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Thread: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

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    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Queen Creek, AZ
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    6

    Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    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......

    More tomorrow.....

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Oklahoma City
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    72

    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    Welcome aboard!! Sounds like a great project! I am envious of any DIY, with or without subs. I was hoping to go that way but got overruled!
    Looking forward to more pics and updates.
    IG gunite Edmond, OK(OKC), 18x36 freeform ~20K, 4-8' deep, Pentair equip, (2) 3hp VS+ pump, 520 cart filter, 3 LED, Easytouch8, ItellichlorIC40 SWG, Polaris 3900 cleaner, Spa 8'x18"raised, 20' raised bond beam 2 sheers, Stonescape Tahoe Blue quartz plaster, TF-100 kit.
    Feb. 25, 2014 dig started, May 24, 2014 filled.

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Mar 2014
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    Queen Creek, AZ
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    6

    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    Thanks! And sorry in advance if I get a bit long winded with this, but I'm slightly modifying this text to use as a general log of the project, along with various spreadsheets and timelines, and am trying to be fairly detailed, so that if it's a success, hopefully it can help others considering DIY.

    So back to it....Like I mentioned before, the plan has changed and evolved a few times over the years. The original idea was a large-ish freeform, but at some point I think we realized it didn't really go with the Tuscan style of the house, and then ended up doing a complete 180 to a rectilinear, but ultimately settled on a classic Roman shape, with a few twists. The most unique feature of this build will be that the entire shallow end and surrounding decking will be raised up above grade approximately 36". This is due to the property being sloped toward the house roughly 30" per the entire length of the decking. In a perfect world, I'd have chose to build it into the slope and wrap the back with a retaining wall, but although infrequent, I've seen monsoon storms and the occasional microburst flood most of the yard with water pouring through the RV gate, diagonally across the lot and out one of the front gates. The house is raised up similarly for what I'm guessing is the same reason. So getting the entire hardscaped portion up and out of the way is piece of mind that it'll never end up full of mud and/or landscaping rock. It also forms the basis of a dog barrier as we have 4 English Bulldogs that sink rather than swim.

    This explains the previously mentioned engineering as the raised portion of the pool will be self-supporting and not rely on the backfilled deck surrounding it....it is possible to do it this way, but it would require much more backfilled area than there is room for. The backfill will be held with poured in place formed concrete that will eventually have a stacked stone laminate applied. To add even more dimension, we are raising the deep end bond beam and surrounding decking up another 18" or so, and recessing the diving board into the raised radius with a 36" sheer descent waterfall on either side. We'll then wrap the back decking with a short raised wall to act as a seating area and mimic the front. The conceptual drawings also show these walls on the sides, but I think we're scalping that since it would probably cause a claustrophobic feeling when in the pool. They were originally intended as dog barriers, but we may end up doing traditional iron fencing in these areas instead. I think it's probably better to wait and see what the rest looks like before committing.









    These drawings are also a bit skewed in the relationship between ground level and deck level, but were more for the pool shape and a generalization of the raised concept. Here is a test layout we did to decide on the placement. It's pretty close, but the final decking is a few feet wider and longer at the deep end. It also doesn't show the recessed diving board because apparently my designer isn't 100% comfortable with that, haha. Ah, people these days.......




  4. Back To Top    #4
    AlanH's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
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    Nicaragua
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    54

    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    Welcome to TFP, and kudos for contracting the project yourselves. Stick to your guns for what you want. It's your pool after all. I went the DIY route as well, largely due to three things: 1)extremely high PB quotes (averaging $75K; actual cost $16K); 2)PBs and some folks in general telling me I couldn't do what I wanted to, and; 3)the great information and support on TFP. It also took a while to get the engineering support to go ahead comfortably, settle on a design (very different from the first), and to source materials for the build. Have faith in yourself. When building our home an engineer (supervising engineer for a luxury resort being built in the area) took a shine to our project and for a reasonable fee popped in to review key milestones. I'll always remember his words commenting on our re-bar work: "I can't get my guys to build like that (in a good way!). It's been my experience that many homeowners can do a better job than professional contractors. They (the homeowners) have to live there. Mistakes and shortcuts get taken care of." Best wishes for you build. Go for it.
    "I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." (R. Frost); 12.5K gal; 18'x72" round joined to 10x16x18" oval; vinyl liners; ferrocement-like wall panels; perimeter wet edge; fountain and cascade; Pentair Dynamo 1hp 2 spd; Pentair CC75 filter; Pentair no-lube valves. My build here.

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    Mar 2014
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    Queen Creek, AZ
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    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    (EDIT: updated equipment specs)

    Yeah, I could almost see using a PB for a small, basic pool and taking advantage of the specials and discounts they often offer for them, but it almost seems that (at least here in AZ) that as soon as you start talking about anything they consider too large, deep, or custom, the prices go up so drastically, it suggests that they simply would rather not do them. We've even had a few builders say they'd prefer not to even do designs on diving pools anymore. I'm fully aware that there are increased costs in engineering and structural materials in larger pools, but even with our last one, if we went beyond a certain SF of surface, the price started rising dramatically for no apparent reason.....by contrast, they sure had no problem selling us more and more decking instead, haha.

    So as far a specs go, here are the details:
    - 23'x50', 1022sf surface, 10' deep, 45,871 gallons
    - Light pebble finish comparable to Pebble-Sheen
    - ~1450 sf decking; still pondering pavers vs stamped concrete vs ?
    - 8' InterFab Baja diving board, recessed
    - (2) Pentair IntelliFlo VS pump
    - Pentair Quad DE 100, w/ FullFloXF backwash balve
    - Pentair IntelliTouch load center, i5+3S, ScreenLogic2 for Mac/iOS, ItelliChlor IC60
    - A&A Gamma 4 in-floor w/ 6 port valve, (2) QuikSkims, auto leveler, LeafVac, AVSC drain
    - (2) Pentair IntelliBrite 5g lights, 2 LED bubblers in baja step, and 12 deck jets
    - (2) 36" sheer descent waterfalls

    - Pentair UltraTemp HP 120R heat pump/chiller (pre-plumbed/wired to be added at the end of the season)
    - Loop for possible future solar, although initial research is indicating the solar installation cost for a pool of this size would be prohibitive, especially considering it's limited effectiveness.
    - Lots of details still being worked out and subject to change until the last minute.
    - Still undecided on fencing, but it'll probably end up being a mixture of masonry and steel at a minimum height just to keep the dogs out, and I'll just temporarily put the silly door alarms on and hide my dog door to get through the barrier inspection.

    I did like the Jandy equipment I had before (except for the s-l-o-w and overpriced PDA remote that had the processing power of a 70's calculator), but they don't make a salt cell rated for over 40k gallons, and although others are slowly following, I've been kind of sold on Pentair since they first embraced iOS integration 4-5? years ago.....it seems silly to pay a small fortune for some clunky, proprietary remote when the device I'm always carrying anyway can do the same thing better. A distinct level of OCD forces me to keep the item's brand consistent, so it's pretty much Pentair across the board.

    Looks like the layout is scheduled for early next week, and pending Blue Stake, we might possibly get on the excavator schedule for as soon as the end of next week. It appears that we've also chosen the first round of contractors through shotcrete, just waiting on a revised plumbing quote. Looks like things are going to going to start getting hectic! I just ordered a weatherproof, time lapse construction camera to document the process.

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    Love the specs. You will love the A&A setup with the venturi skimmers -- they are awesome. Couple of notes - Make sure to use the new G4V cleaning heads, they are the newest venturi cleaning heads and will give you more flow for less pump speed.

    Also, I would swap the filter to the Quad DE 100.

    On another note - might want to consider swapping to an Intelliflo VS... The XF gets confused and constantly ramps the rpm up and down to keep the flow constant as the infloor valve changes zones
    28000 gallon IG pool, 3.5ft - 8ft deep, Stonescapes Tropics Blue Interior, Pentair Intellichlor SWG, Pentair Quad DE 100 filter, Pentair Intelliflo VS-SVRS, Whisperflo 3hp (water features), A&A Max in floor cleaning, Pentair Easytouch 8 Automation, Screenlogic II, Pentair Mastertemp 400k BTU heater, Pentair Intellichem with acid injection via stennar pump, 9'x7' spa with Infiniti edge

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    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    sorry, scratch that last recommendation. Its the VF pump that doesnt work to well with in floor
    28000 gallon IG pool, 3.5ft - 8ft deep, Stonescapes Tropics Blue Interior, Pentair Intellichlor SWG, Pentair Quad DE 100 filter, Pentair Intelliflo VS-SVRS, Whisperflo 3hp (water features), A&A Max in floor cleaning, Pentair Easytouch 8 Automation, Screenlogic II, Pentair Mastertemp 400k BTU heater, Pentair Intellichem with acid injection via stennar pump, 9'x7' spa with Infiniti edge

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    Mar 2014
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    Queen Creek, AZ
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    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    Thanks. Yeah, I had the QuikSkim with my last pool and it worked well when the wind wasn't fighting it. Having two on this one should solve that problem. It is venturi heads that are spec'd. I was pleased to see that the crazy expensive removal tool I have from my G3 heads will work with the new ones too.
    I looked at the Quad filters, but that would bring me back to cartridges, which equals hours of horrible cleaning every time there is a dust storm.....unless this system works completely different?

    In other news, it looks like we're doing an 11th hour engineering change and dropping the whole thing down about halfway. Now that we've decided to not do the side walls, we realized that since we are still raising the entire back portion, it really doesn't need to be that high anymore, and the revision in the plans will be a fraction of what we'll save in steel and shotcrete since the portions above grade are all spec'd at 12". The front will still have probably two steps, and we're thinking we'll maybe do a perimeter retaining wall around the entire thing that is on the same level with or slightly higher than whatever the fronts ends up at in case there are any low areas before the raised portion. The revision should be done Monday, and although it'll be unfortunate if it causes delays with the county, it's better to deal with it now than regret not doing it later.

  9. Back To Top    #9

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    Mar 2014
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    Queen Creek, AZ
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    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    Well, layout was just completed and the excavator is scheduled for later this week.....no turning back now. Still finalizing last minute details on equipment, decking, and fencing.....I guess that's one advantage to an owner-build; you can change your mind right till the end and only annoy yourself.

    I think I am going to go with the Quad DE 100 after all due to the high flow capability. Since there is still an option to back flush, perhaps it'll be less hassle than regular carts. We're leaning towards travertine pavers for decking.....found a really good per-pallet price and just waiting on a quote for installation. Now that the decking is being dropped almost two feet and the walls are eliminated, I think we may do a 6-12" high footer around the perimeter of the decking to create a hard barrier against runoff, dirt, leaves, etc, and then use it to mount 36" high steel fencing on top, which will give a ~48" barrier from the outside and be plenty to keep the dogs out without looking too much like a prison fence.


  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Mar 2014
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    Queen Creek, AZ
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    Re: Pool v2.0; New self-contracted build in Queen Creek, AZ

    So, good news and not-so-good news at the end of week one. The good news is that the equipment was purchased on Monday and delivered on Thursday, and we had a great experience with the local office of Wholesale Pool Equipment in Mesa. I was going to piece everything together using various online vendors to avoid the rather high AZ sales tax rates, but since we were buying everything at the same time they were able to offer a price that was so competitive, as well as a longer warranty, that it didn't make sense to look elsewhere. I do prefer to buy local when possible and it's comforting that my lights weren't thrown around by ups.



    The not-so-good part is that excavation began right on schedule on Thursday, and promptly hit caliche at only two feet.....something we'd kind of expected from our own experiences with planting trees and such, but really didn't want to think about. All the excavator's quotes warn of the possibility of 'hard digs' in this area, so we figured we'd just cross that bridge if we came to it. Well, we've arrived at said bridge and the toll is rather high, haha.



    Only two truckloads were removed on Thursday, but a lot of the day was spent lasering to get the elevations set. They returned Friday with a larger excavator and managed to remove seven loads, essentially finishing the deep end. Sure enough, it was caliche all the way down. If nothing else, we probably never have to worry about anything moving or cracking as this pool will essentially sit in a mold of naturally occurring concrete. It's no wonder that we have no cracks in any of the ~8 year old concrete around the property including a large driveway and rv garage. Once they reached bottom via a series of swaps between a massive hydraulic breaker and the scoop, it seemed to go a bit easier as they could then pull material up from below with the scoop (albeit a bit violently as this practice nearly lifts the opposite side track of the ground, lol). Hopefully that progress will continue when work commences on Monday and maybe even finish a little sooner than expected since the cost goes way up when a projected 2 day dig turns into 4-5.


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