Phoenix AZ Pool Builders: My 1st Impressions

Dan_April 2, 2012

My wife & I have recently begun talking to pool builders local to the Valley, for a geometric-style play pool we are looking to have built at our Peoria home. In case its of any use to anyone else around here, below are my first impressions of the 4 builders I've called so far.

Also I'm open to advice if you've had any experiences with these guys, and whether there's someone I should call who is not on this list... We might get quotes from 1 or 2 more PBs, but don't want to overkill on quotes either.

Anyway, my initial impressions:

Dolphin Pools: Very professional, very straight forward on pricing and what you get. I like these guys. The guy I spoke with (Gary) took 20-25 minutes to answer my questions and seemed like an overall decent guy. He said he'd was a little "old fashioned" and would rather come to the house to take measurements & would be able to give us a drawings and a final price for any options afterward. On one hand, I appreciate the company's willingness to come out and check out our specific situation. On the other hand: I'm a little "new-fashioned." I work from home and with a team of people all over the world, so I'm used to (and somewhat prefer to) work remotely when it is more efficient to do so. I get why they want to have someone come out and give a 90-minute sales pitch, and I do believe if I would have pressed the issue, I probably could have had him do something for me over the phone/email. But they otherwise impressed me, so I figured I'd just let them do their thing & see what happens for now :) Either way, I left my conversation feeling like the company would install a quality pool for a fair price. I meet with Gary in a few days, so will update below with how the meeting goes.

Presidential Pools & Spas: They were a bit more casual in the way they pitched to me, and took a ton of time (45 minutes +) to answer my questions. The salesman (James) was able to offer quite a few suggestions in terms of design and placement in our yard. Impressively, he also offered a couple creative ways we might be able to save money, and demonstrated that the company was both flexible and intereted in my business. While we were talking he reviewed an arial view of my house and took measurements of my back yard. (I later sent him a few pics and our survey measurements for good measure - no pun intended!) During my conversation, I spewed off a lot of information and desires, and James was extremely quick to respond with 3D renderings and a quote. His first design was so close to what we were asking for, it was almost a little shocking. Not that we are looking for anything earth-shatterinly creative, but we really didn't have to change anything from a design perspective. Their price was fair, maybe even good. Like I said, he was a little casual though too. He made some comment about wanting to do the first steps remotely due to "the price of gas these days." Not that I didn't appreciate doing this step remotely, but i thought it was a little bit of a weird thing for a salesperson to say in light of the fact that he's pricing out 25-30k worth of construction for me. Not a big deal, just a little of a weird comment.

California Pools: My neighbors have a California Pool and have been really happy with it, so I wanted to be sure to include them on my list. However, when I called, no one from sales was available. They called me back later but didn't leave a message, so I had to call the receptionist again to try to talk to someone. No one available again, so left my number. They inverted the digits, so got an email response from Sales, and finally had a direct line to reach someone. The guy I spoke with (Cliff) seemed a little disinterested. I had to pretty much lead the entire conversation, and he didn't give me an exact time as to when I should expect his follow-up with a quote and proposal, just "some time next week." (I wish I could tell my bosses my next presentation will be done "sometime next week," but I don't think that type of vagueness would go over well!) When I told him I wanted a geometric design, he responded that I really might want to go with a free-form pool instead, which is a totally different style than what we prefer. Honestly, he just seemed like kind of a turd on the phone, rather than someone who was listening to my ideas and helping me flesh them out. I know that's sort of a childish way to put it, but its the impression I was left with, so there you have it. Anyway, I figure it won't hurt to see how they quote me for the whole build, but I'm leaning away from them for now on the basis of lower than hoped for customer service. Who knows? Maybe Cliff had a terrible day, and he'll blow me away with great customer service the next time we talk. But, right now, my expectations for him aren't high, and for an investment of this magnitude, I think its reasonable for expectations to be pretty high.

Unique Landscaping & Pools: This is a much smaller operation, but I called them because their Pool pics look nice, and they do their own in house landscaping. I figured I might get a package deal on that, since my back yard is essentially empty, and we want to also put in a fire pit, some trees/plants, and some general landscaping, so I dialed these guys up. I got a weird answering system when I called and when I finally got around to pushing 4 for sales, I just got someone's voicemail. Didn't leave a message. Maybe I'll call back, maybe not. I just got a weird feeling they weren't quite a well oiled machine yet.

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rockybird

I'll add my experience. I had some of the big companies come out - shasta, dolphin, etc. They all did the sales pitch which I did not like. I felt they were a little condescending. They all seemed the same to me. I was at a loss on what pool co. to use.

I did a google search on custom pools and found an article listing a couple companies, but these appeared to do high end pools. I figured I could not afford them, but decided it didnt hurt to call one. I called Supreme Pools which was listed in the article and spoke with James, the owner. He met me at the house. He did not give me a sales pitch. He listened to what I wanted. Then he and I started mapping out with sticks what the pool could look like. He drove me to PV and showed me a modern pool he had done. It was beautiful. The estimate that came back was very reasonable. He and I and an architect worked on tweaking the design until it was what I wanted. James was very patient (and I made a lot of changes!) He did everything he could to save me money, as he knew I was on a budget. I took some things out, like the baja deck and added some things, like a bigger deck (after the deck was put in!) and a tiled spa. I also lowered the pool depth early on after the hole was dug. What started out as a smallish pool ended up a 60' lap pool with a spa. He took all this in stride. Everything was done on time just like he had outlined in the contract. I couldnt be happier with my experience and I wish the contractors for my house remodel were as dedicated! Anyway, we passed the final inspection today! Hopefully, in 1-2 weeks, I'll have a pool!

One other co. I had an estimate from, but didnt use, was Natural Reflections. Their estimate was pretty close to Supreme Pools. They seem to have a good reputation and to do modern pools, and if things hadnt have worked out with Supreme Pools, I would have probably used them.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 1:31PM
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Dan_

Thanks a ton for your feedback! I hadn't heard of Supreme, but will certainly consider them, given your experience. Sounds like your project was probably more than a little bigger in scale than what we're looking to do, and I'm curious how the final project would have compared price-wise with the bigger guys... Guess its hard to tell given the substantial changes you've made along the way. Either way, I'm glad to know they were so accomidating. I've just submitted some changes to our plan to get a re-quote from Presidential, and I'm curious how they will respond.

I also saw someone from Natural Reflections responded to a seprate post I made. Thinking I might contact them too sometime within the next week or so.

I supposed I figured most of the smaller operations and niche players wouldn't be able to compete with the bigger companies on price. Maybe I'll find that I'm wrong.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 1:51PM
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rockybird

Hi Dan,

For the initial project, their price was lower than the other companies. I dont know where the final price is though, as I extended the pool, etc. I really liked working with this co. as I got personal service from the owner. Whenever I have a question, I call him on his cell phone. He made multiple trips out here on the weekends to help me figure out the design before we proceeded. I did have an architect do the original plan, but James and I brainstormed and modified it some. So far, I am really happy with the final product, although I will be more happy next week when it gets plaster. We passed the final inspection yesterday. :)

Good luck with your pool!

Here is a link that might be useful: supreme pools

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:26AM
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Dan_

Just a quick update on the builders I'd originally mentioned. (After consideration, we've recently decided to request quotes on a larger pool than we'd originally looked at.)

Presidential: I submitted a dimensioned drawing on Tuesday asking for an updated quote & haven't heard back yet. I think I can deduce the extra cost based on some of the line items from the original quote, but would certainly like to know for sure.

Dolphin: Good quote, weird experience. Has anyone else worked with these guys before? Curious if your experience was anything like mine, or if this was an anomole? They came last night (an hour late, due to being hung up at a previous appointment, but whatever... figured I'd forgive it & see how the actual meeting went.) Even though I had already very carefully measured the yard and access, he spent the 1st 10-15 minutes re-measuring everything. I guess I can understand that; some people probably aren't as obsessively careful as I was. While he was doing that He gave us some ziploc bags full of pictures to look at (though we'd seen just about everything we could possiblly hope to see by now online), and we waited for him to finish. He then proceeded to take the next 2 hours to meticulously draw the exact same pool dimensions I'd already given him onto a larger piece of paper. (I gave him an actual CAD drawing I did with full dimensions, placed in the yard with required setbacks, summed perimeter ft, surface feet, etc.) He sort of messed up his drawing and we had to go over it and have him re-do some things. He used a bunch of architectual tools & a calculator to come to the exact same dimensions I'd already given him, and finally quoted me a pretty decent price. Of course, I was able to ask him a bunch of questions along the way, but it was still a pretty weird experience, and he wasn't a good multi-tasker, so it really stretched out the time he was here. (I already had my questions before he got to the house, so I could have easily asked them via phone or email, so I didn't see any real value-add to having him at the house.) I sort of get the "old-school" approach, but honestly, the only real thing that scares me off a bit from using these guys was the lack of technology involved in their pitch. Maybe I am not the norm here. Anyway, when it was all said and done, he gave me a price, but left without giving me a quote sheet or 2D/3D renderings of the pool. The latter was less of an issues since I'd already done all that myself, but I literally had to snap a cell-phone picture of the quote that he penciled in on his drawing before he rolled it up and took it with him. So right now I feel a little conflicted by these guys. I do believe that, at the end of the day, they build a good pool with a lot of the add-ons you want packaged in, for a fair price. But would have been nice to see this company had stepped into the 90s (let alone the 2000s or 2010s!)

California Pools: Still haven't heard back from these guys. Maybe Cliff is trolling boards here at GardenWeb and decided that my calling him a turd didn't warrant a response from them! LOL... anyway, i sent a follow-up email to him today. If I don't get a quote by end of day, they're out of the running. I might call one or two of the smaller guys to see what they have to offer, and we'll make our decision within a week or so.

That's all for now!
Dan

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:23PM
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tlvancouver

I'm wondering who you ended up going with? We're almost ready to sign with Presidential.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 1:12PM
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