You can find almost anything online, but a pool builder? A swimming pool is a permanent part of your property that costs tens of thousands of dollars to install. We’re not talking about a funny t-shirt or some gaudy knickknack here.
And yet, you must use the internet in your search for a pool builder. Why? Because it has important information, some of which you can’t find anywhere else.
Yes, it’s probably wise to be at least a little skeptical about using the internet for such an important (and expensive) project. The key is knowing where to look, and how to weigh the information you find.
Here are some of the best websites to help you find a solid pool contractor, along with tips on which information you should take stock of, and which you should ignore.
Pool Company Websites
Let’s start with the obvious. At some point in your online search, you will land on the official company websites of pool builders you might want to hire. Obviously, sites like these are basically brochures designed to sell you on the company’s services. But while they’re not exactly unbiased, these sites often have essential information. Here are some things you can learn:
- What’s the physical address and phone number of the builder?
- Do they specialize in certain types of pools?
- Do they come across as professionals, or sleazy fly-by-nighters?
That said, when looking at a pool company website, it’s important not to read too much into superficial details. A slick website and impressive photo gallery doesn’t guarantee they will do great work on your project (or charge a reasonable price). By the same token, you shouldn’t disqualify a company just because they have a thin website – many fine builders simply don’t invest a lot in this area.
The Better Business Bureau
Most people have heard of the Better Business Bureau, but few bother to check with them before hiring a contractor for a major project like pool construction. They should. The BBB ranks companies on an A-F scale and reports on actual customer complaints – two pieces of information that every future pool owner should know.
A few BBB complaints shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, especially if the company has been in business for a long time. If everything else about the builder checks out, you can always get their side of the story when you meet in person. The real warning sign is when there’s history of serious problems that the company hasn’t addressed and can’t adequately explain.
Customer Review Websites
Websites like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor.com cater to people in search of customer feedback on local contractors, including pool builders. Heck, even Yelp – normally associated with restaurant reviews – lists pool companies.
It’s worth stopping by these sites to see if there’s any relevant feedback on the builders you’re considering. However, don’t be surprised if there aren’t enough reviews to form an opinion. Also, be on the lookout for fake reviews intended to boost the company’s overall rating.
Houzz is a growing social network for home improvement professionals and ordinary homeowners in search of ideas. Packed with photos, it’s a great place to seek pool design inspiration and potentially discover a pool builder to hire. It also features customer reviews, though again, many listings don’t have a lot of feedback.
If you’re interested in getting started on Houzz, check out our tutorial.
The Limits of Online Research
By now, it should be clear that you can, in fact, find a pool builder online. But just as obvious, you probably shouldn’t hire one based solely on what you find online. Internet research is just one part of the process, which includes meeting face-to-face with multiple builders, seeing their work with your own eyes, and checking references.
The internet is a powerful tool for brainstorming ideas and discovering potential builders, especially as a starting point. When you back it up with the more traditional, hands-on methods of evaluating contractors, you have the best chance of finding a pool builder you can trust.