HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR FIRST MEETING
So you are taking the plunge (pun intended) and going forward with the installation of a swimming pool. Maybe you have been doing research for some time now and know exactly what you want or maybe this is your first step. Today we sit with Aquaknot Pool's sales and design manager, Kristine Uhlman, who will answer many questions you may have while you are preparing for your first meeting.
As some background, Kristine Uhlman, has been with Aquaknot Pools for 28 years, beginning first in the retail store as a teenager. Kristine has over two decades of experience in design and sale of residential in-ground, gunite swimming pools for the company.
I sat down for a question and answer session with Kristine this week to put together popular questions going through homeowner's minds as they prepare to meet with swimming pool builders.
Q. What should I do to prepare for meeting with you to discuss installing a pool?
A. Look at lots of pictures. Check out pinterest and websites and magazines. Having an idea of what you are looking for is always helpful. If you have copies of plot plans for your home, you should have those accessible, same goes for if you are on septic - you have the septic plans accessible. If you know of any restrictions on your property, such as easements or conservation, it is good to let me know that as well.
As a family, it is also good to talk in advance whether you want a diving board or do you want a deep pool or a shallow pool.
Probably one of the most important advance discussions to have as a family is about budget. While I cannot give you an exact number on the telephone, I try to tell people a range when they call and make their appointment. It is important to understand the costs that a homeowner is going to incur for a swimming pool installation. You can also inquire of our financing option as well. I am happy to direct you to a link to get pre-approved for our exclusive financing company.
Q. Do I need to know where my lot lines are before you come out to my house?
While it is not absolutely necessary, it is helpful.
Q. Why do you want to come to my home instead of me meeting you at your office?
A. When I give you an estimate for your pool, I want to give as accurate an estimate as possible. To do so, it is important for me to be able to see where you want to build the pool. Conditions such as ledge and elevation can have an impact on the cost of installation.
Q. Do I have to pull the permits for my pool?
While I cannot speak for other pool companies, Aquaknot Pools is a licensed builder and a registered home improvement contractor. We sign for all permits for your swimming pool construction. We caution our customers to be wary if a company requires the homeowner to sign for their own permit because it may be due to their being unlicensed.
Q. Why is important to me that your company is licensed and registered as a home improvement contractor?
A. There are a few reasons why this is important to a homeowner. On the liability side of things, by signing for your permit, we accept responsibility of your project in the eyes of your town/city. We are responsible to ensure that your pool is built to comply with all federal, state, and town laws. In addition to liability, for your convenience, our registration as a home improvement contractor means that our knowledge goes beyond just swimming pool construction and we are able to give you guidance on your project as a whole, not just the pool itself.
Q. Are there certain questions that I should ask anyone who I meet with to discuss installing a pool?
A. Again, it is important to ask anyone who you interview about whether they are licensed and are they registered as a home improvement contractor. You also want to ask them about their services after the pool is built and how they handle warranty needs. When reviewing the estimates of any company, you should ask about how they deal with unknown conditions that may arise, especially if the unknown means more money.
To protect yourself, you should also ask if the contractor carries liability insurance and worker's compensation insurance.
Q. I am not good at visualizing, will someone be able to help me pick things like color and tile?
I assist our customers to the extent that they need me. I am happy to sit with you and help you pick out every detail of your swimming pool. We have an abundance of samples of tile and surface in store for you to review.
Q. How long does the process take?
The process generally takes about 8 to 12 weeks under what we call normal conditions. What I mean by that is that there are no special orders or custom finishes, both of which can delay the project and are outside of our control. While it does not happen often, extreme weather can also be an issue at times. Certain processes require dry weather and extreme heat can also be an issue. Provided that the adverse weather conditions are short-term, it usually will not cause significant delays, but if we have a month of rain, it can impact our construction schedule.
Q. If we sign with you, how quickly can we start construction?
I talked a little about weather issues and special orders that may cause delays in the pool process. But there can be delays before the shovel even hits the ground due to conservation, permitting and inspections. A lot of time we are ready to break ground but your town hasn't issued a permit yet.
To understand why the permitting can delay things, it is important to understand how the permitting process works. We prepare the permit application for the town and we generally must include a certified plot plan with the pool, fence, and pool equipment clearly located. Once it is submitted, the plan must typically be signed off by many other departments before it reaches the building department.
The health department must sign off after reviewing fence heights, self-closing and self-latching gates, door alarms, when required, and distance from the septic tank or field.
The conservation department has jurisdiction if the pool will be within 100 ft of a wetland, or within 200 ft of a river/body of water. Conservation issues is really a topic to be discussed on its own. What I will say is that we help you through the conservation process from start to finish.
The permit application usually also must be signed off on by the water and sewer department and the tax department.
Two issues that can come up in the permitting stage, aside from conservation, is the issue of easements (a pool cannot be built on one) and corner lots, which can have issues with regard to setbacks.
Once all of the above has been satisfied, the permit application is sent to the building department. The building department has thirty working days to approve or deny the project.
Q. Once you build the pool, do I have to find someone else to help me take care of it?
Aquaknot Pools is a one stop shop for all your pool needs. You will have access to service, maintenance, and chemicals through Aquaknot Pools. In addition, we will take care of all warranty related issues as well.
Q. What makes Aquaknot Pools stand out from other pool builders in the area?
There are a few things that I think make us stand out from other pool companies. One of the most important things to us is that we feel it is important that you, as the customer, have one point of contact. That is why from start to finish, you have direct communication with me. You are not passed around to various people. From the moment you sign the contract, you will know that you can call me anytime. I provide you with my cellphone number and my email and I will be there to answer your questions throughout the process.
Another important quality that I feel Aquaknot provides is our ability to service customers for the life of their pool. We provide services for opening and closing, weekly maintenance, water testing, and chemicals. Many companies build the pool and then you are on your own to find someone to provide service or maintenance. When you are built by Aquaknot, we remain there to assist for the life of your pool. We also keep records for you so if you sell your house down the road, you will also be able to tell potential buyers, with confidence, that they can contact us and we can inform them of the health of your pool.
Q. Will you provide me names of other customers that I can talk to or see your work?
A. Yes, if you wish to speak with our prior customers, or see swimming pools that we have constructed, we will provide you references.
While we have provided you a short summary of some questions that may be running through your head as you start the process, all of these questions, and more, are answered often before being asked when you meet with Kristine.
Contact us today to schedule your free in-home estimate.