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Thread: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

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    henry89056
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    New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Relatively new to this [extremely valuable] forum and in the process of contemplating pool bids. As we plan, I am wondering if there are any areas we should consider improving/upgrading based on your collective experiences? Kind of answering the questions, "If I had to do it again, I would ______ ", or "I would definitely have asked my pool builder ____".

    We believe the final pool size will be in the 20k range and located in Dallas, TX. 95-100 degrees regular in July - August. No spa included (so far). Current bids are exclusively Gunite, 2" pipe, 2HP Pump, DE Filter and SWG. Only a couple in-pool lights are included in the bids we've received. Sealed sandstone coping & raised beam with an integrated, sealed rock waterfall. Equipment is Hayward or Jandy.

    I am thinking about things you would plan differently like:
    - Fiberglass vs. Gunite w./ PebbleTec (does the TX heat matter? are the fiberglass claims on lower maintenance true?)
    - Plumbing (2" or 2.5")
    - 2-speed or Variable Speed Pump
    - Pool covers (automated)
    - Lighting (LED, or suggestions on this)
    - 2HP or 2.5HP Pump (based on other threads, seems like the 2 is more than adequate)
    - Added drains (or other things you would have done to improve pool circulation)
    - In-pool cleaning (none of the pool companies have been crazy about these)
    - Artificial rocks, waterfalls (curious if these things hold up - our bids for moss rocks are very expensive)
    - Anything else?

    Just trying to gather and make the most informed choices based on real-world experiences.

    Thanks again for your time,

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    If I was starting over, I'd have gone with a larger pool, 2" plumbing, a second skimmer and an auto cover.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    chris4150's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Hello,

    If I had to do it over again I would have gone with a SWG and added at least 2 more returns to the pool for better circulation. Everything else Im happy with.

    As far as recommendations per your current equipment list, I prefer the gunite with pebble tech here in Texas. Reasons being color selection and durablility. As far as pumps, given your pool size and the fluctuating temperatures through out the year in Texas, I would have a variable speed pump. The versatility with a variable speed allows you to select an adequate speed given the necessary run times for your pool during the year. In Houston its not necessary to conduct a winter "shut down" as the temps here are less harsh as they are up north, therefore, the pool pretty much runs all year with adjustments in run times and corresponding pump speeds. Im not too familiar with the specs on plumbing so I wouldnt know if 2 inch or 2.5 would be better than the other. As far as brand names for pumps, valves, etc, Im not going to push one over the other, but I would recommend doing some research on them and you will be able to find the answers to these types of questions fairly easily. I hope this helped.

    Chris
    13,500 gallon free form Pebble Tec pool- 2 skimmers
    Pentair Intelli-Flow filter pump, Pentair Intelli-Super Flo booster pump, waterfall pump, Del Ozone Eclipse 1 generator, Pentair Clean & Clear Plus Cartridge filtration, Nature 2 XG Clear Vision, In-line Chlorinator, Polaris 280, Raypack heater, and Color Logic LED lights.

    Proud user of BBB, pool school, pool calculator, TF-100, and the advice of the friendly people here!

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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    additional returns specifically on a step, more specific grading instructions to pb, better planned electrical outlets and switch (my fault)
    Grant and Jerri
    Liberty, NC
    New 18x36 vinyl liner pool with lighting and fountain

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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    I would have opted for a smaller pump and a two-speed at that.
    10K gallon IG gunite with waterfall; Pentair CC320P filter; WhisperFlo 2 HP pump
    TF Test Kits - Pool Math - Pool School
    "It depends."- JohnT

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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    If I could go back . . .
    - Spend more time researching pool builders. Go look at their recent builds and talk to the customers. You are about to spend a lot of money. If the PB can't show you recent builds and let you talk with his last 5 customers, move on. Also talk to some customers from years back to see how their pools are holding up.
    - Get EVERYTHING in writing. If it is not on the contract it won't get done.
    - The builders I considered all had a similar payment schedule. They end up with 90% of your money within the first month. Large payments due at excavation, gunite, and tile / coping. They really moved to get these steps done, but then it all slowed down. Final payment due at plaster. When your plaster is done you will have a laundry list of issues. I would try to get the payment schedule changed where you are at least holding some money until final inspection.
    - My build is several months over schedule. If you expect to swim this summer get something in writing about an end date.
    - Carefully consider your depth based on pool style, slope, etc. We almost went too deep.
    - Spa - avoid venturi jets (no power), make sure jet height is correct.
    - Lights - Go with the LED lights and don't just consider the number of lights, consider their placement.
    - Plan to be home and inspect their work on a daily basis. Call the PB as soon as you notice anything done wrong before it is too late to have it corrected.

    Suggestions:
    - I would go with gunite. Have never seen a fiberglass pool in DFW.
    - Go with an Intelliflo variable speed pump. It gives you a lot of flexibility and will save you on energy costs.
    - In my opinion, the in floor cleaning systems add a lot of plumbing and increase the chances of having expensive repairs. I went with a polaris.
    Phoenix, AZ
    Unknown pool size -Diving pool

  7. Back To Top    #7
    Guest

    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Relatively new to this [extremely valuable] forum and in the process of contemplating pool bids. As we plan, I am wondering if there are any areas we should consider improving/upgrading based on your collective experiences? Kind of answering the questions, "If I had to do it again, I would ______ ", or "I would definitely have asked my pool builder ____".

    We believe the final pool size will be in the 20k range and located in Dallas, TX. 95-100 degrees regular in July - August. No spa included (so far). Current bids are exclusively Gunite, 2" pipe, 2HP Pump, DE Filter and SWG. Only a couple in-pool lights are included in the bids we've received. Sealed sandstone coping & raised beam with an integrated, sealed rock waterfall. Equipment is Hayward or Jandy.

    I am thinking about things you would plan differently like:
    - Fiberglass vs. Gunite w./ PebbleTec (does the TX heat matter? are the fiberglass claims on lower maintenance true?)
    - Plumbing (2" or 2.5")
    - 2-speed or Variable Speed Pump
    - Pool covers (automated)
    - Lighting (LED, or suggestions on this)
    - 2HP or 2.5HP Pump (based on other threads, seems like the 2 is more than adequate)
    - Added drains (or other things you would have done to improve pool circulation)
    - In-pool cleaning (none of the pool companies have been crazy about these)
    - Anything else?

    Just trying to gather and make the most informed choices based on real-world experiences.

    Thanks again for your time,
    Since you asked......

    I would build with gunite (shotcrete) and consider P-Tec. Plaster will give you about ten years of life expectancy, and P-Tec will double that or better. Around here, Fiberglas companies tend to go out of business in 2-3 years. Tough sell, expensive, delaminates over time, some say it is slippery.

    2 inch plumbing is good, 2 1/2" is better! Use the same size coming and going, and loop the return system to balance the flow on the returns. Use large diameter pipe (1 1/2") for the return penetrations in to the pool, and have them run them in 90 degrees to the pool wall, and install directional eyeballs to direct flow. Three returns is good, 4 is probably better!

    A 2 speed or variable speed pump would be great. A 2 or 2 1/2 HP pump is WAY too big for your pool. Depending on gallons, and what you expect to push (water feature, solar, etc.), you could easily use a 1 HP pump, or a variation of. Don't get fooled into "bigger is better" on the pump! Bigger is more expensive to run!

    The rest of what you are asking is pretty much just preference. In floor cleaning systems seem to go over well for those where there is a lot of sand (Arizona, for example) and it needs to get up in suspension and into the skimmer, but a good suction side or return side cleaner will work well also. Lighting is what you prefer, and I always have them shining away from the house, and never in each end, so you are not swimming "into the train coming out of the tunnel" at night!

    Keep doing your homework and stay involved! As said earlier, visit with prior customers of any builder you are considering, and check the BBB and Contractors State Licensing Board on any you consider to make sure they are licensed, insured, bonded, etc.

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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Almost everything JeffJeff said - all good stuff about getting everything in writing. Good luck getting a builder to put in writing a close date. Ours put in writing 90 days, but said it would take 45. It took more than 90, but what was I going to do - go to court when the pool is 95% done already over a couple weeks.

    We visited many pools before and decided to put a seat along the length of one long side wall. It was required in the deep end as a means of getting out of the pool since we did not want a ladder. But we added it to the shallow end too. Makes for a great party pool since most adults in a pool would congregate at the shallow end where they could stand, or just sit on the edges with only their feet in the water.

    We are also happy with our built in water fall spa. Mainly because during the colder months it could be heated from 65 to 80+ using the solar panels in one day and the kids could play just in there. Also, a cover for just the spa is easy to remove or put back on.

    The SWG is great.

    I had my PM plumb for future solar. They added a 3 way valve, check valve, and capped off the pipes.
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
    SWG, 1 HP Max Flo Pump, C-900 cartridge filter
    Solar heat

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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Quote Originally Posted by lborne

    I had my PM plumb for future solar. They added a 3 way valve, check valve, and capped off the pipes.
    This may not be the case everywhere, but it is here, so I will mention it. The code in this area is that the pool plumber has to leave a "clear space" of 3' for solar guys to hook in their valves in the future, should you decide to add/install solar. When the PB says they will add/allow/stub for solar, they obviously charge for the parts and materials. I have never yet seen a solar contractor use what the PB installed; they rip it out and charge for the new stuff that they install. They do not want to assume that the PB material/installation is adequate, or warrant the solar installation with materials that are not theirs. Often times the PB will only install manual valves anyway, and most folks tend to want the auto valves hooked to automation as well. Plumbing lines run by the PB and stubbed up for solar are also not warranted by the solar contractor for leaks, as they did not install them, so you would have to go back to the PB if there is an issue.

    Just some FYI stuff to consider! I've seen it happen way too many times to not mention it! Again, it might not be an issue where you are located, but it is here!

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    I'll also add that you might want to plan for things around the pool. Have a few cold ones and you are going to be heading to the house for a bathroom visit, tracking water as you go. We added a bathroom/changing room with a screened sitting area and an equipment room next to our pool. The bathroom is wonderful! The rest of it is nice too. Frequent visitors just buy an extra suit and leave it in the changing room. All of my pool tools, chemicals and all the assorted pieces and parts have a storage spot in the equipment room with the filter and pump.

    All of that would have been easier if we had planned ahead. I had to dig under the deck for a sewer line, and relocate all of my pad to pool plumbing when we built it. Just a little planning would have made it all work out much easier.

    You'll want a water faucet near the pool for filling, rinsing things, priming the pump etc. without dragging a long hose around. Much easier to do when the yard is already torn up.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    henry89056
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Everyone -

    Thanks for all the feedback so far. We have considered adding a 'cabana bath' during this process ... it's just money, right? Haha.

    The pool equipment room is an intriguing idea I hadn't thought of. When building this, however, I'm wondering if this is really more an "exterior room" (dirt floor kinda thing)? I would be a bit nervous sticking a pad around the PVC as that would make future changes rather challenging I would think.

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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    If I could do it over again-
    1. Get everything specific in writing. Our pool build had some hang ups because the contract was too vague in some areas that needed to be more specific. exact pool part names and numbers, exact plumbing size, exact plaster type and add ons. Insist on specifics for every aspect of the pool build. It will save you so many headaches and leave no room for owner or builder interpretation
    2. Loop the returns- it will give you even pressure for pool circulation
    3. If you have a time frame agreed upon have it in writing and have a specific consequence for the pool builder for days and or weeks of time over the agreed upon completions date. We had a 90 day promise in the contract, but no penalty. We are just finishing and its 9 months. Lots of sleepless nights. We are lucky we like our pool and the PBers are nice people, but 9 months has taken its toll. Be fair in this regard as rain and some delays happen but a written promise without specific consequences leave little for recourse.
    4. number of pool lights. Our pool is a unique shape and based on just pool size one light should have been enough, but the shape of our pool (exaggerated kidney) gives a small dark area in the shallow end. I wish I had put a spa light in the shallow end.
    5. Best investments we have made- #1- solar- Last week our pool was 79 degrees while our neighbors was 68 (spring break- our kids swam for hours) #2- intelitouch with the mobile touch- It is so easy to customize everything from inside the house
    18,900 Stonescapes Tahoe Blue xtra black, 8 jet Spa, Pentair inteliflo VS , Pentair FNS 60 DE, Inteliclor40, Pentair 400,000 Mastertemp heater, 3 spillovers powered by a Pentair 1 HP whisperflo pump, The pool Cleaner, 2 Intellibright color changing lights and 400 sq ft. of Heliocol roof mounted solar.

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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    I would have opted for a much deeper deep end, a rectangle pool, 2" pipe, more than one skimmer, more than one return and a 2nd main drain. Heck, I'd opt for a 30k gallon pool and go way deeper on the deep end. Oh, and solar. Lots of solar.
    Clearwater, Florida

    12,000 gallon kidney shaped gunite pool
    Pentair Whisperflo 3/4HP Pump
    Pentair CCP420 420sq/ft Cartridge Filter
    Pentair Intellibrite 5G 120V Pool Light

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Everyone -

    Thanks for all the feedback so far. We have considered adding a 'cabana bath' during this process ... it's just money, right? Haha.

    The pool equipment room is an intriguing idea I hadn't thought of. When building this, however, I'm wondering if this is really more an "exterior room" (dirt floor kinda thing)? I would be a bit nervous sticking a pad around the PVC as that would make future changes rather challenging I would think.
    My plumbing goes through the wall, then into the ground outside behind the building. It's fairly easy to route PVC through a wall and seal it.

    I would at least consider such building and allow for where it might go so you can do it with minimal headaches or extra cost if you do. It's really nice for the adults to sit in the shade and talk where we can still watch the pool from 4' away. All of the wet clothes and wet feet stay by the pool. No wet towels or bathing suits hanging in the shower. I also have my solar panels on the roof of the pool house. Mine is 12' X 24'. The bath/changing area is 6' X 7', the equipment room is 5' X 6', leaving 12' X 18' for the sitting area. I just have a shower-type curtain separating the equipment from the the bath right now so I can open it and spread out when I'm working on it. If I was going to have a fixed wall, I'd probably add a door from outside into the equipment side directly.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    henry89056
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Does anyone have recommendations on Solar - I assume we are talking about the relatively simple Solar pool water heating system affixed (somehow) inline to the pump?

    Also, any experiences with artificial rocks, waterfalls?

    Thanks

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Does anyone have recommendations on Solar - I assume we are talking about the relatively simple Solar pool water heating system affixed (somehow) inline to the pump?
    I can't imagine owning the pool without it. If you have a roof available, you should definitely consider it. This can be a DIY job where you can save a lot of money.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

  17. Back To Top    #17
    henry89056
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    Does anyone have recommendations on Solar - I assume we are talking about the relatively simple Solar pool water heating system affixed (somehow) inline to the pump?
    I can't imagine owning the pool without it. If you have a roof available, you should definitely consider it. This can be a DIY job where you can save a lot of money.
    Does it just hook in-line after the SWG?

  18. Back To Top    #18
    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    Does anyone have recommendations on Solar - I assume we are talking about the relatively simple Solar pool water heating system affixed (somehow) inline to the pump?
    I can't imagine owning the pool without it. If you have a roof available, you should definitely consider it. This can be a DIY job where you can save a lot of money.
    Does it just hook in-line after the SWG?
    In general. You have valves so you can bypass it and control the flow. Check out http://h2otsun.com/ for more information.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

  19. Back To Top    #19

    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Pool decking... as they were laying out our pool, we reworked the amount of decking we wanted... it was something like $8 / sq foot and it would cost a lot more to do it later. We wound up adding several hundred sq feet of decking and are really glad we did.. plenty of room for patio tables and seating now. I also on a whim had the electrical guys add some outlets out in the yard as they were dragging the wires across the back of the yard and I'm glad I did... again, the incremental cost of doing it during the build vs. later was much lower.

    We have the in floor system. I've never had a robot cleaner to compare with so I don't know how much better or worse they are. It doesn't seem to be as "magic" as they builder suggested it might be (perhaps if I had ever had a robot, I would be more impressed), but seems adequate and I'm generally OK with it. The maintenance on the in-floor system if very low... not many parts to break... I have a little problem with getting enough pressure to all of the heads and occasionally have to clean grit out of them, but other than that, it's been fine. Also, I have a huge oak that drops an avalanche of leaves in January, and I have to be real careful not to clog the main drain with the in floor system. All in all, I'm not unhappy with it, but if I had to do it again, I might save the $3k and go the traditional route (the infloor system also precludes the purchase of a 2 speed pump as well. which might be another consideration).
    ----------------------
    20,500 gal gunite pool w/ PebbleTec and infloor cleaning system.
    Sta-Rite System 3 cartridge filter.
    Houston, TX

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    Woodberg's Avatar
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    Re: New Pool - If you had to do it over again ... ?

    Absolutely go with the in-floor system. We put one in our new pool and I was kind of skeptical at first. However, it does an amazing job of keeping the pool clean and also is great for circulating the water. If your builders are not comfortable with installing an in-floor system, find another builder. We went with a Paramount system. They seemed to have the most reliable in-floor sytem. Also, I would highly recommend a variable speed pump and LED lighting. I don't think energy rates are going to be dropping in the future, so both will pay for themselves over a couple of years.
    20,000 gallon gunite pool, attached spa, Pebblesheen finish, Paramount PCC-2000 infloor cleaning system, Paramount ClearO3 ozone system, Intelliflo VS main pump, Whisperflo 1HP cleaner pump, StaRite cartridge filter, StaRite heater

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