By way of introduction, I'm brand new to this forum, and DH & I are also new to pool ownership, as well as new to a southern climate.
We did both have pools as teens, and we each helped with the chemicals/upkeep, but that was over 30 years ago and we know much as changed since then (for instance, we had a gigantic 10 ft deep pool with diving board that my folks paid $10,000 for, and now we're looking at a 12x24 5 ft deep pool for $35-$45,000! LOL - big difference!). We recently moved from the much colder Pacific Northwest, where liner pools are common, to the hot, humid Southeast (Central Florida - Orlando area), where gunite pools seem to be the thing, and cooling the pool seems to be more of an issue than heating it!
We're in the final stages of choosing a pool builder, we've had estimates from 6 of them, and we're completely overwhelmed with options and have so many questions I barely know where to start! As I research online, I keep stumbling across this wonderfully helpful website and forum, so I decided to join.
I guess I'll start with a quick description of our basic design, then ask a few of the most important questions...
We have a small lot overlooking a creek, and most of our backyard will be pool/deck. The lot slopes down about 2 feet toward the creek. A screen cover is a must because of all the critters in/around the creek. The design is a modified Grecian 12x24 with rounded corners, steps at one end, a swim out at the other, a sheer descent with spill centered on the back (screen) length, and a half-circle 4x8 sun-shelf centered on the front (house) length. We're pretty sure we want a salt chlorine generator and a variable speed pump. Not sure about any of the other equipment yet.
Now for the questions:
1. Most importantly - only one contractor has mentioned putting a retaining wall on the rear of the pool deck/screen footing, before backfilling. The others have only mentioned backfilling from the hole and compacting, and most of them mention something called "cantilever deck construcion" in their quotes (not to be confused with cantilever pool edge). The one says that will cause erosion, but the rest say it will be fine without a wall. The retaining wall adds about $2500.00 to the one's bid. We don't want our pool sliding into the creek, but but don't want to spend needless money either. Who should we believe?
2. Without experience, we have no way of knowing which things can be left off now and added later, vs. which things we should spend the $ on now because it will be impossible to add later. Could you guys with experience give us suggestions on this? For example, pool lighting... will we be sorry if we just go with a basic white incandescent light instead of a colorful LED? and is 1 light enough for the size of our pool? Is the size of our sun shelf large enough, or should we expand it, even if it costs a little more? What about things like cleaning systems, circulation, heating (which it seems lots of people here don't even do)? How hard or easy is it to add various things?
In other words, if you had it to do over and needed to stay in budget - Where would you sink your money initially, and which things would you wait on?
I think that's enough for now. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions later.
Thanks so much,
: ) Melinda