(ARA) - Does your dream backyard include a lush lawn, lovely landscaping and - at the heart of the action - a pool, spa or hot tub? If so, you're not alone, and this might be your year to turn that dream into reality. A recent survey by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) found that 82 percent of homeowners said they would use their backyard more if they had a pool, spa or hot tub. Nearly as many believe that adding one of those features would turn their backyard into an everyday vacation spot. The good news is that the right APSP certified professional can help make that backyard dream achievable and affordable. "Owning a pool, spa or hot tub is less expensive than you may think," says Bill Weber, APSP president and CEO. "Advances in technology have improved ease of operation and energy efficiency making the backyard pool, spa and hot tub experience within reach of more homeowners than ever before." If you've been dreaming of a pool, spa or hot tub, this is your year to make it happen. APSP offers insider tips to use when you call that special contractor to do the job. * Experience - Experience is more than just the number of years someone's been in business. Does the contractor you're considering have experience building pools or installing hot tubs in backyard environments similar to yours? Ask to see samples of past work and look for yards with conditions similar to yours, especially if your home or yard has unique challenges like slopes or drainage issues. * Cost - Has the contractor considered all factors in the cost estimate? Keep in mind factors that influence price go beyond just the size and shape of the installation; your contractor should also consider the quality of the materials, design, construction and installation time, durability and warranties into your cost estimate. * Safety - Safety is a key concern for pool, spa and hot tub owners. Is your contractor bonded, insured and versed in all applicable installation/building regulations and standards for your state and community? Does he or she understand any unique safety concerns you may have, such as the presence of a special needs child in the home or a high-traffic corner lot where your pool may be an attractive temptation to neighborhood children? * Vision - Does your contractor understand your vision for your backyard pool, spa or hot tub and can he or she help make it as cost-effective as possible? Your contractor should be able to advise you on the best location for your new pool, spa or hot tub, and provide you with sketches or even a video of your yard to help you envision the customized finished product. * Education and professionalism - Does your contractor participate in continuing education to stay abreast of the newest technologies, efficiencies and design trends in the industry? * Professional certification - Is the contractor you're considering an APSP certified professional? Contractors who achieve the APSP certification have proven knowledge of design and construction, are committed to continuing education to maintain their certification, and adhere to a stringent code of ethics. To find an APSP certified professional in your area, visit www.APSP.org/memberlocator.
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