Swimming pool contractors

Hot Water Pool Contractors with Delays, Shortages and Payment Issues

Summer is right around the corner, the time of year when homeowners start thinking about the benefits of a swimming pool. Recent industry data has shown that swimming pool construction has grown steadily over the past few years, with over 16,000 swimming pool contractors operating in the country.

“Every year so far our business has doubled, and I think across the industry we’ve seen numbers never seen before,” said Michael Armstrong, owner of A&J Pools in Pennsylvania.

But these pool contractors may want owners to moderate their expectations: “…when you come here, it will be midsummer next year before you swim. It might be a tough pill to swallow,” said Phil Woody of American Pools and Spas in Florida.

Like every other sector of the construction industry, swimming pool construction is affected by major supply chain issues. With swimming pools, this sometimes means that only certain small parts of the construction are hard to come by – but when it comes to building a swimming pool, those small parts can also be the most crucial.

“The tiles that are sitting in barges off the coast – so, the tiles that you should be able to have – they are shipped, they are here, but not here. It becomes a problem,” Woody noted.

These supply chain issues not only delay work in progress, they also prevent contractors from accepting work.

“You know, in our case, we had to downsize our pool facilities,” Armstrong noted. “You know, I could sell 100 pools, but I can’t necessarily do it in a year, so we kind of scaled back to keep the customers happy.”

Such complications put even more pressure on entrepreneurs for payment and profitability, especially when 48% of entrepreneurs said they view supply chain issues as a threat to growth and success.

Related coverage: Florida couple charged with fraud in swimming pool construction project

Construction lien rights on swimming pools are variable

Generally, payment protection works the same for pool contractors as it does for other contractors, as in-ground pools are permanent improvements that can be subject to a mechanic’s lien. However, at the same time, payment and payment protection for swimming pool contractors can be tricky, and some states have complicated contract and payment requirements for these businesses.

For example, in Arizona, swimming pool contractors must be paid in four separate installments consisting of a down payment and three additional down payments, leaving plenty of room for a dispute to arise before final payment has been made.

State requirements show how detrimental non-compliance with contractual rules can be for these types of contractors: non-compliance with the contractual requirements of ARS §32-1158.01 can result in the suspension or revocation of a company’s contractor’s license.

Since pool contractors sometimes operate between permanent and impermanent improvements to a property, it can also complicate their mechanical lien claims.

“Generally, mechanics’ liens are available to those who provide labor or materials that permanently improve real estate. Work that does not provide a substantial and lasting improvement to the property, such as regular maintenance, generally will not give rise to liens,” notes construction attorney Matt Viator. “Where a plaintiff files a mechanic’s lien that has no valid basis, such lien can generally be challenged and removed from the property.”

Matt Viator

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All of these complications can really add up for a swimming pool contractor – a small margin of error can spell bankruptcy, something the industry has seen more and more of in recent months.

In December 2021, a Connecticut pool contractor filed for bankruptcy, causing a bit of controversy with several clients who reportedly ended up with unfinished pools on their properties. Additionally, in late April 2022, two Florida swimming pool contractors filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy for less than $50,000 in liabilities — one with just $18,665 — while the Texas Fluid Commercial Pools followed with a Chapter 7 filing in May.

“It’s important to understand, to be compassionate with the retailers, the builders. Most of the time, their hands are tied,” noted client Robert Arago.

“Given the realities facing the industry, customers don’t really have a choice – if you want a pool in 2022, it’s likely to get bogged down in the supply chain quagmire. there’s not much to think about. It’s the reality,” added potential client Timothy Beveridge.

“Everyone is doing the best they can, but there’s so much pending…we’re trying to do what we can or at least get by with what we have,” Armstrong said.

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