In our 63 years in business, we have never seen such a misalignment of supply and demand of swimming pools. The demand for swimming pool construction right now far exceeds the supply. As a result, pool construction is taking much longer than it ever has. Pool construction projects that used to take from 8-12 weeks from the first meeting to swimming are now taking at least twice that long. Why is this and what advice do we have?
Why is there a delay?
- Increased Demand—Due to the pandemic, almost all of us have spent more time at home over the past year than we ever have before. People are not traveling as much and many are asking—Is my home the way that I want it? Is this where I want to spend my time if this ever happens again? It has led many of us to think of ways that we can improve our home. One of the results that we have seen is the increase in the demand of home improvements, including swimming pools. PK Data estimates that 78,000 pools were built in 2019 and the last report that I saw was a projection of 94,000 pools to be built 2020, which is a 20% increase. 2021 seems to be just as busy, if not more so, than 2020.
- Shortage of Skilled Craftsmen—If you have tried to have home repairs or remodeling done over the past few years you are probably already aware of how difficult it can be to find someone to do the project, especially of the high-quality variety—from plumbers to electricians to HVAC to masonry contractors to pool equipment technicians, as well as many other trades. This situation has been made more dire since the pandemic began. An online search concerning the topic confirms with data that there is a serious shortage of skilled tradespeople throughout the country. The bottom line is that there is simply not enough skilled craftsmen to meet the increased demand, and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
- Administrative Delays—Other steps that used to be fairly quick processes are also now causing some project delays—financing, underground utility approval, HOA approval, engineering (if required), and city permitting.
- Product Shortages—There were product shortages prior to the freeze damage occurring in Texas, but it has been made much worse. The product shortages that are impacting the pool industry the most are the pvc pipe shortage and the pool equipment (pumps, filters, heaters, etc.) shortage.
What advice do we have?
The best advice that we can give is to start early, expect delays, and be patient.
Start early—Plan on a six-to-nine month timeframe from first meeting to swimming. If you are wanting a pool for summer 2022, starting mid-to-late summer of this year would be most ideal.
Expect delays—The main delay that we are seeing is with the most skilled craftsmen, which is who you want doing the work on your pool. There are also weather delays and city inspection delays that can be expected.
Be patient—This is oftentimes difficult, but when speed of construction is more important than the quality of construction, it usually does not end well as many pool builders can resort to using inferior craftsmen in an attempt to please the client. This goes with any type of construction project.
As you can tell, it is not a good situation right now if you want a swimming pool. With that being said, for most the wait is worth it—the pool projects that are being built these days truly change the entire feel of the backyard environment for many years to come.