Price Check

trey100June 15, 2012

We have 3 companies giving us estimates. The 1st one has come back with a cost (I haven't negotiated yet) of $100k for the following:

1. Fiberglass 40x16 pool with tile border at water line

2. 1000 sf of paver decking (dry)

3. Paver coping (mortared)

4. 200 feet of fencing

5. Salt Water System, associated pumps and filter

6. Paver fire pit and seating

7. 12' paver (unilock or other) built up water feature (basically a wall with a spill over)

8. All electric, excavating, etc

9. Heater

10. 2 LEDs

I live in the Northeast. Each item has a "reasonable" price but together it seems expensive. I was hoping to be at 90k all in. Do you think that is possible?

I keep seeing posts of people getting $30k pools and I can't understand it. Where I live the pool alone (no mechanicals, no transportation, no excavation, etc) is mid-20's. Is it just my location?

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Can you break down the items for us? I'm in the Northeast... and it seems way too expensive. Where are you located?

Our 38' x 16' Fiberglass with all installation/plumbing/filter/concrete/water truck, etc. was $32k. Using that as a starting point, we added waterline tile, fencing, 2 LED's (and got the salt system free), and doesn't even come close to the price you're quoting.

You do have more in terms of decking, and you've added a firepit and heater... but would that truly tack on $45-50k extra?????

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 2:32PM
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That price is way... way to high. I would never invest that type of cash into a pool set-up. I too live in the N.E. burbs and my vinyl pool, fence, heat puup, pentair salt system and pumps, plus fencing and retaining wall in total was right around $40K. This was installed 3 years ago.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Thanks for the feedback. Here is a general breakout:

1. Pool - $25k
2. Transportation - $1,500
3. Perimeter Tile - $1,700
4. LEDs - $2,200
5. Excavation - $8,500 (includes excavating, equipment pad, backfill, machine grading, excavate for electric, water fill)
6. Pool Pump - $575
7. Filter - $1,450
8. Heater - $2,475
9. Salt Generator - $550
10. Salt Controls - $800
11. PVC - $800
12. Flex PVC - $850
13. Install Mechanicals - $1,250
14. Stone Coping (mortared pavers) - $4,800
15. Patio (pavers) - 1,150 sf - $16,000 ($14/sf)
16. Walkway to Patio - $1,700
17. Automatic Cleaner - $500 (budget)
18. Permit - $700
19. Electric - including new sub panel - $4,500
20. Fence - 200' - $5,600
21. Winter Cover (Fitted) - $1,600
22. 12' long water feature (spillover) - $8,900
23. Fire Pit with seating - $4,800

Another bid came in - $103k
Another company told me to "budget" $100k - they were terrible so I didn't even go through my project in detail.
Waiting on one more but it's from a person who has only been doing this 6 years so I'm not sure how many he's installed.

My yard is open and almost flat. East access through my wide driveway. I keep thinking about the folks I see on here with installs on the side of mountains!

I live in New York - Putnam County just north of Westchester.

Once again - any help is greatly appreciated.

Jersey, where are you located and who did you use?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 8:14PM
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You're being gouged... IMHO

We're in Central Jersey, and we used Seasonal World, night up the road from Great Adventure. Not sure if they install up there, but their website DOES say "New Jersey, New York and Connecticut". Below is the link to their website...

Here is a link that might be useful: Seasonal World

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 9:52PM
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Thanks, Jerseypool. I just sent them an email. Which parts of my estimate do you believe are just add ons or exaggerated? From the numbers, a simple pool would be $25k for pool, $8500 for excavation, $8500 for mechanicals, $4500 for electric, 5,600 for fence is over 50,000 and I don't even get coping, patio, lights, or landscaping, never mind any fire pits or water features!

This is very frustrating.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Personally, I think that your two amounts for "pool" and "excavation" should get you most of what you need, which would include:

2. Transportation
6. Pool Pump
7. Filter (choice of)
11. PVC (Seasonal World doesn't use flex... only rigid)
and complete installation.

I don't understand what:

13. Install Mechanicals

is, or why they're charging you $4,500 for an electric panel, when I believe in most builds, they'll go 50' included in the price, and then add for every extra foot.

It just seems like they're charging you twice for some items.

Maybe they're quoting you on the high end... the VERY HIGH end!

I'm sure others will chime in regarding your location, and about the added decking, if the price is inflated or not.

BTW - when you watch the video on Seasonal World's main page, that's our pool build during the "Fiberglass" section...

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 11:25PM
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Thanks for the input again.

So, what do you think is a reasonable offer considering the extra paving, water feature, etc?

BTW, the extra panel is because I do not have any extra circuits in my current panel. I would need a sub panel off of the main service.

I agree that there must be a lot of double dipping.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 11:50PM
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Most of us needed an extra panel for our pool builds, I would imagine. I needed one, and the total cost of box + installation by the electrician was $675. This is what I mean. Why are you being charged $4,500?

I can't speak for all PB's, but ours gave us the base price, which includes everything you need to go swimming, including electrician, concrete, even start-up chemicals and a mini "swim school" consultation to show you how everything works. They ask us if there's anything else we'd like to add, but it's not a "hard sell", if we want something, they'll price it and add it into the total amount. These things would include tile, upgraded concrete (tinted or stamped), or even pavers in place of concrete. lighting, safety cover, or any water features. That's about it.

I was kinda hoping there'd be others that know your area, or are more familiar with pavers, or both, that could chime in here. There has to be a reason that the pricing is so high. Does anyone know? Is it that particular area she's in?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 12:01PM
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Thanks, Jersey. The electrician would normally use circuits from the house panel but all my circuits were used. He adds a panel, and power run to the pump basically. He came back and said 3500 now.

To try and back out to your pool - the pavers and walkway are about 17k. Let's say that the extent of pavers and the fact that pavers are harder to install and purchase than concrete is a 10k add. The fire pit is 4800 and water feature is 9k. That's 24k which drops me to 75k. Let's call another 5k for the larger pool and 1k for the extra sub panel in my house. So that's 69k. The heater is 2.5k So that's 66.5k. How much was yours including the fence? I think that puts us at apples to apples. Assuming you were at 55k, it looks like I am still 10-15k high?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 4:32PM
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Sounds like the electrician knows that you know he's trying to bilk you, and now feels guilty about it... $1,000 off just like that, huh?


Pretty good calculation on your part. Our total build with 192' of fencing, pool permits, and a crane (to lift the fiberglass pool over the garage!!!) was $53,175.

If I were negotiating a pool in your area, I'd go for (from your list above):

1. Pool - $25k ---- OK
2. Transportation - $1,500 ---- NOPE
3. Perimeter Tile - $1,700 ----OK
4. LEDs - $2,200 --- OK
5. Excavation - $8,500 (includes excavating, equipment pad, backfill, machine grading, excavate for electric, water fill) ----OK
6. Pool Pump - $575 --- NOPE (this should be part of #5)
7. Filter - $1,450 --- NOPE (this should be part of #5)
8. Heater - $2,475 --- ONLY IF YOU WANT THIS
9. Salt Generator - $550 --- OK
10. Salt Controls - $800 ---NOPE - $400
11. PVC - $800 --- NOPE (this should be part of #5)
12. Flex PVC - $850 --- NOPE (this should be part of #5)
13. Install Mechanicals - $1,250 - NOPE (this should be part of #5)
14. Stone Coping (mortared pavers) - $4,800 --- NOPE $3,500
15. Patio (pavers) - 1,150 sf - $16,000 ($14/sf) ---Negotiate to $12 s/f ($13,800)
16. Walkway to Patio - $1,700 OK
17. Automatic Cleaner - $500 (budget)
18. Permit - $700 --- Call Twp. and see if this is accurate
19. Electric - including new sub panel - $4,500 --- NOPE !!! $1,700
20. Fence - 200' - $5,600 --- OK
21. Winter Cover (Fitted) - $1,600 --- OK
22. 12' long water feature (spillover) - $8,900 --- NO WAY $3,500
23. Fire Pit with seating - $4,800 - NOPE $2,000

As I said, this is what I would shoot for... and the PB that gets there first, and checks out with the BBB would have my signature on their contract.

I, PERSONALLY, would be gunning for everything you put in your "Wish List" for $75,000... and that better be a damn good firepit!!!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 9:55PM
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First, I love the way it was broken out for you.

Second, I think he is adding in way too much profit. Breaking out some of the jobs, like the fence and decking. unless he does really nice work (huskyridor quality stuff) some of these added features can be subbed by you for a lot less and still get the desired quality.

What kind of fencing?

Does the excavation include hitting rock? It happens.

The equipment pricing is ridiculous unless that is burdened with the construction of the pad and equipment setup. But then, what is "install mechanicals"?

What equipment brand is being used?

What models?

I didn't see what was needed to be done for the new sub panel or panel upgrade, if needed.

The pool needs a 3' ring of concrete, 4" thick with bonded steel tied to the shell and resting on 2-3" of blue stone. Please don't go with less. Some installers will say 1' is enough, bull dinky!

Tile - Skip it. Being in the North East means winterizing. You want as much water as she will hold during this time period. With tile, the water must be off it or it can crack or fall off because of the ice. In the Spring, the water table around it can rise.

Brick coping also has issues with Winter and ice. Stamped or concrete, be it an edge pour or canter levered, depending on the manufacturer of the shell.

Flex pipe? Nope. Not an option in my opinion but many use it around the shell because it's easier for them. Hard pipe neither swells under pressure, forming voids, nor can it collapse under negative pressure such as from a drain. Flex also can swell internally and collapse due to putting tablets in the skimmers for an extended time. All hard pipe is not an unreasonable up charge. The $850 for flex is like being charged for the drain pots and skimmer, absurd. The loop and suction should all be 2" pipe.

What kind of water feature?

What kind of fire pit? Plain, wood burning or an electric start gas fired, or something in between?

Why is the walkway split from the rest of the patio?

What brand and model is the cover?

Skip the BBB. It's pretty darned lame if you see all positives. The are plenty of other ratings services like Angie's List or Goggle, for example.

I can see a lot of inspections needed so the money may be close but their getting them is also worthy of compensation.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 6:42AM
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Thanks for all that info. I will respond in detail when I am back home. Scott, do you install in NY?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:04AM
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I'm glad Scott saw your post and chimed in. All good points he brings up. The only thing we disagree about is the waterline tile... wifey and I really liked the ability to choose a style and add it to the pool. However, Scott is correct about winterizing pools with tile... HAS to be done.

We purchased a Little Giant 500-APCP pool pump that we connect a garden hose to and sit it on the 2nd step, well below the water line. You can actually submerge this pump, and feed the hose somewhere were draining water won't be a problem. It clicked on a few times over the winter and did it's job. A MUST if you're using tile.

I also have a question to add to Scott's... What make fiberglass pool is it?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:21AM
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Scott & Jerseypool,

Thanks again. You are both much better than seeing a psychiatrist. Now for the longest post in Gardenweb history:

This builder has been doing fiberglass for 18 years. He in my opinion has the most experience and was able to show us many example projects within even 5 miles of my home. Very comforting in that respect. All the work looks top notch (level, etc). They have also been doing work in our town forever so they can get building department issues moved quickly.

Now the downside, he uses many subs but he is insisting that I work out all separate contracts and proposals through them. He is always there when they come but when I started this process, I really wanted to one stop shop. I don't mind him using subs, I just don't want to be paying 8 different people. For instance, even when I brought up negotiating price, he recommended I deal with each person separately. I really don't have time for this. To be clear, he said once work started, he would work the project, but I still feel like I have to keep talking to different people about patio design, electric, pumps, etc. The upside is I met each of these subs and they are all good at what they do, at least visually. My opinion is that with each of the subs having their own business, each of them must "eat" and in my neck of the woods, contractors have the biggest and nicest homes. These are not guys that are just getting by. I don't blame them for doing well for themselves of course, it just doesn't help me for the pool install.

This manufacturer reps viking pools. The list I posted earlier was done by me, not him. They are the compilation of all the numbers I received from him and his subs.

We called A&S and oh my Lord, the sales person was absolutely the worst at what she did. Rude and obnoxious. 2 minutes in she started to push gunite. Then she wouldn't even start the process until I got a septic feed moved (not a field - a pumped line). I told her I didn't mind getting that done myself but I need to work out a design first to know where to move it. She said she doesn't work that way. I can't believe how bad they were. No other contractors had an issue with this.

Now, back to the prices:

1. What kind of Fencing - This is for black aluminum fencing. I don't know the brand but it looks like what I normally picture when I think of a pool fence. Nothing high end that I can see. 2 fencing companies here both are in that range. One said $28/LF and the other said "Under 7k" for 200' ($35/LF)

2. Does the excavation include hitting rock? No. $1,500 per day if we hit rock.

3. Equipment - Does not include pad. That is under the $8,500 excavation contractor's number. 500 sf Sta-Rite cartridge filter (Pentair I believe), Hayward Super Pump 2 HP (I know you do not like Hayward), Raypak 400k propane heater, Goldline 25k salt generator and controls. Install Mechanicals I guess is to install the heater, pump, and filter.

3. Electric - I have a 40 pole (I believe) panel already in my house but believe it or not, I am out of circuits. They would need to add a sub panel in my house and then run power out to the pump and a couple of lights at the pool. He also bonds the wire mesh in the concrete ring around the pool. I didn't think $3,500 was a lot for this, only because I know in the NY suburbs, you can't get an electrician or plumber to come to your house for less than a grand.

4. He mentioned the 3' concrete ring, although he uses the mesh, not rebar. It looks like from Viking's install instruction that is ok. I did not ask about the blue stone.

5. Tile - We really want it. I've seen fiberglass pools without it, and it just looks a bit "cheap" to us. I will ask about winterization in this case. Thanks for the heads up.

6. Coping - Similar to the tile, we like the look of the coping. The pools that he showed us didn't have any cracks that we saw. Is there a right way to install the paver coping so that it doesn't crack? The paver contractor has done these in almost all the pools he showed us. He even said the coping look is what he finds to be the most important to make a pool "pop". Anyway, any input here would be great.

7. Flex pipe - From reading here, I was uncomfortable as well. For sure, this is to speed up work on his end. I asked about hard pipe, and he just said that they haven't ever had an issue with the flex pipe and it helps with the winters and movement of the ground. Another contractor we are waiting for now only uses hard pipe. All piping is 2". Once again the pricing for the pipe if from the "Mechanical" guy. His price had the pump, heater, pool cleaning, and piping.

8. Water feature - Made of pavers (similar to techo bloc mini-creta) with caps on top. Nothing like a waterfall here. Just something to add some sound and visual appeal. I think they included a light in the water which we most likely will take out.

9. What kind of fire pit? Similar to the water feature this will be built up with unilock/techo bloc pavers. Caps on top of the Techo Bloc Mini Cretas and similar half circle seating around. Wood burning. No fancy controls.

10. Why is the walkway split from the rest of the patio? No idea. Probably to bump up the price. It's all $14/sf basically.

11. What brand and model is the cover? He didn't tell me. He said Viking makes them to fit their pools.

Sorry for the long post. One last thing. One of the contractors coming back to us was a mason for most of his career and then started installing pools about 6 years ago. He's more sophisticated in that he uses a computer, 3D design, has a blog, etc. He follows alot of the good advice I keep reading on line (no flex pipe, recommends VSDs, uses some type of gravel instead of sand for backfilling, etc). The downside to him is that we don't like his pools as much (he reps Leisure and the colors don't seem to have as nice a pebble finish as the Vikings) and of course his limited experience. I guess everyone has to start with a smaller resume and his activity online (videos, etc) seems to me that he is serious about doing a good job. I've only seen one pool he installed and it was still not finished (in terms of patio) but used only concrete, no water tile, etc so it didn't have the same higher level look as the ones I had seen with the other contractor. Anyway, we haven't seen his price yet, but when we told him we wanted to be between $65k-$90k, he seemed to infer that he could do what we wanted. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:49AM
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I would want the contractor (that you last spoke of, the one doing pools for 6 years) to bring me to some of his finished pools along the same vain of what you're looking for. Explain that, all in, if the COMPLETE price is within your budget... meaning more around 65-75k, then he could steal a deal away from the companies that want to charge outside of your budget. Make him understand that you have a budget, and not being within said budget means no business for him. If he shows you finished work (higher end) that he's done, and it's to your liking, and he comes in below budget (and he doesn't have one of the "biggest and nicest homes" to keep up... it may be worth your while to seriously look at his proposal.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:59PM
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I had a pool built six years ago and one of my concerns was that it not drag out for months, so I had the pool builder agree in the contract that every day he went over the agreed on completion date he would refund me $100 dollars per day. He agreed and my pool was completed 1 week early.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:59PM
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So the saga continues. 6 year guy came in at $76k......but didn't include: electric, pavers in lieu of concrete (over 1,000 sf worth), fire pit seating, winter cover, heater, fencing, etc. So, using some general numbers, it sounds like he'll be over $100k as well. He's coming back with his new number. Real nice guy though.

I contacted via email one more company and I will hopefully meet with them quickly and get another sanity check. If they come back with the same amount, then it looks like the costs are what they are. At that point, we may need to scale back a bit here and there for the sake of getting it done.

I need to get out of New York.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:41PM
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This is why this forum rocks.

Power to the folks that help those in need.

Nuff said.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:14PM
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Did Seasonal World ever get back to you?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 11:49AM
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Yes they did but they said they didn't service my area. Not a surprise. I am pretty far for them.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:35PM
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Hi Trey,

What did you end up doing? I'm in the very, very early stages of planning and have gotten a first basic quote which came in higher than I expected. I'm in Brewster NY.

I'd be interested to hear feedback on your process!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 1:53PM
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