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Thread: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

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    platipus's Avatar
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    In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Howdy,

    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:
    http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...ild-in-Houston

    IMG_4560_50.jpg

    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.

    Regards,
    plat.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Welcome to TFP!

    That is just stunning.
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Looks like quite a unique/specific/thought-out and doable plan, albeit spendy I'm sure. Fantastic patio! 3 1/2' is very shallow. Have you spent time in one and/or do you have a specific reason for that? Maybe your non-DINK friends may have small kids.

    Best of luck with the project.
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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    WoW!

    I can make a couple of general comments that you brought up.

    Spa Seating Angle - Using gunite, you can make the spa seating whatever you like, however bear in mind that reline of the seating angle may increase the dimension of the spa if you intend to maintain the interior "leg room"

    Noise - I dont know how much you may be control the spa noise, but the sheer decents can be quite noisy when they are on. Of course they can be throttled back, but the acceptable level of noise is subjective.

    This is a really unique design, I hope it works out for you and you keep up posted about it.
    Divin Dave,
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Welcome Plat!

    That is a gorgeous setting. Enjoy the forums, glad you decided to join.
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    platipus's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    @everyone
    Thanks for the replies!

    @bemoreswim
    3.5' seems like a good and common entry depth from the Baja shelf, but yes, you are right it is shallow and it does seem like a "waste" as I don't think we'll spend much time there unless we are floating. To be honest, I'd actually rather start it at 4.5', but almost every pool I've seen has a shallow end around that depth, so I just kind of assumed I needed to start there. Is there a downside to starting at 4' or 4.5'? It sure would be a nice easy gradient from 4' to 5.5' over 21'.

    @Divin Dave
    I actually have a decent amount flexibility with the spa sizing. It's 8' x 7' as conceived right now. That is pretty big as-is for our uses (at least it seems that way), but I could easily tweak it to 9' x 8. This would almost certainly never have more than 6 people in it (and a rarity at that, I am talking like once or twice a year if even). Four people would be in it occasionally (4-5 times a year) and realistically, it will just me and my wife for the most part.

    The noise question on the sheers, yes, agreed. Sheers are loud. I like the water noise though. I was planning on lowering the height on them though to keep a more pleasant sound. Maybe I should go to two though instead. Food for thought. It's the hum of the spa motors/jets/air that I was mainly concerned about. I do wonder where the pump/filter pad will go. Ideally I would like it just to the bottom (off the drawing area) of the green box where the air conditioners are. That might be too far though. I am not sure. The other option would be behind the swim spa. I'd prefer not to do that though if I don't have to as it is right next to the neighbors then. Their pool equipment is there on the other side of the fence though so maybe it's not really an issue.


    Thanks!!!
    plat.

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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Honestly ours is 3' briefly and I was thinking more about that number. 3 1/2 probably is the most common shallow end. No harm in 4' other that just deeper for the littlest ones.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
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    platipus's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    So here is a picture of the "lounge" that is very similar to what I was thinking of. This is from a commercial spa somewhere. The "headrest" would just roll/flow into the perimeter overflow of the spa.



    Is there anything here I am missing as to why this would not be a relatively easy thing to include into the spa design? I like this design a lot actually. Had not though of arm rests. The only thing I would add is a foot rest and foot jets.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Your patio is awesome. +1 on starting at 4', 3-1/2' is definitely too shallow.

    We passed on the built in spa and bought a standalone hot tub for the patio. So, our hot tub is comfortable, covered and closer to the back door. All pluses when it is 20 degrees outside or raining. It is nice in the hot tub on a cold rainy night. It is also cheaper to operate, always hot and ready to go and we saved at least $10k, probably $15k, on initial cost. But, your ideas for your hot tub are great!
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    I 2nd this. At least in my case, I should have gone 4 ft on the shallow end but it never crossed my mind at the time.


    Quote Originally Posted by pooldv View Post
    Your patio is awesome. +1 on starting at 4', 3-1/2' is definitely too shallow.
    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: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    I have a play pool that is 3.5 at one end, 5 ft In the center, and 4 ft deep at the other end The one change I would make is to change it to 4, 5, and back to 4. So yes, I agree, you should ditch the 3.5 for 4 ft.

    If if you are going with SWG, you need to avoid the use of natural stone. Pool builders in Texas love to use stone. Texas limestone and Oklahoma flagstone are both very plentiful there. They are also cheap, soft stones and easy to work with. They also look great, but unfortunately they are quickly eroded by any contact with salt water. Avoid all natural stone. If you absolutely MUST have stone, use a very hard stone, and seal it.

    My pool builder said: "Stone or salt, pick one, but you can't have both."
    chiefwej
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    platipus's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    @everyone
    Again, thanks for the responses!

    @pooldv
    I really thought hard on the pre-built spa. There are a LOT of pluses with going that road, I can't deny it. In the end though, the aesthetics of the built-in are winning. We really want the perimeter edge overflow as it adds a great water feature right next to our best patio lounging area.

    @chiefwej
    My first draft of this design actually had us at 4' - 5.5' - 4.5'. I saw some postings about that kind of layout not being "popular" (we're planning on staying put, but always try to keep resale in mind). The wife also looked at that and questioned it without ever having seen those posts. Personally, I think it's the most flexible option given that we are too short to get a diving depth area for my comfort. That layout also lets most people hang out at either end of the pool and provides a fun "sport" area in the middle in my opinion.

    Thanks
    plat.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Get a tape measure and hold it up to you and the wife and note where 3-1/2, 4, 4-1/2, etc are on your body. 5-1/2 is too deep, 3-1/2 is too shallow and 4'-5' is just right!

    You are spot on about a play pool being great for having lots of room to hang out and play with nobody trading water. We are completely happy with our decision to do a play pool.
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Quote Originally Posted by chiefwej View Post
    I have a play pool that is 3.5 at one end, 5 ft In the center, and 4 ft deep at the other end The one change I would make is to change it to 4, 5, and back to 4. So yes, I agree, you should ditch the 3.5 for 4 ft.

    If if you are going with SWG, you need to avoid the use of natural stone. Pool builders in Texas love to use stone. Texas limestone and Oklahoma flagstone are both very plentiful there. They are also cheap, soft stones and easy to work with. They also look great, but unfortunately they are quickly eroded by any contact with salt water. Avoid all natural stone. If you absolutely MUST have stone, use a very hard stone, and seal it.

    My pool builder said: "Stone or salt, pick one, but you can't have both."
    To this end, I have flagstone eroding without salt, and I'm not sure if it would be much worse if we had it. I think it's all in the type of stone more than anything. Salt does damage, no question, but how much when the stone isn't the best choice...I'm just not sure about it yet.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    My pool builder said don't worry about salt and flagstone, it'll be fine.

    Our three seasons so far have yielded a few flagstones that are pitting, a few flagstones that are flaking like slate and most of the flagstone that still looks the same as it did on day one. But, all of it is about 2" thick and seems like it is going to last a very long time. I am not particularly concerned about it at this point. Worst case scenario that I can see is if the erosion accelerates then we would need to replace 6 or 8 pieces and we could try to be a little pickier in trying to choose stone that looks more like the ones that aren't wearing.

    My impression over the last few years is that there are a lot of warnings about flagstone and salt, but I haven't seen a lot of people who are reporting actual failures.

    I would say that the primary concern should be the aesthetics of your pool and what your personal preference is. If you really want flagstone then go for it. If there are some non-flagstone options that you like and you are concerned about salt induced erosion then that will work too.
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Howdy neighbor, nice backyard man. I would caution on the side of slanting your seating in the spa There was someone on this forum who designed it this way and said they have issues with floating when they attempted to lay back. I'm sure whatever you decide will be awesome!

    -Yes to the tanning shelf we love ours, we have a couple of Ledge loungers that we recline and sit in, very relaxing. These are good if yuo want to recline in the water

    http://ledgeloungers.com/

    - I would caution on the beach entry as well our friends have one and many birds/reptiles visit,drink,bathe & poop in the area. Guess it would depend on how much wild life activity you have.

    If you plan on doing an outdoor kitchen area now is the time to run your gas and electric.

    Also make sure you get volleyball/umbrella holes in your deck these get much use @ our house.

    hope this helps and can't wait to see the final design!
    Completed 38'X21' IG Free form pool approx 18.5K gallons, sports pool w/spa and tanning shelf 3.5-5.5 ft. Jandy Cartridge Filter, Jandy stealth pumps, Jandy LXi Heater, I aqualink, Inline chlorinator. Click to see My Pool Build

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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    I think we need to have 20 (or better yet 100) people build pools with SWCG's and Oklahoma flagstone this season. Half should seal annually and half shouldn't seal at all, then report back annually for about 10 or 15 years for us to see how it goes.

    But until that happens, I suppose you just have to look at the relative density of the stone selection as a guide to how likely erosion due to salt water might be. Or just import flagstone from PA, aka, PA Bluestone, and be happy.

    However as with anything, there are tradeoffs, with density comes heat retention.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. w/ gray plaster
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Quote Originally Posted by bmoreswim View Post
    I think we need to have 20 (or better yet 100) people build pools with SWCG's and Oklahoma flagstone this season. Half should seal annually and half shouldn't seal at all, then report back annually for about 10 or 15 years for us to see how it goes.

    But until that happens, I suppose you just have to look at the relative density of the stone selection as a guide to how likely erosion due to salt water might be. Or just import flagstone from PA, aka, PA Bluestone, and be happy.

    However as with anything, there are tradeoffs, with density comes heat retention.
    That is a fact! Our flagstone is a LOT hotter than our concrete deck. That is from stone density eh?

    As for the great salt experiment, I volunteer for the non-sealer group. I'll be way too busy drinking and floating to be doing any sealing!
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Pool depth of 5.5 is too deep for almost anyone to stand in. I think 4,5,4 is perfect. Since both ends are the same depth it's also ideal for water volleyball and other sports.

    We have a sun shelf that has 18 inch depth, and love it. A standard lounger sets in it so that the water comes level with the seat, no need to buy those very expensive ledge loungers. Standard lounge furniture works fine. We also added a bench at 18 inch depth along one side, the entire length of the pool.
    chiefwej
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: In Pre-Design/Concept Phase

    Yeah, I noticed that 18" sun shelf comment on another thread. Ours is about 6", we like it a lot, but deeper would be better. But, I'm thinking maybe 12". Although, the chief with 18 likes the 18.
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