New member here in the Houston area that's been lurking around for a couple of years checking in every so often when I've had the itch to pull the trigger on a pool. My wife and I just finished a major patio renovation in 2013. We wanted to get it paid off before starting on the pool and it looks like it is finally time. We have not even contacted any builders yet. I wanted to do the same thing we did with the patio which was to get our vision solidified enough that we could present the concept/plan to builders in order to make sure it's something they could accomplish and also get very comparable bids with a minimum of ambiguity.
Because of the amount of space we dedicated to the patio and along with the placement of our house on the lot and an 8' utility easement coupled with a 10' HOA building setback (which does have an exception process), we do not have a tremendous amount of space to work with. While an extra 10' of depth and width would have given us WAY more flexibility, the situation is what it is. Fortunately, a smaller pool will work well for us. We are DINKs (dual income, no kids) so some of the extra kid specific features (diving area, slide, large shallow area, etc...) are not necessary. The pool to us is something to relax in, something to get some exercise in and last but not least, a water feature to complete our backyard oasis.
So, with all of that out of the way, I am here to ask:
Please help me not make rookie mistakes or things I'll kick myself for in a year (if only I did xxxx instead of yyyy, etc...)
Other than being the "pool guy" for an HOA community pool 20+ years ago, I don't have any real experience. I don't even know what I don't know. I have garnered some knowledge lurking in the background here and at other pool related forums for the last few years. So from that, I have some basic concepts and have made a few decisions. For instance, I know we want to go the SWG route. I know we want a spa. I know we want plenty of lighting available. I know we want automation everywhere possible (just not the specifics of what/how yet).
In a nutshell, this is what I have in mind for now:
In-ground 21' x 12' main pool
3.5' to 5.5' depth
Raised beam (2') 7' x 8' perimeter overflow spa
Raised Beam (2') 7' x 14' dedicated swim spa with partial perimeter overflow
7' x 7' baja/sunshelf
Here is my current concept drawing of the whole thing. It is drawn on top of the landscape plan we had completed as part of the patio project. Unfortunately, the resolution is getting knocked down quite a bit, so it is really hard to see the notes.
The white/grey V shaped things are lights
The round things on the baja shelf are bubblers
The grouped lines on the back wall are sheer descents
The blue V shaped thing in the swim spa is the jet flow
The rectangular area in the left side of the spa is a lounge (can this even be done? I cannot find anything in any of my searched other than bench seating)
The Green square area on the left side of the house/structure is existing AC units (three of them)
Pool and Landscape for POST v5.jpg
Here are my primary areas of concern that I was hoping to get some feedback on:
The Spa/Hot Tub.
I was really torn here and searched high and low for a fiberglass overflow model that could give us the look we wanted. We both really wanted all of the jets and control you get with a fiberglass spa. The issue is that we REALLY like the added water feature aspect of a perimeter overflow. From a design perspective, the built-in gunite spas are hard to beat for a seamless and integrated look as well as the aesthetic capabilities for overflows, etc... Here are the things we are looking for:
1) Full lay-down lounge seat with back jets
2) In general, an excessive amount of jets for other seats. What is the limitation with built-in spas and jets? I have never been able to find anything even close to a fiberglass spa in the number of jets. THe only thing that comes close are the modular JetPak units, but I have heard no real info/reviews of them.
3) Reclined seating. Rather than the standard 90* straight back wall seats, is it possible to have them angled? Something like a 20* incline? Again, taking a cue from the pre-built fiberglass units.
4) Noise, or lack thereof. I want the spa to be as quite as possible. From what I've read, this can be helped by over-sized (or maybe right-sized) plumbing lines.
The Swim Spa (Endless Pools, Badu, etc...).
This is a "unique" feature I am trying to accomplish. I have at this point made the swim spa it's own section of the pool. The reason I "think" I want to do this is so that I can use it all year long without having to heat the entire pool. I have some other versions of the design where the swim spa and hot tub are incorporated into the same space, but my concern with that was the added water volume that would have to be heated up to use it as a hot tub. By splitting these into two separate areas, my thinking is that I can have a hot tub that can be quickly warmed up to a toasty 104(f) when I want it and then a swim spa that I can run up to 78(f) even in February without breaking the bank.
The placement and separate section of the swim spa also gives me the the option to create a 2-section tiered waterfall that I think will look quite nice at the far end of the pool.
Lastly, I do have the whole build process on the patio captured and would be happy to share it in another thread (maybe in the outdoor kitchen forum?). Here is a picture of the finished patio project.
[EDIT] I've started a patio build thread in the Outdoor Kitchen forum:
Thanks to everyone for the information I have been able to glean to date by lurking as well as the help I am sure that will be forthcoming.