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So you want to add pool installations? Here’s what you need to know

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There’s several ways to add pool installation services to your business. Experts recommend subcontracting the work as you dip your toe into this service. (Photo: Canete Landscape Design & Construction)
There’s several ways to add pool installation services to your business. Experts recommend subcontracting the work as you dip your toe into this service. (Photo: Canete Landscape Design & Construction)
There’s several ways to add pool installation services to your business. Experts recommend subcontracting the work as you dip your toe into this service. (Photo: Canete Landscape Design & Construction)
There’s several ways to add pool installation services to your business. Experts recommend subcontracting the work as you dip your toe into this service. (Photo: Canete Landscape Design & Construction)

Backyard pools provide residential clients with ambiance, entertainment and exercise opportunities, and they potentially increase property values. For the landscape contractor, pool installation is an attractive addition to a company’s design/build capabilities. It can heighten a business’s professional profile, expand service offerings and meet market demand.

Business intelligence company Expert Market Research projects the U.S. swimming pool construction market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.3 percent between 2023 and 2028. The Fredonia Group estimates contractors will install 320,000 new pools annually throughout North American markets until 2026, with residential installations in luxury backyard environments driving much of this demand.

In-ground pools come in vinyl (the cheapest), fiberglass or gunite (a concrete mix applied in layers using a specialized compressed air spray gun). The latter lasts the longest, is considered the most exclusive in a luxury backyard project and is the most complicated to do well and correctly.

Know before you dive in

Before adding pool construction, contractors must ask themselves what type of reputation they want in their market, says Troy Clogg, president of Troy Clogg Landscape Associates (TCLA) in Wixom, Mich.

TCLA is a full-service firm whose portfolio is 40 percent snow and ice management, 30 percent design/build, 20 percent landscape maintenance and 10 percent tree maintenance. Clogg estimates gunite in-ground pool installation is a component of two to five of TCLA’s design/build projects annually.

“Your reputation — which is vital to your relationship with clients — is based on the (caliber of) products you provide, and that should always be the best … and pools are no different,” Clogg says.

Getting into pool construction is not easy and it requires deep pockets, says Tom Canete, president of Canete Landscape Design & Construction in Wayne, N.J. It is a full-service landscape company that’s about 40 percent landscape (including design/build) and 60 percent snow and ice management. Canete says gunite pools are part of three to five of his residential design/build projects annually.

Pool installation as an in-house service requires specialized skilled laborers (tile, plumbing, electricity and concrete, to name a few), as well as trucks and equipment for the heavy lifting.

“There is a substantial capital investment that must be made if you’re going to do pool installation in-house,” Canete says.

Other ways to dip your toe in

An alternative to starting a pool division from scratch is acquiring an existing pool installation company.

“Purchasing an established pool company gives you the tools, equipment and specialized labor necessary to do installations,” Canete says. “That company can (install pools) for other landscape contractors when you don’t have any projects on your schedule.”

Another approach both Clogg and Canete endorse is to subcontract the installation work to a professional installer.

“This may be the smartest approach for someone getting into (pool installation),” Canete says. “You do the project design, subcontract the work to an established pool company and charge a project management fee to oversee the installation.”

Another option is to subcontract out each phase of the pool installation. While more complicated to manage, it gives the contractor greater control over costs and a healthier profit margin.

“You really need to know who you’re partnering with because the project’s success relies on the strength and skills of each professional you hire,” he says. “One poor-performing gunite, tile or electrical contractor can sink an entire project … and your reputation along with it.”

Lastly, network with professionals in your market who have established track records of excellence in pool installation work. Clogg suggests attending a local pool and spa show and talking to the contractors operating in your market.

“Find out the projects they’ve worked on and talk to them about how they do business,” he says. “You’ll soon learn who’s reputable and who you want to start building professional relationships with. Remember, pool construction is a complicated process to do well and do correctly.”

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