Putting a pool in your backyard?
That's something we have been thinking about the past few years. It had not been an easy choice for us given the volatility in the real estate market and a sense for us that with the investment that would would be making -- would make us commit to living in our current place for the next 5 years. We have been flip-flopping back and forth. Recently though, after looking at some properties we decided to move forward with an entire new backyard project. Plus, the timing seems right.
For us, living in sunny southern California -- a pool is a very nice thing to have, especially given that with the appropriate setup you can extend your swim season from April to October with relatively little ongoing investment. In addition, we had been neglecting our backyard for a few years, remaining in our indecisive state.
Our backyard with existing patio that we're going to be putting a pool in.
You said the timing looks right?
Yes, appears to be pretty good timing for an economy and opportunity standpoint. For example, if we looked back at 2007, there were close to 4,000 permits filed for to build pools in the greater Los Angeles area. This year, here in 2009 -- that number is closer to a total of 700. That means that there are a lot fewer companies and jobs to go around, weeding out some of the weaker players and making the market that much more competitive.
Those along with a few other opportunities should make for a better price, with higher quality. Jobs are more scarce, labor is cheaper, bids are more competitive, steel is cheaper, and concrete is cheaper. From the initial conversations I have had, the prices may be as much as 20% lower than just 2 years ago -- to me, that sounds like great timing.
This will also be larger than just a "simple" in-ground pool project. Due to the relative size of our patio above, we'll be likely replacing that, adding outdoor lighting, a patio cover, as well as an outdoor bbq area. Altogether, it is a complete redesign of our backyard which should be a lot of fun, and include a few problems that will need to be solved. :-)
Which brings me to another important point, I do not want to be my own general contractor on this project. I do not want to have to worry about coordinating all the various people and places...because I do not feel like I have time to do that. So, the company that I choose will need to be able to provide minimally the coordination between the pool, the backyard hardscaping, patio cover, lighting, and landscaping. Selecting a company that can handle all of these aspects will be a critical factor.
So, to the point of the article title...where do you start?
For me, it starts with researching and interviewing the top 8 pool construction companies in my area. I know of some, have looked at the yellow pages for others, and looked at recommendation and rating services still for others. The purpose of the first conversations is to get a feel for the companies themselves, and if what styles and constructions they are good at are a fit for what we are looking for.
Rather than telling them specifically what we're looking for, I will ask them for their ideas, thoughts, and recommendations for what they would do with our backyard if they had the opportunity. Based on that, as well as recommendations on the types of pool equipments, salt water vs. chlorine vs. bromine, solar heating and others -- we'll make our first round of decision.
After those initial 8 conversations, I will then narrow that down to 4 and go through the design and bidding process. I plan on the process taking 4-6 weeks total to make the selection.
Please join me as I go through the process of researching, selecting, and construction over the next 12-16 weeks. As I have been doing my research on the internet, it is hard to find any experience based articles or other types of information. What I am finding is a lot of articles and boards that are either advertisements for a particular pool company or equipment brand.
What I will post here is my week by week experiences and what I learn (both good and bad) as I interview potential contractors, choose and negotiate the price, and finally go through the construction process. By the time we're finished here, there should be a good how-to guide on what to and what not to do when building a pool.
Next up, results of the first round of conversation and some of the decision making criteria I will be using.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Putting a pool in your backyard?