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Educational Consumer Tips

Building a Swimming Pool Tips

Author: Danielle Spang
Category: Home Improvement


During long summer months, the heat might have some homeowners consider building a swimming pool for their next home project. But before you build, be sure to consider the following tips to protect your home and your potential investment.

Avoid Hot Water. Be wary of aggressive salespersons, and remember no reputable builder, or builder representative, will rush you into signing an agreement or contract. In California, a home improvement contract must allow for a three-day right to cancel. An exception to the cancellation right requirement exists for service and repair contracts performed costing $750 or less in labor and materials.

Finding a Builder. When you decide that you want to build a swimming pool, shop around to find a style and size you like, including color and material. Also consider any features you might want to add - popular features include lighting, slides, and diving boards. When looking for a builder, consider using BBB’s Request a Quote feature. It’s also important to remember that the lowest is not always the best. Jumping to the lowest bid could cost you more in the future. When you decide on a builder verify references and try and see other customer installations first hand.  You might also want to consider visiting an on-going installation to better understand the process.

PoolsideResearch Licensing. Research the reliability of a contractor at, and be sure that the contractor you consider is properly licensed with the California Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB). The CSLB requires a license for contractor’s who complete repair or remodel work when the cost for labor and materials exceeds $500.

Contractors who build or repair swimming pools must also be licensed as a swimming pool specialty contractor. A general building or landscape contractor can also contract for swimming pool work if they subcontract with a licensed swimming pool contractor, or if they have a swimming pool specialty class. Other contractors, such as plumbers and solar workers, who do not hold a swimming pool specialist license should work within their area of licensure.

Swimming pool contractors should also be able to make any necessary site and soil evaluations of your property, and know about existing zoning, building and grading requirements. Ask about any commercial liability insurance and verify their worker’s compensation insurance that is to protect you in the event of an accident during construction. For more information about finding a contractor, visit Hiring a Contractor: Essential Tips.

Obtain a Building Permit. Contractors are most often required to obtain a building permit from your local county or city when building a swimming pool. Be sure the contractor you choose acquires a building permit to avoid any penalties or future issues. When installation is finished, be sure your city or county performs a final inspection to ensure the swimming pool meets applicable city, state, and federal codes. Contact your city or county for more information about building permits.

Make it Safe. California law requires homeowners to install at least one of seven safety features, outlined by the California Department Of Public Health, when remodeling a pool or installing a new one. Some of the acceptable safety features include an enclosure around the pool area, a pool cover, or exit alarms on doors with direct access to the pool area. Law also requires the installation of an anti-entrapment cover on suction drains and outlets when building a new pool, or upgrading an existing one.

The Contract. According to Business and Professions Code 7159.3 a contractor building a swimming pool must provide you with a Checklist for Homeowners to be sure you get all offers and agreements in writing.

  • The contract should detail the start and completion dates, project costs, materials to be used, warranty and payment information, and details about cleanup when the project is finished.
  • It should also include a scaled drawing of the swimming pool including dimensions, shape, location, and information about material suppliers and subcontractor releases.
  • Contractors are required to provide a homeowner with a warning notice describing liens, and how to avoid liens being placed on your home by unpaid workers, subcontractors, or material suppliers.
  • Your down payment should not exceed 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less. The only exception to this down payment maximum is if the contractor has obtained a Blanket Performance and Payment Bond, which can be viewed on the contractor’s license. If this bond is secured, the contractor may exceed the down payment requirements.

If payments are to be made before the project is completed, a schedule of these progress payments should be stated in the contract, along with the date and amount of work to be completed or materials delivered when the progress payments are made. Payments should be consistent with materials delivered and work performed. Check all work and confirm the contractor is meeting the terms of the contract before making payments. Do not make the final payment until you are satisfied with the job.

Finally, contractors are required to produce change orders in writing when the scope of the project changes, additional work is performed, or additional materials are provided.

Familiarize yourself with the Contractors State License Boards Consumer Guide to learn more about Contracts and laws regarding Contractors.

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About the Author: Danielle Spang is Public Relations Specialist for BBB serving Northeast California.