such as glass tile pools, fiber optic lights, and natural stone patios can really set one contractor apart from another depending upon the work you would like to have done.

10. Complete Package- Design and Build

When choosing a contractor, you may be able to find a qualified professional in your area who can design the pool or landscape and construct that design completely in-house, without ever involving another company to interpret and reinterpret the intentions and goals of that design. In other words, if you find a landscape construction expert or a pool construction expert, and they offer landscape architecture services, you will have a better chance of protecting your investment and ensuring your ideal design from start to finish.

The best advice we can give is to not do one or two of these tips but try to implement them all during your interviewing process for each contractor you interview, this will help you set an overall benchmark and give you an in-depth comparison to help make your final choice.

NJ Swimming Pool Builder, Bankrupt Pool Contractor Abandons Pool Construction in Mahwah New Jersey

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

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.