Educational Consumer Tips

Swimming Pools

Author: Better Business Bureau

The following is BBB general information and is not intended as a report on any specific company.

Installing a swimming pool can add value to your home and provide entertainment for your family. Before investing in a pool, however, the BBB recommends careful research to ensure you make the best choice for your budget and needs. 


There are two primary types of swimming pools: aboveground and in-ground. Aboveground pools usually cost less to install and are relatively simple to maintain. As well, in many communities, aboveground pools are not taxed as property improvements. In-ground pools use vinyl liners reinforced below ground by a supporting framework, fiberglass, poured concrete, or a type of concrete called gunite. Because of the installation costs for excavation, supplies, and labor, in-ground pools are more expensive to build and are usually taxable as property improvements. However, in-ground pools may hold more appeal for potential homebuyers and increase the resale value of your home. 


Once you've determined the type of pool you'd like installed, begin researching contractors. By working with a reliable contractor, you will know the terms and conditions of all warranties, who is responsible in the event repairs or replacements are needed, who will do the work, and who will pay for it. Consider the following suggestions: 

*Talk to neighbors and friends who have swimming pools for information and recommendations about pool companies and builders.

*Check with the Better Business Bureau for a Business Review on the companies with which you're considering doing business.

*Consult with at least three contractors and compare estimates for similar styles and materials. 

*Request references from other customers, and if possible, visit a current worksite and speak to the customer directly about his or her experience with the contractor. 

*If licensing is required in your area, ask for proof the company is properly licensed. 

*Make sure your builder can make any necessary site and soil evaluations of your property, and that the builder knows about existing zoning, building, and grading requirements. 

*Remember that utility lines (water and electric) may have to be installed or changed, and you should receive information on hook-up charges before the start of construction. 

*Ask about any liability and compensation insurance that the contractor may carry to protect you in the event of an accident during construction of the pool. 

Before signing a contract, make sure all promises and representations made to you orally are included in writing, that the date the work will start and finish is listed, and that the total cost and the financing arrangements are included. Every item of expense for materials and labor, including optional equipment, should be stated and covered in the contract. The contract must also meet NYS regulations, which requires placement of deposits in an escrow account, and must have in writing a cancellation clause and complete name, address, and phone number of the contractor, as well as other items that protect the rights of the consumer. For a detailed list of regulations, contact the NYS Attorney General's office.


Once your pool is built, you will need to maintain it. Maintenance includes monitoring the chemical levels, cleaning the water surface to protect the filter while the pool is in use, and properly opening and closing your pool for the season. If you choose to maintain your pool on your own, be certain you understand the correct procedures, and check with your contractor or local pool supply dealer for assistance when needed. 

If you hire a company to help maintain your pool, consider the following suggestions: 

*Check the company's Business Review with the Better Business Bureau. 

*Ask about the service technicians' skills and knowledge. For example, does the company regularly service pools similar in size and equipment to yours? Are they certified Pool-Spa operators or do they have equivalent education and training? Can they complete minor repairs?

*Ask what services are and are not included in the contract, and obtain a price list or fees schedule that clearly indicates basic and special rates.

*Obtain a written contract that includes all information you have discussed with the company. 

For more information, contact: 

Better Business Bureau Serving Upstate NY 
(800) 828-5000 

New York State Consumer Protection Board 
(800) 697-1220 

Northeast Spa and Pool Association 
300 J Campus Drive Morganville, NJ 07751 

Association of Pool and Spa Professionals 
2111 Eisenhower Avenue Alexandria, VA 22314 
Phone: (703) 838-0083 

This report is general in nature and is not intended as a Business Review on any company, service or product.