Pool builders say to plan ahead before installing backyard oasis

Experts say many new homeowners choosing pools as economy improves

As temperatures in the Mid-Columbia soar to triple digits, wouldn’t it be nice to have a swimming pool to cool off in?

You better plan ahead then. Don’t wait until June or July.

“Most builders should be scheduling jobs three to six months out in a best-case scenario,” said Lacy Simmonds of Mirage Pool ‘N’ Spa in Kennewick. “Most of my spring and summer construction jobs are lined up and scheduled by October or November of the previous year.”

And do your research, said Brad Johnston, owner at Desert Springs LLC in Kennewick.

“Most people haven’t done their research, and they should,” he said. “It’s an education for the customer. They’ll see the price and be surprised.”

Simmonds said pricing depends on a lot of factors, such as what the site is like, how level it is, what kind of access it has, what kind of ground builders are working with, what kind of features the customer is looking for and what kind of size or shape the customer wants or is able to fit in their space.

Johnston said most pools being built in the Tri-Cities are a medium to large size.

“The pools I build generally take a month to build,” he said. “But they are high end, usually costing $80,000 to $100,000. If a customer wants quality, it takes time. Even inexpensive pools cost $40,000.”

Johnston compares buying a pool to buying a boat.

“How much do you plan on using that boat?” he said. “What options are there? Then decide what to do. A pool is just an addition to a lifestyle for people to enjoy their home and live in the Tri-Cities.”

Simmonds said it can be tempting to save a few thousand dollars on a less expensive pool.

“But the negatives are that there will be much more spent on chemicals and time,” Simmonds said.

So those customers need to spend time with the pool builders.

“I think it’s really important for the first-time pool customer to get a good idea of what they think that their needs will be in a pool, and then sit down with a pool professional and go over the pros and cons of different pool scenarios,” Simmonds said. “We think that it’s important that you choose your pool builder based at least partly on the local service factor.

“All of the local brick and mortar stores offer pool construction and, although we all may do things slightly different from one another, we all have the added benefit of knowing what certain aspects of the pool construction look and behave like five, 10, 20 years down the road.”

But Simmonds also said a homeowner doesn’t necessarily need a local company to build a pool.

“Homeowner installations are entirely possible as well, if they’ve got a bit of construction know-how and the desire to get dirty,” Simmonds said. “Choosing a pool kit customized with a local pool store is the best way to set up your self-installation project.

“Job-site delivery, help with permitting, help with installation issues and questions as well as warranty are all good reasons to stay local. Homeowner installations can often be set up for delivery quite quickly.”

A list of local pool construction companies can be found on the Home Builders Association of the Tri-Cities website.

The growth of the Tri-City economy has prompted a number of new homes to build in the area.

“People are getting $20,000 to $30,000 more than the list price,” said Johnston, who left his job as a crime lab specialist for the Washington State Patrol 16 years ago to build pools.

Many of these new homeowners want pools.

“This year has been busy,” Johnston said. “I’ve been in the business 16 years, and this by far is the highest number of pools I’ve seen being built.”

Why?

“The economy is great,” he said. “I’ve lived here 30 years, and the economy is the best it’s been here.”

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