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Thinking of buying a pool? What to know before taking the plunge

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Pandemic staycations brought a spike in demand for pools and hot tubs in Manitoba – a demand that is still going strong. Nevertheless, a group looking to change the industry says there are a few things potential buyers should know before taking the plunge.

"We are seeing a great trend of continued excitement for the staycation," said Kathi Belcourt, the director of sales and service at Aqua-Tech Pools in Winnipeg.

"It's not as busy as it was during the COVID crunch, but we also have much more access to the materials to fulfill the needs and dreams of everyone."

Belcourt said the company is currently booking into June for pool construction, just in time for kids to get out of school she noted. Belcourt added the company has caught up from the backlog it faced during COVID.

The first dig date is scheduled for April 15, though the weather could have an impact on that.

"We could be delayed by a couple of weeks, but because we have five crews going all the time, all we need is a few days of some sunshine and then we can catch up."

LCL Spas, which deals with hot tubs, is also preparing for another busy summer.

"People are more aware of hot tubs, there's been so many put out into the marketplace. And, you know, people are still looking to improve their homes and enjoy relaxation at home," said Jay Breckman, the general manager at LCL Spas in Winnipeg.

He said during COVID, people were willing to spend a little bit more money on their homes – a trend that has continued. Even with some pandemic setbacks, Breckman said the company was able to keep up with the demand.

"We were fortunate with most of our suppliers, the supply chain kept rolling. I would say that it was several months longer during the height of COVID, but now it's normalizing and the timeframes have come down."

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW WHEN BUYING A POOL OR HOT TUB

Both Belcourt and Breckman said it's important potential customers do their research before buying a pool or hot tub to make sure they are hiring a good reputable company.

It is an important step to make sure Manitobans get what they pay for, according to the Manitoba chapter of the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada (PHTCC).

Chris Rowan, president of the council, said resources have been available for years to help consumers.

The council has a membership program that companies can apply for, providing customers with a list of reputable companies in their area. Rowan said member companies undergo a background check and a yearly review to ensure they are still in good standing. He said this means all the research into a company is already done for the consumer.

"Unfortunately, in the past, you kind of tell people to do their research, make sure companies have their own insurance. You look at Google reviews, you see what kind of history they have," said Rowan.

"If you hire a company that's part of the PHTCC, you already know that a background check is done on them and an annual review is done on them too."

'HEY, WE'RE CHANGING THE INDUSTRY': THE BENEFITS FOR CUSTOMERS AND COMPANIES

Rowan said at this point, there is no industry-wide proper building standards for pool companies, but that could change.

As more companies join PHTCC – a membership costs $585 plus taxes annually – he said the pool industry becomes closer to having proper building standards.

He said part of the membership includes online training courses.

"To a consumer, if they're hiring a company that's obviously doing these training courses on top of being insured and credible, you also hire more educated workers in the field that they're doing business in," Rowan said.

Rowan said there are 12 companies registered with the council in Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan so far in 2023. He expects more companies to join in the near future.

"It's a network that creates higher standards for every business in the pool industry," he said. "So what we're trying to do is let the world know that, 'Hey, we're changing the industry.'"

"Unfortunately, a few bad apples have tainted (the industry) a little bit. But there is the opportunity to do your research within the PHTCC, to verify you are hiring a good reputable company when you're making such a large purchase."

LCL Spas and Aqua-Tech are part of the PHTCC membership program. Breckman said LCL Spas is part of the program thanks to the code of ethics it has for the industry and the training courses for employees to take the next steps in their careers.

Belcourt said Aqua-Tech has chosen the membership not only to keep employees educated, but also to help consumers get educated about the pool industry.

"What we really care about is educating the consumer and having a customer relationship because people who are educated will make the right decision," said Belcourt.

Membership applications as well as a list of registered members can be found on the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada's website.

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