Since shortly after the onset of the pandemic, there has been a surge in homeowners desire for improving their outdoor spaces, and a boom in new pool construction.
It is a profitable time to work in pool construction, but some contractors are using the increase in consumer demand to unscrupulously line their pockets at the homeowners expense.
The pool construction business is thriving, with new pool construction up nearly 24 percent in 2020, compared to only the year prior.
According to the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance’s 2020 Market Report, some builders saw more than a 400 percent increase in leads for new pools compared to 2019.
But even as pool contractors race to keep up with the overwhelming demand for a backyard pool, a disturbing number of fly-by-night operations are in the media and damaging the industry’s reputation.
For example, in Conroe, Texas, Mark Mills, owner of St Croix Custom Pools is behind bars, held on a $1 million bail, accused of aggregated theft for over $300,000. At least 20 families say they were bilked out of tens of thousands of dollars by the pool builder, including one family who say they paid $100,000.
In Houston, Texas, Amazing Backyards and its contractor John Oake faces litigation with several customers taking him to court. Homeowners say they paid tens of thousands of dollars to Amazing Backyards to build their dream swimming pools.
In Canterbury, Connecticut, Brian Roy of Roy’s Pools, is the subject of eight complaints filed with the Department of Consumer Protection for unfinished work. According to DCP, Roy only has a Home Improvement Contractor license, which is not applicable to pool installations. DCP is investigating if he did work outside the scope of his license.
In Tucson, Arizona, Patrick Crone, owner of Imperial Pools & Design LLC is now unlicensed after a series of complaints from customers. At least 50 customers filed complaints with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, who revoked Crone’s General Contractor’s license in October after revoking his KA6 Dual Pool Contractor’s License a few weeks earlier.
And in Boston, Massachussetts, Steven Docchio of Xtreme Living Pools and Construction, is the subject of an NBC miniseries “To Catch A Contractor.” The series details Docchio’s criminal history in three New England states including Rhode Island and Connecticut where he is barred from working.
“It’s more important than ever to do your research before choosing a business, particularly on big-ticket items or projects.”said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas.