You’ve probably heard that you should get at least three bids before deciding on an inground pool contractor. The question is, who gets to bid? Just putting together a list of pool builders near you can be a difficult task, especially since we’re talking about small businesses that typically don’t do a lot of advertising.
If identifying local pool contractors is hard, trying to narrow it down to the top three might seem impossible. And yet selecting from a “pool” of top-notch builders is crucial if you want your project to go smoothly and avoid one of those nightmare pool installation scenarios.
Fortunately, there are a handful of tools and techniques you can lean on to get started in your search for the best pool builder in your area. Some are obvious, while others are easily overlooked if you’ve never researched contractors before. Here are five good ones to make use of when you’re just kicking off your pool project.
1. Talk to people who have pools
Yes, in an age when we get so much information from the internet, talking to people face-to-face qualifies as a “trick.” Nevertheless, it’s an effective one, because you can find out a lot through conversations with friends, family, neighbors, or even complete strangers who have swimming pools in your area. If you’re not the outgoing type, just remind yourself that many pool owners are happy – eager, even – to talk about their pool and the experience (good or bad) they had with their builder.
Note that seeking out recommendations in this way is different than checking references, which is also important but serves a different purpose.
2. Use social media
Even pool builders who don’t advertise likely have a presence on social media sites like Facebook, Houzz, and Pinterest. Linking up with these accounts potentially gives you insight into what types of pool installs they typically do, what the quality of their work looks like, and perhaps most importantly, how they interact with customers. Of course, if you can connect directly with pool owners in your area through social networks, forums, and the like, that’s even better.
3. Check with the Better Business Bureau
Checking with the Better Business Bureau is obviously an important step before hiring a pool company, but their website can also be a great tool for finding a pool company in the first place. In fact, it makes a lot of sense to start with the BBB. Why even meet with builder who has a poor rating – or maybe worse, one that isn’t even listed?
4. Take advantage of “Find-A-Contractor” websites
The BBB website is a fantastic resource, but there’s a problem – you might not find enough of the type of information you need to narrow down your search. Fortunately, there are a handful of other sites that offer pre-screening and/or customer reviews of home improvement contractors. Some of the most popular include:
- Angie’s List
Any one of these sites might not have enough ratings to move the needle on your decision, so you might want to check out all of them. Just be wary of extending your search to shady websites and services that are more geared toward earning commissions than helping you find the best pool builder in your area.
5. Cut through the BS
Whatever source you turn to for information about pool builders, be on the lookout for hype. A polished website and slick marketing materials do not necessarily equal a competent builder. Similarly, social media, news coverage, and customer reviews can all be manipulated – so don’t put too much stock in them. There are easy steps you can take to find pool contractors that are worth consideration, but only by meeting with them and doing deeper research can you make the right decision about who deserves your business.