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Thread: owner builder in socal

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    owner builder in socal

    After about interviewing 6 builders, I've decided to take the owner builder route. I'm planning on a freeform gunite or shotcrete pool roughly 15x30 with attached spa raised 18". Thinking maybe 3.5 to 6 feet deep. I have fair construction knowledge and feel confident I can get this done. I do have lot's of questions though so bear with me. I'll do my best to search previous posts but as we are hoping to be swimming this summer I'll probably ask a few questions that have been discussed numerous times. I've contacted quite a few subs which referred me to other trades. I would like to stick with subs that are familiar with each other. I was hoping for some tips on what kind of questions to ask each trade other than insurance and workman's comp type questions. I'll be meeting with an excavator today who was recommended by a long time established gunite co. Any critical questions for the excavator? Thanks alot, Mike.
    Planned build details: 16x35 freeform shotcrete, attached 7' round spa 6 jets raised 18", baja step, 3.5 to 7' depth, 4x160 pump, pentair 520 cartrige filter, mastertemp 400 heater, intellitouch 7+3 with intellichlor, autofill. Pebbletec or pebblesheen.

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    Yes,

    Ask him about cost over runs due to cave-ins or bedrock. Also I don't know where your water table is, but does he have a plan for pumping water out of the pool if it rains heavy or you get water seepage from somewhere.

    Do you have your rebar and gunite crews lined up? This should all be a 1-2-3-4 process. Dig, rebar, rough plumb, bond, inspection, gunite. This can all happen in 3-4 days if lined up properly. This will minimize your exposure to rain and/or cave-ins.

    Do you have your permits lined up? In Louisiana, I only needed a basic building permit for site location and an add-on electrical inspection for proper bonding of the pool cage and light fixtures. I'm sure it will be more strict in California. Take pictures to document your bonding wire is installed properly in case they question it later.

    Do you understand what electrical bonding is? And what code requirements are for your area?

    Who is doing your rough plumb? Are you installing a double main drain for safety? Probably code...

    I used a 2" suction side and 2" supply side loop. The actual return eyeball penetrators necked down to 1 1/2"

    Do you know the difference between schedule 40 PVC fittings and DWV fittings? I almost made that mistake in the beginning...

    Buy the BIG cans of glue and primer, you'll use alot. Take the time to scuff/clean/prime the fittings properly.

    On the day of the dig and rebar install. Have a couple sets of drawings available to pass out to the subs. Carry a tape measure in your pocket and back check what they are doing and digging. I insisted on the usual 3/8" rebar cage for the main pool shell and 4 rods of 1/2" rebar in the bond beam. They referred to this as a commercial tie. Make sure the skimmers are level and set properly. And that they shoot the gunite around the lower skimmer body itself. they should know this already.

    One the day of the gunite shoot, carry the same tape measure AND a small level. Make sure any built in stairs and benches are carved level. I caught them several times on this one.

    If you are including an autofill/overflow it needs to be rough plumbed in now. You can add the working parts in later, but the penetrator needs to go in now.

    Same for a booster fed robot cleaner...if you want one later, put the penetrator in now.

    Think about your light niche placement. You want the lights facing away from wherever your seating/viewing area would be at night. So you don't have a glaring light shining at you. Make sure they properly box in around the niche and wire it securely to the rebar cage. My niches got bumped around alot during the gunite shoot. It almost caused a problem.

    Make sure the light niche has at least a 3/4" conduit hub. 1/2" is too small to pull wire easily. The top of the niche should be at least 18" below water level. Remember the electrical conduit needs to be glued properly too. It has to be water tight to above pool water level at the panel.

    Read all your equipment owners installation manuals. The subs generally know how to do it, but they'll cut corners if they can.

    It's all about the planning. Hope this gives you some ideas...

    Jim
    Fortune favors the well prepared

    The build...
    viewtopic.php?t=3974
    Freeform 24' x 38' IG gunite. 3 1/2' to 8' deep. 28,500 gallons. AutoPilot Total Control SWCG. Pentair Intelliflo VF. Pentair CCP520 cartridge filter. Colorlogic LED lights. Tahoe Blue Diamond Brite. 1200 sq ft stamped concrete deck.
    More details as they happen...

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    One more thing regarding the depth of your pool. Just my opinion...

    Either stop at 5' deep so people can stand, or go all the way to 8' so people can dive in safely. 6' is kind of a useless depth IMHO. You can't stand in it OR dive into it safely.

    Just another thought...

    Jim
    Fortune favors the well prepared

    The build...
    viewtopic.php?t=3974
    Freeform 24' x 38' IG gunite. 3 1/2' to 8' deep. 28,500 gallons. AutoPilot Total Control SWCG. Pentair Intelliflo VF. Pentair CCP520 cartridge filter. Colorlogic LED lights. Tahoe Blue Diamond Brite. 1200 sq ft stamped concrete deck.
    More details as they happen...

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    (Temporary Hijack!)

    Jim, I remember your pool build very well but cannot recall a pic of the finished product.

    Post it up in another thread if you have one.....I was very impresssed with the speed and accuracy that you were doing things.....How did it turn out?
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    Dave,

    I'm just about finished with all the final landscaping and fencing. I've been holding off posting until I got it done. I'm offshore right now and for the next week. I've got a couple pics out here with me, but it's tough for me to upload much from out on this ship/satellite connection. I will definately get them posted soon though. It did turn out great and I'm still very pleased that I went the owner/builder route. Lotta work though...whew...

    Jim
    Fortune favors the well prepared

    The build...
    viewtopic.php?t=3974
    Freeform 24' x 38' IG gunite. 3 1/2' to 8' deep. 28,500 gallons. AutoPilot Total Control SWCG. Pentair Intelliflo VF. Pentair CCP520 cartridge filter. Colorlogic LED lights. Tahoe Blue Diamond Brite. 1200 sq ft stamped concrete deck.
    More details as they happen...

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    Jimt thanks for the reply and all the great advice. I will be sumbitting a drawing and engineering plans to the city tomorrow. They tell me 10-21 days for plan check. I figure that gives me a few days to finish getting the subs lined up. I have excavator, steel, plumber and gunite ready to go. Excavator says I need to know what coping and tile material I'll be using for proper grading and elevation. I have yet to find an electrician but I don't think they have much to do yet other than bonding as the equipmment is 2 feet from my main panel. I will be making some phone calls to electricians tomorrow. I really have alot of research to do and questions to ask so I'll be checkin back in shortly. Thanks again. Mike
    Planned build details: 16x35 freeform shotcrete, attached 7' round spa 6 jets raised 18", baja step, 3.5 to 7' depth, 4x160 pump, pentair 520 cartrige filter, mastertemp 400 heater, intellitouch 7+3 with intellichlor, autofill. Pebbletec or pebblesheen.

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    The coping will either be standard brick types that are usually like 2 1/4" thick (3" with the mortar) or cut natura stone which are usually around 1" + mortar.

    I used #6 bare copper to bond all the way from the bottom of the pool clamped onto the rebar, through both light niches and then up and around over the the equipment pad. It's better if you use one continuous piece of copper if possible. The electrical supply shop should also have the bronze clamps made for this application.

    You might work on a signature at the bottom of your posts. It gives us some baseline info on your (proposed) pool to answer questions so you don't always have to repeat it.

    Keep us informed!

    Jim
    Fortune favors the well prepared

    The build...
    viewtopic.php?t=3974
    Freeform 24' x 38' IG gunite. 3 1/2' to 8' deep. 28,500 gallons. AutoPilot Total Control SWCG. Pentair Intelliflo VF. Pentair CCP520 cartridge filter. Colorlogic LED lights. Tahoe Blue Diamond Brite. 1200 sq ft stamped concrete deck.
    More details as they happen...

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    O.k. I got my permit. Excavator is coming Monday. I'm still unsure of depth for deep end. The pool is freeform kind of an L shape. Thinking 3.5 to 7'. Excavator says not to go much deeper. Any thoughts? Don't plan on a diving board but don't want anyone hitting their heads either. Not sure of the light placement either. I'm thinking one in the deep end and one in the shallow end facing away from the house. Has anyone plumbed a floor return for deep heat? Any last minute suggestions before dig greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    Planned build details: 16x35 freeform shotcrete, attached 7' round spa 6 jets raised 18", baja step, 3.5 to 7' depth, 4x160 pump, pentair 520 cartrige filter, mastertemp 400 heater, intellitouch 7+3 with intellichlor, autofill. Pebbletec or pebblesheen.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: owner builder in socal

    Congratulations on getting your permit. Hopefully things will move along a little more quickly now.

    For a diving board you really want 8', but otherwise 7' is fine. How deep you can dig has a lot to do with local soil conditions, which a local excavator should know about, so I would trust their judgement.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    Do you think I should go deeper than 7 feet if possible? Or will that make too much of a dropoff from shallow to deep end?
    Planned build details: 16x35 freeform shotcrete, attached 7' round spa 6 jets raised 18", baja step, 3.5 to 7' depth, 4x160 pump, pentair 520 cartrige filter, mastertemp 400 heater, intellitouch 7+3 with intellichlor, autofill. Pebbletec or pebblesheen.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: owner builder in socal

    If you don't have a diving board, the depth is a matter of personal taste. I just like to have it be deep enough that I can stand on the bottom and be completely under water, which is less than 7'.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    O.k. I think I'll keep it at 7 '. Any thoughts on the deep heat returns at the bottom of the pool? Adds a few hundred to the plumbing bid.
    Planned build details: 16x35 freeform shotcrete, attached 7' round spa 6 jets raised 18", baja step, 3.5 to 7' depth, 4x160 pump, pentair 520 cartrige filter, mastertemp 400 heater, intellitouch 7+3 with intellichlor, autofill. Pebbletec or pebblesheen.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: owner builder in socal

    If you have a main drain, there isn't any real need for deep returns. It is good to have one thing that keeps the deep water circulating, but I don't think you need more than that. So, main drain, or deep returns, but not both. But you should keep in mind that I am a minimalist, and many others like all the bells and whistles.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    I dug a 8' deep end in soggy rainy February in South Louisiana. I'm curious why he doesn't want to go deeper. There are some considerations about the slope from shallow to deep. I think the general consensus is a 3 to 1 slope, but I used ~ 2 to 1 and it seems fine to me. My overall length is 38' so I had some room to play with. If your pool is much shorter, getting to 8' may pose a problem for the area from 5' down to 8'. You might want to graph it all out to see where all the useable areas of the pool will be.

    I do not have a diving board either, but am really glad I'm at 8' for general diving safety. I think you could get by just barely with 7' for head first diving, but make sure people know the depth. Less than 7' and you should really discourage head first diving unless people are really aware of what they are doing.

    I have a main drain(x2) in the deep end, but no return down there. Not sure if that would help any great amount more than just having an adequate amount of evenly spaced returns around the pool. I have 6 returns and don't have any problems with circulation.

    Jim
    Fortune favors the well prepared

    The build...
    viewtopic.php?t=3974
    Freeform 24' x 38' IG gunite. 3 1/2' to 8' deep. 28,500 gallons. AutoPilot Total Control SWCG. Pentair Intelliflo VF. Pentair CCP520 cartridge filter. Colorlogic LED lights. Tahoe Blue Diamond Brite. 1200 sq ft stamped concrete deck.
    More details as they happen...

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    I think the concern was the steep slope of the pool floor. I'll just have to make the call the day of the dig I guess. My neighbor has the deep heat returns and says it is the one thing above all else that he is glad he installed. Says the pool heats up much quicker than before. He installed them during remodel. He does also have a main drain. I guess I'll just go with it and hope it is effective. I'm really struggling with coping material choices. Excavator needs thickness of coping for proper grading. 3 days to figure it out. Any thoughts on quartzite vs travertine vs precast concrete coping?
    Planned build details: 16x35 freeform shotcrete, attached 7' round spa 6 jets raised 18", baja step, 3.5 to 7' depth, 4x160 pump, pentair 520 cartrige filter, mastertemp 400 heater, intellitouch 7+3 with intellichlor, autofill. Pebbletec or pebblesheen.

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    Due to the style of the house, bullnose brick coping would probably be the best way to go. Any problems using brick coping with a SWG?
    Planned build details: 16x35 freeform shotcrete, attached 7' round spa 6 jets raised 18", baja step, 3.5 to 7' depth, 4x160 pump, pentair 520 cartrige filter, mastertemp 400 heater, intellitouch 7+3 with intellichlor, autofill. Pebbletec or pebblesheen.

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    I think standard bullnose brick coping is common with a SWG. That's what I have and one year in, no signs of any problem.

    Jim
    Fortune favors the well prepared

    The build...
    viewtopic.php?t=3974
    Freeform 24' x 38' IG gunite. 3 1/2' to 8' deep. 28,500 gallons. AutoPilot Total Control SWCG. Pentair Intelliflo VF. Pentair CCP520 cartridge filter. Colorlogic LED lights. Tahoe Blue Diamond Brite. 1200 sq ft stamped concrete deck.
    More details as they happen...

  18. Back To Top    #18

    Re: owner builder in socal

    The brick we picked out is a brown flashed. I guess it's flashed with some kind of paint to give it a grayish tint with brown. I was wondering if the salt would have any effect in painted surfaces. I'll give the manufacturer a call on that one to be sure. Jim, do you have any recommendation for spa plumbing suction and return size? I've obtained 4 plumbing bids and only one company will use 3" for spa suction. Others say 2 1/2" is adequate. I'd prefer they use 3". What did you use? Spa is 50 feet from equipment, 6 jets, one 4x160 pump system.
    Planned build details: 16x35 freeform shotcrete, attached 7' round spa 6 jets raised 18", baja step, 3.5 to 7' depth, 4x160 pump, pentair 520 cartrige filter, mastertemp 400 heater, intellitouch 7+3 with intellichlor, autofill. Pebbletec or pebblesheen.

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: owner builder in socal

    Well I don't have a spillover spa, just a raised planter with 3 sheer waterfalls and 4 deck jets. I used 2" PVC for suction side and returns. I've heard regularly of 2 1/2" suction and 2" returns. I personally think 3" is just a little bit overkill. My system runs very efficiently, but again, no spa. 2 1/2" PVC happens to be fairly expensive compared to other sizes because it is not common and sometimes has to be special ordered from plumbing supply houses. 3" is certainly OK, but unless you have a really huge pool that needs to circulate mass amounts of water, 2 1/2" should be just fine. The Intelliflo pump itself only has a 2" inlet/outlet. My Pentair CCP-520 cartridge filter is 2", Autopilot SC-60 manifold is 2"... It all gets necked down to 2" on your equipment pad somewhere eventually.

    This is just my semi-amateur opinion...

    I don't have any really technical information to back this up. We have had a number of fairly in-depth conversations at TFP on the exact (semi) math involved in calculating total backpressure of plumbing runs. I've just worked around plumbing for a long time, and 3" pipe is really large. This is getting up to drain waste sizes.

    Keep the questions coming. Somebody else might chime in here with some technical info too.

    Jim
    Fortune favors the well prepared

    The build...
    viewtopic.php?t=3974
    Freeform 24' x 38' IG gunite. 3 1/2' to 8' deep. 28,500 gallons. AutoPilot Total Control SWCG. Pentair Intelliflo VF. Pentair CCP520 cartridge filter. Colorlogic LED lights. Tahoe Blue Diamond Brite. 1200 sq ft stamped concrete deck.
    More details as they happen...

  20. Back To Top    #20
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: owner builder in socal

    For a spa with six jets and a long pipe run I would go with 3", though 2.5" will most likely work. Spas need high flow rates and the larger pipe will allow you to run the pump on a lower speed while getting the flow rate you want, thus saving electricity.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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