If you’re like most new pool customers these days, it’s fair to assume you have been waiting MONTHS for your new pool. You put down a MASSIVE amount of money and as the weather struggles with its annual identity crisis, you start dreaming of that first dip in your new pool. You’ve probably already committed to hosting the Fourth of July festivities and possibly even assured your niece that she can have her wedding reception at your new outdoor space. Your project is scheduled to start soon and surely a little rain won’t get in the way of your pool plans, right!? Short answer… we hope not as much as you! Inevitably, you get the dreaded call from your Project Manager and they break the news that your project has, in fact, been pushed back due to rain, or let's face it, possibly snow. You try to be patient, but by the third push back, you are starting to lose patience. One thing pool installers are never surprised by is rain in the spring. If only our jobs didn't rely on dry conditions!
Springtime for pool installers:
For those of us who install pools all year, the winter months are a bunch of things and comfortable is not one of them! It’s cold, it’s windy, it snows, it rains and I don’t know if mother nature doesn’t notice or care, but it bums pool builders out! Winter is a unique time for pool builders; due to freezing temperatures, we have to winterize the pools we build instead of opening them. No big deal, right? The problem here is the fact that by the time the weather warms up, we have to open all of the pools we built during the winter and hopefully we aren’t further behind because of frigid temperatures or snow. I know, I know, that’s our problem, moving on.
When the time changes, our crew starts to imagine that in the matter of days, they can trade in their parkas for a light jacket or, perish the thought, a long sleeve t-shirt! We get one last light snow and a week in the 70s! If it keeps up like this, we’re going to get all those pools opened in no time. Then reality sets in; if we want to keep the lights on, we need to keep installing pools, so we dedicate additional crews to get caught up on winter projects that were stalled due to weather while other crews are installing new pools… Now we’re cooking! Imagine the horror when our Operations Manager checks the ten day forecast and somehow there’s 21 days of rain!
Rain is the killer of all project timelines. While we can still dig and set your pool between showers, we often have to move on to other jobs before we can grade your yard. Before you know it, we have ten yards that need to be graded and it’s rained at some point 17 of the last 21 days. You might be telling yourself, “The next nice day, you better get your butts out here and grade my yard!” Listen, if I was buying a pool, I would probably be saying the same thing, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Not only do we have ten yards to grade, a number of factors go into when a yard can be graded. First and foremost, one or two days of no rain isn’t sufficient if there were several days of rain before that. Don’t even get me started on clay; if your yard is full of clay and you want your yard rough graded ASAP, be prepared to have a mess on your hand, not to mention a terribly graded yard. Most any reputable builder is going to refuse to grade unless the conditions are right. Even though this is a frustrating part of your project, rest assured knowing that you will have a much better surface for sod or a finish grade/seed and straw.
All of this might seem like an excuse to justify your pool project completed. While I can’t speak for all pool builders, I feel confident that most of them want you to be happy with how quickly your project progresses, they also have their reputations to uphold and they want your job done right. Extreme excitement is quickly followed up with extreme disappointment when it comes to new pool builds and weather. There is nothing more exciting than finishing a project and “handing the keys over to the homeowner”. There is nothing more disappointing than checking that ten day forecast and seeing the high probability of rain dominating the page. With rain delays comes angry customers in the pool business and none of us got into the business to create angry customers.
With over 20 years in the pool business, I think we are finally in a position to give a little advice to builders and customers. Builders, COMMUNICATE with your customers (trying to get caught up before the customers notices doesn’t work, we’ve tried that too). People understand that you can’t control the weather, but they quickly forget the weather from two weeks ago when their eye is on the prize (is it obvious that the pool is the prize here?). Reach out, let them know what is going on; can you really blame them for being excited? Customers, when your Project Manager calls you to deliver bad news about your project that was completely out of their control, try to cut them a break. I can guarantee you, they were dreading the phone call as much as you hated getting it. With that being said, if you feel your builder is hiding something from you or isn’t completing work as discussed, hold them accountable. Crews make mistakes and good companies will make it right.
Happy pool season to all the builders and pool owners, and remember, we need each other!