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Friday, Jan 27, 2023
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Contractor In Deep With Rush to Build Pools

Jeremy Fletcher got into the backyard pool business on a fluke: He needed to earn a temporary living during the day so he could devote his evenings to what he considered his “real” career, playing drums in a grunge band. A quarter century later and Fletcher Pools has become that “real” business, sustaining Fletcher and his family over the years as he designed, constructed and remodeled pools in the San Fernando Valley and later throughout Southern California. Along the way, he weathered the recession and a steep drop in business from which he’s only recently recovered. But he fears his Northridge business will not last if the drought continues – and he’s not alone. “Throughout the industry, all the contractors and tradespeople are terrified that swimming pool construction permits are going to stop being issued,” he said. Surprisingly, his immediate concern is how to handle all his recent business, which has skyrocketed since the drought has worsened – and drawn more and more news coverage. While the Metropolitan Water District has not put a moratorium on pool construction or filling yet – preferring to incentivize lawn removal and restrict outdoor watering – the prospect of such a ban has prompted homeowners who have long wanted a pool to finally commit to construction. New clients typically ask him about whether there are restrictions on new-pool construction and, when he tells them there are none for now, they green light the project. “I think people are worried and they’re hoping to get their pools in the ground and beat the restrictions,” he said. “It’s an odd thing. I thought the drought would sort of kill business because people would say, ‘Let’s not build a pool.’ But I’m ridiculously busy right now, for the first time since the recession. I’ve got more pools than I know what to do with.” The drought also has altered his business as a handful of cities across the state have issued rules restricting refilling of pools or requiring homeowners to use evaporation-preventing covers. The covers are rolled out on recessed tracks and stop evaporation when the pool is not in use. They are expensive, adding as much as $7,000 to $12,000 to the typical cost of $45,000 to $75,000. Still, Fletcher is incorporating them into more of his designs than ever before. “People are asking for them with almost every bid that I do, even though they’re only available to be installed on rectangular pools,” he said. – Karen E. Klein

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