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Pool builders say unexpected challenges are delaying many residential pools until next year

Pool & Spa Depot swimming pool
Pool & Spa Depot sign
Posted at 3:06 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 19:32:37-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Summer's here and so is pool season. But if you were hoping to get a pool in your backyard this summer, you may be out of luck.

It turns out, pool builders have run into all sorts of delays this year, many, they say, they never could have predicted.

But that's not making it any easier for folks who were counting on swimming in their backyards this summer.

Gina and Eddie Roberts' backyard has been the place to be every summer since they put in an above-ground pool back in 2004. Last year, they decided to upgrade.

Pool & Spa Depot Customers - the Roberts

"He wanted an in-ground pool for his grandbabies. He had a new grandson and he wanted lifetime memories with that pool," Gina Roberts recalled.

Eddie even designed it, kidney-shaped and six feet deep with a deck. The Roberts put a downpayment on that $50,000 pool last fall.

"I thought we would have our pool by Memorial Day," she shared.

But they still haven't even broken ground on it yet.

"It has been extremely frustrating," their daughter, Savannah Spain, explained.

Peter Von Hopffgarten, the owner of Pool & Spa Depot, said, "It’s the swimming pool industry as a whole."

Pool & Spa Depot owner Peter Von Hopffgarten

The Roberts bought their pool at Pool & Spa Depot.

Von Hopffgarten called 2021 the most challenging year he's ever seen in the pool business. Incredibly, if you buy one now, he said, you probably won't be swimming in it until next summer.

"It’s tough for me to even say that out loud after 25 years of being able to tout a 6 to 8 week lead time which is our normal average," he shared.

"And now it’s close to a year?" we asked.

"Yes, it’s close to a year, yes," he replied.

He explained that as people have spent more time at home, the demand for swimming pools has doubled. Yet, like many businesses, he's had trouble getting workers.

Add to that, delays with immigration that have kept his usual seasonal workers from returning to Nashville.

Then remember the big freeze in Texas? It shut down a plant that produces a chemical used to make the fiberglass and plastics used in pools while it's been tough getting other key supplies from China because of shipping delays caused by the pandemic.

And then, we had one of the wettest Marches on record. And Von Hopffgarten said his crews can't dig pools in mud.

"So all of this has put you way behind?" we asked.

"Yes! Yes," he answered emphatically.

He knows customers are not happy and he has gone online trying to explain what's causing the delays, hoping they'll understand.

"We could never have anticipated some of these obstacles that have come in our way," he said.

For Gina Roberts and her daughter, it's been beyond disappointing. "This will be the first year that we do not have a pool to host anything," Spain said wistfully.

On top of that, her father, Eddie Roberts, died in January from Covid and his family said this pool was all he really wanted. Now they can't wait until his backyard dream becomes reality, whenever that finally is.

Pool & Spa Depot has offered refunds to customers who don't want to wait any longer so they can go elsewhere. Some of the smaller contractors, the company acknowledged, have not been hit as hard by some of these delays. And in the end, that's what Gina Roberts and her daughter decided to do.