When is the best time to build a pool?

By: Matthew Ray

Spring’s the best time to build a pool right? WRONG. I’m not sure how the idea became so common, but for some reason most people think the spring is the time to build pools, fences, houses, landscapes and other outdoor project. The truth is there is absolutely not a harder time to build a pool, or anything else outside, than spring. The reasons, though simple, may not be so obvious.

Weather- In the Midwest spring comes with much anticipation of summer just around the corner. It also comes with volatile atmospheric conditions and pop up storms. It’s not uncommon for a popup shower to drop a 1/2 ” of rain in an area and completely STOP construction. Depending on the sun exposure it could take as long as 2 days to dry out the site leaving the builders calendar, patience, and sanity in question. This leaves other jobs off schedule before they even start and you and your builder uncertain as to when your project will be completed. It’s no fun to wonder if your project is going to be done for the Memorial Day party you have already planned.

Materials and Equipment- When Spring is finally sprung and pools are ready to be built, so is everything else. Pool installers are not the only folks who need dump trucks, gravel, water trucks, backhoes, excavators and the service and repair personal needed to keep them running. In 2011 most of the Midwest and Northeast experienced 100 year rains that started February 2 and continued though the Thursday before Memorial day. The rain totaled some 20” plus or so here in Columbus Ohio and 28” in Cincinnati. By the time the rain was over home builders, concrete guys, road crews, landscaper, and anyone else who works outside had lost one third of their season and were all fighting for the same resources. On one project I was forced to transport an excavator from Indianapolis- some 400 miles round trip delivery fee just to work. Needless to say that was not a very profitable project.

Labor- Let’s face it, when it’s hot out and your crews are working 65hr plus weeks working around weather, anxious clients, and the headaches that come with the spring rush…sometimes things get missed. The fall is a much more relaxed and pleasant time to work. There isn’t enough daylight for a 65hr week, the stress level is significantly lessened as there is no rush to get done for the next hot weekend, and materials and equipment are there for the picking.

Transportation and Inventory- The spring may be when inventory levels are at their highest but it is also the time when demand and transportation is at its messiest. When the orange barrels go up on the highways, it’s expected that DOT will require we take MUCH longer routes to avoid construction zones. Remember when you have a 15’ -16’ wide load you can’t just go anywhere. In 2009 all loads that went to northern Indiana from Columbus had to do so via Cincinnati -not exactly quick or cheap.  It is also common for certain pools to be delayed due to stacking compatibility. If the market demands styles and units not compatible with your model your load may wait – pushing your project latter in the spring or even summer. In the fall and winter getting the pool we need is much more predictable.

Permits may be last but not least. No different than equipment and materials, the building department is under their greatest load in the spring which can mean your project will likely take a lot longer to be review. It is also a busy time for homeowners associations and  zoning committees. If you are in a situation that may require a variance…watch out. Proving extenuating circumstances and hardship to a review board is a lot easier in the fall or winter then when they are not clogged and annoyed with the spring rush.

The reasons TO install in the fall and winter are the invert of the spring hassles. The weather is stable, equipment is readily available, material costs are down, fuel costs are down, and if you’re wondering about the cold…remember –Frozen isn’t muddy! We are happy to work in overalls! If avoiding all the potential headaches that spring can offer isn’t enough for YOU to go fall install, how’s this….? IT’s CHEAPER TO INSTALL IN THE FALL. When demand for materials go down so does our cost. When overtime is off the table we have a decrease in production payroll. When the DOT does not require to go from Columbus to Cincinnati via DAYTON, our transportation costs go down. Add it all up and typically we expect a $1000 to $2500 decrease in the cost to install a pool. You will also avoid the 5% increase we usually experience from fall to the fallowing spring in vender cost increases. Depending on the price of precious metal and petroleum that can mean another $1000 saved. For most people it just makes more sense for them to build in the off season…what about you?