Business has been picking up for Marcus Tipton and his crew members at Tipton Spires Design|Build.
Just this week, for instance, the crews found themselves working on two new swimming pool projects in League City, pouring and shaping gunite, a concrete blend of sand, cement and water, in the hot Texas sun.
“We have done more new pool construction in 2020 than in any year previous,” said Tipton, a construction manager and chief operating officer of the company.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has been a gut punch to Galveston County’s economy, forcing many businesses to close and forcing thousands out of their jobs, it also has meant many people have been stuck at home for months. And they’re bored.
Permit offices in cities across Galveston County have reported that more people have requested permits to build pools this year than any other time in recent memory.
A boom is on despite pool prices often reaching $25,000 apiece.
League City, for instance, has received about 158 permit requests for pools since May, compared with 87 during the same period in 2019, according to numbers provided by David Hoover, the city’s director of planning.
The city, through August, has issued more pool permits than during the entirety of 2019, 2018 and 2017 separately, records show.
City officials have said they have received about triple the number of requests they normally do, said Councilman Chad Tressler, who himself is in the middle of having a pool installed.
That influx of demand has even backed up the industry nationwide, according to experts like Tipton.
“Gunite demand is extremely high, and the supply is behind due to the pandemic,” he said.
Galveston residents Brian and Sarah Holloway had been planning to install a pool for several years, Brian Holloway said.
“It has a big backyard with enough space to walk around out back,” he said, adding that the couple’s next-door neighbor to the east had a pool when they moved in.
The Holloways solicited bids during the summer of 2019 and liked what they saw, but they opted against it at the time because of cost and how much of the backyard it would take up, he said.
Then, starting in June 2020, they reconsidered their plans, he said.
“Since we were both working from home, we were looking for a quick fix,” he said.
Sarah Holloway found some pictures of stock tanks online, and Brian Holloway began calling around looking for one, he said. But they were all on backorder.
“It took us seven or eight weeks to get ours,” he said. “I had to drive to Winnie, east of us, and order it special because it was out of stock everywhere.”
Once the Holloways secured their stock tank, they added decking and framed it out so the pool would sit on the ground, he said. The whole project took about three days.
The pandemic also slowed progress on longstanding plans to construct a pool at home, he said.
The Tressler family has had plans to build a pool since purchasing their home about four years ago, Tressler said. But they’re now one of the active projects contributing to the increase in League City.
Company officials told Tressler building a pool normally takes about six to eight weeks, but Tropical Storm Hanna and coronavirus-related delays have pushed back the schedule on his pool further, Tressler said.