Fischer: I quit — Pool problems give me that sinking feeling
Today I turned in my resignation. Not from real estate. The only way I would ever resign from real estate is to put me in a pine box and bury me in the ground. As a side note, this is not an invitation to do so. Either way, as of today, I have quit my unwanted job as an ad-hoc, unpaid, unlicensed pool contractor. Thankfully, it is now water under the bridge.
This fortuitous position landed upon me several months ago. I had taken a listing that would be termed as “luxury.” The home was over 10,000 square feet, on 5 acres, with 360-degree views and an oversized in-ground pool that was not functional but was en route to being repaired at the time the listing was activated.
When my clients purchased the home, some 2 ½ years before, the pool needed resurfacing, servicing and a pool cover. Since it was winter at the time of purchase, they didn’t worry about it until late spring. Once the weather started cooperating, they contacted a pool contractor who agreed to come out and quote them a price to resurface the pool and get it up and running. At the time, this company had just started marketing a new, softer, more comfortable and slip-resistant material for resurfacing. My clients had read the reviews and were impressed, so they paid a deposit and the contractor began the work.
As the weeks turned into months, the contractor came back to the owners and asked for more money so they could order more product, continue the work and get the pool cover contracted out since it would be custom-made due to the nonstandard shape and size of the pool. They agreed and paid him the entirety of the invoice, totaling near $87,000 and change, minus $1,000 which they agreed to give him after the job was complete.
As we all may recall, last winter came fast and early. The pool was not complete. This is when I was invited into the proverbial waters. They had informed me about the “pool situation” and we decided to move forward with the listing. We soon received a workable offer on the property and went under contract.
My clients fully disclosed the ongoing pool work to the buyers. They had provided receipts, phone numbers and schedules. In fact, the snow had begun to melt, and the contractors had returned to continue work. As the buyers wanted to verify the schedule for the pool, they contacted the company and learned that the contractor had recently had his contracting license revoked and was in litigation for nonperformance. When I found this out, I became the pool contractor’s new nightmare, and he became mine. The pool needed to be complete before closing as the buyers, understandably, could not trust that the contractor would show up again. However, the buyer, the seller and I had inadvertently formed a team of three women who should not have been underestimated. The reckoning had arrived.
The contractor ended up turning it over to his brother (who will also send in his resignation post-completion), who hired another contractor. After several weeks (and contract extensions), they finished the resurfacing and filled the pool. This is when we learned that the pump didn’t work. After contacting no less than 20 other pool contractors, I did finally get one to come out and look. He diagnosed the problem as something a plumber would need to repair. I got a plumber out the next day who said he would not be able to repair it since he was not familiar with pool plumbing. I got another plumber out who spent four hours the first day and 10 hours the next repairing the problem. The pool was running. All we needed was a cover.
Since my clients had already paid the contractor for the cover, the cover was made and sitting in a warehouse. I contacted them to schedule the delivery and installation, at which time I was informed that it had not been paid. Apparently, when my client paid the contractor, the contractor did not pay the pool cover company. When I asked his brother what, pray tell, had happened to this money, he simply said it was “gone.”
After gearing up in my scuba outfit, since it appeared I was going to drown in this d*&% pool without it, I called the pool cover company back and told them what had happened. They agreed to install it but needed the invoice paid, which had since gone to collections and was obsolete anyway since prices have doubled since last year. Scuba gear intact, the mighty team of three managed to make the 87 follow-up phone calls required, and the new buyers are getting a pool cover installed on Tuesday.
As for me, I’ll enjoy my swims in the ocean from here on out.
Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or email@example.com.