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HomeAt Home & BeyondHomeowner Speaks Out on Swimming Pool Snafu

Homeowner Speaks Out on Swimming Pool Snafu

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When Karen Rushlow signed with Frank Bierwiler and West Hernando Pools in March of 2022 to install the below-ground swimming feature, she had no idea the headache that would ensue. Years later, it has come to light that the pool contractor has upwards of 65-plus unclosed permits while owing Rushlow eight thousand dollars. Many homeowners like her paid Bierwiler to complete the job without realizing how behind he was on closing out his permits. While some of these require small clerical fixes or minor additions, there are many homeowners just like Rushlow who are waiting for their pool to be finished despite having already paid the business owner thousands of dollars.

Rushlow supplied the following details of events. Bierwiler was unavailable for comment. Despite the March signing, work did not even begin on the swimming pool until October of that year due to “waiting for permitting.” For reference, obtaining a permit generally takes between 30 and 45 business days, according to Tom Peters, Building Investigator for Hernando County’s Building Department. After the hole was dug out for the pool, Bierwiler’s workers were again delayed for three months from that point.

Even further slowdowns would occur as Frank explained to Rushlow that he was having difficulty securing cement. The cement company eventually got involved and sent the homeowner a letter stating they were going to put a lien on the pool because Bierwiler failed to pay the bill. This took another three months as the days continued to stack into two years and counting.

Problems continued to ensue as whenever Rushlow would call the contractor, “It was always excuse after excuse after excuse,” she said. The electricity would not be properly installed for months, and she lacked a heater for her pool due to insignificant wattage. The multiple delays appeared to be more so due to Bierwiler not paying his various subcontractors, such as the electrician, Rushlow stated. She eventually got tired of waiting and paid an extra $5000 to have her electrical completed separately. Since Rushlow had already paid him up front, Frank was meant to foot the bill.

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After calling Suncoast Aluminum, she found out that they had not yet put in the order for the screen enclosure for her pool because Bierwiler still owed a large sum of money. As the cost of everything in today’s economy is rapidly increasing, the delay on the screen resulted in the cost increasing by another $2500 for the homeowner. The unanticipated bills continued to balloon for the woman who just wanted her pool finished.

“The county should be liable for something,” Rushlow said. “That is the other thing. You are letting him have all these permits. There has got to be something that should be done with any contractor having that many permits out. Why let it get that far […] I just feel bad for people that spent that kind of money. He should not be able to get away with that.”

Rushlow’s story is one of a number, and she is even one of the more fortunate ones, as her pool setup is largely complete. Moving forward, Karen remarked that she or the other disgruntled homeowners “could probably go to small claims court,” but she is dubious about how worthwhile that would be. She attended the special meeting regarding Bierwiler last month that the Sun had covered in a previous issue and is planning to attend the hearing this week in the hopes that a resolution can be reached.

Below is a timeline of events and requests supplied by Peters and the county’s building department:

Activate/Reactivate Permit – Scheduled: 12/20/22 – Requested by: Contractor
Pool Steel – Scheduled: 01/10/2023 – Requested by: Frank Bierwiler
Pool Steel – Scheduled: 01/11/2023 – Requested by: West Hernando Pools
Activate/Reactive Permit – Scheduled: 04/18/2023 – Requested by: Frank Bierwiler
Pool First Plumbing – Scheduled: 04/19/2023 – Requested by: Contractor
Electric Bond – Scheduled: 06/05/2023 – Requested by: Frank Bierwiler
Pool Deck – Scheduled: 06/05/2023 – Requested by: Frank Bierwiler
Activate/Reactivate Permit – Scheduled 02/01/2024 – Requested by: Contractor

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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