Thinking about building an in-ground pool? It’s exciting to imagine all the fun and relaxing times you will have with friends and family. Before you build, be sure to follow these seven key steps to ensure your investment truly delivers the pool of your dreams.

Step 1: Select Pool Type

Before choosing a builder, you first need to determine what type of in-ground pool you would like to build.  Typically your choices are vinyl, fiberglass or gunite.   The type of pool you build will be based on several factors such as personal taste, your lifestyle needs, and budget. Compare these different materials.

Once you know the type of pool you want, you can begin to look at designs. Look at the websites of pool companies that build your type of pool. You’ll quickly realize that there are many ways to design a pool. The more you view, the more you will find what works best for you.

Step 2:  Equipment and Accessories

Next you’ll want to get a basic understanding of pool equipment. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should know the pros and cons of various pieces of equipment. This includes filters, pumps, chemical feeders, pool cleaners, and more.

You might enjoy researching some enhanced options, such as underwater lights, fountains, built in benches — or even a swim up bar!  By having an understanding of what the equipment and accessory options are, you will be better prepared to ask the right questions of prospective builders.

Step 3: Research Builders

Now you need to develop a list of potential builders. Start with personal references from friends and family who have built pools. You can also drive around your area and look for gunite trucks or any other tell tale signs outside a house where a pool build is underway. Don’t be afraid to knock on the door and ask the owner how things are going and how they feel about their builder.

Once you have a list of builders, find out how long they have been in business. This is critical. You want to work with a company that has been around a long time, and will stand by their work in the future.

Step 4: Contact Your Builders

Start making appointments.  Meet with builders who are experienced in constructing your type of pool.  Now is your chance to learn what each company recommends.

Step 5: Walk the Property

Most pool builders will want to see your property before giving you any kind of quote. This is where an experienced builder will really shine.  During the property walk, the pool builder should provide insights into how the lot grading, landscaping, plumbing and other elements will impact your design.  Be wary of sales reps that promise the world and/or ignore your concerns.

Step 6: Get it in writing

One of life’s lessons that we have all learned is to get information in writing. If a builder tells you he is going to give you “xyz” for free, have him or her write it in your contract.

Step 7: Payment Plan

Finally, when arranging payment, the builder will lay out a payment plan. Be sure you agree to the terms set forth in the contract.