Your Money: In-ground swimming pools can be major investment

Warm weather is here and many consumers are considering an in-ground swimming pool.


Before choosing a dealer or builder, think about how your family will use the swimming pool. Do they like to play a lot of water sports, swim laps or just splash around? Thinking about usage and then designing with those needs in mind is the key to building a pool that your family will be happy with.

You should select a pool contractor or dealer as carefully as you would an architect or builder for your home. The Better Business Bureau, along with the National Pool and Spa Institute, suggest the following before signing a contract:

• Obtain at least three bids. Make sure the bids specify the materials to be used, including quantity, brand, size, color, etc. Keep in mind that the lowest bid is not always the best.

• Ask to see the contractor’s license and certificates of insurance. Contact the licensing board to verify. Contractors are required to obtain licenses from state, city and/or county agencies.

• Ask for references.

• Contact the Better Business Bureau at to see if the contractor or builder has any complaints against it.

• Find out who will be doing the actual work – the contractor’s employees or subcontractors. If the firm uses subcontractors for some of its work – such as from a tile company – you will need to research the tile firm as well as the contractor. You also want to determine who will be responsible for problems down the road. Issues such as these should be resolved before construction begins.

• Find out if the builder can make any necessary site and soil evaluations of your property. The contractor should also know about existing zone, building and grading requirements.

• Some pool builders offer financing, but you want to shop various lenders to find the best terms.

• Do not be pressured into signing a contract right away. Take your time and review the contract carefully. If you do not understand the contract, do not sign it.

• Make sure all warranties for labor and materials are in writing.

• When paying for your pool, never pay in cash. Use your credit card, check or money order. And never pay the full amount up front.

As always, a little time up front could save you lots of headaches in the future.