Angie's List: pool installation tips

It cools you off during the dog days of summer, and can serve as the go-to-spot for family fun.

But a pool can be a lot of work, too.

Terry has more on what you should know about pools before taking the plunge.

Homeowner Shannon McCollom added a pool to her backyard last fall.

"We decided to have a pool installed because our kids love to swim, and we felt like it was a good thing we could do as a family and we have a lot of land so we felt like it was a good use of our backyard,” she said.

A pool can provide hours of entertainment, but it's also a costly project that you should research thoroughly.

In-ground pools can cost between $20,000 and $70,000.

An above ground is usually between $1,000 and $5,000.

Ask yourself 'What will it cost versus what will I get out of it?'

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, advises caution when deciding to purchase a pool.

"In the heat of the summer a pool might sound like a fantastic idea, but the reality is unless you are the only house in your neighborhood that doesn't have a pool, you should skip it. Pools tend to scare off potential buyers of your house and you usually only get about 50 cents on the dollar return on investment,” she said.

You should also factor in maintenance. Regular tasks include vacuuming the pool floor, balancing chemicals and checking the pump.

Weekly care plus opening and closing a pool can run about $2,000.

Building that perfect pool - and keeping it that way - depends a lot on who you hire.

Installing a pool can be a lengthy project - sometimes taking a month or more - develop a good dialogue with your contractor;

"This is not a surgical maneuver,” explains pool builder Bill Lambert. “This is sort of like open heart surgery on your backyard. So it's going to be messy. We can try to contain the mess as best as possible, but you are going to have dump trucks, there's going to be a lot of dirt moved around.”

Angie warns against jumping in too quick.

“Remember a pool is going to be with you for a long time so you want a find a reputable pool company who is going to stand behind their project. You want to know what kind of warranty is going to be on the pool. And remember this is a project that can take a long time, especially given that you might hit some rainy days during installation. You want to have a well laid out plan to make sure you hit your deadlines."

And you don't want to end up taking a bath when it comes to quality.

"I think it's extremely important what builder you go with because this is not just pots and pans, there is craft to it,” Lambert adds. “There is a lot below ground that you are going to have to trust your builder to do right because if there is something wrong the way they build it underground, the type of piping they use, the way they do their perimeter drain and those sorts of things underground, if they are not done right you may not discover it for five to six years later."
Before building a pool, you should contact your local building department and homeowner's association for a complete list of rules, regulations and required permits.

A pool, whether it's built in ground or above ground can provide hours of entertainment, but it can be a lot of work, too.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated pool builders about the items homeowners need to think about before adding a swimming pool.

Angie's List Tips: Is a swimming pool right for you?
• Define your desire: A pool requires an ongoing financial commitment, so if it's only going to be used once a year when your grandchildren visit, you may soon regret your investment. Ask yourself what will it cost versus what will I get out if it?
• The return on investment: If you live in a neighborhood that doesn't have many pools, it may not be a great idea to purchase one, especially if you plan to sell your home in a few years. In-ground pools can cost between $20,000 and $70,000. The larger above-ground pools usually cost between $1,000 and $5,000. Who also have to factor in features such as a heater, expanded decking space, and an automatic cover or fence.
• Factor in maintenance: Maintaining a pool can be tedious and time-consuming. Routine maintenance includes vacuuming the pool floor, monitoring water levels, balancing chemicals and pump maintenance. Depending upon how frequently they are used, swimming pools can require maintenance as often as one or two times a week. It is important to take extra measures to prepare your pool for various seasons, especially in areas with harsh winters.

Building that perfect pool - and keeping it that way - depends a lot on who you hire. Doing your homework when it comes to hiring a contractor is extremely important.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a Pool Builder
• Shop around: It's always a good idea to get at least two or three bids to find the right price.
• Experience matters: Companies that have been in the business a long time often have a healthy track record, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give the new guy on the block a look.
• Document, document, document: Verify licensing, if applicable, and insurance. Get a list of subcontractors to be used.
• Body of work: Visit the company's showroom, look at photographs, and consider visit former clients to see how some of the company's other pool projects turned out.
• Have a contract: This will detail each phase of the project, including when you'll make payments. Never pay the full amount in full - pay no more than one-third of the total cost as a deposit, but tie scheduled payments to job progress and completion.
• Ask for a lien release: Most pool builders hire subcontractors for various tasks such as excavating, plastering, and installing the electrical components. To protect yourself, ask for a lien release from your contractor as part of the initial contract, as well as a release from each subcontractor as they do the work.
• Keep the lines of communication open: Because installing a pool can be a lengthy project - sometimes taking a month or more - develop a good dialogue with your contractor; that way you can feel comfortable expressing any concerns or questions you may have with the status of the project as they arise.
• Rules & regulations: Contact your local building department for a complete list of rules, regulations and required permits.

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