Capital Region pool companies getting busy already

Don’t count winter out just yet, but . . .

Don’t count winter out just yet, but . . .

Well, yeah, count it out — the first new backyard swimming pools started going in the ground across the Capital Region this week.

It will be a while before anyone can swim in them, or will want to swim in them, but the week before St. Patrick’s Day is very early to start building an in-ground pool in upstate New York. Local pool installers say they’ve seldom or never done work in mid-March.

“It’s the earliest start we’ve had in the history of us installing pools,” said Jamie Georgelos, pool manager for Amsterdam-based Alpin Haus, which has been in the pool business since the mid-1970s.

He said that on Wednesday, after his crew had dug out a 12-by-24-foot pool, set its steel walls and poured its concrete floor behind a home on Watervliet-Shaker Road in Latham. Today, they’ll be installing the liner. It would be physically possible to fill it with water and jump in Saturday, but not practical, never mind the chilly weather forecast for the weekend — a lot more has to be completed, including the electrical work and deck, plus the fence required by state law.

But the splashing could begin fairly soon, provided there’s a little more warm weather.

“Everybody’s asking for it this early,” Georgelos said. “I think everybody’s done with winter. I’ve never seen this much activity so early.

“With the lack of snow, it’s fostering a good spring business for us.”

Caribbean Pools and Spas in Rotterdam has already done two pools this week: in Halfmoon on Monday and Slingerlands on Wednesday. Company owner Dean Attanasio said he didn’t start excavating until April 8 in both 2015 and 2014.

He said he can start a pool right at the end of a hard winter, just punch right through the frost in the ground with the big excavator, but he has to take care not to backfill with any icy chunks of earth, because they can cause settling. That’s not an issue in March 2016.

“This year there’s no frost in the ground at all,” he said.

Consumer interest is keen, Attanasio said, thanks perhaps to a strong economy as well as the unwinterlike winter.

“Our sales are triple this year; we have 12 to do right now.”

Attanasio said a typical in-ground residential pool can run anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 depending on size, options and geology — clay soil has to be replaced during the installation, raising the cost.

He’s looking forward to more early season work.

“We worked in the rain all day Monday but today was beautiful,” he said Wednesday afternoon.

Chris Gardner, manager of Casual Living Pools in Glenville, said his subcontractor dug two pools Wednesday, next-door neighbors in Saratoga, making this an early start. “Last year was late, the previous year was back in April,” he said. “I think this is the third or fourth time we’ve started in March.”

Those two Saratoga pools should be done by the first week of April, if work can progress at a normal pace.

“After these two, we have six to start. The next one is in Ballston Lake.”

Possible roadblocks

But Gardner said it won’t be all smooth sailing for pool builders, even though spring officially starts Sunday.

“You can’t do concrete if it’s going to rain the next day,” he said. “You can’t do a liner if it’s 35, 40 degrees — you’re stretching virgin vinyl.

“You’re kind of at the mercy of the weather.”

Gardner said the early consumer demand for pools this year might be one of those snow-in-the-backyard reactions: People see snow in their backyard and think of going skiing. If they don’t see snow, they start thinking about warm weather and backyard recreation. This would include him, and he got a nasty surprise last weekend while digging out a flower bed: A tick bite.

Pool builders aren’t the only ones getting a jump on their season.

Reach business editor John Cropley at 395-3104, [email protected] or @cropjohn on Twitter.

Categories: -News-, Business, Schenectady County

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