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Preventing LA Pool Construction Delays and Problems: 4 Tips

Preventing LA Pool Construction Delays and Problems: 4 Tips

We live in the age of immediate gratification; we’re barely able to wait for our fresh sushi delivery or for Netflix to drop a new season of Selling Sunset (the wait is killing us, too).

Some things are worth waiting for. Case in point: you’re ready to sign off on the magical swimming pool project and (in due time) swim off into the sunset. While a custom pool project warrants reasonable construction time, you could unwittingly further delay its completion.

Imagine the primetime series you produce is going on a hiatus for four months. You’ve been on set past 1 AM most weeknights since filming started and the only thing that got you through was the thought of your ongoing pool project being complete in time for your long-awaited off-season. There’s even a pep in your step as you mediate the weekly philosophical dispute in the writers’ room; just two weeks stand between you and your aquatic respite. 

That’s when you get a call from your pool contractor telling you that your recent structural change order requires a revised permit, which will halt construction for around three months until the original permit is amended.

Your bubble effectively bursts.

One minute you’re envisioning balmy nights floating along your infinity pool in your Hollywood Hills bungalow. The next, you’re teetering on the craggy precipice of a prolonged construction project sucking up your time off.  

At J Designs Pool and Spa, we have over 15 years of experience spearheading punctual boutique pool and spa construction projects. This article will break down how to confidently avoid the most common faux pas clients make that delay their pool construction.

 

1. CHANGE ORDERS CAUSE CONSTRUCTION DELAYS

A change order is a modification to a construction contract that impacts the project's scope, timeline, cost, and materials. 

While they allow for necessary adjustments to be documented and implemented, change orders do not make for timely pool construction projects. Incomplete items that are left unresolved before signing the contract can result in delays to the schedule and potential increases in prices.

construction_delays_change_order

It's common for customers to overlook the importance of finalizing add-on features before signing their construction contract. Many believe that making small changes like adding a firepit or barbeque later on won't have any impact on the overall project. However, it's essential to address these details upfront to avoid complications that could affect the project timeline and budget.

For example, if a customer is not sure about whether or not they’d like to install a barbeque pit, the construction crew may have to hold off on the masonry phase altogether because the deck cannot be poured without the bbq pit being installed first. This concept is akin to the order of operations that was drilled into our heads in high school algebra; construction works similarly in that certain aspects have to follow a defined order or else things just won’t function properly.

Similarly, if a change order forces the construction crew to delay excavation, the pool company has to put forth that labor and resources elsewhere and assign them to a different project. Pool construction companies are not able to have resources and workers on standby, waiting for change orders to be solidified. That approach would be unfeasible in terms of wasting resources like labor, equipment, rentals, and subcontractors. Rather, the resources for certain phases of construction have been allocated elsewhere while their change orders were being solidified.

As a result, projects with these change orders are pushed back into the production cue to get in line for excavation because you missed your previously scheduled dig day.

Even more consequential is the impact of change orders on permits. If a change order includes a structure that requires a permit, then the original permit needs to be revised by the city. This process will halt construction because the final inspection of the project has to match verbatim what the permit has outlined in the construction plan.

According to The Contractors State License Board of California Consumer Guide, any changes made to the swimming pool project in materials, completion date, and equipment (after you’ve signed a contract and even after work has begun) should be made in writing. The “change order” should be clearly worded and signed by both parties. It then becomes part of the contract.

Check out this informed pre-construction checklist for more helpful tips on preventing change orders and subsequent delays on your dream pool project!

 

2. STALLED MATERIAL SELECTION STALLS CONSTRUCTION 

Choosing materials is a critical step in ensuring the smooth progress and timely completion of your pool construction project. By making timely decisions during the material selection step, you can avoid common pitfalls and prevent unnecessary delays.

preventing_construction_delays_material_selection

One factor that can significantly impact construction timelines is the availability of materials. Take, for example, the tile and coping steps, which come after the shotcrete phase. If you haven't made your choices for these materials, the construction process can grind to a halt. The pool may remain in a shotcrete state until the tile and coping are ultimately selected and delivered. Even when the materials do arrive, there's no guarantee that construction can resume immediately, as labor resources may have been allocated to other projects during the delay.

Moreover, it's crucial to consider the selection of plaster finishes, which requires advanced planning. Different construction crews specialize in applying specific plaster finishes. While our base price plan includes traditional white plaster, opting for more specialized finishes like PebbleTec necessitates early notification. By informing your pool contractor of your preference as soon as possible, they can make arrangements to book certified plaster applicators, ensuring a smooth transition when the time comes.

It's essential to be mindful of the current challenges posed by factors such as COVID, which have resulted in delays in material delivery. We recommend that you take advantage of the period between signing the contract and awaiting permit issuance to finalize your material selections. This strategic approach allows you to navigate any potential disruptions efficiently and minimize the impact on your construction timeline.

construction_journey_roadmap

By understanding the significance of timely material selection and taking proactive steps, you can steer your project toward success, ensuring a seamless construction journey.

 

3. STUNTED CASH FLOW STUNTS CONSTRUCTION

The influx of cash is the heartbeat that keeps the pool construction alive. Many pool companies implement a cash contract system whereby customers pay terms as the phases of the project progress.

However, if customers stop payments and the cash flow is halted, the progression of the project is subsequently halted since each phase of construction does not occur until the aligned payment is made.

Similarly, a lack of timely payments stalls the work schedule. 

This situation is troublesome for upholding the construction timeline because workers are pulled from that project to another project where they are being paid. As a result, this scenario inevitably causes construction delays for the project with a fund deficit. 

By understanding the potential payment delays to avoid, you can protect your investment and keep the project on track. 

 

4. REFUSE PREMATURE PAYMENTS ON UNFINISHED WORK

One key aspect of preventing delays and ensuring a seamless pool construction process is adhering to timely payment practices. To safeguard your interests, it is crucial to adhere to the guidelines set forth by the California Contractor's State Board. 

These guidelines recommend that you pay no more than 10 percent or $1,000 as a down payment, whichever is less. Furthermore, it is essential to avoid front-loading, which is an illegal practice that can lead to significant problems. 

“The illegal practice of "front-loading" is a major source of complaints against swimming pool contractors. Front-loading occurs when contractors take illegally excessive down payments or take payments for work not completed. A common example with swimming pool construction is taking payment for gunite work (a sprayed concrete mixture) before the job is completed. When you let your payments get ahead of the work, you are put in a precarious position. The swimming pool contractor may ask for 50 percent of the total cost, perform only 15 percent of the work, then abandon the job, leaving you with a big hole in the ground and no funds to pay another contractor to finish the work. Don't let this happen to you—don't let your payments get ahead of the work,” says the Contractors State License Board.

The final payment should only be made upon completion of the final plastering phase of construction. It is essential to verify that all equipment, decking, or fencing required by the contract has also been fully installed or constructed. This step ensures that all essential components of the project are in place before making the final payment. By adhering to this practice, you have peace of mind that the pool is complete, minimizing any potential delays or issues that may arise from unfinished work.

At J Designs Pool and Spa, we are committed to transparency and fairness in our payment practices. We adhere to the guidelines outlined by the California Contractor's State Board to protect your interests and maintain a smooth construction process. 

 

NEXT STEPS: A POOL PROJECT ANCHORED IN FORESIGHT

Now that you have read this article, you’ll be able to avoid common blindspots in pool planning that delay construction. Some unforeseen circumstances are not in your control, but there are measures you can take to best ensure the timely progression of your pool project. 

At J Designs Pool and Spa, we’ve spent 15 years educating our clients on the different types of planning oversights that can deter the completion of your pool construction. We live out our educator mindset by sharing pivotal information with customers both on the job site and on the web.

In the case of pool and spa construction, ignorance is certainly not bliss. 

Our goal is to best equip you for success so that you’re not saddled with regret and the burden of waiting much longer than you intended to enjoy your pool. Trust in our expertise and guidance as we work together to bring your vision to life, creating a stunning pool that will be the pride of your backyard oasis.

Your unproblematic pool construction project is just one stop away, contact us and schedule a consultation to get your ducks in a row!

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