PBs Contract and Bid Negotiations

DocZApril 24, 2011

Hello! I just discovered this forum while in process of going through several PBs for a new pool build in the west Houston/Katy area. We have gone through design and pricing for about 10 PBs and have narrowed down to about 3.

My questions are for both the members and the PBs on the forum:

First: Most of the PB's contracts are obviously heavily shifted towards the PB. I will have some edits to the contract to include things like verbal commitments that are voided by the contracts (e.g. we will fix the sidewalk/curb if we break it). Do most PBs accept changes that are reasonable?

Second: How big of a difference do you think it makes using 1/2 inch rebar in the walls and floor (versus 3/8, spacing equal) considering two things: expansive soils in this area, and our house was built 4 months ago.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.


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From a PB perspective:

I am always open to reasonable edits to the contract. Anything that doesnt divert ALL the risk my way, or turn me into a bank, (ie make me fund the job) is open to discussion.

The argument over steel always makes me laugh a little. Not that its not important, just that its made out to be a much bigger deal than it really is.

The strength of your gunite pool comes from the RATIO of steel to concrete. In other words, more steel is not always better, its how it relates to the ratio. So arguments between #3 or #4 bar or 6" vs 8" spacing always gives me a chuckle. Is your PB going to give you a lifetime warranty on the structural integrity of the shell or not? That should be your focus.

How fiscally sound is the PB? How long have they been in business? How fiscally sound and how long has the gunite company been in business? What are the terms and exclusions of the warranty? Focus your questions here and get it in writing.

I lost a ton of business in the late 90's to a certain Clear Lake area builder that had "lifetime" warranties on almost every item used to construct a pool. Though he had only been in business for a few years, clients flocked to that PB and let him build their pool. Well 2 or 3 years later, he went belly up and left a ton of folks hanging.
So, how good was his "lifetime" warranty??

Longevity counts! Make sure your PB has a proven track record and can handle the economic highs and more importantly, the lows!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 8:42PM
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Thanks for the info, especially the steel/gunite ratio. The final 3 PB's we are considering all have lifetime warranty language in the contract, but they all differ a little, especially when it comes to exclusions. One company clearly states they have no exculsions at all (of course, they would have to stay in business, but this is one of the bigger and longer tenured builders).

Thanks again for your perspective and advice.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 9:28PM
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In the Houston area, using #3 is usually all that is needed except at certain stress points where #4 might be appropriate. The spacing of the rebar is very important to me when I build. I believe anything over 10" o.c. is not close enough. I have seen some PBs go to 18" o.c. and their pools don't disintegrate (but I wouldn't want one in my yard). When I build in Austin or San Antonio, the norm there is to use #4. It is mainly a matter of tradition for the area, because you are often building on rock there and the pool isn't going anywhere!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 10:38PM
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As far as contract amendments are concerned, I don't have a problem adding items that are important to someone. As far as warranties are concerned, many of us PBs utilize what I call "pass-thru" warranties issued by the manufacturers or vendors. When you buy a home, for example, the refrigerator is not warranted by the homebuilder but rather the manufacturer...i.e., GE, Whirlpool. Unless all of the vendors and contractors are in-house for the PB (most don't do it that way), then the assurance of the warranty is based on the vendor who issued it. My Pentair equipment is warrantied for 3 yrs. When one of my customers has an equipment issue during that 3 yrs period, they contact me and I contact the manufacturer for service. The only real item that gets a lifetime warranty is the "foundation" or shell of the pool. That warranty is issued by the Gunite company. Make sure you know who that company is and check them out if that part of the warranty is particularly important to you. Foundation failures are rare, but I know people find comfort in having the "lifetime warranty."

Where I don't necessarily agree with the other poster is that years in the business are an indicator for a PB, but the financial stability and integrity of the PB is equally important. When I started in the business, I was much better prepared than others I knew who were not financially stable and lacked a level of integrity that would assure the pool owner that they would not be left in the dust. So, check out the references of the PBs...check this forum...for the viability of the PB

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 10:56PM
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Be sure you personally talk to or even better, know someone who has had a pool finished by the builder you are looking at.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 7:46AM
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