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Pass the Buck

Should pool warranties be transferable?

Warranty details are important to many homeowners who install a pool. What happens, however, when a home is sold and there is still time left on the pool warranty?

“If you are looking to install a pool or purchasing a home with a swimming pool, this is an excellent question to ask [the builder],” says Krystle Stiles, owner of Tennessee Custom Pools in Brentwood, Tennessee.

For some pool builders, it’s standard for the warranty to be transferable. That’s what Daniel Brodersen, territory sales and service rep for Main Line Commercial Pools in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, saw in his time working on the residential side of the business. “Normally, the warranty would be transferred unless otherwise stated in the contract,” Brodersen says. “With residential, it’s pretty typical in my experience to have a clause in the contract that states it’s transferable once.”

But a transfer may not be as easy as just handing over the keys to the pool gate. As Brodersen explains, sometimes an inspection is required for a warranty to be transferred to a new homeowner.

Bob Davis, president of Aqua Pros in Lynchburg, Virginia, says his company allows warranty transfers as long as certain conditions are met. For his business, the main prerequisite for honoring a transferred warranty is that AquaPros had been the servicing company the entire time.

Secondly, Davis says the pool’s water chemistry would need to have been properly maintained. “If the homeowner had been faithful in bringing us water samples for analysis and used suggested products,” explains Davis, “and we’d found their water stayed within the guidelines for the pool surface and pool equipment, we’d stand behind the warranty for the full 12 months.”

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On the other side of the debate, Stiles says that, while her business does offer a pool-shell warranty and a manufacturer’s warranty for both the pool surface and equipment, they’ve chosen not to make the warranties transferable. The warranty is strictly for those with whom they’ve signed an agreement, whether that’s a homeowner or a custom home builder. In the case of the warranty lying with the home builder, Stiles says it’s up to that business to arrange their own warranty with the client.

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Stiles says the reason behind the nontransferable warranty comes down to education. “We offer each of our clients a pool school where we educate them on the best care for the longevity of their swimming pool,” she says. “When homeownership transfers, the new owners may not be aware of these best practices and the pool may be subject to issues such as unbalanced pool water.”

Brodersen agrees that a breakdown in communication of care standards is an understandable reason for pool companies to disallow warranty transfers. “Another item to consider is how long the original owner has owned the pool,” Brodersen says. “Everything from a shaft seal to plaster has a vastly different life expectancy, so you really have to take everything into consideration.” For example, he says, if a homeowner builds a pool and another service company takes over the pool and keeps good records of chemical balancing, one can reasonably expect the pool to be in good shape.

Warranty conditions aren’t something most pool builders take lightly. There are plenty of options and a lot of legalities to review. Stiles says Tennessee Custom Pools’ decision not to offer warranty transfers came after much research and analysis.

“Initially, when we discussed warranties and our agreement terms, we researched other pool companies and found many negative consumer reviews about customer care following a home transfer of ownership,” Stiles says. “Taking into consideration that other companies struggled in this area, as well as our own standards of care and client education, we decided not to include this option.”

Brodersen believes warranty contracts should be professionally reviewed. “My advice to anyone considering this would absolutely be to contact an attorney to go over their contract stipulations,” he says.   Stiles advises the same, as well as being specific in the details of your contracts with customers. That said, she feels strongly there is one other important detail that overrides the need for warranty transfers: “Build a high-quality, long-lasting product,” she says. “Don’t cut corners.”

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