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Thread: new pool - decisions, decisions

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    new pool - decisions, decisions

    we have saved for a pool. We are about a year away form starting because we want a small pool house behind the pool and want to save to pay for that at the same time. We started to talk to local pool contractors. I am kind of the PITA, over educated consumer by the time I make large purchases - so this isnt going to be easy.

    I have a lot of questions. First - we are in Eastern PA.

    I wasnt sure about fiberglass or gunite/shotcrete (and yes, I know the difference) - but Im strongly leaning to the latter due to the design we want.

    Also - Im not sure about coatings. The first pool builder I met with says that he prefers a ceramic color added quartz plaster instead of marsite - and strongly recommends the upgrade. He didnt mention or advertise a specific brand.Seems reasonable. He said I could expect 15 - 20 years with having to refinish. Is this "rough" on the feet?

    One of my concerns about a concrete based pool - was cracking in a freeze/thaw area. He said that he has done this for 30+ years and most cracks are a result in building errors - and that it should not concern me. I like the fact that he uses ZERO subcontractors - every single person working on the pool is a direct employee.

    We are getting a waterfall feature with limestone (wife wants it)

    I met with the PB expecting to talk about a salt water chlorine generator - but he is trying very hard to talk me out of it. He said that the market went that way, but more and more, there are "questions" about their long term benefits. Also - he said that there could be issues with the lighting and limestone waterfall feature. Is this real? Being a saltwater boat guy - I would imagine that the light fictures would be a matter of proper bonding - but what about the limestone waterfall feature? Is the salt any more corrosive or invasive to the quartz finish on the pool?

    Heater - might or might not get one.


    Automatic cover - want one, but will be tough with the shape we want and waterfall feature - but doable. Are these reliable? Are they worth it - Im looking at 12k+ for what I would need. One brand advertises that it can act as a winter cover as well (with a pump sitting on top) - but th ebuilder recommends against that and said that a seperate cover is a better idea/

    Pool will be pretty large - roughly 850Sq ft surface area.

    We are looking at 2 different LED lights - both with multi color capabilities. (only getting two because of the design of the pool)

    Looking at paying extra for variable speed pumps (one for pool and seperate for water feature - with plumbing redundancy built in with diverter valves in case one fails).

    I was very impressed with the overall "plumbing" that this particular builder uses - seems great with lots of features that I would not have thought about.

    To us - this is a high dollar investment so we are looking at every angle.


    I would appreciate feedback on the "quartz" coating and 1) life expectancy as well as 2) how rough on the feet do they tend to be AND - the Salt Water Chlorine Generator.

    My well water (which will not be used to fill the pool, but will mainain its level) is very slightly acidic if thats adds anything to the equation.

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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    There must be football games on - LOL! I'm surprised no one has jumped in here yet. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination... but I can tell you that I have the Diamond Brite plaster and it is smooth (I was pleasantly surprised..) Life expectancy depends alot on keeping your chemicals in line. I've read 15-20 years..

    Our PB did not recommend salt either. But I'm so glad I did it anyhow.
    Helen
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    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Does you PB sell chemicals and services? SWG eats into those.


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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by UnderWaterVanya
    Does you PB sell chemicals and services? SWG eats into those.


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    Yes - large chem and testing service as part of the shop. That being said - it seems that all of the negative things he told me about the SWCG are valid and things that are discussed on the web.

    Is it as simple as -they cut into chemical sales.....or.....are the really a bad idea with waterfall features with flagstone?

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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    I would never have a pool without a SWCG! The problems discussed on the internet are generally exacerbated, but not caused, by the salt. For example, certain kinds of porous flagstone used for coping and water features seems to just disintegrate when salt water gets on it. Another example: I have kool-decking that I believe is flaking because it was poorly applied, but flaking faster because I have a salt pool. Limestone might be better, or maybe not...you really need to have a dense, hard stone that water will not soak into.

    I have a pebble finish and it can be hard on the feet, but I can remember tearing my feet up in normal plaster pools as well. I would do it again. I've never seen one of the quartz finishes up close, but they are supposed to be very durable as well.

    Where are you located? We might have some other recommendations depending on your location. No spa, just a pool?
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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by Melt In The Sun
    I would never have a pool without a SWCG! The problems discussed on the internet are generally exacerbated, but not caused, by the salt. For example, certain kinds of porous flagstone used for coping and water features seems to just disintegrate when salt water gets on it. Another example: I have kool-decking that I believe is flaking because it was poorly applied, but flaking faster because I have a salt pool. Limestone might be better, or maybe not...you really need to have a dense, hard stone that water will not soak into.

    I have a pebble finish and it can be hard on the feet, but I can remember tearing my feet up in normal plaster pools as well. I would do it again. I've never seen one of the quartz finishes up close, but they are supposed to be very durable as well.

    Where are you located? We might have some other recommendations depending on your location. No spa, just a pool?

    Im in Bucks County PA - Quakertown to be exact. I do want a spa - but toying with the idea of getting a spa NOT as part of the pool so we can enjoy it all year (after the pool is closed). Depending on placement - we migh tbuy a stand alone spa from a store - OR - have he builder do it as part of the build.

    What is it about he SWCG that makes you say that you would never NOT have one.

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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Standalone spa is a good idea, I think...better insulated, and can be used all year while the pool is closed.
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
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    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Flagstone can be a problem from what I hear - I didn't make that connection at first - and that seems rational. Also a spillover spa will generate a lot of aeration - SWG's already have a tendancy towards rising pH so that might increase that even further making this a bit of a pain to keep the pH down on.
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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    The auto cover to me is a must. We sell them in our local and don't sell a seperate winter cover. As for durability it will depend on the installer and installation. The better the installer does at getting the track system square the less pull is on the system. I would recommend coverstar over the other brands as coverstar has a heat welded webbing rather than a stitched webbing.
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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Is it as simple as -they cut into chemical sales.....or.....are the really a bad idea with waterfall features with flagstone?
    I think it's possible that both are true. I think there have been sufficient evidence of some types of decorative stone erosion and bonding problems to lend legitimacy to the claim. And without a doubt, the waterfall will exacerbate a ph rise.
    The use of limestone in tandem with saltwater requires very good SEALING to not accelerate wear, as I understand it. So your builder is not incorrect -- it just boils down to what you want the most and why. If you follow the "happy wife happy life" motto, then just CAREFULLY SEAL the limestone And be prepared to add a lot of muriatic acid to control ph!

    At the same time, you will find several people on this discussion board who would a) just choose a different stone and b) axe the waterfall in order to keep the CONVENIENCE of sanitizing with SWG without the concern about erosion and ph drift -- because with an SWG while you do have to monitor it, and occasionally add acid, you are not manually dosing your pool.

    In other threads, it has been suggested that construction error or user error are the elements that have led to problems with SWG use -- and we occasionally hear of situations where is SOUNDS as if the lights were not bonded correctly, etc. etc.

    In the end, SWGs may not net actual cost saving, and it IS one more thing that can go wrong (true of all automation) but the convenience factor outweighs those aspects for some.

    Re: Automatic cover -- I want to retro one, so I've been reading up. I would be leery about snow load on those things though. They don't need any extra help having the cover wear out, and are not inexpensive to replace. I would want to cover it AND its track with a good winter safety cover -- just to preserve/extend the investment!

    Lastly, as you can gather, I'm from an area that gets snow (Michigan.) I strongly support the complete separation of pool and spa -- winter is the best for a soak!
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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    I may be wrong about this in some people's eyes but I want subs on the job for certain tasks. You want a sub who gunites every day and a sub who plasters every day. You can be assured you will get the best product from a sub who performs his specialty every day. A PB who has a crew of 20 guys who do it all are Jack of All Trades, master of none. When we interviewed PB's one made a big deal that "everyone else uses subs but I don't" to me that was not a big part of the decision process.

    I also don't like contractors who talk me in or out of certain items, most of the time I've done my research, I play dumb and see what they will say. The ones who lay out the good and bad and speak real world are the ones I go with.
    26,000 gallon gunite IGP with 50 sq ft Spa, Jandy VS FloPro 2hp Pump, Jandy DEV48 Filter, Jandy AquaPure SWG, Jandy AquaLink PDA-PS6 Controller, RayPak R406A Heater, Polaris 380 Cleaner, completed April 2013

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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by bigfunky
    I may be wrong about this in some people's eyes but I want subs on the job for certain tasks. You want a sub who gunites every day and a sub who plasters every day. You can be assured you will get the best product from a sub who performs his specialty every day. A PB who has a crew of 20 guys who do it all are Jack of All Trades, master of none. When we interviewed PB's one made a big deal that "everyone else uses subs but I don't" to me that was not a big part of the decision process.

    .
    I adamently disagree with this.....


    I want someone who does something - very specific (build pools) - not subs who do mostly different things. Also - with subs - you never know what you are getting. I have worked for an owned construction companies and there are a place for subs and a place to NOT have subs. Subs significantly reduce the homeowners to PB leverage. Not many "subs" in your area (which is basically mine) are plastering pools every day......or applying gunite on pools every day. The subs are doing other things on many days. That being said - the crew that only builds pools are doing this every day and always thinking about the next stage of construction.

    The reason subs work so well in other aspects of building is SPEED and EFFICIENCY - not so much QUALITY. A framer that frames every day is FAST. A roofer is FAST. Sheetrock guys are FAST - which saves cost. Its not about the quality. Its "what is the cost and how fast can you be done"

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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    That's my point, subs do a very specific task and that's it. Rebar guys rebar all day every day, pool electricians wire pools all the time.

    In my area the guys who gunite and plaster do it every day and all day. Yes they are fast but they are also quality. My point is I don't want someone who just wired and plumbed a pool to come and gunite. There is as much risk there to the homeowner as there is in hiring a sub.

    I also find it hard to believe that a PB has enough work to be able to self-perform all the tasks of building a pool with his own crew and zero subs.
    26,000 gallon gunite IGP with 50 sq ft Spa, Jandy VS FloPro 2hp Pump, Jandy DEV48 Filter, Jandy AquaPure SWG, Jandy AquaLink PDA-PS6 Controller, RayPak R406A Heater, Polaris 380 Cleaner, completed April 2013

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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by bigfunky
    That's my point, subs do a very specific task and that's it. Rebar guys rebar all day every day, pool electricians wire pools all the time.

    In my area the guys who gunite and plaster do it every day and all day. Yes they are fast but they are also quality. My point is I don't want someone who just wired and plumbed a pool to come and gunite. There is as much risk there to the homeowner as there is in hiring a sub.

    I also find it hard to believe that a PB has enough work to be able to self-perform all the tasks of building a pool with his own crew and zero subs.

    Its true - for 20+ years. Ive checked references.


    Back to the subs. we will have to agree to disagree. You are making the point that GC's have used for years - but - I mhy experience, the "theory" of experienced subs vs the "reality" of their actual experience and fact that they are NOT just doing one task - but many other types of projects......creates a nightmare.


    How can you believe that there is enough work for sub contracting firms ONLY doing pool work to stay busy.....but not enough for a stand alone? That is contradictory. Unless you believe that there is ONE sub contractor that every PB is using.

    As Ive stated. Subs can be a positive experience - but often times it is a NIGHTMARE - especially when it comes time for SERVICE or REPAIR within the warranty period.

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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by smanni
    Unless you believe that there is ONE sub contractor that every PB is using.
    This can be the case. In my build the excavator we used is also used by many of the PBs in the area. The gunite company is used by EVERY PB, so they are shooting pools every day. There are 2-3 plasterers in the area. I think especially in gunite and plastering, to have guys that that is all they do leads to a more consistently quality product.
    Blaine

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    Re: new pool - decisions, decisions

    I'm no expert.

    Around here, the PB's have relationships with subs for many aspects of the project: excavation, steel and bonding, gunite, decking, plaster, landscaping and irrigation. The PB's employees may do plumbing, tile & stone work, pool/spa equipment hook up, electrical. The subs have relationships with multiple PB's.

    Some of the excavation equipment and gunite rigs can cost six figures. You won't be in business for long if that equipment is not on site and in use all the time. Even if the PB owned all the equipment, the PB's crews would be dedicated to specific tasks (e.g. excavation, gunite) and performing those tasks all the time, just as the sub's crews do.

    A PB who uses subs and has been in business for several years is going to gravitate towards subs who their job well and who stand behind their work. Otherwise the PB's reputation gets burned.

    Some of the generalizations in this thread don't fit my observations. I've seen subcontractor crews do excavation, gunite, and plaster or quartz finish. Most crews seem very concerned with quality and stay on site as long as it takes to do the job well. Some crews are amazing to watch; real craftsman at their trade.
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