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Thread: Help Selecting Pool Builder?

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Houston, TX
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    Help Selecting Pool Builder?

    Hi everyone. We are brand new to the site, and trying to decide between three pool builders and their design. Any input would be greatly appreciated. We have a unique shaped lot with a 16' easement across the back. Shaping the pool has been a challenge. What has been frustrating is trying to compare quotes, and educate myself at the same time. Just a few things I have noticed so far - builders who use Hayward equipment swear by it and none other, and builders who use Pentair swear by it over any other brand, as well. Same goes for the WetEdge vs. PebbleTec. Originally I wasn't a big fan of either because I have noticed that they tend to tear up our swimsuits and our kids hands and knees (Family member has a pool with PebbleSheen). We have two small kids and the big sunshelf will be mostly where they play. After a lot of research, I thought about just doing flagstone over the sun shelf so that they have a place to play without tearing up their hands and knees? Any thoughts on that?

    Also, it should be noted that we will have to have our electrical line rerouted as it appears it runs right through the middle of our backyard where the pool is to be built. Boo.

    Thank you very much for any and all suggestions/help!
    Torri:

    PB 1:
    IMG_0326.jpg
    Length 36'9" Width 26'3" Gallons 20318 Area 602 Depth 3.5x5.5x4 Perimeter 103
    Total Price: $59k

    Included:
    Locate Utility Lines
    12" Gunite Beam
    Schedule 40 PVC
    Clean-up after plaster, initial Startup chemicals
    2 million dollar insurance
    test kit, brush, pole, net, teach operations
    Steel 8" on center 3/8" and 1/2" beam
    Assist HOA approval process
    3 steps/1 bench

    Yard Prep:
    Rem/Rep Fence Sections

    Cleaner/Purification:
    Hayward TigerShark Robotic (24v plug in cleaner)
    Chlorinator (plumbed at pool equipment, add chlorine tablets)

    Tile and Coping:
    Flagstone Coping (standard grade)

    Decking:
    Spray Deck (582 ft.)

    Drains:
    4" PVC pipe (150ft)

    Electrical:
    150 ft. Electric run

    Plumbing:
    Skimmer 1 with 50' plumbing
    Skimmer 2 with 85' plumbing
    Manual FIll Line (90' included) 3/4" pcv pipe plumbed to waterline tile and sticks out in pool
    Overflow line
    6 Return lines
    Gas Line (205 feet)

    Interior:
    Bench 1: 6' long (standard 18" underwater)
    Bench 2: Up to 18' long
    RBB: 12" Raised Beam, 18" Raised Beam (I think this is for the scuppers?)
    Tanning Ledge (standard 6" underwater)

    Spa:
    12" raised spa
    12"Gunite wall, 3' depth, 18" deep bench, includes 25' plumbing)
    Spa Sq ft: 38
    1 universal LED light
    6 Jets
    1 Standard 12" spillway (stacked flagstone)

    Pool Equipment:
    Filter: 525 sf cartridge filter model C5030
    Pump: Hayward 1.5 HP TriStar 2 Speed Model SP32152EE
    Lighting: Universal Colorlogic Pool Lights
    Heater: 400,000BTU Heater Models Gas-H400FDN

    Water Features:
    2' Scuppers (3)
    100' plumbing for scuppers (total run), 2.5" plumbing for scuppers

    Controllers:
    Hayward Ecommand

    Plaster: PebbleTec Level 1


    PB2:

    IMG_0327.JPG
    116' Freeform Style Pool (37'L x 21'W)
    Depth: 3.5 to 5.5 (630 sq ft)
    Total Price: $65k

    Includes:
    Raised Spa 12" with custom spillway per design
    Standard excavation with minimum access width of 7 feet
    3/8" steel on 8x8 centers throughout structure
    minimum of 6" gunite walls and 9" gunite floor
    100% volumetric gunite with minimum of 4800psi strength
    Drains and Returns with proper finishing fittings
    Sitting bench in pool back wall per design
    1 tanning shelf per design with bubblers

    Water feature/tile/coping:
    Standard tile selection 6x6 waterline - Mastertile
    Select Flagstone coping - standard color
    Plaster - Wet Edge Pebble Stain - Standard color selection
    Raised multi-level wall on back of pool per design
    (3) 18" Sheer Descent water features in back raised wall

    Decking Specs:
    Decks are 4" with 3/8" steel on 16" centers
    Decks doweled directly into the bond beam of pool for integrity
    Decks graded for proper drainage. Deco drains will be used for drainage where there is no reasonable option to grade concrete accordingly. All drains run to side of decking. Additional drainage options are listed under "add on"

    Approx 480 sq ft of spray deck concrete per design

    Pool Equipment:

    Pentair Intelliflo Variable Speed Pump
    Pentair 1HP Water Feature Pump
    4 Pentair LED Multicolor lights - 3 in pool, 1 in spa
    1 Pentair 400; BTU mastertemp heater - natural Gas
    1 2HP silencer blower for spa
    1 Pentair EZ Touch Control Panel with wireless Remote
    1 Pentair Clean and Clear Cartridge filler
    1 Pentair Prowler robotic cleaner
    1 Peace of mind in-line chlorinator
    1 Complete start up kit (test kit, 25' vaccuum hose, brush, 10' pole, vaccuum head)

    Miscellaneous:

    Includes capping off any sprinkler heads and lines that are in the construction zone of the pool and decking
    Includes grass replacement
    Includes lava rock for firebowls and firepit
    Includes taking down and replacing wood fence using exisiting materials

    Exclusions:

    Re-routing sprinkler heads and main lines
    Deck drains or french drains installed to street
    Low impact development, remediation, detention or flood plain requirements
    Removal and replacement of any type fence other than wood. This includes (cement, brick or any stone or metal type fence).
    Stump grinding and tree removal
    Re-routing of utilities (water, gas, electric, cable, phone, fiberoptics, etc.)
    Any engineering or load study for low impact development, foundations, soil, etc.
    Landscaping,
    High pressure gas meter (if needed)


    PB3:
    IMG_0328.jpg

    Specs:
    Custom design pool, 40 L x 20 W, 597 sq ft total area, 108.5 total perimeter, depth range 3.5x5.5x4
    Total Price: $62k

    Structural specs:
    Bobcat dug excavation
    Steel Schedule: 3/8" Rebar tied 8" on center
    Pool Structure: Pneumatically applied gunite / 6 1/2 sack mix
    Walls: Minimum 6" thickness
    Floors: Minimum 6" thickness
    Coves: Minimum 8" thickness
    Bond Beam: 12" Box style with 4 continuous #4 Rebar

    Equipment Specs:

    Filter: (1) DE Filter 60 sqft Plus
    Valve: Valve Kit SM DE MultiPort 2"
    Pump: (1) 2.5 HP Pentair WhisperFlo
    Cleaner: (1) Pentair Legend Platinum Gray
    Heater: (1) Pentair Mastertemp 400k BTU Nat. Gas
    Chlorination: (1) Rainbow 320 Chlorinator
    Remote System: (1) EZ Touch System 8 Pool/Spa No Salt
    Pool Lights: 2 Intellibrite LED Pool Color
    Spa Light: 1 Intellibrite LED Spa Color
    Spa Blower: 1 1.5 HP Silencer Blower (Not Pentair product, 1 yr warranty)
    Pool/Spa Main Drains: (4) Anti-entrapment Safety Drains VGB Compliant @deep end
    Skimmers: (2) Skimmer SQ U3 2" Slip TAN

    Plumbing Specs:

    Hydraulic Design: Separate lines for all skimmers and main drains standard
    Pipe: All schedule 40 PVC (solvent-weld)
    Valves: Pentair 2" x 2 1/2" (Neverlube)
    Fill line: 3/4" Anti-siphon Pool Fill line Included (Typically located at equipment)
    Overflow Line: Included/tied into deck drainage system
    Backwash Line: To Sewer cleanout if DE filter

    Ground Design:
    360 degree earth ground tied to steel structure of pool, sub panel if required

    Finishes:
    Marbella/Travertine/Slate Coping
    PebbleTec or Pebble Sheen Interior finish
    Ceramic Tile waterline tile

    Decking and Drainage:

    425 sqft decking peagravel concrete
    Expansion joints as required in deck, polyvoid between pool coping and deck
    3/8" rebar tied on 16" centers
    Deck Dowels: Every 3-4 ft.
    Drainage: 4" PVC standard

    Included Special Features:
    2 cleanups included, one after gunite shoot, and one after concrete pour
    Spa: Raised 12" with ceramic tile
    Spillway: Zero edge spillway
    Water features: 3 deck jets
    Sunshelf, included per plan
    2 Bubblers
    Includes: Cleaner, Controller, Pebblesheen Tier 1 Finish

    Features not included:

    Exisiting utility re-routes such as gas, electric, water, cable TV, landscape repair and sprinkler repair, fire pot features, water bowls or combination of both

    Warranties:
    Gunite Vessel 25 year transferable Structural warranty from Modern Method Gunite
    Pentair Equipment: 3 Year parts and labor warranty from manufacturer
    Workmanship: 2 year from date of pool start up

    All necessary startup chemicals and maintenance equipment included, profession pool school included.

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Help Selecting Pool Builder?

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    I have never seen flagstone installed underwater like I think you are describing ... I think it would fall apart and not be nearly as smooth as you think.

    Builders are usually affiliated with a manufacturer, so of course they swear by their "partner". Any big name brand is fine.

    Brief thoughts:
    PB1:
    Forget the chlorinator. I would recommend SWG, although then you may not want flagstone. All the TX builder will be against this, but it is far superior.
    Nice big filter
    Large 2-speed pump, likely could go smaller or get a VS

    PB2:
    VS pump is good.
    Why need water feature pump?
    Why need spa blower? Plumbed correctly, there is no need for a blower
    What is the filter size?
    Forget the chlorinator.

    PB3:
    Large DE filter, you sure you want to deal with the backwashing?
    Very large single speed pump is bad
    Forget the chlorinator
    Why a blower?

    They all seem fairly comparable to me.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
    If you found TFP helpful and we saved you money ... Become a TFP Supporter!

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    SuzfromTexas's Avatar
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    Re: Help Selecting Pool Builder?

    Hey torri! TFP is such a great site - the experts are fabulous! And there's even some fun around here, too! (actually lots of fun).

    I agree with Jason about the spa blower. We have a blower and never use it. I can't say if our spa was plumbed correctly or not, but it works well for us without the blower. Some people might like all that extra oomph to the bubbles, but it's way too noisy if you want to visit with someone in the spa. I have to turn it off in that case. And I don't really need the blower on when I'm alone in the spa. But this is different from a hot tub. I enjoy the jets on a sore hip or foot or something, but our spa doesn't have nearly the features a hot tub would have. Just mentioning this in case ya'll aren't aware. I wasn't until I found TFP.

    After living in the Houston area for 38 years, my experience with flagstone hasn't been great. I'll admit that what I've had before may not have been the best grade. We had it once for a patio (about 16 years) using flagstone from Champion Stone in Spring. It faded a lot and was always getting mildew, mold, algae - not sure which, but we had both green and black stuff that grew and spread when we weren't vigilant about power washing. And once the stuff had been on the rocks a while, it would NOT come off. It did some flaking, but not major. We were told not to seal it which may have been the wrong advice.

    Do some more research. For me, I wouldn't use flagstone on the sunshelf unless I could find actual Houston area pool owners who have had success and could tell me exactly what grade of flagstone they used.

    Here is a link from February of this year discussing the use of Travertine on pool steps. Even though you're thinking flagstone, Bmoreswim posts a link (post #13) of information using PA Bluestone on the sunshelf. The pictures are gorgeous. I have no idea if that's available here in Houston or what it would involve to ship it down here.
    Travertine Underwater?

    You may be able to find other articles on TFP regarding flagstone on the sunshelf. Just use the search bar at the top of this page. I used "flagstone on a sunshelf" which gave me the above link. I didn't search too long, so I may have missed some others.

    We have PebbleSheen and don't find it too rough at all, but mostly adults use our pool. For really young ones, I can understand your concern. There are smoother pebble finishes. I believe WetEdge has a wide assortment of finishes with lots of variation in smoothness. You might want to look into that.

    One thing we did that I like was use tile on the benches of our spa. It was really by accident, because we had extra. After using the spa a lot since our pool was filled last July, I can say it worked out great. The benches are very easy sitting. I would imagine you could use a smaller waterline tile which wouldn't be too slippery. Our tile on the benches are 1x2's. You could also look at tile for the sunshelf in a more natural look finish. Probably something with some texture would be better for slip resistance. But I would not use any porous tile.

    Here is a picture of our spa with the tiled benches.


    Congratulations on your pool build journey!!! For us it was long and not always easy, TFP helped immensely! And once it was all over, it was worth every day and every dollar. We LOVE our pool!!!

    Glad you found TFP!
    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

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Re: Help Selecting Pool Builder?

    We have jets and an air blower. We absolutely need the air blower. It may be true that if plumbed correctly it's not needed but if a PB is suggesting it you should assume it is needed with their construction unless they tell you otherwise.
    1200 Sq Ft 41,000 Gal. Gunite, JANDY SVRS VS pump, JANDY JXI 400,000 BTU, Polaris 280 w/ 3/4 BP, Rockwall and Grotto (w/6 jets and blower), 2 JANDY Lam Jets, 2 LED Bubblers, 5 Ledlights, AQUALINK P16 RS, 90% Quartz, SWF 185 GMP BP, SWF 125 BP, Levelor K1100 Autofill, AP Digital SWG, 2 skim and 5 returns, and mostly 3 inch piping

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    May 2016
    Location
    Houston, TX
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    Re: Help Selecting Pool Builder?

    Thank you for the response! We have gone back and forth several times on whether or not to use a chlorinator or salt water system. Ultimately we decided on the chlorinator due to the annual costs of sealing the natural stone each year in addition to the cost of the acid injector (highly recommended to us to keep the water more consistently balanced) as well as the cost of having to replace certain parts every 4-5 years (cant remember exactly what) that would equal the same cost as a chlorinator averaged out. You are saying that SWG is highly superior, can you expand on that for me? Thanks!

    PB1 - I didn't realize there was a difference in a 2 speed pump vs a variable speed pump, I will look into that. Thanks.

    PB2- I have asked him those questions and just waiting for a response. Probably noteworthy that PB2 plans to put in three sheer descents as opposed to PB1 who will only put scuppers. PB1 says that sheer descents will collapse over time due to the plastic getting soft due to the heat... Have you heard this before and would that have anything to do with the need for the additional equipment for PB2?

    PB3- I have no idea what a DE filter is, or backwashing, so that is a really good question. I need to still educate myself. If you have time and don't mind explaining, I would love to hear about this.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Suz, thank you for your wonderful reply also! I love your tile, what a fantastic idea! I noticed that the size of your pool is similar to what we are looking at doing. How happy are you with the size? I would love to chat more with you via PM possibly about your pool company is and I am currently reading over your pool build thread.

    Good to know about the travertine vs. flagstone. I will also ask those questions.

    One thing that has been frustrating for me, is that one builder includes capping/turning off zones for sprinklers, the other pool builder refuses to do it. The pool builder who refuses to do it includes running drains all the way out to the street in the pricing, where as the first builder does not. We have a drainage problem already in the backyard, and it pools everytime we have a heavy rain. Is it too much to ask for the PB to just include all the things in the quote that need done? Frustrating, and makes it hard to want to trust the PB.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Grotto Guy - Thank you for the info. I appreciate it. I will ask the PB why they use them, and let you guys know what they say.

    - - - Updated - - -

    One last thing! Aesthetically speaking, which design do you like the best? Curious to see what other opinions are.

  6. Back To Top    #6
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Help Selecting Pool Builder?

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but in a climate with little rain, a long season, and not partially draining for the winter, you can NOT use trichlor tablets as your permanent source of chlorine due to the stabilizer (CYA) build up. What the builder is not telling you (likely because they do not know better) is the the required FC level is a function of the CYA level, according to the FC/CYA Chart. So the higher the CYA, the higher the FC must be to keep the pool safe and clear. Trichlor tablets add FC and CYA and are very acidic so might lower the pH and TA too much. The FC is consumed daily, while the CYA builds up. The only way to lower the CYA is to remove and replace water ... are you ready to drain and fill the pool every year? Because that is what a chlorinator will require in TX.

    Have you discovered Pool School yet? Start with these:
    ABCs of Water Chemistry
    Recommended Pool Chemicals
    How to Chlorinate Your Pool

    Take a look at this section too:
    Pool School - Construction

    EDIT: And do NOT let them talk you into a UV or ozone system. Those are pointless and honestly I am surprised that none of the 3 suggested them. That seems to typically be the goto system in TX for builders.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
    If you found TFP helpful and we saved you money ... Become a TFP Supporter!

  7. Back To Top    #7


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    SuzfromTexas's Avatar
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    Re: Help Selecting Pool Builder?

    Quote Originally Posted by torri View Post

    - - - Updated - - -

    Suz, thank you for your wonderful reply also! I love your tile, what a fantastic idea! I noticed that the size of your pool is similar to what we are looking at doing. How happy are you with the size? I would love to chat more with you via PM possibly about your pool company is and I am currently reading over your pool build thread.

    Good to know about the travertine vs. flagstone. I will also ask those questions.

    One thing that has been frustrating for me, is that one builder includes capping/turning off zones for sprinklers, the other pool builder refuses to do it. The pool builder who refuses to do it includes running drains all the way out to the street in the pricing, where as the first builder does not. We have a drainage problem already in the backyard, and it pools everytime we have a heavy rain. Is it too much to ask for the PB to just include all the things in the quote that need done? Frustrating, and makes it hard to want to trust the PB.
    We're happy with the size of the pool for the size yard we have and balancing deck size with some landscaping areas. I absolutely love being in the water, so the bigger the better. Also, usually there's only 2 of us in the pool and more often only one of us at a time. Still, I would have loved a pool twice the size! Lol! When thinking about the size of your pool, you have to consider your available space, how often you entertain (and how many at one time), and what kinds of pool activities ya'll would enjoy. We do very little entertaining, and only two of us live here. We're more into swimming laps, water exercise, floating and just plain playing in the water (I still use a mask like a kid to dive around and just goof off)!!! A slide or diving board would have been fun, but we really didn't have the space.

    As far as the sprinkler situation, I also had different responses from different builders. The builder I used would not do anything with the irrigation system (except dig them up during excavation -ha ha!), and he would not do the drainage to the street. He did do a great job of getting the elevation of the pool right for drainage. Ours was a little tricky with the foundation being thinner in the back of the house and the garage foundation even thinner. We really don't have much of a slope to our lot, but the foundation is thicker in the front of the house. It's just enough slope to make a difference with the monsoons we can get here. You don't want the pool water overflowing into your house (I was a little nervous in April when we got about 15 inches of rain in one night). And you don't want all the yard drainage to end up in the pool!

    Our landscaper took care of the pool drainage to the street, the drains under the decking and the new sprinkler configuration in the back around the pool. It was all pretty different after the build. I worried about the sprinkler part, but the crew made it look easy. I don't think it is as big of a deal as I feared.

    Feel free to PM me if you'd like to visit more about the builder, etc. I'm more than happy to help where I can. I'm pretty weak on the more technical sides of things.

    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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