All the things I wish I knew before our build

grumpiebk

Well-known member
Jun 22, 2016
901
FL
I've seen threads like "what 1 thing would you have done different or what 1 thing could you not live without" but I wanted to capture all of the things I wish I knew or gave more consideration to before our build in hopes of helping others. While TFP helped me a ton along the way, I was less educated than I thought.

Let me add that we are very happy with our finished pool and our choices, but this has been my obsession for 6+ months so I have a lot of opinions. Next time will be different! If there is a next time ;)

Here are the things I wish I gave more thought to:

Pool Builder - I went against my gut and didn't choose the owner we meshed with the best. We went with local references based our decision on the quality of their builds. Big mistake! As much as can be put on plans for permitting, if you really want to have your influence on the build and the essentials of design, it is a much more fluid process than we expected. Working with our PB on our preferences and desired changes was a nightmare. Advice: GO WITH YOUR GUT AND THE OWNER YOU CAN SEE YOURSELF INVITING OVER FOR A SWIM. OBVIOUSLY STILL ENSURE QUALITY OF WORK THROUGH VISITING POOLS AND REFERENCES.

Size - this was one area where TFP and my research convinced me we needed a bigger pool. I tend to agree with the "no one wishes they had a smaller pool", but we could have gone smaller and been just as happy. We started at 15x30 and now have a 17.5x34 pool (before a 7x11 sunshelf). Our pool is big by our area's standards. Advice: SELECT A SIZE THAT WORKS FOR YOUR FAMILY (NOW AND LATER) AND FITS YOUR HOME/NEIGHBORHOOD

Depth/sports or play pool style and size - We went with 3.5'/5'/4' sports pool. We love the style but this puts much of the pool between 4 and 5 feet. You will see mixed reviews on this site, but I believe that's an odd depth. We really only have 2' of 3.5' depth as the slopes start almost immediately. I wish we had more of a flat shallow end, even if it meant a steeper slope. This is all driven by how long your pool is. If we went 40+ feet long, we would have had more flexibility. Advice: CONSIDER ALL DEPTHS OF YOUR POOL AND REVIEW THE PB'S SLOPE/DEPTH PROFILE PLANS BEFORE DIG.

Steps -We only have 3 steps to our 3.5' shallow end. That means our risers are 12", the max allowable by code. We are young and active and they are fine for us but they are less accommodating for others - elders and young children. Also, our step widths are 18" for the 1st step and 12" for all others. Having them a little wider for the second step and beyond would make them more usable for seating. Advice: GO WITH A 3.5' SHALLOW END AND CONSIDER 4 STEPS WITH 10" RISERS

Sunshelf depth - we were convinced by the PB to go with a 6" standard depth so it could fit with our first step. We were told that this is the appropriate depth to have the bubblers work as desired, which was not the case at all. In hindsight we should have pushed harder for the desired 9-10" depth and added a step into the shelf. Advice: STICK TO YOUR GUNS AS TO YOUR DESIRED DEPTH

Feature Pump - if you have any water features, GO WITH A FEATURE PUMP. it's cheap in the grand scheme of your build and will make everything so much more flexible to use.

Plumbing - I didn't know enough about pool plumbing when we started and relied on the PB as the expert. We didn't think to go over how we expected to use the pool. Specifically, we don't want the spa spillover on all the time and would also like the spa to be able to retain heated water while we use the pool with water circulation to the returns and suction to the skimmer. Both of these desired methods of use require a different plumbing setup. Advice: INVEST IN RESEARCHING HOW POOL PLUMBING WORKS, REVIEW YOUR PLANS, AND DISCUSS YOUR METHODS OF USE WITH YOUR PB

Lighting - TFP was very helpful here to think about best light placement. One thing that I think was unnecessary was moving our shelf globrite to the side of our shelf to avoid the light in the eyes of spa users directly across the pool. It turns out they are not that bright and having the light on the side doesn't distribute the light evenly across our shelf. In hindsight we should have kept it centered pointed away from the house. Advice: DONT OVERTHINK LIGHTING UNLESS YOU ARE AN AVID OLYMPIC SWIMMER OR HAVE SENSITIVE EYES. ALSO IF ADDING AUTOMATION, PUT POOL, SHELF, AND SPA LIGHTS ON SEPARATE SWITCHES FOR MORE CONTROL.

Marker tile - If you are using marker tile on steps, benches and/or shelfs, be sure to discuss if grout is going to be used, and if so, what color. Be sure it will blend into your finish color. If possible, leave them ungrouted and use the finish to fill in the tile voids for a consistent finish look. This was such a small detail we overlooked but was the biggest mistake we made. Our PB used dark grey grout on subway style marker tile and we have a white based plaster. It looks like our tiles have dirt and mold in between each tile in a brand new pool. We are actually having our PB refinish our pool, partially because of this issue. Advice: DISCUSS GROUT SELECTION WITH PB. YOUR SPA AND MARKER GROUT DOESNT NEED TO MATCH.

Detailed design choices - We either overlooked a lot of the specifics or the PB didn't consult with us on our preferences. For example, tile grout, number of steps, bubbler location, bubbler plumbing/control, exact equipment pad location, etc. Advice: GO OVER ALL OF THE DETAILS WITH YOUR PB. ALL OF THEM!

Other thoughts:
- GET A REAL OVERFLOW LINE (IN THE SIDE OT THE POOL WALL) THAT ACTUALLY DRAINS SOMEWHERE

- ADD THE AUTOFILL FEATURE IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA THAT WILL EXPERIENCE A LOT OF EVAPORATION

- GET AUTOMATION AND THE APP TO CONTROL FROM YOUR PHONE OR TABLET. ITS SO EASY!

- IF YOU ARE BUILDING A SPA, BUILD A TRI JET SEAT AND CONSIDER JETS FOR YOUR LEGS.

- WE CONSIDERED A BLOWER FOR THE SPA AND DECIDED AGAINST IT. IT HAS PLENTY OF BUBBLES AND PRESSURE WITH 8 JETS ON A ~70 FOOT PLUMBING RUN. NO NEED FOR IT AS WE HAVE 3 VENTURI JETS.

- SLIGHTLY CONTRASTING COPING WOULD HAVE PROBABLY LOOKED NICER THAN BLENDING WITH OUR DECK

- CONTRASTING WATERLINE TILE WOULD HAVE PROBABLY LOOKED BETTER BUT MAY HAVE BEEN HARDER TO MAINTAIN. We matched our waterline tile to our decking for an infinity look. The lighter color picks up all of the debris, bugs, etc at the waterline. But on the positive side, calcium and water marks don't show as easily.







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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,885
Tucson, AZ
Grumpy,

Just think of it this way - your NEXT pool is going to be even more awesome than your current pool...that is, assuming you have any hair left to pull out !! :laughblue:

Good write up! We'll definitely point other pool noobs to it ;)


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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
37,546
Tallahassee, FL
Grumpie! That is AWESOME! Do you mind if I bookmark it and add it to my list of links/ideas for new builders??????

:hug:

Kim:kim:
 

MommaJ

Bronze Supporter
Feb 22, 2017
57
Palm Bay
Thank you for this post. There a a handful of things in here I have not asked about so I appreciate the heads up!
 

PCR

Bronze Supporter
Jul 19, 2015
46
Frederick County, MD
Glad it was helpful. What specifically had you not thought about?


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Here are a few things:

-- Plumbing details; we will not have a spa but will have bubblers, a slide and waterfall. I asked a question about "will we be able to control everything separately" and got a "yes", but I know we are only having one pump so I am going to get more details on that. Want to make sure I can control on/off and flow rate for all three.
-- Marker tiles - We will have them but I didn't think to ask whether they are separated with plaster in between or adjacent and grouted
-- Overflow and auto fill; not sure those are so critical here in Maryland, but I haven't really discussed or thought about them
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
4,564
Central MD
Here are a few things:

-- Plumbing details; we will not have a spa but will have bubblers, a slide and waterfall. I asked a question about "will we be able to control everything separately" and got a "yes", but I know we are only having one pump so I am going to get more details on that. Want to make sure I can control on/off and flow rate for all three.
-- Marker tiles - We will have them but I didn't think to ask whether they are separated with plaster in between or adjacent and grouted
-- Overflow and auto fill; not sure those are so critical here in Maryland, but I haven't really discussed or thought about them
I'm in MD and an overflow would have come in handy numerous times in our 4 years of ownership. However for me, it's not an issue because we have an autocover so one end of the pool is essentially an 18' long overflow. I add water routinely during the summer (my pool is open for 6 months). That said, I like to actively manage the water level since I'm on a well so I intentionally didn't get an autofill. So as my water gets on the low side, I may choose to hold off filling if it will rain soon. Also, lowered end wall does allow significant splashout to occur so I refill more than others usually would. An autofill is not a requirement in our area per my thoughts.

On marker tiles, I feel like most I've seen here get the grout lines filled with plaster versus grouted beforehand.
 

PCR

Bronze Supporter
Jul 19, 2015
46
Frederick County, MD
I'm in MD and an overflow would have come in handy numerous times in our 4 years of ownership. However for me, it's not an issue because we have an autocover so one end of the pool is essentially an 18' long overflow. I add water routinely during the summer (my pool is open for 6 months). That said, I like to actively manage the water level since I'm on a well so I intentionally didn't get an autofill. So as my water gets on the low side, I may choose to hold off filling if it will rain soon. Also, lowered end wall does allow significant splashout to occur so I refill more than others usually would. An autofill is not a requirement in our area per my thoughts.

On marker tiles, I feel like most I've seen here get the grout lines filled with plaster versus grouted beforehand.
Thanks for the input! Like you, we are on a well so that's a good point, and I'd rather be aware of when we are using the water. Overflow sounds like it might be useful ... wonder how much extra that would cost! I'll talk to my PB about that.
 

Brentr

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Oct 18, 2009
2,603
Jacksonville, FL
Very good write up and I agree with all of it. I would also like to add that you should plan for a very very large equipment pad in case you add things like heater and solar. You should also plan to add as large as an area around the pool because you will be quite surprised how much space a couple of lounge chairs and table takes up. Also pre plan for future summer kitchen.


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katierose

Active member
Feb 18, 2017
26
Arizona
We are having our new pooled filled with water at this very moment. I, too, learned from this project, and would have done some things differently.
 

Patrick_B

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 7, 2011
14,999
Midland TX
We should build this up some more and make it the go too thread. It comes up a lot, so great thread indeed. Excellent write up. :goodjob:

I would like too add...

If you AREN'T building a Spa, re-think it. You may wish you had, and it costs much more if you change your mind.

If you are adding flagstone anywhere, be certain that it wont chip or flake.
 

katierose

Active member
Feb 18, 2017
26
Arizona
Good advice. :) I'm adding to this, wish my pool had: a long bench for people to sit on in shallow end; a larger shallow end; darker colored travertine, and/or different colored coping. Looking back, we should have bought travertine from a place with a large selection, brought sample pieces home, and picked what matched best in our backyard. (We chose travertine from display at pool company.) Also something to think about...we'll have grey caps on our self-cleaning pop-ups throughout pool. Might be an eyesore for some of you out there. Pool builder never mentioned this... :/

If I ever win the lottery...:p
 

sham

Silver Supporter
Mar 4, 2016
179
McKinney, TX
Good advice. :) I'm adding to this, wish my pool had: a long bench for people to sit on in shallow end; a larger shallow end; darker colored travertine, and/or different colored coping. Looking back, we should have bought travertine from a place with a large selection, brought sample pieces home, and picked what matched best in our backyard.

If I ever win the lottery...:p
Me too-- wishing I'd done darker travertine or coping, and different tile...Should have had samples brought out to yard ahead of time. Also, should have had shape of pool drawn out in yard during the bid, instead of day of build. If I would have had time to think about it, I would have made pool a little bigger and moved it about 4 feet over in yard. Moving it over would have allowed more decking space on the side of the pool with spa and tanning ledge--our 4 chaise lounges take up more space that I thought they would!

Honestly I wish I'd discovered this site before I started the whole process!
 

MarkTX

Bronze Supporter
Nov 15, 2015
337
Cypress, TX
Steps -We only have 3 steps to our 3.5' shallow end. That means our risers are 12", the max allowable by code. We are young and active and they are fine for us but they are less accommodating for others - elders and young children.
Agree totally. We have three steps also (including the sun shelf, so really only two steps) and it is really bothersome to have to step up that high. And can't be good for kids. The 12" allowable max is probably the real issue.

Other thoughts:
- GET A REAL OVERFLOW LINE (IN THE SIDE OT THE POOL WALL) THAT ACTUALLY DRAINS SOMEWHERE

- ADD THE AUTOFILL FEATURE IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA THAT WILL EXPERIENCE A LOT OF EVAPORATION
We have an overflow line and I can't imagine going without one. Really comes in handy when it rains non-stop. As for autofill, we did not get one because I read here that they can waste a lot of water when they go haywire. So instead, we have a manual fill line that only wastes a lot of water when I go haywire :eek: Only happened once so far in 13 months, but still...

- - - Updated - - -

I'm adding to this, wish my pool had: a long bench for people to sit on in shallow end
Me too. Benches are like cowbell IMO. The more the better. I wish we had more.