5 On Your Side

Pool company goes belly up; homeowner out nearly $100,000

Posted September 11, 2008 5:20 p.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2008 10:40 p.m. EDT

— Having a backyard swimming pool is a dream for a lot of homeowners. When several of them didn't get what they paid for from Blue Water Pools, they called 5 on Your Side.

The Apex company has an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau. "Sometimes you just kind of deal with it. Other nights, you cry," Zebulon homeowner Elise Collins said.

Last December, Collins hired Blue Water Pools, run by brothers Joe and Dan McLean.

By April, Collins had paid the McLeans more than $52,000. Then, in May, with only a shell of a pool, an unfinished deck and pipes sticking out of the ground, the work stopped.

After repeated unanswered telephone calls, Collins went to Joe McLean's house. He told her Blue Water Pools was out of business.

"It's been really rough. It's been really rough,” Collins said.

What is worse, other pool contractors tell Collins, much of what the McLeans did do needs to be re-done. For example, the hot tub has problems.

"He kind of bragged that nobody ever puts this many jets into a hot tub. But now we're learning there's a reason nobody ever puts this many jets in. It just doesn't work," Collins said. "We've actually had people tell us to just fill it in. I can't do it. We paid $10,000 for this hot tub. I can't just fill it in."

Two more customers, who each paid at least $20,000, also complained to 5 on Your Side. The McLeans left both homeowners with giant holes in their yards.

"The last thing that Joe McLean said to us was, if it was any consolation to us, our pool was farther along than the other victims that had showed up at his house," Collins said.

When 5 on Your Side talked with Joe Mclean, he blamed the "economy" saying, "The price of everything went up." In spite of Collins' writing most of her checks directly to Dan McLean, he told 5 on Your Side that he was only an employee of Blue Water Pools – not an owner.

As for Collins' pool, estimates to finish it top $58,000. So the total cost for her pool is gong to be about $100,000.

"Yeah. Which is ridiculous," she said.

Collins realizes she won't get any refunds from the McLeans. She just wants to warn others.

"I don't want them to ever do this to another human being," she said.

Turns out, Dan McLean has a new business, Endless Summer Pools, that was advertised on Craigslist.

Neither of the McLeans is licensed by the Licensing Board for General Contractors, which is required for construction work costing more than $29,000.

Collins said she didn't check any references when she hired Blue Water Pools. She said she won't make that mistake again.