With the summer heat growing, you may be thinking it’s time to add a pool to your backyard. Or maybe your current pool has been malfunctioning and you’re looking to upgrade. Remodeling your pool takes more than just the average knowledge of renovation. Due to certain building codes, safety regulations, zoning rules, and restrictions of building a pool on your property, it is in your best interest to hire a professional.

A professional pool contractor or architect can help you with your pool construction. When hiring a professional, you should always sign a contract. A contract is a signed legal agreement between all parties engaged in a specific project or arrangement. Here are a few things to remember when dealing with a contract.

Contracts 101

A contract is an agreement between the homeowner or property owner and the pool contractor, which outlines the services you all agree upon. It must be signed by all parties involved before work begins; in fact, a professional wouldn’t ever begin work without a signed document. It can be a simple work order, bid, quote, or for more complicated projects, a detailed document you may want to show to a construction lawyer. In any case, the contract intends to protect all parties involved in a transaction. It should clearly outline expectations on all sides, as well as the following basics:

  • The contractor’s full business name and employee contact information
  • The complete extent of the project work and performance (e.g., who, what, when, where)
  • Description of all materials used in detail during installation and design
  • Payment schedule regarding all expectations with amounts
  • Proof of license, bond and insurance by contractor
  • Entire project timeline
  • Architectural drawings set to scale
  • Disclosure of liabilities if damages occur
  • Refund policy and guarantee of work
  • Necessary warranty information
  • Instructions regarding cleanup of debris and leftover materials
  • Permitting details and information

Contract must-haves

A reputable contractor will be an expert in drawing up a contract for your job. Still, you must read the contract carefully and make sure that you understand all of its terms. You must also make sure that the contractor has understood your project needs and requirements. If the contract does not match your expectations, do not be afraid to ask questions or to seek advice. Ask the contractor for clarification and read the fine print.

Before signing and finalizing your contract, there are some more intricate requirements regarding pool remodeling regulations.

Necessary permits: Digging a pool from your property grounds can complicate the construction process due to soil, hardscape and equipment provided. Permits must be obtained prior to digging depending on the soil type. Having all permits checked and approved will ensure your safety as a homeowner so that you do not run into legal trouble with regards to zoning restrictions and building codes. Permits can vary per state, so check the terms of your home’s location.

Equipment rental and material: Adding a pool to your backyard will require your contractor to use heavy equipment. From machinery, pipes, concrete filling, tile and interior finishes, there is a lot of equipment that will be necessary to use during this project. Include in your contract details on rental prices, condition costs and all materials used from flooring, decoration, cleaning and testing matter.

Contingency: Your pool remodel will need large sums of rock and ground water. With the chance of improper installation or unsafe chemicals in the pool water, make it clear in your contract of any compensation or maintenance service that must occur in result of this issue. A reliable contractor and pool installer should have proper knowledge of pool safety regulations, conditions, and standards.

Full-drawn diagram: Once the pool construction has started it is difficult to go back and make alterations to the base and foundation. Your contract should request a diagram of your pool design in detail with size, dimensions, depth, steps/stairs/diving board placements, as well as plumbing drains, pumps and cleaners. This drawing will not only act as a guide and preview of your desired pool, but also set a clear expectation of design to be built.

Maintenance: Other aspects to consider in your pool remodel contract is a maintenance program. After your pool is up and running, it will require cleaning and upkeep that may need a technician at times. Responsibilities of this program can range from water chemical balance, filter inspection and safety opening and closing of your pool cover.  Your contractor should inform you whether your contract includes a predetermined program or if you need to purchase separate care post installation and construction.

Do I really need a contract?

Your contract is your reassurance that your project will be completed how you want. Since most pool remodels are planned through pool specialist contractors, it is not likely they will work without one. This is a big job, and if you have done research into your dream project, you will know that there is less DIY knowledge readily available for it than for many other renovation projects.

Don’t forget the safety issues involved in any pool remodel. You want to make sure that any work you contract for is top notch, complete with thorough knowledge about safety features, current technology, local code regulations, and permits required. If you become uncomfortable with the terms you agreed upon, how will you proceed if you need to change or cancel the contract? Much can happen over the course of a renovation. If circumstances change, you need to know what your recourse is and, on your end, what constitutes fair and legal treatment of your contractor.

Changes and cancellation

If you are looking to make changes or cancel your contract, consult an attorney before communicating with your contractor. Any changes should be documented with a “Change Order” form. All parties involved (usually you and the pool contractor) need to agree upon the changes and sign the Change Order.

Your best protection and preparation for voiding or ending your contract is to read the fine print. Read it before you sign the contract, and again if you need to cancel. Be meticulous and forthright. Make sure you know when the deadlines are for cancellation, and what the terms are. Keep a close eye on the project and address any problems as they arise so that you can take action as needed, armed with full knowledge of your rights and responsibilities.

Top Image Credit: Fireclay Tile