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Thread: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the pool!

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    New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the pool!

    We have a large pool built in the 80's (1,075', 55-65K/gal)(we'll find out when we re-fill it). It's been repaired once, probably re-plastered once, and now the flagstone coping (all irregular, jagged-edge, mixed-up colors) is breaking apart underneath - not the stone, but the grouting. Half of the stone lining the spa has already fallen off. The tile is old, ugly, 3x3 with lots of grout lines, and many of them have fallen off. And the pool needs resurfacing. (We bought this house 3 years ago and if I'd known I'd have to do so much to the pool, I wouldn't have offered so much, but que sera...)

    I have 2 bids that are nearly the same amount - within a few hundred dollars. One is a medium-sized PB that does commercial pool builds, residential pool builds, and remodels. They come recommended by a good friend. They do not sub out the work - their people are all employees. They have insurance and I'm sure will sign a lien release (not even sure that's necessary). They have a nice website with lots of photos; they came out on time, got me the estimate quickly, and even mailed a real thank-you note after they came out to estimate my work. They have a showroom.

    The other is just 2 guys, very local, that have a pool service company but they also do renovation and some feature installs, although they are not technically builders. I got a recommendation from one of my handymen about them. I liked them. They don't have a website but they showed me a few of their pools in a nearby neighborhood. They use subs and said the subs would be insured and would sign lien releases.

    Here's what we're having done:

    Altima Premium Plaster Teal
    Remove existing tile/coping, install new flagstone coping (Ariz. Buckskin) (outside perimeter of pool is around 120', and the flagstone will be quite wide to end up even where they cut out the old flagstone)
    Install about 15 deco tiles evenly spaced (these have glass in the middle)
    Install trim tile on steps and benches
    Replace drain covers and wall fittings

    My filter pump decided to die right as I was finalizing the bids so I decided to do an upgrade on the filter too. The one we have now is slightly undersized for the size of the pool.

    Pentair Whisperflow 2.0 hp filter pump
    Pentair 60 sq. ft. DE filter with multiport valve
    The Polaris is fine for now.

    All of this comes to right around $20K. I cannot believe how much this stuff has now gone up in price since we built our last pool, but that's another issue.

    OK, so my dilemma...The local guy will baby my only light, and rehab it for about $100 (it works now, but it's dim and grungy inside). The bigger company has a disclaimer about lights and basically told me to stick it in a bucket of water and hope for the best after the work is done. Maybe nothing will happen to it, but if something does, it likely has conduit and that will cost me another $1000 to dig out and replace with PVC. I'd rather not have to worry about the light. But of course, there is no guarantee that the other company can do the work without messing it up.

    The larger company is obviously going to have more experience in all areas, especially application of plaster, and may have more skilled tradesmen as employees. They get good ratings on Angie's List. On the other hand, the local guys have to keep the customer happy, because they can get a bad reputation that can damage them in the area, but they are hiring subs, so who will take care of my problems after all is said and done? They have no ratings anywhere that I can find. No complaints either, but nothing positive to go on.

    I really think either company can get the work done. I just don't know how to evaluate and make the final decision. Can you give me some deciding factors? Thanks in advance. I really need to make the decision and get the work started ASAP. I've been researching and deciding what to do since January. I will put a photo on if I can find one that will fit.
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    I just don't know how to evaluate and make the final decision. Can you give me some deciding factors?
    Who do you feel most comfortable with? YOur decision would seem to be more of a business decision than a pool-specific decision....i.e use the same criteria you would in any business matter, regardless whether it's choosing CPA's, where to buy a car, or a pool company.

    You seem to have done your technical homework well already so it's my guess you probably already have an idea of who you could best work with.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Thanks for the response - That's really the problem! I could work with either company and I think they are both probably honorable. The larger company obviously has its act together in some ways that the local company cannot, i.e. hiring employees instead of subbing out the work. They certainly have more experience in building pools. And, they have insurance. (I keep calling the 2-man company "local" and a "small business" when actually they are also local and were started by a man and his sons.)

    I was just wondering if there were factors that would set one above the other that I wasn't aware of or wasn't thinking about. If I had found the larger company first, they would probably already have the job. I was talking to the smaller company first, however, and I thought they were going to be the ones. So then I got torn...what to do? I like to support small businesses when I can - we're a small business ourselves - but I don't want to hire this job out of emotion. $20K is a pretty big chunk of cash.

    One more factor may be the time element - I think the larger company can get the job done quicker because they wouldn't be waiting for subs who are also on other jobs. They both said it would take 2 weeks, which I automatically added 2 weeks to, having already built one pool.

    Any other thoughts? Here is a photo of the pool, you can see the flagstone and a repair section that was done at some point.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    OK, well, my hand was forced a little bit, and I gave the larger company the go-ahead to start TOMORROW. (gasp) The rep. called me and said, "We can start tomorrow; do we have the go-ahead?"

    I asked my pool service guy this morning what he would do (before the PB rep called), and he said that if it was a matter of $500 or so, he'd go with the larger company, because they would have better follow-up and resolution of problems. And that was one of my thoughts as well - the accountability is better with a company that is not just a two-man operation. Since it is a matter of very little difference in the bids, and since the pool service guy confirmed that the $20K is about the right amount, I feel better about the decision. He also said not to let cleaning and rehabbing the light take center stage, that it is not a big deal and can be done at any point.

    I am going to take photos all the way through, so I will post them for other forum members. What I learned so far: When getting bids, stay very detached and somewhat removed, as you would in any business transaction, even when the bidding company is very "sympatico." Put on a game face and just keep it to the facts, nothing else. And always get 3-4 bids! (I did get that many, but 2 of the companies were dropped off the contender list early on - just not a great impression.)

    I think in Houston, there must be thousands of the "little guy" companies, who all chase the same subs to plaster, cope and tile, and most of them are honest, and do a reasonable job. Something to be grateful for, I guess - we can keep a lot of pool artisans employed so we have a wealth of choice.

    The pool has been off circulation for 3 weeks now - but mildly chlorinated - Would you recommend putting that water on my lawn? I hate to waste that much water (maybe 60K gals.) but I sure don't want to kill my grass either. Comments?
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Another question: Is it normal to be asked for 50% of the total upon beginning the work? And no lien release until after the project is completed? This is the larger company, mind you, and they don't use subs but have employees.

    It does give me concern about their financial stability, if they can't float a $20K remodel.
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Totally normal. If I were to do this, 50% of the total would be what I would ask for up front, 35% on pool fill, and 15% after initial water balance (might bump this back to final balance after plaster cure, if I felt the customer was easy enough to work with).
    Science and Math Teacher
    Owner - SPS - part time pool biz
    18x36 IG Vinyl, 23000 Gallons with Jacuzzi (the bane of my existance) pumpworks
    Polaris 280 w/ PB4 booster

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Re: watering the lawn.

    I just called The Woodlands water authority (WJP) to ask about that and they told me that since 2002 Texas said that pool water has to go into sanitary sewer. I then followed up with a search on what salt level was OK for plants, for I recall 2 something at the allowed level before you kill aquatic plants. One site said 1000 ppm (0.1%) salt was tolerated, another said 2000 ppm (0.2%) was not tolerated. Bonnies Plants, seller of herbs and pond plants had very specific data that confirmed those for the less salt tolerant plants in ponds. My non-salt pool tested once at a pool store was 1500ppm salt.

    Given that the woods behind me, and my own trees, have been so very stressed by the drought recently I decided that I cannot risk adding any salt that could further stress them.
    23,000 gallon in ground pool with rock waterfall and spillover spa, Aqualink control system, Polaris 380 cleaner, Purex Triton Clean&Clear Plus cartridge filter. Located in The Woodlands, Texas.

    Pool owner since Nov 2008, Trouble Free since April 2009. Happy to help when I can.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Quote Originally Posted by anonapersona
    Re: watering the lawn.

    I just called The Woodlands water authority (WJP) to ask about that and they told me that since 2002 Texas said that pool water has to go into sanitary sewer. I then followed up with a search on what salt level was OK for plants, for I recall 2 something at the allowed level before you kill aquatic plants. One site said 1000 ppm (0.1%) salt was tolerated, another said 2000 ppm (0.2%) was not tolerated. Bonnies Plants, seller of herbs and pond plants had very specific data that confirmed those for the less salt tolerant plants in ponds. My non-salt pool tested once at a pool store was 1500ppm salt.

    Given that the woods behind me, and my own trees, have been so very stressed by the drought recently I decided that I cannot risk adding any salt that could further stress them.
    Thanks, but this is just a regular chlorinated pool, no salt other than what is naturally there. Also, a St. Augustine lawn is not an aquatic plant variety. But I will take this into advisement. I may not try to use the water after all.
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    The draining was done yesterday, in about 1 hour. In 3 hours, all the coping and most of the tile had been removed. Pics below. In reverse order, I will have to attach the next set backwards. First is what the pool looked like after 3 hours of demo. Then what it looked like when the started. Then the hose draining all the water. Today it looks even worse, and I am trying really hard not to panic.

    [attachment=0:3v94vgvz]resize day 1 finish.jpg[/attachment:3v94vgvz]
    Attached Images Attached Images
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    The supervisor informed me yesterday that the coping cannot extend beyond the beam of the pool, although he is the very person who examined the pool in the first place and saw all the stone that was extending WELL BEYOND the beam of the pool and this is what I told him I wanted to eliminate by widening the coping so that the widest cut in the pea gravel was where the coping would end. I am beyond annoyed, I feel I was bait and switched and now I am not sure what my coping will end up looking like. I am going to talk to him tomorrow as well as the tile and stone guy and somehow, this has to be worked out to my satisfaction.

    Okay, here are today's photos.

    The last photo shows the steps, with no trim tile. The funny thing is that as they chipped away the last 2 coats of plaster they uncovered a row of tile that had been plastered over, at the bottom of each step! Surprise!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    I am having panic attacks - it is a HUGE mess and I cannot imagine what it's going to look like when it's done! Acccckkkkk! This is like a flashback to when we built our last pool and the hole was dug but nothing happened...and then the framing was done and nothing happened....the rebar was done and nothing happened....etc.

    I am freaking out, talk me down off the ledge...please....

    :O
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Step back and take a deep breath. Everything will be fine. I really mean that!
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Has anyone ever dealt with one of those jagged-edge flagstone copings done in the 1980's? It looks like dinosaur teeth in places, and there is no pattern to the stones, it's all helter-skelter with lots of mortar between the rocks. You can see it in my first photo on this thread. Many of the larger pieces of flagstone were placed well over the beam of the pool, and the pea gravel was cut around them. If the coping is laid out straight, there will be irregular holes in the pea gravel where the new coping won't cover it. What I want is a coping wide enough to cover ALL of the previous cuts, and I don't care how they have to do it. Tie it in with concrete and rebar, whatever. I want what I was told I could have. Period.
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Also, what about this travertine I have seen being used? Is it sturdy enough for decking? Is it cheaper than concrete? We have a **** of a lot of decking and it's all pea gravel at the moment but I am open to changing it and I want something nice. Tell me about travertine.
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    OK, today we have the tile guys. The plaster removal team left for another job. Now that I can see what the finished product is going to look like, I'm not quite as panicky as I was yesterday.

    You can't see the deco tiles very well - they are spaced at 8', but the plastic covering hasn't been removed yet.

    What do you think?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    I think the tile is looking good. We're getting travertine installed as our decking in a couple weeks. We like that we can easily move/replace pieces if we had to get to the plumbing underneath. Also, it's supposed to be much cooler than concrete, although I imagine when it's 110 degrees outside it'll still be pretty hot.
    --22k gallon pool/spa, IG, pebble w/ glass beads/abalone, all tile spa w/ stacked stone and spillway, 30 sf waterfall, 3 telescopic fountains, EZ Touch 8
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    --100 perim ft pool, 25 perim ft spa, Depth 3.5' to 7', 405 sq ft travertine decking, TF100 test kit
    --Time Lapse Video of our Pool Build ---- Our Pool Build Thread

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Stone came today. A little more on the tan side than I remember, but the color varies from pinkish to pinkish-tan. It's Arizona Buckskin, same as our previous pool. This is not all of the stone. Hope the batches match reasonably well.

    Edit: I thought I took photos of the stone-cutting and application but I can't find them at the moment. It was noisy, dusty, and took about a week. 120' of perimeter.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Will put more photos on this thread or start a new one and link to this one. It's all done!
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    I can't figure out how to get the pics posted in the right order, so I'm just going from where we left off to where we are now, if I get it wrong, you can figure it out I am sure. You can see the coping is all done here; still trying to find the photos I took of the stone masons working. They did a fantastic job IMO.

    Hubby took the first plunge yesterday after his run! WAY too cold for me yet, thanks to the cold snap we just went through!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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    Re: New - Help me decide what company gets to renovate the p

    Three more.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    45'6" x 19' x 26' gunite pool, 43,000 gallons! 3/25/2013 renovation: Arizona Buckskin flagstone coping, NPT Verona Borba Turquoise tile & deco tile, Jules Bright Blue glass trim tile, Altima Premium Plaster in Teal, Pentair Whisperflow 2.0hp Filter Pump, Pentair 60 sq ft DE Filter with Multiport Valve. Polaris automatic cleaner.

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