Thursday, March 19, 2009

More on Pool Deck Railings

Your swimming pool deck railings can be aesthetically pleasing and should be compatible with the look of your home and backyard.

But you also need to keep safety in mind.

Your railings height should be at least 3' above the decking surface. This should be high enough for the average person to lean on or rest their elbow without fear of falling over. Some railings are up to 4' high, but the height of your railing will depend on the height of your swimming pool deck.

As always, check with your local building inspector to find out what your local building codes are. Most codes will require railings for wood pool decks 3' off the ground and all stairs. But it's a good idea to have railings regardless of the height of your above ground pool deck.

Railings are a good way to show off your personal style but are also an essential part of any deck. You want to make sure that people who swim in your pool and use your deck are free from fearing for their safety so all they do is have fun... and you're free from worry.

Enjoy your pool!


Paul Ottaviano

P.S. - With that said, you also have to build your wood pool deck and railings properly so you'll know they'll remain secure through years of use. Learn how to build an above ground swimming pool deck.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Builder Beware

My neighbors are building a new garage and remodeling their kitchen. This project started months ago before the holidays. It's not finished yet and probably won't be anytime real soon. Why? They gave the contract to a one man show and paid for the entire project up front.

Before they started the project, their first contractor - who does all the work himself for some insane reason - gave them a sob story about how hard life was for him... he was in debt and creditors were all over him... his fiance was expecting and he would have another mouth to feed... blah blah blah... so he needed the entire $5000 for the garage up front (a low ball estimate).

My neighbors are not rich and $5000 is a lot of money for them... it's a lot for most of us these days. But they're very nice people, my neighbors, and so they paid without any contract or payment schedule written up.

Months later...

After no shows for days or weeks, slow work progress, the contractors work not passing inspection, and a generally poor attitude my neighbors had no choice but to fire the contractor with the project only about half-way completed.

Not surprisingly the contractor had already spent the $5000, probably on some things unrelated to the project. So now my neighbors are filing a complaint through the state contracting board and they're hoping to get their money back through the contractors bond. But that could take awhile.

So for now they're out thousands of dollars and they've hired another contractor to finish the project - who is doing a good job - but it has basically doubled their cost. The difference they're paying with their credit cards.

How does this apply to your above ground pool deck project?

If you're going to hire a contractor to build your pool deck there are a number of things to remember prior to awarding the contract and paying any money...

1. Meet with at least several contractors

Do not be seduced by a sob story like my neighbors were. Make sure your contractor has a good track record and has been in business for awhile.

You want professionalism, which means stability and continuity. If he starts talking about how desperate his personal life is, don't give him the contract just to "help him out". That's what my neighbors did. Don't be like them.

2. Have a work contract with specifics clearly understood by you and the contractor

  • Include a description of the work to be completed, i.e. the specific project and where it is to be done, when, and with what materials, etc.
  • Make sure the price is listed. This includes supplies, labor, and local fees or taxes.
  • Work schedule: include the project start date and finish date. But be flexible in case of bad weather or emergency situations.
  • Payment plan: It is important that you don't pay for it all up front like my neighbors did. Pay in installments upon completion of various phases of the project.
A good contractor who wants you to pay him for building a deck around your pool should have no problem agreeing to these things.

There might be some nuances in the contract he wants to discuss or clarify, but that's normal. However, if he disagrees with the idea of having a contract at all or a payment schedule move on to someone better.

As always, enjoy your pool!

Best regards,

Paul Ottaviano
DIY Above Ground Pool Deck

P.S. - We go into more depth on this subject in our eBook "Only Hire a Builder if You Need One". It's a free bonus to our eBook "How to Build a Pool Deck".