This is a lengthy review but two seasons and $120k isn't like having the windows replaced.
Our pool is circa 1971 measuring 20x40 plus an 11ft circle on the corner and has been the most expensive lesson in why I wouldn't waive inspection in the future, especially if there's a pool involved.
We met John from Gib-San at the Home Show in 2014. He recognized the pool as a Sanelli and was eager to work with us on designs. We didn't make a commitment but after opening the pool and losing an inch of water overnight I knew we had to move up the pool work. We developed a two year plan with John as the work required was extensive and costly.
In year one the plan was to replace the wall tiles, lift the concrete deck and replace it with interloc, remove and clean the coping plus pressure testing of the returns. Of course the pressure test failed so we added replacement of the returns and a new lighting system since the trench would be dug. The original timeframe quoted was 6 weeks, which became a frustrating 3+ months.
The on-site Gib-San crew were efficient at their work except when digging the trench and cutting through the backwash line. This wasn't caught until this phase was done and their only offer was to give me 100 ft of hose that I have to roll out to the street - I grit my teeth at them every time I have to backwash.
QC'ing of material leaving the warehouse indicates that you have to confirm all material before it's installed. I fortunately was the general contractor for this and had I not been on site we would have ended up with two different shades of tile in the pool and two shades of interloc. Both would have been costly or permanent errors.
The real challenge comes from the sub-contractors they bring on site. The tile installer would show up and within a half hour get pulled away from this job by Mario the project manager to work on another job of apparently somebody who was more unhappier than I was. For days he'd say that he'd be done in a week - it took 3.5 weeks. Many times commitments were made by Mario of workers supposedly going to be onsite only to have them no-show. Their interloc sub-contractor didn't wet cut, covering the neighbourhood in dust for days. They did a great job on some of the coping yet poor on a few others. They left us with grey instead of black interloc and their best solution was to blast all the polymer out and walk away.
With their sub-contractors come some pretty hefty mark-ups. Example 1: their electrician/gas vendor quote was over $12k for the required work. Three reputable electrician companies, each with an extensive depth of experience with pools all came in a full 50% below the Gib-San quote. Example 2: they quoted $30k to install 750 sq ft of interloc to extend the pool deck and walkway. Another very reputable company installed the interloc for $10k and did a much better job than Gib-San's sub-contractor and who I'll bring back next year to clean up the Gib-San work.
Note that Gib-San doesn't appreciate it if you don't use their suppliers - Mario did some light smack talking to my electrician while I was away questioning his knowledge. Mario also tried to pressure him to speed up the work to make up for their short fall in managing resources. I actually had to 'fire' Mario as the PM after this incident and the failed commitments.
This year was installing tile on the pool steps and covering the surface with Pebble Tec.
The onsite Gib-San crew were very efficient and left a clean site when they were done. The nightmare came when it was time to install the Pebble-Tec. They didn't begin the work until 4pm and had a truck with a noisy generator running in front of the house until 11pm. I didn't understand why they told me a story about having the police called on them at a past job until it got to be 8pm and they were nowhere near finished. We had to go door-to-door and profusely apologize to each of our neighbours for what they were enduring. The crew didn't finish until 2am!! It was suggested a bottle of wine for each neighbour might be in order to which they agreed but nothing was ever delivered.
The Pebble-Tec looks great once you've put in 30 days of hard work that they don't tell you about until it's being blown in. When the water was being added a chip came off the wall. I've written to John, who has written to Peter at Pebble-Tec over a month ago and am still waiting for a response.
This year's project manager was Mark, who was better but appeared to be a bit more interested in whatever side work he had going on. After last year I was firm when I established a maximum window for the work to be done and it was completed within that timeframe. I discovered that the PM's are commissioned on whatever they can sell you after you've signed the contract, which explained the pressure to replace the skimmer that wasn't part of the deal last year.
Overall we love the final product but my opinion is that Gib-San is good at talking and getting you to spend money. I certainly wouldn't say that we got good value for our money or that they're the most effective at managing resources or problem solving. For Gib-San it seems to be about the money and the awards filling the walls.