There are many dangers in hiring an unlicensed "consultant" to assist you to build your own pool. The potential pitfalls of hiring a DIY swimmingpoolbuilders .com type of business are plentiful.
Lack of Insurance
An unlicensed "consultant" is trying to escape the expenses of running a lawful and legitimate contracting firm. They do not have the expense of liability insurance, let alone being able to qualify for coverage.
Reputable contractors possess liability insurance to protect you and your property in the event of any calamity. They also possess insurance certificates from each of their subcontractors as well.
The T's are crossed and the I's dotted! Everyone is protected.
Lack of Licensing
Because "consultants" lack the proper licensing, a property owner will have little recourse in the event there are problems. And, as in most construction projects there will be something that goes wrong.
Having a State Contractor's license, means that there is a license bond on file with the state. The State Contractors Board also functions as a consumer protection and enforcement agency, in the event of serious construction defects.
Licensed Contractors must also qualify of a license. This means that they cannot have prior criminal convictions. They must have years of of practical experience actually building pools. They must pass a tests on contractor's law and business practices. They must also pass a test, ensuring they have a minimum level of knowledge about acceptable workmanship practices of their trade.
How would you know if the on-line "DIY pool builder-consultant" is a convicted child molester, registered sex-offender, ex-con or has prior convictions for fraud ?
The State Contractor's Licensing Board only has records available for those firms and persons that possess (or possessed) a Contractor's License. They do not maintain a database of individuals who have been prosecuted for operating without the proper licensing.
This is all for the consumer's protection.
Liens & Financial Responsibility
Licensed Contractors are required to pay their subcontractors and to obtain lien releases from them. These protect the property owner from unpaid subcontractors placing liens upon their property. Even stale liens can taint the title to a property, making a future sale difficult.
Licensed Contractors must maintain a minimum level of financial stability, in order to operate a legitimate contracting firm.
Licensed contractors cannot hide behind a website. They must publish their physical address, license number, owner's names and their telephone number on all of their web pages and advertisements. They are not allowed to hide in the crevasses of the Internet.
Carefully inspect any "consultant's" website.
Is the name of the responsible person listed?
Is their physical location listed?
Is there a Contractor's License Number shown?
If this information is not listed, how are you going find them when you have to sue them in court?
Worker's Compensation Insurance
Licensed Contractors can only hire subcontractors that possess the proper workers compensation insurance. They must have copies of these insurance certificates on file before any work begins.
If a subcontractor does not have the proper workers compensation insurance coverage then the PROPERTY OWNER IS LIABLE for any employee injuries that may occur on their project!
If an employee gets cut with a circular saw, falls off a ladder, gets impaled on rebar, becomes buried in a trench, or driven over by a tractor - then the resulting lawsuit and medical bills are the responsibility of the property owner. And all because of the lack of a piece of paper proving insurance coverage.
Crossing the Line
If a "DIY consultant" designs the pool, provides the engineering, specifies the equipment, schedules the subcontractors, gathers the lien releases, sells the equipment, performs periodic inspections of the work (either in person or via digital pictures) - then they are actually performing the work of a contractor and a LICENSE IS REQUIRED (CSLB Case #620053266).
There are many intricacies of building a swimming pool. Overlooking a single item can be catastrophic - even deadly.
Electrocution, suction entrapment, hair entanglement, incorrect floor shapes and slopes, cracked structures, mudslides, damaged building foundations, generic or mail order structural engineering, broken pipes, corroded rebar and substandard shotcrete/gunite are common construction faults and defects.
The Bottom Line
As a DIY owner/builder - Do you know enough about how to build a swimming pool, without asking questions of the subcontractors or idiots on the Internet or DIY websites?
If you answered no, then are you a gambler?
Paolo Benedetti, SWD, Principal
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa
International Swimming Pool Consulting and Design, Aquatic Consulting, Watershape Consultants, Expert Witness, Hydraulic Design, Landscape Architecture, Construction Management
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