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Thread: New Pool Build - Northern California

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    New Pool Build - Northern California

    We are in the process of getting our first pool. Please help us out, we will need it!

    We have talked so far with 7-10 companies and had 7 visits to our site. I only have one quote so far and it is way, way too expensive!

    So I thought I would start posting on here to get some feedback and some help in narrowing down our choices and options.

    So far I did a rough redesign of our back yard area and the future pool, and surprisingly have had very few suggestions for changes or other ideas from any of the pool builders and designers. I kind of thought I would get a ton of suggestions, and we only had one person try to steer us in a totally different direction for almost all of our choices.

    Here is what we are planning:

    Size: 15ft x 30ft rectangle pool - We have a modern home so this fits with our home and our location

    Depth: 5.5ft to 3.5ft with sunning ledge in shallow end aprox 4ft x 8ft

    Cover: Auto Cover

    Decking: 4ft 2 sides, 8ft 2 sides

    Heating: Solar (Fafco or similar panels) 80% coverage means 9 panels

    Sanitation/Chemicals: still undetermined want lowest chlorine possible - looking at combo salt mineral system from Jandy as option 1, or option 2 reg chlorine with mineral & uv

    Finish: Dark finish - really like the wet edge Kona Black - or a dark pebble finish like verde

    Cleaner: Looked at in floor Paramount system (only if we can afford it), or a basic robot and some deep water returns to keep the temperature equal

    Pump: Pentair variable speed or Jandy (like 2" input/output size of Jandy)
    ----------------------
    So we are going to hopefully get some quotes this week, and I will post back any questions. I also have to call the first company back that wanted $85K for the pool and $55K for the hardscaping and landscape updates...that is just way too much for a 40ft x 70ft yard...Thanks for looking

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Welcome to TFP!

    We strongly recommend you stay away from mineral systems, and while UV won't harm anything, it won't help anything either. The real risk with chlorine is having the level too low. That is what causes the accumulation of chloramines, which are what is dangerous, not the chlorine it's self.

    In floor cleaning systems are expensive to install, take more electricity to run, and break more often than the average for other kinds of equipment. In most cases that is only worth it when you have a lot of blow in dust, which is not something I would expect to see in Scotts Valley.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    Welcome to TFP!

    We strongly recommend you stay away from mineral systems, and while UV won't harm anything, it won't help anything either. The real risk with chlorine is having the level too low. That is what causes the accumulation of chloramines, which are what is dangerous, not the chlorine it's self.

    In floor cleaning systems are expensive to install, take more electricity to run, and break more often than the average for other kinds of equipment. In most cases that is only worth it when you have a lot of blow in dust, which is not something I would expect to see in Scotts Valley.
    Thanks for the advice. It is hard to sort through all of the variations/options! So no to mineral, no to UV, no to ozone then?

    In general what are the best option(s) for low chlorine (my son has sensitive skin and eczema)?

    That leaves traditional Chlorine or SWCG which is fine. I just want to keep the levels low. The Salt systems I have been in seem like they are pretty nice, and if we do choose SWCG we are not planning any natural stone around the pool so that shouldn't be a problem, plus one of the auto covers we are looking at is warranted to use with salt...

    With regards to the floor system - I am leaning away from that as well based mostly on higher costs. I haven't heard of performance issues. We don't have a lot of blowing sand, dust etc in our area. However, we do have some very large cypress tress nearby that drop lots of debris. I think the auto cover will help with that most of the time. One builder recommended deep water return lines, and said it would help keep the temperature more uniform.

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Below is the original sketch I provided to my prospective builders. So far only one has suggested anything different...

    pool.jpg

    I have some 3D images back from our expensive builder. I have included one below:

    pool001.jpg

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Autocovers are very expensive (though great - we love ours - it was our main upgrade). An easy way to lower the price by $8-15K. I've seen many people say they wanted them but in the end they get nixed for budgetary reasons (seldom for other reasons). They are a perfect complement to heated pools since you can easily keep it covered almost all the time not in use, unless you want to see your pool.

    Highly recommend SWCG for sanitation if you don't have stone that will be susceptible to deterioration. Prices do seem really high though I know nothing of your market.

    I'd throw in a robot vs the in-floor. Your budget came up several times in your post so another reason to pass on the in-floor.

    Write-in the preferred plumbing setup regarding pipe sizing and run layout from TFP. Others can guide you if you haven't culled it from the data here.

    How about the biggies like decking and coping materials? They have as much impact on the overall appearance as anything.

    Best of luck!
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Quote Originally Posted by bmoreswim View Post
    Autocovers are very expensive (though great - we love ours - it was our main upgrade). An easy way to lower the price by $8-15K. I've seen many people say they wanted them but in the end they get nixed for budgetary reasons (seldom for other reasons). They are a perfect complement to heated pools since you can easily keep it covered almost all the time not in use, unless you want to see your pool.

    Highly recommend SWCG for sanitation if you don't have stone that will be susceptible to deterioration. Prices do seem really high though I know nothing of your market.

    I'd throw in a robot vs the in-floor. Your budget came up several times in your post so another reason to pass on the in-floor.

    Write-in the preferred plumbing setup regarding pipe sizing and run layout from TFP. Others can guide you if you haven't culled it from the data here.

    How about the biggies like decking and coping materials? They have as much impact on the overall appearance as anything.

    Best of luck!
    Thanks -- we are planning for salt finish concrete decking - coping so far is between pre-cast square edge or poured in place square edge. One builder insists he wants to pour in place, others are happy with pre-cast.

    Our choice for the auto-cover is partly due to safety, efficiency, and less fencing as per code. Budget is part of the overall equation, and being in the Bay Area of Northern California we unfortunately are in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the country, so our costs are always higher here.

    My family in Arizona put in a pool with large concrete decking and a rock waterfall last year for under $30K. We are hoping to do our job for $50-$60K

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Can't see it from this angle, but you might also want some benchwork along the house side as well so that people in the pool can sit and face those in the pergola area. Benches are great!

    Regarding light placement, pointing them away from the primary viewing areas is usually best practice. You may be in a pickle there with seating on the far side and the house view being opposite. Regular or LED light(s)? Love me some LED's. Your returns should direct water in a circular motion around the pool if possible, keeping the debris flowing towards the skimmer(s). Secondarily, placing returns where they can hit your lower back while seated on a bench is nice too. Especially with your solar running, the water coming out will be warmer. A lot of people get bubblers on their sun shelves - and they can be lighted - another way to spend money.

    You may need a railing on the steps going to the pool level. Older folks may stay away from the area without one. Could be a code requirement as well?

    Search for eczema on the site. There has recently (the last year) been mention of it by one thread in particular, saying how beneficial their pool has been for a family member's eczema. IIRC. So just the opposite of your hypothesis. The usual myth is that pool water is tough on your skin, when if fact it's more true that poorly/publicly maintained pool water is what causes the problems. Public pools use no CYA (generally) and therefore the effective strength of the chlorine is much higher (and bothersome) - not to mention the CC's.

    How about a few before pictures of your yard/back of house to give us some perspective?
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Our build - in my signature - is also of a rectangle, with autocover and with walls around it similar to yours, except that our slope goes away from the house. We also essentially did a turn-down edge to the concrete decking like they show in your 3-D view. Be sure to consider what will be on the surface of that wall as well, unless they can grade the dirt up to it, as they did with ours. The walls certainly do add expense but also add immensely to the overall feel of the pool area.

    I would want to see live examples of any contractor's work who wants to do the poured in place coping. There have been good and bad examples shown here - the good ones can be great. Precast is a more conservative approach on the risk scale. User harleysilo comes to mind as someone who had cantilevered concrete decking (with autocover) and had some quality issues on that front. (Again, IIRC.)
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Here is a photo before we put our grass in..


    Then with the grass



    Our lot slopes from top to bottom about 4ft between the retaining wall at the bottom of the photos up to the back of our property.

    Here is another photo showing the back of our house from about where our pergola will be and the edge of our decking...


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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Thanks for the pics. You're not kidding about modern. That's awesome looking! You could have just bought that rocket ship shaped house in southwest Scott's Valley on top of the hill that already has a pool. (I saw it from Google Earth).
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Here is a photo from one of the builders we are looking at using that is similar to what we would like:



    Also we are thinking of using the same stacked stone that we have on the front of our home for the raised concrete walls - along with some of our smooth stucco, and/or smooth finished colored concrete.

    Stone on our entry:


    Our patios are done with a salt finish, and we would like to replicate that.


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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Welp,
    I think a lot of the cost your getting is due to 2 factors that you just cant get around.
    1. Your yard is on a fairly significant grade, so the retaining wall and elevated deck are going to most likely just have to be a fact of life.
    2. You are in earthquake country, and I am sure the PB has taken that into account by adding additional and larger rebar and thicker pool shell which also drives the cost up.

    I suspect that the subterrain is fairly rocky too, and digging a big hole in it will mean more dollars. (could be wrong about this though)

    Other than the pergola area, I dont see much in the way of the pool, deck, and retaining wall that could be eliminated.

    I agree with bmoreswim on the infloor system. Eliminate that and go with a robot.

    since you are planning on solar heating, that is also adding a lot of cost up front, but I think is a good choice considering your location.
    Since you do have heat, then its highly recommended to have a cover of some sort to preserve the heat. Not much in the way of options, but the auto cover is definitely expensive.

    SWG is the way to go for sanitation and algae prevention.
    the UV, Ozone really dont work very well in an outdoor pool. The mineral system will add metals to your water and you end up with green hair and ugly metal stains on that expensive plaster.
    According to the linked article, the chlorine in the pool may actually aleviate some of the discomfort from eczema
    http://content.time.com/time/health/...894149,00.html

    Anyways, I certainly hope you find a happy medium that works for you.

    Good Luck!
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Thanks, yes we are in earthquake country - ground zero several years ago...

    I hope that we can get a reasonably cost pool built and then we understand the $$$ upgrades of an auto cover and the solar heating will add to our final costs. We will eliminate the in floor system, and the mineral/ozone/uv options entirely.

    We well know more by this weekend, as we are going to get a few more quotes lined up by then.

    Thanks again - any advice is welcome!

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    OK we have some more quotes now and have a decent quote we are mulling over right now.

    Here are the details of our best quote so far:

    15' x 30' rectangle
    3'6" shallow end - 5'6" deepend (up to 6' deep and potential to go with sport style with deep center section)
    Sch 40 plumbing
    Manual Fill Line - Anti Siphon
    Jandy Valves
    2 1/2" pool suction
    2" return lines
    Two deep heat return lines
    1 Skimmer
    Solar Plumbing to corner of home (for DIY or alternative contractor to install solar on roof)
    65 PCF - engineered freestanding pool wall at southeast end
    5' tanning shelf, steps and seat in deep end
    30 Amp Electrical Sub panel 75' from existing meter
    2 Nexus LED Lights
    Digital 2 speed time clock
    Keyswitch for automatic cover
    Pre-cast coping
    Wetedge Primera Stone finish: Black Kona
    Standard Waterline Tile
    Jandy Aqua Pure SWCG
    Polaris 28 pool sweep
    Pump: Jandy Stealth 1.5 HP 2 Speed
    Filter: Jandy 460sq.ft. CV Cartridge
    Jandy/Zodiac Cover Pools automatic cover - stone cover to match coping ($13,000 charge)

    Total: $63,150

    This is closer to our ball park (even if it is the high end of what we were hoping for).

    I would love any feedback or comments on what we have...Thanks in advance!!!

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Hi,
    Welcome back!

    Im glad the PB's are working with you on your quote.

    Just a comment, and not a criticism. There may well be a legit reason...
    Not sure why the spec's 2 1/2 suction and 2 inch returns. Unless maybe you have a really long plumbing run and he's trying to minimize head loss.
    Typically, the plumbing is 2 inch suction and 1 1/2 retun
    Not sure of what any cost impact on this would be, maybe 100 - 200$ best guess.

    Previously I had mentioned to elimitate the in floor system and go with a robot.
    I see your quote lists a polaris. ... semantics, dont you love them?

    The Polaris is a great pressure side cleaner. It requires its own pressure side pump to work. So, its not technically a robot. In addition, the pressure side pump is extremely inefficient which means a bigger light bill, and is also very loud.

    A robot is a 12v electic cleaner. It costs almost nothing to operate it. The robot also operates in dead silence.

    the cost of the 280 and pressure pump and plumbing would about equal out at the same price of a top shelf robot.

    I would recommend to research the Maytronics Dolphins, the Hayward Tiger and Aquabot lines of Robots, and also research more on the Polaris 280 so you can properly compare them.

    There are several very nice middle class robots in the 700-900 range. They dont have all of the bells and whistles of top shelf, like weekly programming and remote control, but they do a fantastic job of cleaning the pool.

    The robots are also easier to clean the filters on them than the bag on the 280.

    My personal preference, would be ditch the Polaris and get a dolphin robot on the side. (PB's mark them up drastically above online retail). You can often find them on sale, and several online suppliers will maintian the manufacturer warranty on them. If you need help with suppliers, we can help with that too.

    Here is a link to our forum on pool cleaners with reviews of several models.
    http://www.troublefreepool.com/forums/50-Pool-Cleaners
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
    www.tftestkits.net Experience- it's what's learned just after you needed it most !!

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Thanks for the comments.

    We are still trying to figure out the pool cleaner, and I have done a little research on using a Robot instead - looked at a model of the Dolphin earlier.

    I will do some more research.

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Whichever cover you go with, don't overlook their websites to check out all the options available with each so you can choose appropriately. The PB will not be an expert in all those most likely.

    One interesting feature with Cover Pools that I saw just now was with the Zodiac Aqualink automation you can have it decrease the SWG output % when the cover is closed which, I can tell you from experience, would be very handy to have. I don't have it. Nice feature and great use of an automation system. Not sure if you are getting automation. We have no spa but I still like it a lot.

    Are the Nexus lights from Zodiac? Generally good to stay in the family if possible.

    Price for the cover is the same as ours was also for a matching stone lid with HD stainless steel brackets. You also have the option for a wired or wireless keypad switch with codes to tell you via text who has opened/closed the pool. Haven't bothered to get the internet aspect going in the first two years - so not vital for me obviously.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, SWCG, automation) View Our Build
    Coverstar automatic pool cover | StoneMakers concrete retaining wall and decking
    Spring 2013 Build | Dolphin Active 20 robot cleaner | Support TFP!

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Quote Originally Posted by santacruzpool View Post
    In general what are the best option(s) for low chlorine (my son has sensitive skin and eczema)?
    As I mentioned previously, this is exactly the opposite of what you need to do. 99% of the people who react to chlorine, are not reacting to chlorine but rather to combined chlorine, a disinfection byproduct. Low chlorine levels are exactly what causes combined chlorine to accumulate in the water and cause problems. The chlorine levels we recommend, see Pool School, will minimize the presence of combined chlorine and cause the lowest possible level of irritation.

    Separately, there are a number of reports of switching to a SWG helping sensitive skin.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    It is hard to press the builder to reduce costs, reduce costs -- then add more features in the next breath. I am sure that is normal. We are trying to boil it down to the minimum required and then add back in a few luxury items that might be useful to us.

    I don't think the lights are Zodiac - I will ask.

    So far our luxury items we are committed to are:
    1. Automatic Cover
    2. Tanning Shelf
    3. Solar pre-plumbed

    Add-ons that we are contemplating:
    1. Upgrade pump from 2 Speed to VS if it will save money (e.g. with the Automatic Controller below)
    2. Solar ($5k to $6k by builders estimate and company - DIY or other company may drop this quite a bit)
    3. Automatic Controls - don't really want to control it with my smart phone or a dedicated handheld unit, but it would be nice on our home PC or even better a simple control panel beyond a 2 part timer
    4. Therapy jets on part of our seating bench
    5. Color LED Upgrade over the standard white LED's
    6. Notification of cover open/closed etc..again automation - sigh

    I see automation in our future based on what it can do and my list above - I just need to figure out how much it will add.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    As I mentioned previously, this is exactly the opposite of what you need to do. 99% of the people who react to chlorine, are not reacting to chlorine but rather to combined chlorine, a disinfection byproduct. Low chlorine levels are exactly what causes combined chlorine to accumulate in the water and cause problems. The chlorine levels we recommend, see Pool School, will minimize the presence of combined chlorine and cause the lowest possible level of irritation.

    Separately, there are a number of reports of switching to a SWG helping sensitive skin.
    Thank you, I am just starting to get a minor understanding of these issues.

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    Re: New Pool (Hopefully starting soon) - Bay Area California

    Quote Originally Posted by santacruzpool View Post
    Thanks for the advice. It is hard to sort through all of the variations/options! So no to mineral, no to UV, no to ozone then?

    In general what are the best option(s) for low chlorine (my son has sensitive skin and eczema)?
    In some cases, doctors actually recommend adding bleach to bath water to help people with eczema. There are multiple references like this one.
    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-c...h/faq-20058413

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