This write up is intended to provide interested persons, my experience with buying my first pool.
We (the wife and I) looked at pools from early Jan 2014 and looked at all levels, from new to reconditioned. We were not interested in above ground, and we had sold our spa which we had enjoyed for nearly 10 years. We were not particularly interested in a liner pool, and we knew concrete would be expensive, but could be more forgiving in placement and shape.
We have a 1400m2 block, so room wasn’t an issue, but we both wanted only a small pool, and our preferred placement, close to the end of our newly built patio, was bounded on the opposite side by a leach drain. (We don’t have deep sewage, despite being only 1.5km’s from the shire office, near Midland WA.)
Initially, we tried to look at reconditioned, contact 2 companies and asking for a suitable time to meet on site to inspect and discuss, on a Saturday. Both arranged times to suit themselves, and we set off on the Saturday to visit. The 1st place near Wattle grove was deserted when we got there a few minutes before 9.00am, with several pools scattered around the grounds, and a lonely dog that seemed happy for some company. We wandered about for nearly 30 minutes in case the representative was running late, looking at the pools and other gear he had laying about. Finally, we decide to ring him to see where he was. He answered but said he was on the other side of the city, and wouldn’t be back until late. I reminded him we had a confirmed appointment, but he just said look around and call him back if we saw something we liked. We left. The second guy was not available (via confirmed appointment) until 4 hours later, down near South Lake/Yangebup. We had friends near Baldivis so decided to visit them that afternoon as well, so wandered around visiting cafes and such until 2pm.
Arrived 5 minutes to 2, to a locked gate, at a yard with several pools inside. Waited 20 minutes and went to his 2nd yard around the corner. Also deserted. Went back to 1st yard, and called the land line number on the building. A woman answered and we asked for the gent we were supposed to meet. She said her husband was on a job for the day. I said he was supposed to be here. So she told us where the key was hidden, and just to let ourselves in and look around. Again, just call back if you see something you like. We had a look around, and left. We decided reconditioned pools were not going to be on our shopping list. If the company can’t keep an appointment THEY set up, for a potential sale, what could we expect had we actually committed to buy?
We looked at several new companies, and tried several times to look at some small cheap lap pools by a guy in Carine/Osborne park with little success.
Absolutely by chance, we saw an advert for the pool and spa expo, so decided to wait for that, and have a good look around there.
Eventually we settled on 3 pools. The Sapphire Princeton, the WA Fibreglass Aqua spa and the Guardian courtyard.
After the expo, we knuckled down to decide which one seemed to offer the best value. Pool companies have made an art form of confusing inclusions and exclusions to make it difficult to compare like for like. Guardian pools, during “negotiations”, in an effort to push us to sign up, said that the expo price was a super special, at $15,640.00 and that we had to act fast. So I asked him what the “normal” price was. He checked and advised that the price was $14,500.00 (ish, don’t recall exactly, but 14 ½ is close). He suddenly realised the lesser price, blaming the elderly owner and said it was wrong. He refused to offer a revised “normal” price. At a following meeting at our home, he did the same thing. He did not get the sale.
WA Fibreglass was the new choice, but the salesman continuously degraded other pools in an effort to show how superior theirs were. The wife was keen on the shape of the Sapphire Princeton, so we put them at the top of our list. There price, including shire fees, header pavers, pool cleaner setup and solar piping laid, etc, was $20,600.00.
This included upgrade to 3 speed pump (my choice) and cartridge filter instead of sand.
Later, after repeated requests for the volume of the pool, 2 people from Sapphire quoted me 11000 and 16000 litres, so it would seem that no one knew the size of their pool. My calculations come in at 13,300 litres.
The pool was delivered and installed on time, on the 23 April with all crew arriving promptly and doing their respective jobs proficiently. 3 Trucks managed to reverse down my narrow drive, but 1 refused, dropping 10 cubic metres of yellow sand in the gateways blocking it completely, till he bobcatted it around the back. The damage to the gravel driveway and the back yard in general, from the whole install was astonishing.
We had to buy 20 metres of yellow sand ($700.00) all up, and dispose of the same in old dirt as it had some clay in it. I manage to find someone who wanted it, so it only cost me for a bobcat and truck to take it to him.
The Pump house: I had laid down a concrete pad 1500x1500 and framework and the rear and side panels installed to show how the pump house was intended to look. The installer of this equipment placed the pump behind the filter, in the far corner, making it almost impossible to access the control valve and pump. The site supervisor agreed that it was poorly laid out. I offered to replumb the 2 myself, it he would supply a new filter housing, as they had glued blanks in to the housing, making available ports no longer available. He refused. The pump handbook recommended a minimum 450mm of straight pipe into the pump, and we have less than 200mm. Again, expressions of agreement, but no, they would not rectify.
The “handover” was supposed to include a session with the guy to explain how to maintain the pool, but that never happened. He simply overdosed the pool, checked to make sure the pump was working and bolted.
Contractors left cigarette butts and earplugs on the back lawn, which can be a hazard to my 2 small dogs, but a written complaint to Sapphire was never acknowledged.
The bull nosed header pavers were poorly laid, and they returned and replaced 3. Still not happy, but as the site supervisor was happy, that was all they would do. Cleaners came and vacuumed the sand out of the pool, before the pencil compacting ($580.00) was done, and never came back and redid it, even though they said they would.
The shire never told us the fence had been approved, and to this day, we have received no paperwork from the shire regarding the fence. We submitted a very basic design with the shire, because they simply could not understand that we had no fully locked in our design before the pool went in. We wanted glass panels between the patio and the pool, and the rest is simply normal pool fencing. The big ticket item was the 2 glass panels, 1200mm high by 2 metres long x 2, suspended between 2 patio posts, supported top and bottom, on 2 stainless steel rails.
Aussie pool fencing, in Osborne park, was 30% cheaper than Bunnings. We had a contact in the glass trade for the panels, which cost us $1800.00 installed
In the end, total cost came in just above $32,000.
Would I do it again? Yes, probably.
Would I use Sapphire again? They would still be on my list, provided they agreed to a few of my terms as well.
Hope this all helps someone.
Oh, 1 more thing. The PVC pipe they deliver with the pool. They take anything left away with them after everything is done, so if you want some, ask to keep left overs.