Pandemic backlog means continuing to wait for Upstate pool customers today | Greenville Real Estate Special Coverage

If you call a luxury private pool builder in the Greenville area today, it can even take months for them to sit down and evaluate your potential project. And if you can keep up with their schedule, don’t expect heavy equipment to arrive in the backyard and start digging until spring 2023 at the earliest.

Indeed, Upstate may be a long way from the quarantines that changed the course of the national swimming pool industry that once slumped in the spring of 2020. But the initial crush of orders due to the pandemic was so great that pool and spa companies in Greenville and elsewhere are still working on a long pile of projects that are clashing with continued rising demand, resulting in months of waits for projects to begin. , much less finished.

Zach Sikkelee/Provided

“With the sales boom in pools, whether you’re a high-volume builder or a custom builder like us, I think everyone is still riding the wave of the pandemic,” said Zach Sikkelee, vice president of Signature Luxury Pools. and Outdoor Living in Greenville. “The extremely high demand after this initial surge in pool sales has had our phone ringing for several years and people asking around.”

Sikkelee said that Signature’s workload is still broad, and managing its project backlog is exacerbated by supply chain issues that make it difficult to obtain some pool equipment parts. And while the labor market remains strong nationally, ready-made pool builders are not easy to find. While new sales have slowed somewhat due to rising interest rates and higher material costs, all these projects already in place mean potential pool owners continue to face a very long wait.

“All the sales have accumulated so much that if you come today, we won’t be able to meet for a few months to even look at the project,” Sikkelee said. “And then don’t expect construction to start until the second quarter of next year.”

Pandemic-induced pool explosion

The coronavirus pandemic changed everything for a pool and spa industry that lost sales volume due to the lingering effects of the 2008 recession. Americans stuck at home during quarantines have struggled to maximize their living space, including their backyards. Decks, patios, open kitchens, high-end landscaping – all have seen an uptick following the onset of the pandemic. But the demand for swimming pools has outstripped them all.

In 2020, 96,000 new in-ground residential pools were built, the highest number in a decade, according to the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, and new in-ground pool construction increased by almost 24 percent from 2019 to 2020. 1.25 million new residential pools were created in 2020, followed by Florida and Texas.

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According to PK Data Inc., more than 50 percent of new pool sales in 2020 were in Southern states, including 1,160 new in-residential pools and 3,896 above-ground pools built in South Carolina in 2020. According to a project published in 2019 by data scientist Erin Schwab, a swimming pool bed in Palmetto State appears to be Pickens County – home to multiple luxury real estate properties on the shores of Keowee Lake, where he found 27.5 pools for each of the county. 1,000 residents, the second highest in the state.

That number has almost certainly increased sharply since then, and the effort to make these projects come true is in Westlake, La. Sikkelee said demand for the parts needed to turn a chlorine pool into salt water was followed by a slowdown in the supply chain, which negatively impacted the purchase of pumps, filters, heaters, values ​​and other plumbing equipment.

“There seemed to be something different every week for a while,” he added. “This seems to have gotten better, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

The Louisiana chlorine plant plans to go online again in August. But that doesn’t help keep the search for pool builders a very niche part of the construction business. “There are so many nuances and quirks in pool construction that you can rarely find builders unless you move from another state,” Sikkelee said. “Qualified help is often difficult to find. People who can activate the production ramp on the first day of employment, this is unrealistic. It may take months or years for them to really gain enough experience to help you move the needle.”

Pool for $9 million home

The Sikkelee family saw firsthand the long view of the pool industry in the Upstate. Craig Sikkelee, Zach’s father and president and founder of Signature, began selling above-ground pools in the late 1970s off White Horse Road in Grenville. The company has since grown into a premium pool and outdoor living company serving Upstate and Western North Carolina, known for its elaborate creations that include fountains, waterfalls, rock walls, lighting and much more.

One of Signature’s pools sits outside the home at 455 McKinney Road in Simpsonville, part of a 38-acre property that closed on June 24 for a record sale price of $8,999,861 for Upstate. Signature’s team worked with Gabriel Builders, who built the main house and pool house, and landscape architect J. Dabney Peeples to create a large Bahamas-inspired rectangular pool surrounded by a series of bubbling fountains.

“It was a fun project. It was a very abnormally large pool,” recalls Zach Sikkelee. “But yeah, it was absolutely fantastic to be part of a good team running a beautiful project on a large estate in Simpsonville.”

Of course, this house was built in 2015 – in earlier times when it comes to the swimming pool industry. Today, in the Greenville subway as elsewhere, patience is as important as water and concrete in a pool project.

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