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Thread: Done! - Pasadena, CA

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    Done! - Pasadena, CA

    We spent a solid 4 months evaluating PBs with 3 other local families who are also in the market to build a pool, and I really think that was a smart way to do it. I hope I don't end up eating my words, but so far we are really happy with the PB we chose: Masterpiece Pools. We broke ground in mid June and I like that Mike, the owner, has been onsite during every big activity to oversee the details and even pitch in along side his employees and subs. Everyone onsite is so respectful, clean and, from what I can tell, skilled.

    Our pool is small, which is what we wanted in order to salvage half the yard as a grassy area. Once the hole was dug and had taken shape, it looked like it might be too short. Oh well... too late now. As one of the plumbers said, "Next time". LOL. Truth is, our intent is to use it to lounge and cool down in, and swim a little. Not really to do laps. It's a 25' x 15' pool with a 7' raised spa. There will be a waterfall wall in the back, a Baja step with umbrella holder, a water spillway from the spa into the pool and a squirter aimed at the Baja step to amuse the dogs. We are going with a Pentair VS 3hp pump for the primary work, and a separate 3/4hp Pentair pump for the waterfall and squirter. Pentair 400K BTU heater, and DE Filter. We almost went with a mini skimmer because I didn't want the lid on the basket to stand out like a sore thumb on the decking, but that would have caused a change in the filter and plumbing technique and it wouldn't have worked as well as a full sized skimmer. So we're going with the full sized skimmer and pouring a matching concrete lid on it so it blends into the decking better. Here's a pic of the design:

    Day 0 our drawn plans.jpg


    A few days after signing the contract we had our permit, which surprised me at how quick that part went. We had a huge tree named Pablo that had to come down. It took them 2 full days wrangling Pablo to the ground, and out of the ground with the Bobcat, and his root ball is still in the backyard (5 weeks later) because it's too big to fit through the access point despite the Bobcat fitting through it. The crew has been working on chopping him up by hand and removing him in pieces. We knew it was going to be heart wrenching to see him go, and it was. Plus wouldn't you know we had a heat wave on the days we took him out -- his way of making sure we miss his great shade perhaps? RIP, Pablo.

    In addition to removing the landscaping, they also finished excavation, plumbing and steel during the 1st week. So many trenches were dug! Didn't think the yard could get more torn up after excavation, but boy was I wrong about that. The trenches, dirt and sand during pool builds is one of the difficult things to deal with during a build. More to come.
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    Last edited by Julieleek; 10-07-2015 at 11:28 AM. Reason: title change
    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Julie! HI! OH what fun! So many new pools in one area! WOW! Are all of you doing a pool at the same time or are you going one at a time?

    I can't wait to see more of your build.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    My heart hurts for you over saying goodbye to Pablo. It wasn't easy to watch our two trees pulled down that we had nurtured since they were practically twigs 26 years ago. But we hadn't even named them, and both of them were on their last leg. One had to come down or it might have come down on it's own terms and not ours. I can just imagine how hard it was for you guys. But it's time for a new chapter in your lives and the pool will be great fun!

    That's not too small of a pool, and it's certainly big enough for fun times!!!

    I'm looking forward to more of your build! Take care!
    Suz.
    Suz~Cypress area~ 2015 pool build. 23K gallons. IG swcg system. 35'x18'; 573sf; 104' perim; depth 4'-7'. Bubblers, sheer descents, 7' spa. Jandy: color LEDs; 2HP 2sp pump; 1HP 2sp pump; spa pump; 580 cartridge; 400K BTU; Dolphin M500; PS8; Inline chlorinator not used; Aqua Pure 1400. Blue Granite Sheen. Travertine deck. Lightstreams Peacock Blue TF-100, K-1766, SpeedStir

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Thank you, Suz and Kim. It definitely was hard to see Pablo go because he was such a beautiful tree that was the focal point of the backyard. But obviously the new pool and spa will take over that role and we're happy about that. The other 3 families we worked with to find our PB are in varying stages of their projects. One had signed with the same builder before we did, but they haven't been permitted to begin yet because of a neighbor's oak tree drip line (most oaks are protected in CA), and another is on the verge of signing after they settle on their design, and the other is still contemplating all their options including talking to more PB's. We didn't think we'd go 1st in this group but that's how it played out.

    I wanted to post more pics but the system says I've reached my max. We've tried using photo repository tools to link to but am having no luck. Can someone offer advice on how I can continue our story w/pics? Thanks.
    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Use photobucket.

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Hi,

    Any updates?

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    During the 2nd week, we passed inspection on the plumbing, gas and steel, so the PB was ready to start on the next phase: Shotcrete and Electrical. The shotcrete took about a half day and really brought the pool to life. Now we were able to see the shape of the pool so much better, and our prior concerns that it looked square or wasn’t big enough were gone. I had a light in the spa moved from the bench where one’s back would go to the lower part of the spa and I think that will work out better. It’s an LED light so I assume it being on the bottom will still provide plenty of light. We have a lighting problem in the backyard and we are hoping the 2 LED lights in the pool and spa, along with our current lighting & maybe a couple of uplights in the new privacy trees we’ll be getting, will brighten the yard enough so we don’t need any more lights. So hopefully the light being on the bottom of the spa, where your calves would hit, won’t impede that plan.


    I was also concerned the pool looked way more sunken than I expected after the excavation phase. It didn’t look right next to the existing lawn, which was significantly higher than the top of the rebar. But the shotcrete guy showed me where the top of the pool will be when all is said and done and it will be fine. Mike, the PB, told me they had to account for the slope in my yard when setting the elevation and things might look a tad off in certain areas during the build, but I probably wouldn’t notice it when the pool is done. And the shotcrete phase did help make the pool look less “sunken”.

    The rest of the 2nd week was spent watering down the shotcrete multiple times per day and doing cleanup chores likes filling in the many trenches and chipping Pablo’s stump that has been sitting in our yard since this project began.








    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Week 3:
    This week we got a bigger gas meter installed by the gas company, were told by the city’s Water & Power Dept we need to move the mast on top of our house that the power line from the pole attaches to (an unexpected cost), started the electrical work for the pool/spa, got most of the trenches filled in (yay!!!), had the coping framed out, and began building the waterfall wall. Pablo’s still hogging up space in the backyard though.

    We’ve been wetting the shotcrete at least 3x/day since it was shot, and the PB’s guys have been wetting it too since it was shot as well. There was one guy on site the day after shooting to do the wetting all day long, very thoroughly, which is the most critical time for wetting it I’m told as it’s when most of the water is absorbed in the walls.

    The landscaping sub keeps trying to remove Pablo’s stump and has been here multiple days for that effort. He has gone through 2 chippers (blew the motor on 1 of them), and several blades for his chain saw. Hardly made a dent with the ax.
    We also started electrical this week, though the city inspector mistakenly already signed off on electrical before it had even begun. In addition to the normal pool electrical that needs to be done, we need to upgrade our panel from 100 amps to 200 amps. It’s an old house (1940). That part couldn’t be done as scheduled because the city’s Water & Power Dept didn’t unlock the box when they were supposed to. Both parties are working on getting this done soon.
    While they were building the waterfall wall we noticed they hadn’t included the notched out parts on either side. Our PB came by to help rectify the problem but the subs were very easy to work with and we got it fixed without the PB needing to be here. We wanted the 6” drops on both sides of the waterfall wall to have a bit of flair and not look so blunt. We figure we can put vases, tabletop fire bowls, potted plants or something in those notches. Originally we wanted pilatsters on both sides, and a taller wall, but it was cut as a scope reduction to get the price more to our liking. I hope it turns out nicely.

    After the coping was framed out, we decided to add decking on the east side so we can easily walk around the pool. The pool is set 8’ from the wall, instead of the usual 5’, to allow for walking and privacy trees, and we were originally going to put astro turf there in front of the trees. But we’ve changed our minds and now will do concrete. It should make the pool feel more balanced I think. This is our first significant Change Order.

    Last, we watched a You Tube video highlighting the differences between a rainfall descent and a sheer decent and were stunned by how loud the rainfall version is. It seems you’d have to almost yell over the water in order to have a conversation. We ordered 2 18” rainfall devices and it’s too late to change it, but our PB thinks it will be fine considering they are far away from our seating area and the wall is only 18” above the water so the drop is short.
    As you can see, we are making some changes and choices on the fly.



    - - - Updated - - -

    Week 4:
    Finished most of the coping, and framed the decking. Have an inspection next week, then they'll come back to do tiling & pour the deck. They still need to finish the coping on the notched out areas on either side of the waterfall wall. And the electrical upgrade from 100amp to 200amp started this week, as well as moving our overhead electrical wires. The electricians can't finish the job til they schedule another meeting with the city to do the actual cutover, but they're ready to go. So what that means for us is we have no meter or precise way of knowing how much electricity we are using during this HOT period. We’re giving our A/C a serious workout.

    Even though we thought moving the overhead electrical wires was at our option, so we opted not to do it, I’m kinda glad the Dept of Water and Power is making us do it. Gonna be glad to see the wires moved from over our heads to buried underground.





    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Week 5:
    This week's activities included: started tiling, passed inspection to pour the decking, ran into a big problem with our exterior walls, and are contemplating another change order – this time for the interior of the raised spa.

    We chose travertine for the waterfall wall set on a diamond pattern and I love it. We chose a blue/tan tile for the waterline to offer a bit of color, and we are doing a ledger stone look on the outside of the raised spa. That last part hasn’t been done yet, but the travertine got grouted yesterday. It’s taking them more time than I thought it would to do the tiling part of the job, but it’s because they are being meticulous.

    I’m having a real hard time with this next topic – the perimeter wall. Bottom line is it’s ugly and has cracks, some of the cracks are big, but it’s a strong ugly wall that is not going to fall down. It’s been there for probably 75 years through earthquakes and windstorms and Pablo’s massive roots. We knew it was too short in certain areas to meet code so our plan was to add a wrought iron topper and then hide the “ugly” with privacy trees. However, the city inspector feels differently and is insisting we replace these walls (we've tried reasoning with him on multiple occasions). One side is worse than the other so I asked if we could replace just the 1, to which he said he could kick it down with 1 kick (seriously delusional). Our PB talked to the Senior Inspector at city hall but he stands behind the field inspector. Long story short, it looks like we have to replace these walls, which I think might total about 120 feet, and I’m really concerned about the can of worms this might open.

    But before we bite that bullet, we came up with an alternative plan and are trying to see if the city will approve it. We’d like to build a fence on our property right in front of the block wall. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about surveyors, encroachment, demo, haul away, etc. I hope this is approved so we can move forward and get this project back on its toes.

    Also, while playing in our new reinforced fort (a.k.a. the empty raised spa), I realized we need a bench that is higher than the rest so we might consider another change order. Something for others to think about during the design phase is that our raised spa has a smallish 18” wide step on the inside so you can step into the spa. But it’s the only elevated spot to sit on when you get hot inside the spa, and it’s a bit too high for that purpose. I would have preferred to figure out a way to have steps of varying heights going into the spa without taking up too much room and too much of the floor. I think our configuration is normal so if you don’t say anything early enough this will likely be your default as well.

    Here are pics of this week’s progress with most of the tiling done.



    (Spoiler alert: we replaced those brown splotchy waterline tiles the following week with bluer tiles of the same design. Much better now)


    A pic of the spa interior. Notice the single 18" wide step is the only spot to sit in an elevated location for when you want to cool off a bit but not be so cold as to sit on the coping:

    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Moving right along! Looks like doggy approves!

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    She loves walking along the coping as if she's a mountain lion or billy goat. I think she's wondering what happened to her yard. LOL. Can't wait to get her in the pool. She's rehabbing from a torn ACL surgery and swimming will be great physical therapy.
    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    That wall thing is unreal! Would he accept an engineer's word? It would have to be easier and cheaper!

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    We considered more raised seating in the spa and I'm so glad we did not do it. Our spa is square with seating on three sides, so the raised seating would have eliminated 2-3 sunken seating positions. As it stands now, people will stand or move to the coping if too hot. This worked exceptionally well for us, even last winter with air temps 50 degrees cooler than the water temp.
    COMPLETED BUILD THREAD - 15'x29' rectangular offset shotcrete pool; 14,100 gal; 5'x7' raised spa with 400k btu fire feature; 7' spillover; 25' leuder stone raised bond wall w/waterfall; Pentair SWG; Pentair VS (pool); Pentair 3/4hp feature pump; 1hp spa blower; Pentair Cartridge filter; Pentair “Easy Touch 8” wireless; Dolphin Oasis Z5 robot; Solar Hydronics iSwim solar panels; Mansard Screen Enclosure; walnut travertine deck; 1 very happy kiddo.

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    I'm glad to know that, Txnole. If we end up not raising one of the benches I'll think about how it worked out for you and feel better about it. I guess I'm just used to being in community spas (i.e., shared townhome amenities and hotels) and like how they work, so I'm thinking a deviation will not please me. Especially because I am always moving around in a spa... up on a step, up on a higher step, back down to be immersed, etc.

    Kim, yes! What a great question. Yes, after I kept asking the inspector how we could make this wall work, he finally said "get an engineer". I was able to confirm with him he meant a structural engineer, but it hasn't been easy at all to find one. I know a lot of engineers, mostly environmental engineers, civil engineers, and mechanical engineers and I've asked no less than 7 of them if they could help or refer me to someone who can. They can't help me. You'd think the civil engineer would be a ringer for a structural engineer, right? I mean one of my friends designs and builds our country's big bridges and works on the Panama Canal and he was stumped even though he wanted to help us. He said he wouldn't know how to prove to the city the walls are sound since the walls do not "perform" and therefore he couldn't produce mathematical findings vetting the quality of their performance (plus he said his specialty is concrete, not block, so he felt somewhat unqualified). They're not retaining walls or something of that nature. I think the true issue is that's not what he does so he wasn't sure how to go about doing it. So I figured it was worth a shot to find a structural engineer who has done this before with the city but I can't seem to find one. I even used a service called Home Advisors to find one and came up empty. Our PB is talking to his engineer he uses for creating the pool plans too, but hasn't made contact yet as that guy has 5 weeks of backlog. If you have an idea on how to find a structural engineer with this kind of experience please let me know. This would be the ideal solution.

    However, I have another lead I'm going to pursue. Since not much happened last week due to mostly this wall issue, and I'm waiting on our PB to talk to the city, talk to the engineer, and get pricing on fixing the wall issue, I had another fence company come out to give us a bid just to be safe. That guy was shocked by the city's position too and confirmed our walls aren't going anywhere but said he's no engineer so his opinion won't matter. But he did give me the number of a structural engr/surveyor so I'm going to call that professional to see if he can help convince the city the walls are sound. Meanwhile, we'll be getting a quote from this fence guy as well as our PB in case we have to put up a fence inside the existing walls (our preference, of course), or replace the walls altogether. Again, any ideas you have I'd appreciate very much hearing. Thank you!
    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    You know what it is. No one wants to be the one to sign off on it and have something happen with their name on it.

    The bridge guy............trying to find a math formula............hummmmmmmmm okay try this........start calling landscaping places that BUILDS walls! Ask who their engineers are! Oh......do you have a collage in your area???? Do they have an engineering school?????????

    As you can tell I tend to type as I think and just type what comes out LOL

    I hope one of these will get your going in the right direction.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    We have Caltech a couple miles away... the pride of Pasadena! Well, that and the Rose Parade/Rose Bowl. LOL. We probably have at least 6 or 7 colleges in this city but I would think the city wants a state licensed engineer. Calling the landscaping/fencing companies is a good idea. I need to push my PB to beg for his engineer's time too. Thanks for the ideas!
    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    BUT the teachers at the college may be or know someone (one of their students?) that is licensed. Who do they send the students to for "internship" ?

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Ah! Good thought. I'll make a few calls and see if it goes anywhere. Thank you.
    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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    Re: We started our build - Pasadena, CA

    Week 6:
    There wasn’t much activity or progress made this week as we waited for our PB to contact his engineer and the city’s inspectors regarding the wall issue. I did have another fence company come out to give us a bid and he also gave us a referral to an engineer/surveyor since our own leads have not gone well. Some bright news is we met someone who just finished their build in Pasadena and she said that they have to do a gate fix but in the meantime they are allowed to use their pool for 6 months while they work on the gate issue. I thought our fence thing would prevent us from filling the pool, which means holding off on the finish, until it was fixed. So that was nice to hear.

    Some other good news this week is that Pablo’s root ball was finally completely removed from the backyard, once and for all. And we got some tile pieces replaced for more likable pieces on the walls we’ll be staring at the most. Because we have a hard time picking tile, we told our PB to just bring over some blue options and we picked one from about 20 options. The one we picked had more variations than the sample could ever prepare us for, and certain pieces on the waterfall wall with too much brown were grabbing our attention. The delay ended up being helpful in this respect because we got to look at the waterline tiles for almost a week during a time where they weren’t grouted, which solidified our resolve to get certain pieces replaced. That was easy enough to do since they weren’t grouted at the time. After swapping them, the crew finished grouting everything. We are now thinking about adding trim tile to the steps and umbrella sleeves with caps in the decking. So I made some quick visits to tile stores to try and find trim options. We've been told tile trim on the steps of white finished pools is a good idea from a safety perspective, and we’re doing a white quartz finish.

    I believe next week will be pouring cement (the deck and maybe building up a bench in the spa), and possibly get the ledger stone installed on the outside of the spa. Of course we’ll work to make headway on the walls too.

    Here’s the latest pic. Not much has changed from last week.

    Completed new pool & spa in Pasadena, CA Oct 2015
    14' x 25', raised bond beam for water feature
    deck jet, Baja step, 7'x7' spa
    Pentair equip, saltwater, EasyTouch remote system

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