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Contractors and Builders

Are You Ready for Pool Renovation?

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Are You Ready for Pool Renovations?

In cases of pool renovation procedures, the first person pool owners ought to consult is a plaster or tile expert. It is also advisable to employ the person committed to managing the pool equipment and controlling pool chemicals.

Are You Ready for Pool Renovations?

In many instances, a pool service expert should be among the first people to contact for major revamp procedures. Kimo Davidson, sales manager at Aloha Pools and Spas, reports that he receives many inquiries from customers on pool renovations. “Most of them usually need replastering or hot tub services,” Davidson says.

Put in mind that many people built pools in the 90s. Thus, there is an increased demand in the pool renovation market. Moreover, most homeowners upgrade their homes through pool renovations before selling them. Today, a large percentage of revamps entail the installation of automated pools systems. Davidson also says that several new homeowners buy foreclosed properties. Thus, they need pool renovation services.

Various geographical areas contain over saturation of pool service professionals. Due to the stiff competition, most of them broaden their knowledge beyond fixing pool equipment and pool chemistry. As a result, they enroll for professional pool construction courses that go a long way in stretching their skills.

From single poler to building super

Usually, service technicians can reduce revamping procedures by restoring worn-out pool equipment. They can also put up handrails, slides, diving boards, among other devices. But, when the whole pool needs a major revamp, pool experts may find it challenging to take part in such projects due to the high risk involved. David Peterson, CEO of Watershape Consulting, says that this is an entirely different encounter.

As the pool expert, you will pass on a large percentage of the work to service technicians. Thus, it is essential to be aware of construction and engineering processes. The information might be of help in encountering difficulties during the renovation process. The service technician is only present to act as the project manager. Mostly he supervises the plasterer, plumber, and anyone assigned to conduct the project.

Even so, significant mistakes occur during the pool renovation process. For instance, when replastering, you may find steps or benches constructed with a byproduct of the shotcrete process. They might overlook this blunder and could hold you responsible for any future inaccuracies. Peterson says that the last person to deal with the project is the one that should be responsible for any defects.

But how do you deal with such a case? Service technicians resolve this problem by wrenching the steps or benches and applying concrete anew. You can inform your client and get a change in order to avoid reducing your profits.

Additionally, stay up to date with industry trends. You want your electrician to put in place the newest techniques in equipotential bonding practices.

Figuring out finances

Finances in revamping projects are much complex. As a pool owner, conduct thorough research on pool contractors offering reliable renovation services. Also, compare different pricing strategies used by contractors and identify the most suitable one for you. Remember that you have to safeguard your profits; it should not be less than 35%.

You can do this in various ways. You can establish a cost-plus contract with the client. Besides the materials and labor costs, you get paid for your management services. Suppose alterations happen during revamping; the client anticipates paying based on this formula. On the other hand, if you discover technical additions or deductions in the process, your management fee remains untouched.

Alternatively, your costs could include uncertainty costs. In such instances, the fee paid takes care of any unplanned additions during the pool renovation process. The good thing is that if there are no extra expenses, the money will be all yours.

Another alternative is luring clients to put aside some money that caters for unexpected costs. If there are no sudden occurrences, your customer retains his or her amount.

All pool builders should pay their subordinates immediately after renovation is wholly done. They should do this based on the state’s guidelines. Furthermore, as a pool expert, prepare yourself to be hands-on.

Pool Renovation resources

It is essential to be well educated on renovation procedures before going onsite. Various firms offer professional construction courses to service technicians.

In this year’s trade show, service technicians gained hands-on tile and coping training. The instructor, Jeff McGalliard, reported that this was a good project. Contractors also leave service technicians to maneuver their way around the problem. Through this training, service technicians take part in a lot of revamping procedures.

Additionally, Genesis provides a training program for two days on the basics of construction and comprehensive layout exercises. The company also offers hands-on guidelines for handling pool projects. Through this, service technicians can learn to convert a $25,000 pool renovation into a $200,000 first-class project.

4.4/5 - (31 votes)

Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Contractors and Builders

Preventing Failures in Glass Tile Installations – What Are The Pros Using?

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Preventing Failures in Glass Tile Pool Installations With Danilo Bonazza and Curt Rapp

When discussing how to prevent failures in glass tile installations, we figured it best to consult with the pros. Known as a premier installer of artistic mosaic tile pool interiors, Danilo Bonazza has been the installer for many elite builders across the country. Part of the Tributary Revelation group, a network of high-end builders and service providers; Bonazza is frequently called in to consult on some of the most intricate and elaborate tile settings. Having access to the same social media groups we do, frequently Bonazza sees his fair share of posts regarding failures in mosaic tile installations. Consequently, having an in-depth knowledge of what products and methods are being used, he is often afforded an expert’s insight as to why and how specific failures have occurred.

Being in an elite class of high-end installers, Bonazza is called to perform his mosaic art in a variety of settings. The pool, being his canvas of choice; Bonazza has been relying on traditional tried and true old-world methods of tile setting. This, while in conjunction still utilizing the most innovative and reliable products available on the market.

Go-To Products for Glass Tile Installations

Bonazza insists that using the right products to perform mosaic tile installations in the pool is absolutely essential. That along with using inferior or substandard materials along and applying non-standard installation protocols is the reason for 90% of failures.

Partnering with The Tile Doctor, Curt Rapp on many projects, Bonazza utilizes one of the most popular line of products they distribute, the Litokol brand in the majority of his mosaic glass tile installations. We had a chance to chat with both of them recently, while Rapp was consulting with Bonazza on yet another inground pool project he was doing an installation on.

Tile Doctor - Curt Rapp
Litoelastic - Litokol

Rapp, who started Tile Doctor back in 2000 at first as an informational website that gradually morphed and conformed to his mantra of distributing best-in-class products in terms of health, wellness, and sustainability. “Litokol is exactly that,” said Rapp, “it’s not only high performance, but it’s incredibly environmentally friendly as well”.

Litokol, an epoxy-based grout system is often the product of choice for many glass tile interior installations. The Tile Doctor is the exclusive U.S. Distributor for Litokol products.

As far as The Tile Doctor is concerned, today the end-user in mind is often tradesmen and artisans alike that are looking for performance-based products that can help mitigate catastrophic failures and ensure successful applications.

Changing Perception About Glass Tile Failures

Rapp said he began attending pool tradeshows years ago in an effort to better understand the pool industry. Taking note of a particular event he attended in New Orleans, “I was talking to people and asking them do you do glass tile?” said Rapp, who explained that half of the builders he spoke to said they refused to touch glass tile projects.

He had met others who were doing glass tile projects and were eager to find better solutions. “A lot of them were involved in these education programs”, said Rapp, “they would lean in and say ‘well what do you got?’, generally they were involved in some projects with problems and were interested in learning how to set glass tile without failures,” explained Rapp.

As word about the Litokol products began to spread, Rapp suddenly became a very busy man. “We started to get a lot of calls from folks in the pool industry who said, ‘I heard you have the Litokol products, how do we get them?'”

“I’ve run into a lot of people who think just because they’re doing glass tiles in pools they’re going to have failures” and that’s just not true said Rapp.

Researching Best-In-Class Products for Pool Installations

Bonazza, who first started researching pool tile installation products back in the ’90s, has spent his career field testing products. “It’s great having laboratory tests, but you also have to conduct research out in the field” said Bonazza, who often subjects different materials to submersion tests in various chemicals to test their adherence properties while conducting his field trials when trying any new product.

Bonazza, an expert in the field of mosaic tile design giving a presentation on preventing failures in glass tile installations.
Bonazza, an expert in the field of mosaic tile design giving a presentation on preventing failures in glass tile installations.

Subsequently, he had become extremely proficient at using Litokol products early in 2002 in the application of mosaic tile installations back in Italy. When he relocated to the United States he was unable to find a suitable replacement for this product and found himself routinely making trips home and buying Litokol epoxy in Italy. He’d then bring as much of it home in his suitcase as he could fit. On occasion, he recalls even making a special trip back home to Italy just to get his hands on the product. “It was a big struggle up until around 6 years ago. They gave me Curt’s name and said he was their U.S. distributor,” said Bonazza who seemed relieved that his days as a transcontinental grout smuggler were finally behind him.

As an expert in his field, he says that there are primarily three main products that are his go-to solutions right now.

“Litoelastic which is an epoxy bright white adhesive has amazing properties. It’s non-sagging, easy to use, and mix. It’s not super tough on your hands and it bonds perfectly well. The fact that it’s so bright white really enhances the mosaics, especially the ones that are translucent.” said Bonazza, “I use their line of grouts, which are available in vibrant colors.”

Bonazza relies on Litokol products in the installation of mosaic tile projects. Photo Credit: Finnerty, LLC.
Bonazza relies on Litokol products in the installation of mosaic tile projects. Photo Credit: Finnerty, LLC.

“There are special ones like the crystal one that I use a lot. Whenever I have a lot of colors combined together that I use to make my artistic pieces, there are 20, 30, 50 colors combined with the shadowing and everything else. Choosing a grout color is almost impossible.” explained Bonazza, “If you choose a dark grey or a black, it shows horribly in the lighter colors of the mosaics in the whites and the yellows. When they started to come out with the crystal it was the perfect solution. You can also mix it with what Curt calls “Jewels” its a line of glitters that you can mix with this translucent grout that you can use to make your own custom colors which is great.”

“Also I’m using the autoseal for the expansion joints. It’s a silicone grade pool grout, plus it color matches all the other products they have so it’s a perfect line to do pool installation. There’s no one project I’ve done that doesn’t have these products in them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pool or one of my artistic pieces like my Marilyn Monroe.”

Aside from being glad that Tile Doctor carries the tried and true products Bonazza has come to count on, he also appreciates the level of customer service and support he receives from the company. This above all, he values the most in his relationship with the U.S. Distributors for Litokol. “Curt stands behind their product,” said Bonazza.

Listen to our complete interview with Curt Rapp and Danilo Bonazza on the Pool Magazine podcast.

Featured Photo Credit: Finnerty, LLC.

5/5 - (4 votes)
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Contractors and Builders

When Customers Don’t Want To Pay For Their Pool, Don’t Do This

These guys give contractors everywhere a bad name

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When Pool Customers Don't Want To Pay Their Bill, Don't Do This

Every single builder in the pool industry has encountered that one problem customer, the perpetual goal line pusher that is constantly moving the bar and making it almost impossible to finish their pool construction project. Quite often, it’s easy to get frustrated when a customer refuses to pay for work that has been performed on their property. There have been many times when I’ve heard pool builders say over the years “Man, I wish I could just go back there and jackhammer everything out.” What they don’t do, is actually act out their fantasies of getting even. No matter how frustrated a builder gets on a job site, there is always a better recourse to take than willfully destroying someone’s property and immediately opening yourself up to a civil and potentially criminal penalty.

Recently a video went viral featuring a contractor destroying a customers bathroom for refusing to pay the balance of their bill. The video itself elicited plenty of cheers from fed-up contractors on Facebook who have probably faced a similar situation themselves.

We’ve all been there and have been confronted with a customer that you just can’t make happy. It can feel like no matter how hard you work or how much you’ve done that they are impossible to please.

Destroying a Customers Property is Probably The Worst Way to Settle a Contract Dispute

Contractor Terry Gregory went viral this week for his rather unorthodox way of settling a job that went sideways with one of his customers. He was caught on camera destroying his customer’s bathroom after she refused to pay the balance of a bill he had submitted.

Obviously there are tons of folks who can empathize with said contractor getting stiffed on the bill and “taking back” his work product. Like many who saw the video that was my first gut reaction, however there are always two sides to every story.

The homeowner Amber Trucke, had been documenting her experience in a variety of Facebook Groups and was receiving feedback from ongoing work on the progress she was posting to the group.

Trucke’s complaints stemmed from the fact she had paid $3,000 down on a tile remodel for her bathroom but that as work progressed she noticed that her bathroom tile renovation was beginning to look like amateur hour on her dime. She posted photos of work that contractor Terry Gregory had performed to date. The reactions she got from the group left her with serious reservations about paying the balance of her $7,500 bill.

Many Facebook Group members told her that based off of the photos she was showing, that in their opinion the job was substandard and was a complete do over. Hundreds of homeowners advised her that the work was not up to snuff and told her not to pay the remaining balance.

Trucke had been going back and forth with Gregory and his business partner Jordan Cazares over the project and had been presented with a bill for $4,225.00 to which she stated the she was not prepared to pay yet because she had not had time to inspect the final work product and was not happy with the overall work based on what she had last seen.

The company she hired Dream Home Remodels of Colorado, released a statement to the news regarding the incident. “After several weeks of work for a customer, communication broke down at the end of a project. There was no displeasure expressed, and we proceeded to ask for payment on the project by the end of the day. Communication broke further after that and resulted in our company repossessing a tile shower.”

‘Repossessing’ the tile caused considerably more damage to both the homeowners property and the firms reputation. On camera Gregory was recorded saying “Is someone going to pay me? Let me tell you something. No contractor in the state of Colorado will fix that when they found out that I took it back because she refused to pay me. No one!” and continued to demolish the bathroom.

That turned out not to be true. After witnessing the video three local area contractors offered to fix Trucke’s bathroom for free. The behavior was all documented on camera and can probably be used in a civil suit against Dream Home Remodels of Colorado at some point. It’s important to note at the end of the day the contractor did not get paid the balance on the work they performed and may have caused future irreparable damage to their reputation for acting in such a fashion. Ultimately it may prove that there may not be a homeowner in the state of Colorado that wants to work with the firm after watching how they resolve conflicts with customers.

What Can Pool Builders Learn From This?

The lesson here as it applies to the pool industry is that no matter how angry a customer may make you, or how justified you feel in your frustration with their behavior and ingratitude, that there are often two sides to every story. Personally, after having seen the photos the homeowner posted, I would not have been eager to pay my final bill either.

A builders first impulse may be to say, “oh that customer is crazy” or “they’re just being difficult”. There are some who immediately shut down to criticism and refuse to accept that their work may not be their “A” effort and could be sub-standard. Not allowing for customer feedback and insisting they pay for work they are unhappy with is a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully we don’t hear stories of unpaid pool contractors acting out on their impulse to destroy a customers backyard. That’s probably the best way possible to go out of business. However, what this whole story can teach us how important it is to listen to the customer and work towards finding the best resolution that satisfies them.

It’s important to note that there are a few huge social media groups that cater to homeowners that are building a pool as well as existing pool owners. For pool builders to ignore the fact that their work is being posted on Facebook and Instagram and being critqued by homeowners is tantamount to living in a vacuum.

It’s a fact that homeowners are giving customers feedback on the pool construction process. When a homeowner encounters an issue that brings quality of construction or build decisions into play, they will often head to one of these groups to get feedback from others.

In some instances the comments they receive may lead to pushback on paying their final bill. How builders handle that criticism and proceed in satisfying their customers are what separates them from the Terry George’s of the world. At the end of the day, it’s probably better to file a mechanics lien than it is to act on impulse and harm your reputation.

4.9/5 - (10 votes)
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Contractors and Builders

How to Hire a Pool Builder

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How to Hire a Pool Builder

A swimming pool can modify your backyard into a first-class haven. Even so, constructing a pool is not a walk in the park. This process consumes a lot of time and effort. Thus, you have to be careful and employ a reliable pool builder. Keep in mind that they can either make or break your project. Moreover, swimming pools cost thousands of dollars. Subsequently, you cannot afford to hire an unreliable pool contractor.

How to Hire a Pool Builder

What is the cost of hiring a pool builder?

Pool construction often varies depending on the pool builder you hire. But on average, it costs $36,700 to $66,500 to build a pool. Most professionals charge approximately $50 to $125 per square foot for pool construction. The labor costs vary depending on the type, size and design of the pool. Pool contractors usually charge more for complex pool designs and landscapes.

Hiring a professional pool builder vs. conducting a DIY project

Some homeowners prefer building their own pools. Constructing a pool is a tedious process, especially if you have no experience. So, you would rather leave this work to a professional pool contractor. Although it might be cheaper to conduct a DIY pool construction project, you might end up spending thousands of dollars in the long run. Remember, any mistake made during pool construction can take a toll on your budget. So, unless you have extensive experience and knowledge of pool construction, always hire a reputable pool company.

How can I find a reliable pool contractor near me?

Generally, it can be hard to find a reputable pool contractor. So, conduct thorough research on the best contractors near your area. From there, compare quotes and narrow down to your best option. Below are some ways that’ll help you settle for the best pool contractor near you.

Getting referrals

One of the best ways to find a reputable pool contractor is to ask for referrals from your neighbors, friends or family.

Check customer feedback

Never forget to evaluate all customer reviews and feedback about a company’s services. Pool contractors with the highest ratings are more likely to deliver quality pools. Also, read all the customer reviews. Doing this helps you find the best pool contractor who caters to your needs.

Check pricing, terms and conditions

Different pool installers charge differently. Thus, it is essential to know how much a prospective pool professional charges. Keep in mind that your pool contractor should cater to your requirements and your budget. Also, it is crucial to understand all the terms and conditions of construction before hiring a pool builder.

Is the business legal and licensed?

Get to know a brief history of the company you plan to hire. Check whether they have a valid license and insurance cover.

What are the services offered by pool builders?

Typically, there are many aspects involved in pool construction. Most are always willing to provide all kinds of pool construction services. Some of these pool services include:

  • Coming up with the pool design. A good company will always recommend the best pool designs that suit your requirements.
  • Obtain all the pool construction permits for you.
  • Excavating and setting a good foundation for the pool.
  • Putting up the rebar framework.
  • Installing all pool equipment; pool filter, pump and heater.
  • Installing additional features in the pool.

Do you need to hire a pool builder?

After knowing the pool type and design, you wish to install, decide whether you want to hire a pool builder. A pool builder is undoubtedly necessary if you have zero knowledge of pool construction. Pools incorporate a long construction period. Thus, it would be best to hire a professional pool contractor to handle the project.

What should you tell your pool builder?

Once you find a reputable pool professional, ask them questions to get clarification on everything concerning pool construction. A good percentage of reliable pool contractors are always willing to address all your queries, fears and doubts. Below are some of the questions you should ask your pool contractor.

  • Are you the one responsible for coming up with the pool design? Do you give recommendations based on my requirements?
  • Is my landscape fit for excavation? How do you deal with problems with my landscape?
  • Are there any challenges that are likely to show up during the pool construction process?
  • Do you offer any pool financing options? If you do, how can I apply for the pool loan?
  • Do you recommend the equipment and materials I should use for my pool?
  • Do you have a valid license and insurance cover?
  • Do you offer warranties?

Final thoughts

Before hire a pool builder, there are several factors you need to consider. Generally, your contractor should have a valid license, extensive experienced and exhibit professionalism. Remember, pools cost a fortune; so, you have to hire a dependable pool contractor.

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