Shoddy pool bottoms and unresponsiveness.

When we purchased this property it came with an in-ground pool. The first summer (2015) we were somewhat skeptical that we would keep the pool and made multiple jokes about turning it into a catfish pond or filling it in and replacing it with tomatoes or a dirt bike track. Low and behold, we found we quite liked the pool and the maintenance was really no big deal. However, we realized it was not quite built to what we would want. The pool descended to a 6 foot depth and we are not tall people nor would there ever be any diving. Plus, the pool only had a single main drain which, in the time  since it was built, is no longer up to code. Code requires two main drains for safety.

As part of the initial statement of work (SoW) we were adding a cover to the pool. Landfare also has a sister company called Blu Pools. (See elsewhere where I’ll talk about the entire John Spayde empire.) Being early in the project and not knowing what I would know later, I asked for a SoW addition to level the bottom of the pool to roughly 3 feet 6 inches and add a second main drain for safety.

Blu Pools had what I thought was a lead partner, (owner?) that was leading the project. We’ll call him Doug. He was presented to me as a industry veteran and I believe a partner in Blu Pools. (Note, Doug has since left the company and I cannot find evidence as to why. He’s selling real estate now so far as I can tell.)  However, Doug was not in charge of pool bottom project. This was up to Josh. Doug did oversee some of the pool’s plumbing needs and electrical needs. Doug’s work was generally quite good.

Let’s take a quick look at how a vermiculite and Portland cement (sometimes called pool crete) pool bottom SHOULD be poured. Notice how they are doing one continuous pour with troweling the entire way to ensure a smooth bottom. What did Landfare do? First, they under purchased the pool crete and had to do 3 pours as they had to keep running back to the store for more bags. It’s ~$40 a bag. I assume having a few extra bags on hand was not not something someone wanted to pay for…. or they were bad at estimating.

What this resulted in was terrible seams and unevenness in the floor as with no singular pour there were seems. Then, they didn’t tool the seams well. How did they remedy this issue? An angle grinder of course! In 6 or so hours on a Saturday, Josh took a 4″ angle grinder and eye balled smoothing out the pool floor. He didn’t use a large concrete floor grinder which are sometimes used for these types of tasks. This resulted in a pool floor  that was terribly uneven and very apparent to people in the pool. (I found out toes are surprisingly sensitive.) One would think a good final screed of a very thin coat of pool crete would be another method. Nope. So the pool bottom is a mess. As is a theme in my blog, guess who inspected the pool floor before putting in the liner to make sure it was done properly? No one! Or if they did inspect it, they didn’t care to fix it or had low standards.

Insult to injury… one morning I am talking with Zach about the pool project. I was told, oh, Doug is too nit picky and overly agonizes on making sure the pool bottom is perfectly smooth. It sounds like they should have let Doug do the work even if his inconvenient demands for attention to detail were a buzz kill.

All of this happened early in 2016. We wanted to get some use out of the pool that summer and not have to wait to have the bottom done yet again. I mention this to John and he tells me how bad he feels about it and he’ll make it right. He feels so bad about it in fact that he tells me he’ll put it in writing. He’ll get me a physical document. I say, that’s not necessary, an email should suffice. John claims he is a man of his word. Great. I am thinking at least this will get dealt with in time. However, the email never comes.

My trust in Landfare was destroyed at this point. There were enough cracks in their facade that I was consistently making sure they followed through and did their work. I followed up with John. Another week or two went by. I followed up again. I talked to Zach and asked whatever happened to this email John had promised. Zach says he himself followed up with John and couldn’t understand why he was taking so long. I email John on day 33 (June 20, 2017) to follow up. No response. Their work is consistently obviously poor at this point and to not have even a response from John puts me on high alert. I can’t trust a thing he says as an email is an extremely basic 10 minute task. 48 days later I am FINALLY able to get a response. John didn’t say he was busy and would get back to me. John didn’t say anything for 48 days. This is the entirety of his response.

Hi {BubbaDuck}, this email is to reiterate my full intention sometime in the fall of 2017 to remove the existing liner of your swimming pool and grind the existing vermiculite to create a more uniform level while minimizing the amount of existing “bumps” that are below the existing liner on the floor of the pool. The existing liner will then be reinstalled after these adjustments have been made. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Zach Miller will be in touch with you regarding the scheduling of this adjustment which will be at no cost to you. Sincerely, John Spayde Landfare Ltd.

One would think he was writing a 50 page treatise on molecular biology in outer space to take this long to even acknowledge me let alone respond with what he promised. Nope. Four sentences. Not only that, we’re back to grinding which worked so spectacularly well the first time. I have no expectation that they would use a large grinder as we see here which would work similarly to a floor sander giving a uniform surface. Maybe they would, but I was not willing to take the chance. I asked them to pay for another contractor of my choice or refund my money so I could find someone to fix the issue rather than Landfare. Based on Landfare’s track record, I was not about to let them to apply their loose standards and poor quality control on another attempt. I just needed the pool bottom fixed. To this request John Spayde said, I quote, “You’re crazy {BubbaDuck}”. I never heard from him again.

Professionalism 1 star

All in all, so far as I can tell, Zach dismissed Doug as being too much of a perfectionist and I got a crappy pool floor. No one inspected the work or if they did, they have very low standards or didn’t feel like remedying. John didn’t follow through on his commitments with a client who has been up front about their frustration and disappointment in Landfare’s work. Then when John does follow up, it is cursory at best and not timely at all. To me, Landfare’s behavior indicates they don’t care about their customers or the quality of their work.

Once I have the liner dropped this coming summer, I hope to post photos with some straight edges and bubble levels.

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