Hi folks, just getting started on our second, and what will hopefully be our last pool build using the knowledge gained from the mistakes and constraints of the previous one and trying to incorporate everything we could want and prevent future regrets. All this comes with a pretty hefty price tag, and having had a pretty miserable prior experience with one of the area's largest and 'esteemed' PBs, we decided we probably couldn't do any worse, and even if we did, we'd potentially save a bunch of money in the process. So the dice have been rolled....
But first, some history. V1.0 came about shortly after our move to AZ in late 2005. Having closed on a new house while the crazy real estate bubble was growing by the day, there was an admitted bit of a rush to use the artificial instant equity and get a pool build in the primary mortgage, we did little research and went with the second quote we got due to a fairly sizable discount obtained by my wife's employer being a trade partner with the PB. Being a tract house in a bubble market subdivision, space was tight even with a corner lot, further squeezed with utility easements, and I was unwilling to have anything but a diving pool, so we essentially crammed a whole lot of pool into a fairly small space. This resulted in a too-small diving envelope (my wrists took a beating, lol), a steep slope that started too early in the shallow end, and a pool that was too narrow. We also spent way too much on a mostly decrotive beach entry that didn't have enough water volume or depth and served primarily as a bird bath and giant dog dish.
Other lessons learned through five years of ownership, use, maintenance and repairs:
- Bringing the pebble out of the water instead of waterline tile is a horrible idea.
- If only using one skimmer, it shouldn't have to fight the prevailing wind.
- Despite the high initial cost and questionable reputation, in-floor cleaning does work quite well....but the heads are sure expensive to replace when they break.
- Cleaning cartridge filters after AZ dust storms is something I never want to do again. Ever. Again.
- Having pool equipment that is extremely crammed together with no service unions makes it very difficult to service, repair, or replace things when they inevitably fail.
- Being talked out of a heater, or at least pre-wiring and plumbing for one by a PB because "you live in the desert, no need!" leaves you with a pool that can only be used 4-5 months out of the year.....and that pretty much sucks when it's 95 in April and October.
- Spending money on a fake rock waterfall would've been better spent elsewhere because we never really used it and it became a home for spiders and a perch for a stubborn pigeon that would not leave.
- Coping should be used instead of bringing the deck right to the edge because if they mess up the pebble application so badly that it needs to be drained, chipped out, and re-done, lots of damage can be done to the deck that may or may not ever be fixed properly.
But in the end, it wasn't all bad and it served as a great learning experience since we knew that house or pool would not be the last. It was definitely crammed in, but we had a decent size side yard and another area beyond the entry for the dogs, so all in all I think it was a decent use of space. The specs were 22.2k gallons, 550sf of surface, approx 35'x15', 8.5' deep, the PB's version of original Pebble Tec, A&A G3 6 port in-floor, a crude but efficient 1.5hp 1st gen VS pump, the afore-mentioned Hayward 8 cartridge filter, and Jandy Aqualink RS w/ salt chlorinator (upgraded by me when the original off-brand salt cell failed and a replacement couldn't be found because they were no longer being imported from AU). The decking was acrylic faux flagstone that was probably a little too dark for AZ, but it looked great and held up fantastically.
So fast forward.....late 2010 brought us to a new house in a rural area on 1.25 acres, that even after fencing off roughly 1/2 acre as a 'maintained backyard', and adding a decent plot of grass, it leaves us with ample space for the new build. The past few years have been spent not only saving to do this, but after rushing the last one we decided it would be a good idea to live in the house for a few years and do nothing until we were really sure of what we wanted.....as well as didn't want this time. And that appears to have been a good move because the plan has changed and evolved several times over the past few years. We actually did get several quotes from PBs when we started to hone in on a final concept, just to see what they could come up with and if the pricing could even approach competitive to a projected DIY budget, and what we ended up with were estimates in the 70-80k range with mediocre equipment and less features than we wanted. With that kind of cost pretty much an impossibility, the decision was finalized to contract the project ourselves and late last year, we hired a designer and went forward to a final engineered design that we received in January. After a bit of back and forth with the county who apparently isn't very familiar with pools with custom engineering, a permit was finally granted last week....three weeks after they (finally) accepted the application......government......