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Charlotte,NC Concrete/Gunite Pool Builder Forum

11 years ago

Here is an opinion of the major Charlotte,NC pool builders.

A&S: Big,corporate(went private a few years ago),light on construction supervision.Uses all subs here.Flooded the sales floor,prior to what will be the most competitive year in a decade.All Pentair equipment(DE filter).99% PebbleTec plaster.Most of the independant concrete pool builders in this area are former employees.Now they have their employees sign a non-compete clause,"they ain't goin nowhere".

The A&S in PA/NJ/NY is the original, and is vertically integrated and they build a great pool there.


B-H Pools:Vying with A&S for the most pools built in the Charlotte area.Corporate,but a franchise structure.Previous franchisee went out of business here appx. 20 years ago.Current franchise owner took over(appx. year 2000) when previous GM(who was previously with A&S)started his own gig(Pools by Design).Current franchise holder assumed full control in appx. year 2006.Charlotte office also covers Lancaster county,SC,and has a satellite office in Greenville/Spartanburg,SC(as A&S used to).

All Hayward equipment,Northstar,cartridge filter,gray plaster in the majority of pools,maybe with some quartz addded.Trying to start a pool pump horsepower war in the Carolinas


Carolina Aqua Sun A.K.A. Carolina Aqua Pools:Ex A&S management,all family run(mostly).Builds an A&S copy with all Jandy (DE)equipment,PebbleTec.May have the largest Charlotte area advertising budget of any pool builder in the area.May be running ridiculously low pricing on their pools this year.Can anyone connect the dots?


Carolina Blue Pools:Run by a former A&S employee from his funeral parlor in Wisconsin.Hayward equipment,gray plaster.


Pools By Design:Run by a former A&S GM,who was formerly with the Anthony Pools builder,Crystal Pools.Jandy equipment,usually gray plaster,usually non tumbled stone coping.


Aloha Pools:Buy out of an existing builder by the Jandy rep.All Jandy equipment,usually gray or other colored plaster.


Pelican Pools:Started by former B-H sales employees.Some of the most innovative designs in town.Mechanics of the pool are a copy of B-H's,as are the plaster and equipment.


Signature Pools:Their office is the old office of Integrity Pools.The construction manager is the previous owner of Integrity Pools.Owned by a pool electrical subcontractor until he changed the LLC from his wife to a neighbor.Integrity Pools never declared bankruptcy,they just went out of business,i.e. didn't pay their subs.One of their subs was the PebbleTec application company for the Charlotte area.Consequently,this company is banned from selling PebbleTec on their pools.

Uses some Jandy equipment or what ever is discounted or on sale at the time.

Are mainly seen building for homebuilders at spec homes in the area,just the clientele that you want during a housing deflation,eh(or is it ay?).


Artistic Pools: Ultra small,possibly unlicensed( pool permits not pulled) builder.


Independant Pools:A vinyl pool builder that has just gotten into concrete pools.


Artesian Pools:Does everything in-house.Can you say 6-9 months if you are lucky?Likes to install those wonderful MIP red handled chinese ball valves instead of Jandy 3-ways.


Charlotte Pool & Spas:Moved up from Florida,who can blame him,it's an economic wreck down there.Didn't check to see if his company name was the same as a 45 year old business on Central Avenue,Charlotte,NC.


Queen City Pools/Affordable Pools/Commercial Aquatics/Aquatic Services/Charlotte Shotcrete:Not building pools anymore under his own company,sorta unless you count Amenities Unlimited.


Southern Pools and Spa/A Cool Tan,Inc. :Started as a vinyl pool builder.Now that the commercial market is slowing down,will try to ramp up their fledgling residential business.Or how about pushing that tanning thing?

Comments (133)

  • rworthington

    Whoops, in the process of editing my post to meet the business criteria of this website, I made an ommission and do not know how to re-edit the post. I apologize for that error.

  • poolguynj


    We don't flog stand up guys.

    Welcome. This forum is a great resource for builders, customers and techs. Give freely and it will help you more than it helps those that you gave freely to.



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  • mikethepoolguy

    The poolanalyst has'nt responded to his own thread in 6weeks.

  • boneal14


    I could not add anything more to your comments. You are 110% correct about construction time lines, weather, customer expectations, etc. Completely educating potential clients prior to signing contracts is the only way to have a successful project. I have heard it all, as you:

    "They can have it completed in 4- 6 weeks"
    "They can start tomorrow"
    "Their system only takes one bag of salt a month" (Is that it? No balancing Chemicals?)
    "They can do the same as you, they have pretty pictures in their brochure" (Is that pool in Charlotte with the cactus in the background?)

    I know I cannot (or want) to build every pool in Charlotte; in fact I can only handle 10 15 pools a year (if I want to keep the workmanship to a higher standard and want to keep my hair). I am very pleased to see that someone preaches the same "pool talk" as I do, which is only common sense and the truth. I do not have a problem explaining to clients the lessons that I have learned through trial and error to explain how we got from then to now. I have stuck my neck on the line on some very complicated projects just to try something new and creative (and will continue to do so) which only makes us better. When I see a proposal from another company offering something that I know will become a long term problem, I call them out on it. I also explain that if you cannot afford an additional $10,000.00 - $15,000.00 to do it right, you are better off scaling the project or not doing it at all. Would you rather have a "Travertine Deck" with a settling pool or a nice decorative concrete deck with a pool which will not slide down the hill?

    I think that this is a great way for people to hear the facts about what we do, hear, and see throughout the industry. Normally, during a bid, this information goes in one ear and out the other when a client is wondering how high is this bid will be. I do want to put swimming pools on a higher standard in our area. I am tired on seeing the junk, and do I have some pictures!

    For the customers who are reading this, a pool on a higher standard does not mean building a $250,000.00 project. You can build a $40,000.00 pool on a higher standard which may only cost you $1,500.00 or so, but you will be so much happier down the road.

    Bryan O'Neal

  • poolguynj

    It's the "Down the road" vision that many miss. Sad but true. The pressures that are present often cause short sighted things to happen and increase the potential for animosity or buyer's remorse down the road.

    Those that have been through the process understand this.

  • mikethepoolguy

    As I have said before, when some pool builders collect the last check they never want to see that pool again. They look at the pretty waterfall and pat themselves on the back. Another job well done! Ha!

    I challenge every builder to go see the pools they built 5 and 10 years ago. Then ask the pool owners what they think of their work. Then you can decide what kind of builder you are. If you are scared to do this, then dont bother, you already know.

    This said, it seems many customers demand crap. The $40,000 pool doesnt get built nor the $41,500 pool, but instead the $38,500 pool.

    I never intend to make enemies, but when you make the same mistakes over & over again and refuse to learn or listen, I might accidentally let my tongue slip.

    Or maybe they are not mistakes but what the customer demanded. I just dont know any more.

  • poolguynj

    That goes to the "Why are some customers crazy?" thread. From the answers posted, I interpreted that we're all crazy and sanity has no place for some combinations of builder//buyer relationships.

    Besides, I wanted to be the 100th post on this thread.



  • wgs40

    What is a fair price to pay for a 400-500 sq. ft. pool with 40 sq. ft. hot tub. No decking, no landscape, no fence. Just pool. I would like stone coping around pool and stone on tub. Would like to figure out a way to heat with solar. Easy access to flat pasture lot on 3.5 acres in Weddington. Thanks.

  • mrn1

    Hey everyone, I live in upstate s.c. and am starting my search for a pool builder. Can you recommend anyone? Thanks

  • subfromcali

    Guess I had to sign in. As a sub-contractor for swimming pools, I hope my opinion matters.
    Get off the web and speak to them in person. Any moron can post good or bad on here. Take it from me, half still owe me $$$. SHHHHHHHHHHHH Brian.
    Check thier referral lists. Contact info should be provided. Just please talk in person like we use to, the web isn't fair. Most of the subs build the same pool, it just comes down to design, relationship and a strong warranty.
    One jaded sub that someone on here remembers.
    P.S. Guess I'm not the only one!B-O'something

  • poolanalyst

    Update for Spring of 2010:

    Greg Hergott, formerly the owner of Integrity Pools (with Steve Hughes) has graduated from Signature Pools and is now working for Overstream Landscapers-building pools.

    Bill Howell, formerly of Carolina Aqua Pools, has now formally filed for personal bankruptcy protection.

    Blue Haven Pools seems to be coming under the stress of the financial realities of the Great recession as is A & S.

  • poolguynj


    WRT to BHP, is that Corporate or the regional franchise?


  • poolshopper_yahoo_com

    I am trying to upload some pictures taken today 3-7-11 of a concrete shell on a Pelican Pools Job site.

    Seems as tho he is building his sun-shelf and a bench in the pool out of concrete block. This is just the start of how terrible this pool shell is.

    Pelican Pools also does not have a Builders License and is un able to pull permits in NC.

  • poolguynj

    Put them in a Photobucket album.

    Copy and paste the 3rd option, one per line.


  • poolguynj

    How are you involved in this build?


  • Rack Etear

    This is DIY (no offense to good ones) garbage.

  • bryan_fallingwaterpools_com

    The above pictures also show that it is new home construction. Shame on the builder who is letting this happen. They know better, but due the economy they are awarding the lowest bids only for their profit. This is going to be a major disaster once it is plastered, and a major expense to the homeowner in the future, far outweighing the cost to build it correctly the first time. Consumers need to be educated on the proper procedures on construction to avoid stuff like this. Even worse, the building inspection department will overlook this because their only conserns are grounding. bonding, electrical, fencing, and door alarms.

  • poolguynj

    The cinder block poster hasn't responded. Something is fishy.


  • poolshopper_yahoo_com

    I am not involved in this build what so ever! I am a local pool builder that has had problems with this builder in the past. I feel like everyone should see the garbage that he is actually putting out.

    I agree 100%.

    This job is on Belle Isle in Cornelius.

  • poolguynj

    So when the homeowner calls you and says what do I do, you tell him. It's not a problem for you but an opportunity in the making. Document everything. One of these days, you will sell against him. This is one of those rare instances where showing a picture you can substantiate was one of his builds to a client...


  • ncrealestateguy

    Is this a spec home or a custom home build? If it is a spec home, post the address here so I, nor any other agent, shows the home to unsuspecting buyers.

  • basnettj_bellsouth_net

    This is Jonathan from Pelican Pools and Spas. I have been watching this thread progress and typically would not entertain discussing matters with any person who hides behind annonimity but matters have now gone too far.The same person who has posted these photos has for the past year been hounding us and has been trying to sabatoge our company with malicious intent. In fact just today one of my clients that I am building for received an anonomous telephone call from someone who absolutely trashed us. This person hid their number and would not give their name or information. Fortunately we have a good enough rapore with the client and they trust us enough that they realised that something was fishy and they brushed them off and the caller landed up making a fool of himself. However, is this what we as pool builders want to be associated with??
    Surely when you read an annomous post from someone who who trashes another person and doesn't have the balls to give their information you must realise that something is not right.
    I am shocked and in disbelief that Brian from Falling waters jumped on the banwagon without knowing the full details, but at least he left his name and I can respect that. I have just called him and left a message to discuss what is going on at the site in question. Hopefully he will call me back. I have no problem discussing the subject when I know who I am talking to.

    These photos shown are just a glimse of a larger picture and have been taken so far out of context it is laughable. I am also astounded that none of the above posters have simply picked up the phone or e-mailed me and asked me what is going on if they are so offended by it. Surely in order to have an informed opinion, one has to get both sides of the story first?

    If anyone would like to hear the details at the job site, (potential clients included) please call me at 980 722 7199 and I will be happy to discuss matters with you.

    Anonomous posters trashing others should be taken with a grain of salt and paid no attention.

    P.S. I have no idea how to do a spell check on this so if there are any errors please forgive me. :)

  • poolguynj

    Like I said, something was fishy.

    Please do explain the badly laid cinder blocks.


  • ncrealestateguy

    I will hold off judgement for now. Maybe the homeowner wanted a sunshelf and bench really bad, and Johnathon and the owner were unable to come to agreements, so the owner did the work hisself.
    But until we hear the other side from Johnathon, all we have to go on are pics of a poorly constructed shelf and bench, that will not last.

  • ncrealestateguy

    To their credit, Pelican Pools has an A- rating with BBB.
    Johnathon, is the poster correct when he says you do not have the proper licensing?

  • boneal14

    Alright, here I go. The phone calls to clients and trashing a company is ridiculous. Whoever this guy is, I hope you spend as much time on your own jobs as you do others. On-site, owner supervision will probably help your final outcome, and please write me back and tell me that you do.

    Regarding the Pelican Pool, I think I also bid this project if it is on Belle Isle Rd. I sure hope the home contractor and pool builder went through the appropriate steps to ensure that the house and pool will not slide down the hill. I did receive a phone call from Jonathan from Pelican Pools and listening to a long message of scenarios and excuses, and there is a fix to the problem he has on his hands.

    I would recommend that providing step by step pictures as the repair is made. This will help warrant your project and make your competition feel better about your management, workmanship, and standards. There are few builders that I am impressed with and feel they are friendly competition including B & B pools and Artesian Pools, I don�t know enough about everyone else, so I don�t know. With that said, I still think I go through additional steps that make me feel better about what I provide to my clients.

    I�m not going to go into detail on how to fix this CMU and bad gunite day issue, but I would recommend a flexible protective coating and waterproofing barrier over all of the cold joints is the best and only solution. If the CMU is filled will gunite and plastered over, it will crack at the joints of the CMU. The pool will leak and it will be a costly repair.

    In fact, this is a perfect opportunity to again address what we do as contractors. I have spent 10 years educating and tweaking my process to provide my clients the best product as I can. Unfortunately, as you learn and develop better way to build something, your prices increase. If you have good morals, once you see how to do something better, it is impossible to go back, it�s like skipping a step. It is really tough to explain to clients the importance of taking additional steps to provide quieter equipment, prevent leaks and reduce the effects for efflorescence. I just completed a very high profile project working with Brian Van Bowers of Aquatic Consultants, Miami FL. He has made a worldwide name for himself by building and specifying his pools to a much higher standard than the normal. I learned a few good concepts from building his pool design, which I have adapted to all my projects and offer the "official" proper way as an upgrade. I now understand that I cannot build as many pools as the rest of the Charlotte Area companies, because it takes the right client to understand the importance of building something right and knowing that the up front cost far outweighs the long-term repair. In fact, I will eventually transition myself into a consultant/design company as consumers are educated and demand for better quality custom pools increase. I saw how Brian Van Bower was respected as the consultant and clients looked to his advise even thou solutions to situations were suggested by myself. Brian Van Bower did not spend as much time on the project as I thought, but I also believe that he knew I had the project under control.

    I would like to challenge all builders who read this to experiment with better products and search to build your pools to a higher standard. You know what it takes, read the installation manuals and read the articles provided to us. I know there is a better way to improve what we do, and I will continue to spread the truth and hopefully get our Charlotte Area pool industry working on better standards. Let�s get out of the 1980�s and build something worth giving to a consumer.

    Bryan O'Neal 704-506-7806

  • Pool_2011

    What does a 16x32 gunite swimming pool with pebbletec cost for Charlotte, NC? I have bids coming in but, want to know what to expect.

  • poolguynj


    Please start a new thread.


  • womanowned

    Personally I would disregard everything that Poolanayst has posted. Saying builders are fronts for a dope ring or every Caucasian worker is a druggie should discount his opinion for anyone. What I do think this shows, though, is that buyers are starved for information when it comes to finding a reputable pool builder. I don't build in the area, but there does seem to be a need for a good source of information. Like poolguyNj said, it is probably best to start a new thread asking others for their experiences. Ignore everything posted by poolanalyst...something is strange about that guy. Be careful, though, to get your recommendations from pool owners and not pool builders. There's a character in my town (PB) that refers others to his buddies and vice versa. Best to get your info from actual owners.

  • y2khardtop

    How about an updated list. Superior, Pool by Design, Pelican, and any others. You seem to hate Superior, and I'd love to know why. Who would YOU use?

  • Houseofsticks

    I just received a quote from Carolina Custom Pools for the Rock Hill area. Anyone have any experience? Is there another York area pool builder (shotcrete) I should be contacting for a bid?

  • staf74


    We just a quote today from Carolina custom pool also. Andy Smith did our neighbors pool 4 years ago and it still looks brand new. We thought we'd get a quote. Liked the alpine lake 400 sq foot. no frills but did go for pebbletec. regular brick coping and 400 sq ft of concrete around it. 31K is the quote. Andy is the first person we have spoken to and seems a really nice guy. Have no idea if that is competitive or not. Can anyone chime in?

  • SueWantsToSwim

    I'm at the beginning phases of putting a pool in.
    So far, from what I've gleaned from this thread, I need to make sure to not use gunite, look into the A&A AVSC unblockable single channel drain, use either a Hayward or Jande pump (no cheap red handled valves) and try to get in touch with the subs to make sure they're getting paid.
    Anything else?
    I've had a few people out now, with varying (yet always interesting) outcomes. We're down to choosing between Ozone and PBD.

    Any intel on either of these that I need to know?

    PBD said tried to steer me away from PebbleTech, Travertine, and a salt system in favor of marble glaze, concrete (processed with salt and divots to keep it cool), and their own Algae Inhibitor system. However, they did say they'd do whatever I wanted to.
    Ozone uses Subs, Pebble Sheen, Travertine, and salt (if I want).
    Ballpark numbers were shockingly different, but I'm not going to say how except that it was a $15-$20,000 difference for an under $80,000 pool (no spa)

    Also, IRT getting a survey done. Is there a markup going through the PB? Should I just get one done myself?

    Thanks for all your help!

  • poolguynj

    There isn't anything wrong with either deck type when done correctly.

    I prefer Jandy over Hayward for a full system, not just the pump.

    Beware of the Algae Inhibitor stuff. A salt cell is recommended.

    If the subs are good, so what? Talent isn't exclusive to those that do it in house.


  • SueWantsToSwim

    Thanks, Scott.
    How does a buyer know whether or not the subs are good? What do I need to look for/ask?

  • poolguynj

    Visit pools the builder built. Talk to homeowners. Ask the builder about all types of customers, good and bad. Seeing the work they did or are doing (in the process of being built) helps. Asking what went wrong or differently than expected helps too.

    Note about subs: The builder may not have as much say in the sub's time line for getting things done. Weather and work load will play a part.


  • finled

    Question for the experts here. My Shotcrete pool was finished January 2011. The builder managed the water Chemistry till February 2011. In late Feb I noticed what appeared to be large areas of darkness in the plaster. It was too cold to investigate and I did bring it to the attention of my local Charlotte pool builder- He said they would send someone out as it looked like the finish was crumbling.

    They never really have addressed this outside of the owner telling me it was a water chemistry problem about 6 months ago. Due to some he alt issues I did not pursue.

    Now, it has gotten worse and I firmly believe it is shotty plastering, but need to prove it. The areas of darkness in the photos are very rough indicating much of the white plaster has be lifted in the dark areas. My cleaner very often id full of what seems to be plaster. The chemistry has always been reasonable and in fact this happened a few weeks after they finished managing the chemistry. Since it continues to worsen and I seem to be capturing a bunch of plaster each week- I assume it is still decaying.

    this is my second in ground Shotcrete pool- I never had this kind of issue with the first one.

    Take a look at the Pictures- Any help is greatly appreciated- and yes I am getting two estimates to fix this, but I really don't think I should pay. I believe my Pool company should fix rather than dodge the issue.

  • poolguynj

    Sorry to tell you but I don't think it was defective plaster or application. That streak looks chemical in nature.


  • empireRCS

    I want to add a free form hot tub to my existing pool. Any legit company that would like to discuss the job may call me at 828-855-4090.

  • JJSouth

    I know this is an old post but I would like to know who built that tanning ledge. My pool is being renovated and it looks exactly like that. Am I headed for trouble due to the build?

  • JJSouth

    another shot

  • PRO
    Aqua-Link Pools and Spas

    Gravel is an acceptable fill material. Although I've never seen block used like that to retain gravel inside a pool. I would have used bags of gravel as a filler. If the block shifted for some reason would be my only concern. Although it probably won't but why take the chance? Of course I would normally just fill it with solid Shotcrete . By the time I pay my masons to do that much work on that small of a thermal shelf I could have shotcreted for the same price.
    The rebar work looks terrible!

  • JJSouth

    Thank you 94! I was afraid that something was off. Since this post is so old I am going to start a new thread. I have a few more issues that seem off. I would appreciate any advice by professionals!

  • JJSouth

    Pools94 I have started a new thread here.

    I welcome any and all comments!


  • uniondawg

    Charlotte and vicinity prospective pool buyers beware...stay away from Artisan Pools and Spas and Earthworks out of Kannapolis, NC (same owner). Just a complete horror show.

  • HU-69721837

    Im posting on this to bring this thread back to life. Lots of good information here. I just saw this post from Uniondawg and feel kind of relieved. Artisian is one of the pool builders I wanted to get a quote from. He didnt seem to want the business. We live out of state, and are building in the Charlotte area. I told him we were coming in for a few days for the sole purpose of meeting with a few pool builders and he couldnt find an hour to give me, even a month out. I felt like I was begging him to take my business. After asking about three different times on two different days and being met with, "thats family time, or Im pretty sure im booked" it was obvious to me he wasnt interested in my business. He was very nice, but strange behavior for a business man. Too many other pool builders in the area to be dealing with that. Plenty of other reputable pool builders out there that want the business.

  • HU-875605723

    The pool builder has agreed to fix issues so taking the original review down.

  • PRO
    Aqua-Link Pools and Spas

    It appears you have a structural crack in your pool shell.

    The deck heaving is caused by expansive soil. The same soil could be what is making your pool crack. When decks and pools are not engineered to the soils they are sitting in it puts tremendous pressure on the structure and there is not enough resistance from the structural steel of the pool or deck to resist that.

    Even if they continually fix the cosmetic issues it will happen again and again until the soil is remediated.

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