So here I am about 2 days from signing a contract. A little back story. My wife grew up in her large family having a pool. I have had no experience with pools or even owning one except for when my wife and I were dating and we would swim in her parent's pool. Now fast forward 15 years of marriage and my wife really wants a pool and I think it would be nice for our kids. We have 3 kids ages 3, 6, and 11. We originally got quotes for a pool in our last house 5 years ago. We were on a sloped lot with lots of easements. The lot was decent size but we basically couldn't build anything within the far 20' of our lot. And in order to make the space usable we would have to have the pool right outside the back door. The pool would have to be 6' out of the ground because our slab was that high and it would mean no decking if it was on the ground because of the stairs required to get down to the pool. The quotes came in around 80k and I just wasn't willing to spend that much and the housing market was flat in Austin at that time and I would have to get a pool loan or home improvement loan because I had maybe 30k before I hit my 80% loan to value.
Fast forward 4 years and my wife and I were driving around and saw a house with a pool we liked. One thing led to another and while we didn't buy that house we started looking actively for a house with a pool. The market was insane and the houses with pools were a lot more expensive and they weren't near the quality of our house. We had lots of requirements for the house and were just having a hard time finding one. Then another house in our neighborhood came up for sale that was the same quality and size with double the lot size and views but no pool. We jumped on it thinking we would start a pool build right away. Then our van got totalled shortly after the sale and we ended up having to get a new van because there were no vans available used that were the right options or weren't beat to death. So we bought new and postponed the pool until we had the van paid off or we had some way to pay for it. Then a year later the rates dropped and our house had really appreciated so we were able to refinance the house and get 60k out with about 100 dollar change to your payment so it was a win win.
With the money in hand we started calling pool builders. I called 6 very reputable builders in Austin. Two flat out wouldn't come to our house. One said our budget plus sloped yard wouldn't even be approachable by him for under 65k. Another said that they chose not to build our pool at this time (I am guessing they are overly busy) but recommended two other builders I wasn't comfortable using. The other 4 came out to our home. Only 3 have provided quotes. 2 over our budget and 1 was 2k under budget but was really inflexible with the design he came up with (not minor things but a major thing we wanted he basically said was too hard to do).
Basically our requirements were to have a free form pool. Our lot is pie shaped and we wanted the pool away from the house if possible because the house shades almost the entire yard. We wanted some of the deck in the shade but not the pool because we don't plan on having a pool heater or spa we wanted to have the pool in the sun for a longer pool season. Our back yard is north east of the house and the house has a 12' tall slab on one side so it casts quite the shadow. We wanted a freeform pool with no spa. We wanted a tanning ledge and I wanted the deck to go up to the foundation on the house so I could put my grill and big green egg under the deck above so I can grill pool side (my stuff is now up on the deck 12' up but my goal is to have that area as a seating area because it has a great view were adults can talk). Plus with the pool far out we can see the kids from up there if we need to.
Pool builder #1 is a very large national builder. His quote was for a 17k gallon 490sq ft pool 4ft to 6ft deep with flagstone coping, 460sq ft of sundeck, and some flagstone trim where the steps and edges of the deck are. The pool deck and pool started at the same level of the base of the stairs coming down off the deck and the deck had to step down 3 steps in the middle. The pool was 4' out of the ground on the far side. We didn't like how the deck had about 3 feet of exposed pool wall and it felt like you would be at the table in a pit. His quote was 58k but the basic pebble finish was white so by the time we added a higher end finish, more decking etc... and another skimmer (only one was provided) we would be over 60k.
Pool builder #2 is a small builder in Austin that has been in business 33 years. They built our neighbor's pool and came highly recommended by them. The pool was pretty small but the quote had 560sq ft of deck. The designs were remarkably similar except the pool was in the middle of the height of the deck drop so there was a nice bond beam with stacked stone and the deck seemed more usable. This pool was also along the house as well though. The quote was for 65k. One thing I liked is they said they would pay for one month of pool care to get our pool through the hard month. I just wasn't impressed with the pool itself as it was a clover leaf shape and didn't have much character.
Pool builder #3 took a long time to get us a design. He was the first out but the last to give us a quote. Turns out the reason why was his design was very amazing and thoughtful. He was the only guy using real cad software to make the design and didn't use pool designer or whatever that pool software is. He made 2 different decks. One in the shade with a small colored cement walkway to another deck by the deep end of the pool in the sun so we could have the best of both worlds. A deck in the sun and a deck in the shade. Both decks are at the level of the pool. There is a raised bond beam that steps down with the slope of the yard with boulders separating the steps. I have to say I was blown away by the design. The area by the house for the grills is colored concrete with a transition to pavers that look like flagstone then the pool. The other deck is in the same paver style but has a retaining wall of country stones to hold up the deck to pool level. The pool has no water features and the overall cost is in the almost 900sq ft of decking. The price of the pool came to 65k and we decided we would stretch the budget because we loved the design so much. Originally the pool was bigger and we had to have them shrink it down a bit to get better within the budget because it was going to be 70k plus but we brought the pool down to 460 sq. ft. to make the price more manageable. The other cool thing about this pool is it is SWG chlorinated which I am excited about. All the other builders wanted to use flagstone and that wouldn't want us to get SWG but because this pool is all man made pavers we can get the SWG.
In the next post I'll post the bid so hopefully I can get some help/advice with what might not be right.
- - - Updated - - -
1. Removing existing landscape and /or decking in new pool location as per plan.
2. Removal of necessary fencing and replacement of same after excavation.
3. Removal of necessary landscape shrubs and replacement of same after excavation if possible.
4. Provide standard excavation for pool shell and wall construction as required.
5. Removal of all debris generated by contracted scope of work.
Construction of new 92’ perimeter pool (462 sq.’ ft.’) shell to code and current industry standards as
6. New Shot Crete concrete pool shell with 3800psi -4000psi concrete and stealth fiber reinforcement as per
7. New steps, benches, Baja Shelves, and raised bond beam walls in pool structure as per plan.
8. New 1⁄2” steel reinforcement in pool shell structure as required by standard commercial and engineering standards as per plan. (See Eng. Details provided at time of contract signing)
9. New 3⁄4” gravel Bed under pool shell for expansive soil protection as per plan.
New pool equipment and plumbing to code and current industry standards as follows:
11. New A&A AVSC main floor drain in pool.
12. New (2) A&A Quick Skim Venturi power skimmer.
13. New (4-6) A&A Venturi down jet return eyelets as per plan.
14. Install new standard valve fill line for pool as per plan.
15. Install new hose bib under existing wood deck from above as per plan.
17. Install all necessary plumbing for shell and equipment manifold with Sch. 40 plumbing.
18. Install new Jandy valves as required for equipment plumbing to code.
19. Install new “Jandy” VS-FHP 2.0 HP pump for pool / spa filtration.
20. Install new “A&A” water splash down jet on Baja shelf as per plan.
21. Install new “Jandy” CS-250 Cartridge filter. (Sand or DE available at alternate cost)
22. Install (2) new “Jandy” standard 500W pool light. (color led available at alternate cost)
23. Install new standard equipment skid pads for pumps as needed.
24. Install new Polaris 280 Blue Top walker and Pump for pool cleaning system.
25. Install new “Jandy” Salt water system.
26. Install Aqua Link RS4 controller system with PDA remote.
New pool/spa interior finish to code and current industry standards as follows:
27. Install new MPA standard colored “PebbleTec” finish in pool. (Color TBD)
28. Install new MPA standard tile on pool waterline. (color TBD)
Install new decking area around pool to code and current industry standards as follows:
29. New top cast washed Davis Omaha Tan colored concrete with 3000psi concrete and stealth fiber with wire
mesh for reinforcement and crack prevention at steps and walk near pool as per plan.
Block, Stucco, Tile & Stone
Replace existing to code and current industry standards as follows:
30. Install new Belgard Arable pavers around pool as per plan. (color TBD)
31. Install new Country Manner Retaining wall block at pool patio areas as per plan. (color TBD)
32. Install new MPA Stacked stone tile on raised bond beam face as per plan. (color TBD)
33. Install new Belgard Mega Bergerac tumbled paver cooping on pool and raised bond beam walls as per plan.
34. Install new natural boulders and cooping ledge as per plan design. (standard available tan colors)
Replace existing surface decking and landscape drains to code and current industry standards as follows:
Utilities and Other
Provide and install to code and current industry standards as follows:
36. Install new 110 / 220 electrical run to from existing panel to new pool equipment location as needed.
(Existing house panel must have available space to code or there may be an additional charge to upgrade.)
Service restart of existing pool to code and current industry standards as follows:
1. Fill pool with water at residence on day of plastering.
2. Restart clients existing pool equipment and provide a onetime only standard chemical treatment service.
AL. Provide and construct to code and current industry standards:
1. Upgrade lights in pool to “Jandy” LED pool lights. Add $1,200
2. Install PH auto balancing system. Add $800