Aquatics Blog

Buying Direct or Through a Contractor? What’s Right for You?

On both large and small commercial pool construction projects, owners have multiple options when it comes to purchasing operating equipment. Most commercial swimming pools are designed and constructed “turn-key,” meaning everything needed to run the pool is 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 pool chemicals. chemBut turn-key is just one of many delivery methods. Another popular method involves owners purchasing items directly from wholesalers or manufacturers. Like most aspects of the construction process, the sooner this is communicated to the design team, the better.

Pools are delivered to the owner turn-key because it helps the project get through the construction review process. Local health departments and other review entities will want to verify that all necessary maintenance and safety equipment is on-hand when it comes time to open and operate the facility. If an owner purchases directly, these items typically still need to be included in the construction documents to obtain necessary building permits. Owners should coordinate with their designers to ensure health departments and building authorities understand that requirements will be met.

Purchasing Direct:

  • Allows owners to specifically choose their products. Often times, general contractors supply the lowest bid product. If you prefer one product over another, purchasing direct allows you to make that decision for yourself.
  • Allows owners to easily provide input on quantities of product while placing the order. This is a big draw for facilities with limited storage space.
  • If done right, purchasing direct should save the owner money. Contractors sometimes mark up products as part of the construction process.

Items Typically Purchased Direct:

  • boardLarge play features like waterslides and aquatic play structures. These are typically installed by the manufacturer regardless of who purchases it.
  • Scoreboards in competitive venues.
  • Maintenance and safety equipment.

Why Turn-Key Might Be Good For You:

  • Purchasing direct requires a lot of research to ensure you're purchasing the right items. Additionally, it requires you to be budget and spending-savvy so your purchases are good things for your bottom line. Contractors tend to have the in-depth technical understanding or prior experience necessary to make smart product decisions. This isn't always the case for facility owners.
  • Purchasing direct also requires negotiation skills to secure fair pricing. Without a skilled negotiator or buying power, the process can lead to higher costs and lower-quality products.

Don’t think you can do this on your own? Hire a professional to help you navigate the process. With a professional, you often gain negotiating power as part of a larger entity. This should automatically qualify you for prices that even the most skilled negotiators will not be able to obtain. Look for a professional that has a wide range of supplier relationships and has your best inerest at heart when it comes to operations products.


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