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Should I buy direct instead of through the contractor?

On a large or small commercial construction project, the owner has a couple options on how to purchase all the equipment necessary to operate a swimming pool. Most commercial swimming pools are designed and constructed “turn-key”, meaning everything that you will need to run your swimming pool will be provided by the contractor as part of the construction process. This includes items like first-aid kits, lifeguard stands, and the first 30-days’ worth of chemicals for a pool. chemTurn-Key is one of many delivery methods on a project, however, one of the other popular delivery methods for some items would be for the owner to purchase items direct from wholesalers (or manufacturers). Like many other aspects of the construction process, the sooner that this can be communicated to the design team the better it typically works. One of the reasons why pools are delivered to the owner turn-key, is the fact that it helps get the project through the construction review process. The local health department or other reviewing entities will want to verify that all the necessary maintenance and safety equipment to operate is on hand when the facility opens. If an owner is going to purchase directly, these items typically still need to be included in the construction documents to obtain the necessary building permits, and needs to be coordinated with designer for permit sets so health departments and building authorities understand that requirements will be met. Here are some reasons why an owner should purchase products directly:

  • Purchasing direct allows the owner to choose products specifically. Often times the General Contractor is just supplying the lowest bid product rather than product preferred by the owner.
  • Purchasing direct allows the owner to easily have input on quantities as they are actually placing the order. This can help on facilities with limited storage area.
  • Purchasing direct, if done right, should save the owner money, as a contractor will mark up the product as part of the construction process.

Items that are typically purchased direct include:

  • boardLarge play features like waterslides and aquatic play structures (as these are typically installed by the manufacturer regardless of who purchases it).
  • For competitive venues, scoreboards are often purchased direct.
  • Maintenance and safety equipment.

While there are some key advantages to this type of delivery method, often times the owner still decides to construct their swimming pool turn-key for the following reason:

  • Purchasing direct takes research to know what items need to be purchased, and some savviness for the purchase to be a good thing on the bottom line. An owner needs a rather in depth technical understanding of the products and/or prior experience with that specific product to make sure they are ordering quality products.
  • Purchasing direct requires negotiating skills to be able to secure good pricing. Without a skilled negotiator or buying power, this process could lead to higher costs on lower quality products.

Don’t think you can do this on your own? Hire a professional to help you navigate this process. By hiring a professional organization, you often will actually gain negotiating power as part of a larger entity. This should automatically qualify you for prices that even the most skilled negotiated would not be able to obtain. Look for a professional that that has a wide range of relationships with suppliers and is looking out for your best interest in products.

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