2nd attempt at planning for a pool

NorCalX

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
305
Brentwood, CA
My first planning attempt started back in 2011 here

However life tends to throw curveballs at you and the pool dream took a back seat

Took us a while but the bumps in the road are over for now

Our criteria have also changed from the original post

To cut this post short we want to do pool + front/back major landscaping

When I say major I mean I would be happy tearing out all of the grass (and the bad sprinkler system) and replacing it with rock/gravel if I have to
My wife is in agreement with that but wants some a "tropical" feel in the back yard near the dream pool

We also imagine a covered patio/pergola type structure in the backyard (hoping to put the pool solar panels on the roof as well)



So first question before diving into actual pool desire...

Do we see if the PBs we contact can handle and bid on all of this or do we break this up and address landscaping separately?

I know it will be much easier to run things when the yard is torn apart so some level of coordination is going to be needed etc.




As for the actual pool

Backyard-South.jpg

This is still our canvas to work with.

However things have changed

-No longer want a fiberglass pool...going with gunite
-No more auto cover as a primary need (property has a fence and I plan a removable mesh fence around the pool + safety cover for winter)
-No more spillovers or waterfall/grotto (the impact on PH from aeration as well as evaporation just make me go meh at the thought...we have hard water here to start with)
-No in floor cleaning


Must haves
-freeform design (goal is tropical/resort backyard)
Uniform shallow depth of 4' for sport/play/social
8' deep end for diving and slide (turbotwister is looking good to me right now)
sun shelf WITH umbrella sleeves (sandy color finish for shelf only)
bench seating in deep end as well
-Spa with lots of jets
-Upgraded pool finish (pebbleSheen blue granite + abalone or similar)
-pool decking (want TONS of decking...I was joking I would pave the entire backyard if possible)
-bubblers for the sun shelf and basic light features (don't care about upgrades for lots of color)
-solar water heat panels
-solar blanket/cover
-safety cover (loop loc or equivalent)
-removable mesh fence
-automation
-auto level/refill
-freeze protection
-SWG (2x pool size)
-Oversized cartridge filter
-Robotic cleaner


Landscaping wants
-pavilion/cabana/pool house
Small enclosed rooms (pool storage / changing area)
exterior shower to clean off / rinse off after pool
Wired for electrical and ceiling fan
*I know a bathroom convenient for swimmers is a good upgrade. I'm worried the extension required for sewage etc may just be a huge cost but will check on it

-fire pit(s)
Something we can sit around and even make s'mores

-Replacing front/rear grass
Landscape for pool and remaining area usable for family


I currently have my home equity financing tied up with the PV solar panels but I should pay that off in a few months.

Plan is to use new home equity loan for pool/landscaping so I am approx. 4-5 months from making this a reality.

I think March/April puts me in prime pool building cram season though so I am worried about timing when we actually get moving.



Right now I'm trying to figure out a plan of attack to approach this. I have a list of 5 PBs I want to contact.

I haven't reached out to anybody yet but time is getting close. The last conversation I had with a PB he said secure financing before making the official calls.


Any advice or criticism is welcome
 
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tim5055

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TFP Expert
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May 11, 2014
11,017
Franklin, NC
It seems like you have put a lot of thought into this and are moving in the right direction.

My thoughts on a couple of points.

Do the landscape separate. Plan them both, let the pool guys tear up what they want and then have the landscape folks come in and do their thing. No matter how well they "coordinate" they are going to end up stepping on each others toes. But, with that being said make sure you run any electric/water pipes under the deck before it is poured. Have the landscape folks identify what pipes they will need where. I might even be inclined to separate out the decking and do that separate also.

I'm not a fan of pool/spa combos. I like a stand alone spa, generally in an inconspicuous corner near the house. I have always mounted a TV on the house so I can sit and watch then news or CNBC in the morning as I relax in the spa. Maybe it's just me....

Solar covers are nice, but they restrict "spontaneous" use of the pool. You need a roller system and the more "freeform" the pool the more difficult it becomes rolling it up and putting it back in the water when you are done.

Go with the "Loop-Loc", but again, the more freeform the higher the cost.

If you are building the pool house, think about TV & music there. Even if you don't want it now, you may later. Add the wires. While talking about this, add pipes with pull strings anywhere you could think you may want to add something later. While building this pool hose, how about putting all the pool equipment inside? This greatly reduces the freeze protection you need.

You are in California - some areas have some very strange requirements for pools. See if your building department and water/sewer department has any publications for building a pool. Our previous area of South Carolina had a requirement that any chlorinated pool water could not be pumped into the sewer, it had to be "de-chlorinated" first.
 

SacPoolPros

Gold Supporter
In The Industry
Oct 26, 2014
87
Sacramento, CA
As a local builder in northern california i would highly recommend getting your financing lined up first then getting on someones schedule or a contract asap if you want to build in march most builders like us are already booking out past march as of right now.
 

NorCalX

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
305
Brentwood, CA
As a local builder in northern california i would highly recommend getting your financing lined up first then getting on someones schedule or a contract asap if you want to build in march most builders like us are already booking out past march as of right now.
Do PB rates vary based on time of the year?

I am in no rush to have this done in March i just see that is when all the variables start lining up

I'm ball parking all this and imagine it in the 100k-120k range easily

if there is such a thing as off season pool construction where they can spend more focus and less rush that is appealing

*edit

oh and a general financing question while on the subject. Advice is get approved for a fixed home equity loan now (so i can start contract/schedule talks) but funds dont start getting dispersed until march April construction?

how do pool construction finance deals work...get approval and lock in the rate months in advance but dont actually fund the loan and require payments until construction day 1?
 
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Poolbella

Silver Supporter
Jun 28, 2018
246
Houston, TX
We just closed on our home equity pool loan last week. The bank we used would not let us close until we had our final pool contract signed and HOA approvals all in etc. They gave us checks for all the progress payments and interest started accruing from that day.

Now we decided to add a deck in the middle of all this (paying cash rather than financing this part) so now we are waiting for an updated HOA approval before the PB will schedule us, so we’re paying for the loan but haven’t spent any of the money. PB also would not schedule us until the loan was closed and funded. We also had a 3 week delay to get the gas line that crossed our yard rerouted.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,778
Central California
Add an overflow system. Mine is part of my autofill system. Pool Water Leveler By PoolMiser | The Original Pool Spa Water Leveler

Plan on running soft water to the auto fill valve. You likely have high CA water down there, which you can confirm now with a water test of your tap water. You can reduce/eliminate the dreaded CH-rise by auto-filling with soft water.

You'll need to run two, large pipes (2" or 2.5" PVC) to/from your solar heater and pool equipment pad. It'll be a large pergola/poolhouse that could accommodate the real estate needed for solar panels for a pool. Figure out now if the panels you'll need will fit on the roof of the structure you plan to build, and if not, then you'll need to put some or all of the heater panels on the house roof. Wherever you have roof left after the PV install. Plan the run of those two large pipes accordingly.
 

NorCalX

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
305
Brentwood, CA
Thanks everyone for the suggestions as they come in.

I hadn't even thought of routing the water softener to the pool. Will add that to my notes.

I actually reached out to my credit union regarding further details and timing of financing etc. and was told I could actually accelerate my timeline and do it ASAP. There is an option to pay off the existing PV loan with a portion of the new loan.

That got my family very excited so we need to take the weekend to think it through before proceeding.

If we take the leap this will be speeding up quickly.

I think we are set to start contacting PBs and landscapers though.

The ball is officially rolling!
 

Dirk

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TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,778
Central California
If you are building the pool house, think about TV & music there. Even if you don't want it now, you may later. Add the wires. While talking about this, add pipes with pull strings anywhere you could think you may want to add something later. While building this pool hose, how about putting all the pool equipment inside? This greatly reduces the freeze protection you need.
While they're trenching around your yard...

Add hose bibs out in your yard in strategic locations.

Add electrical outlets in your yard in strategic locations, including one that would be handy to plug in a pool robot vac.

I'd want at least one if not all of the lights in the poorhouse to be on three-way switches back in the house, so you could turn a light or two on and off from either location. You could do this with smart switches, but I'd want the capability to hardwire that. I'd want, at least, flood lights, regular lights and bistro lights (or something else subtle and "romantic") out at the pool house. For me, lighting is everything. More on that below.

+1 for Tim's idea of running empty conduit around the yard so you can later pull wiring like ethernet, 120VAC, speaker wire, control wires, etc. Usually you need two, one for high voltage and a separate one for low voltage.

Plan on having wired ethernet at the equipment pad. I'd run at least two cat-6 cables. Also plan on some type of control wire, 18 gauge 4- or 6-conductor wire, between the house and pad.

You'll need a 2-conductor wire (I'd run a 4-conductor to have a backup) running from the equipment pad to the solar heater panels, for the roof temperature sensor. Make sure that is run in the trench for the 2-2.5" pipes you run for the solar heater, with enough slack to get anywhere on your pad, and up to the roof next to the panels.

Don't plan on covering the yard with music speakers from one location. Your guests and neighbors won't like the volume you'll need to get everywhere. Instead plan on multiple speakers throughout the yard that cover many smaller areas, so you don't have to blast the music from one location. My two speakers are located on the house, pointing at the pool, because they're under the eves (water proof location). I can never run them, because the table we all hang out at is in the path of the music headed for the pool. Nobody likes trying to talk and listen over the tunes. So moving them is in my future. I can't now run more out in the yard (as I'm suggesting you do) because of the concrete deck I can no longer get under.

Plan on mounting your pool lights all on the house-side of the pool. They should point away from your house and where you mostly will be sitting while enjoying them. You won't want to have them on as much if you have to stare at the glaring bulbs. If your pool house is across the pool from the main house, consider two or more sets of pool lights on different switches, on each side of the pool, so you could control which direction the lights shine. Both sides on for nighttime pool parties, one or the other on depending on where you're enjoying your outdoor evening. Plan how this lighting consideration will fit in with where the spa is, and where the fire pit will be, etc. Leave yourself some lighting options. Again, wherever you're relaxing and enjoying the stars, you might want a beautiful ambient light effect coming from the pool water, but not a glaring 500-watt pool light shining in your face. Colored pool lights, with "light shows" can be gaudy and gimmicky, but a nice aqua light, or even red (red lights are always very dark in a pool) can be a very nice ambient effect.

Landscape lighting can really enhance the outdoor experience, even while you're in the house! Plan for it now: up-lights shining into trees (but not eyes!), path lights shining down onto your deck, etc. This stuff is the best and will last your lifetime, they have some great options. They're not cheap because they are solid brass, with LED bulbs. Do it right, do it once! Quality Outdoor Lighting at Factory Direct Low Prices | VOLT Lighting

Consider a pool without main drains. They are old school, ugly, can cause issues for cleaners and brushing and toes and are not necessary for pool filtering. There are some pros and cons to this, but I removed my drains in a remodel and couldn't be happier about not having any.

More later as I think of it...
 

NorCalX

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
305
Brentwood, CA
Wanted to give a big thank you to @SacPoolPros for telling me about the current scheduling being out in March/April

That made me research and move my personal timeline (I wasn't going to call people until 2019)

The local PBs here are telling me similar timelines

If I hadn't known I would have waited until then and probably have no open slots at all for 2019
 

NorCalX

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
305
Brentwood, CA
So after making my initial round of calls on Monday to the PBs I had already researched and pre-screened I have 0 call backs to schedule on site visits etc. so far.

I know I should be patient but uggg...I plan to follow up again next week

Is this a busy PB time of year?

Also...for those casually reading this...any tips for our on site design meetings?

How much of the idea should we have versus how much is a discussion and the PB presents it afterwards?
Should we have specific features/layouts/shape/yard location already?

I was biding my time over the weekend with ideas based on notes from a PB discussion 2 years ago when he told us 90 foot perimeter is their standard package and to contact him when financing was ready

This is my total newbie MS Paint passing the time concept

=)

I'm not set in stone with any of the placement etc. just brainstorming. Should I even show this to the PBs or let them present their vision etc?

X design4.jpg
 
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Dirk

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TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
6,778
Central California
Also...for those casually reading this...any tips for our on site design meetings?
As with all meetings, especially construction meetings, before, during or after a job, whether it's going well or not, take notes, type up the notes, and send the notes back to all the meeting attendees. This will serve as a recap, a task list, a record of what was asked/answered/promised/etc, an explanation of your understanding of the same, and a concise description of your expectations. Request a receipt confirmation (so no one can claim they didn't get the notes).

Construction projects can quickly degrade, and turn into unproductive he-said-they-said exchanges. If it's in writing, that's much less likely to happen. It's a pain to do this thoroughly, but not compared to the consequences of what can go wrong on a project of this size, scope and cost...

Stay ahead of snafus and get what you want, what you pay for.
 

kimkats

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LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,639
Tallahassee, FL
I like your idea of the drawing as it gives them a true idea of what you are thinking of. Make sure they know you are flexable with placement and design so long as you have the MAJOR points included.

Kim:kim:
 

NorCalX

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
305
Brentwood, CA
Had a few productive PB meetings so far.

First item of note is my grotto/slide dream may be a bank breaker for the rest of the budget. Everyone I met with uses real rock instead of faux stuff. They also say the slide adds greatly to that cost. Ball parking 20-40k for the entire combination.

Second item of note is a main drain discussion. I asked whether it was required and what alternatives there are. I mentioned reading in floor cleaning is disaster in waiting due putting plumbing under the pool where you can't reach it and mentioned the main drain seems like a similar problem. One PB told me the drain can be moved to the bottom of a sidewall instead and that sounded like an interesting idea.

I did a quick search of side drain and couldn't find a good review of pros/cons. The last TFP thread I read the person was proposing putting it higher on the wall instead of near the bottom.

If anyone has feedback on low mounted side drains as an alternative to traditional main drains I'd love to hear it

*Edit*
We want a diving hole* (no head first diving just what we are calling it...jump hole whatever) part of the pool so these would be in a part of the pool that is 7.5' or deeper depending on the final design
 
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NorCalX

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
305
Brentwood, CA
Are they saying the drain is required in your city/county, by local code?
Nobody has given me a firm no yet. It isn't a common request and they will get back to me (sales/design people wanting to confirm with builder).

I sent a follow up email with the 2009 APSP study on the issue letting them know I am not concerned about sediment (intend to use robotic cleaning) and circulation just requires us to plan returns a little more carefully

I also asked about non-standard shallow/deep transitions. I was told I could do a steep transition from shallow to deep but I would have to sign a waiver acknowledging it wasn't built to standard by request. My wife is against the steep drop concept so it was just me being curious whether it was possible.

And I know I put no grotto in my original post but my wife is just absolutely in love with the idea for a lagoon style pool with grotto. It is now a non negotiable item. The moving target right now is a pool slide. That is a wish list item for my kids.

However I am struggling to find budget and aesthetic combinations that would work. If it were up to me I would put a deck slide off to the side but that idea is getting vetoed because of looks. I researched landscape slide options and couldn't find something that I am happy with yet.

*For the visual people
I'm trying to find something like this but that hides the slide even more
a15f2a75d61aa7f50245f4066baaad39.jpg
b3ceeed2ae9cd088c6d49d98cecb04d0.jpg


I believe image #1 is an SR Smith Turbotwister and a slide I had on my original list as an option
I've found them on sale for 2.6k

I believe image #2 is an interfab garden ride slide (landscape slide instead of a deck slide)
I've found the 15' version on sale for 6.4k

I have already slashed my spa/raised spa concept (it adds 15k-18k depending on the PB)

Slide might be next on the list if I can't figure it out...

I'm laughing to myself because the pool I roughly sketched in advance is transforming into something else very quickly
 
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kimkats

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LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,639
Tallahassee, FL
Funny how it morphs as you think and look at this and that THEN when you look at the wallet OUCH!

How old are your kids now? Do you have lots of people over with kids? I have some ideas but these answers will help me dial them in.

Kim:kim:
 

NorCalX

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2011
305
Brentwood, CA
Funny how it morphs as you think and look at this and that THEN when you look at the wallet OUCH!

How old are your kids now? Do you have lots of people over with kids? I have some ideas but these answers will help me dial them in.

Kim:kim:
Kids are 7 and 9 now
They experienced a turbotwister at a KOA campground during our summer vacation and couldn't stop talking about it (Plan B is just go there!)
We have family with younger children but don't host others that often (we are introverts and prefer relaxing and just having a few friends if we invite)
 

tim5055

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May 11, 2014
11,017
Franklin, NC
I also asked about non-standard shallow/deep transitions. I was told I could do a steep transition from shallow to deep but I would have to sign a waiver acknowledging it wasn't built to standard by request. My wife is against the steep drop concept so it was just me being curious whether it was possible.
I'm with your wife on this one. There are industry standards on shallow/deep transitions and sidewall to bottom transitions for any area designed for "jumping" or "diving".

Once you move out of these standards any accidents fall on your shoulders, hence why the PB wants a signed waiver.

The other party to get involved in the discussion is your homeowners insurance company. I can bet the idea of you signing a "waiver" will be a non-starter from the insurance company based on liability issues. You need to understand that you may have different policy premiums or even need to find a new insurance company once a pool comes into the picture as some do not want to cover the added liability. When we purchased the house with a pool our company (USAA) sent an inspector to the house who verified fences and child proof locks on gates leading to the pool.