A reader: I just bought my first house. I want to install a pool right away. I’ve never done anything like this before and want to be sure to get it right. Can you give me some tips on how to get started?
Action Line: The rainy season (that we so needed) seems to be behind us now and that spring fever is setting in. Now is a good time to get going before it really heats up. A cool dip in the pool when it’s 100 degrees outside is a great way to cool off. The first thing you need to do is decide what you want first. Do you want an in-ground or above-ground pool? The pricing varies greatly.
Next, find a contractor. BBB recommends that you get comparative bids. Make sure your contractor is licensed and bonded with the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). When checking the license, look for worker’s compensation insurance and a clear bond. Don’t forget to ask for references. Check www.bbb.org/ccie to make sure they are accredited businesses, review any complaints on file and look for customer reviews.
CSLB suggests that you:
▪ Get it in writing. All agreements should be put in writing. They should be as specific as possible regarding all materials to be used, such as the quality, quantity, weight, color, size, or brand name as it may apply.
▪ Don’t sign anything until you understand the contract and agree to the terms. Anything you sign as authorization to move forward with the project could become the contract. Ask questions until you understand and agree to all the terms before signing.
▪ Make sure the contract includes everything that is agreed to, up to and including complete cleanup and removal of debris and materials, along with special requests like saving extra pool time, etc.
▪ Never sign a blank or partially blank contract. Once you sign, both you and the contractor are bound by everything set down in the contract. Make sure to get a copy of the contract, and keep it for your records.
▪ Always update your contract. If you have added or subtracted work, substituted materials or equipment, changed the completion date, etc., make sure to note it in writing on a “change order,” and include any price changes. After a change order is signed, it becomes part of the written contract. One must be provided in the contract, as well as a plan and scale drawing showing the shape, size dimensions, and construction and equipment specifications.
▪ Know your cancellation rights. You may cancel within three (3) days of signing a contract, but it must be mailed before midnight of the third day.
▪ Make sure the financial terms are clear. The contract should include the total price, when payments will be made, and whether there is a cancellation penalty. You should expect to make a down payment on any home improvement job. That down payment should never exceed 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less.
For more tips, check out fblinks.com/home
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.