By Jason Cramp
In the spring of 2015, a Kingston, Ont., family decided to have an inground pool installed—an upgrade from the smaller above-ground they had in their backyard at the time. Just like thousands of other homeowners considering a new pool, the family’s timing was perfect—from a planning and construction perspective.
However, what was to happen over the course of the next 130 days with respect to their pool installation would leave many in the industry shaking their heads. In early March, the family did their due diligence by researching different builders and obtaining quotes. By late April, a builder was selected, the permit process was started, a pool was chosen, and a contract was signed.
Between the months of May and July, however, a number of issues arose with respect to the builder’s work ethics and ability to perform the necessary tasks to complete the project. Despite having to pay more than what they budgeted, and what was outlined in the contract, the homeowner was left with their newly purchased fibreglass pool resting beside a partially excavated hole in their backyard. Unfortunately, the homeowner did not select a builder that is a member of the Independent Pool Group (IPG) or Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada (PHTCC), who adhere to a strict code of ethics and best practices.
Help arrives just in time
“Like many inquiries, the first step is a call from a potential client, which starts with ‘we are considering and inground pool and want to know what the next steps are (e.g. site visit, design options, etc.),” says Carefree Pools owner/manager Peter Kelly, who was called by the pool supplier to see if his company could help the homeowner during their time of need. “This call was more like, ‘I have a pool and need to have it installed,’” says Kelly. “This is not something we’d typically do, but I told the homeowner I would visit the site and discuss the options. We’re always up for a challenge, so there was nothing lost to investigate the current state of the project site.”
Once Kelly arrived on-site in late July, the talks proceeded to how the homeowner has a pool in their backyard, along with an excavation, but not much else.
According to the homeowner, the original contractor was not worried about hitting rock during the excavation and told them if they did, they could handle it. After several delays with regards to performing property locates and the availability of the pool model they selected, not to mention a crane to lift it over the house, the excavation commenced approximately one week after paying the initial deposit.
As luck would have it, two days after starting the excavation, the contractor hit rock and asked the homeowner to arrange for a jack hammer. Several days later, the homeowner was told the
jack hammer was not working and, finally, after two weeks of impasse, the homeowner hired a subcontractor to handle the removal of excavated rock from their property.
Now, with the contractor deeming the excavation and the base for the pool complete, the next step was craning the pool into the hole. Despite the pool arriving on time, it had to sit on a trailer on the street in front of their house because the contractor did not have the appropriate crane to perform the job. Once again, the onus was left on the homeowner to hire a crane and operator. In doing so, they managed to crane the pool over the house, however, the crane length did not reach the hole, and thus it was set down on the ground beside the excavation.
According to the homeowner, it was a good thing they were unable to set the pool in place because they were told by the pool supplier the initial excavation was not large enough for it to be properly installed and, therefore, the warranty may be affected if their recommendations were not followed.
With the original contractor now out of the picture, and after Kelly reviewed the situation, he concurred with the supplier saying the excavation was not performed to the specifications required for the pool the homeowner purchased. Therefore, the first step taken by Carefree Pools was to check the excavation met the proper setbacks as per the permit issued by the city. As a result, it was determined the excavation had to be corrected, whereby removing additional rock for the pool profile.
After removing the rock, Carefree Pools set the stone base for the pool profile using batter boards (one of a number of boards set horizontally to support strings for outlining the pool’s foundation), while at the same time installing the drainage pipe for groundwater control.