Build starts next week! Advice on equipment, setup, ANYTHING!

drewbono

Member
May 30, 2020
13
Ashburn, VA
Hey all! Never owned or built a pool, but we're taking the plunge. Our PB is old school (as you'll see from the pic, where I tried to add where the sheer descents and bowls go) but reputable, so we're looking for any and all advice, especially on the equipment as it seems pretty dated based on what I've been reading here. We started off with a 3'->8' depth, but are concerned about dedicating so much to a deep end. Have 3 little ones for now 9 yo and under, so I think they'll be ok with a sport pool for now, but no idea what they'll like when they're older--and I'll probably have much bigger problems to worry about when they're teenagers anyway. :). We've been trying to learn as much as possible but feel like we're still in the baby pool of knowledge when it comes to pools. We're in Northern Virginia in case that matters.

Pool
Dimensions: 22' x 45' (but may extend to 50', since consensus seems to be you can't go too big)
Shape: Rectangle Sports Pool 3.5-5.5-4 with autocover--safety first!
Automatic Retractable Cover: stone cover box.
Plumbing (pool): Plumbing will consist of PVC Schedule 40 pipe, including two skimmers, two bottom drains, three returns, and automatic pool cleaner, lines run back to filter area.
Steel: Steel structure consisting of ½” rebar on 12” centers throughout pool with four #4 rebar continuous at beam. Depths over 5 ft. per engineered plans.
Structure: Structure to be pneumatically applied gunite. Mix to be industry standard. The thickness of walls to be per engineered plans, 6” floor, on a gravel base.
Entry: 22’ x 8’ tan ledge with three steps located in shallow end of pool
Plaster: Gray marblelite or Quartz
Electrical: Two color LED Pentair pool lights. Bonding of steel swimming pool structure. Wiring and electrical hook-up of filter system.
Filter: One 2-hp Pentair whisperflo pump, 420 Pentair cartridge filter, & Pentair Easy Touch with salt and Screen logic controls for automation.
Heater: Raypac 400,000 btu
Automatic Pool Cleaner: Polaris 280

Spa
• 9’ x 9’ raised 18” (veneer by others)
• 8 hydro-therapy jets
• Color LED spa light
• 2 hp blower

Other
• Two 4’ sheer descents and four Pentair square Magicbowlswith dedicated pump
• 3 Glo Brite lights & 3 bubblers at tanning ledge
• Automatic water level control (water source provided by others at filter).
• Pole, brush, net, test kit and indoctrination

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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
19,231
Northern NJ
Welcome to TFP.

  • Electrical: Two color LED Pentair pool lights - Which model lights? Pentair LED Pool Lights - Further Reading
  • One 2-hp Pentair whisperflo pump - Get a Pentair IntelliFlo 011056 VSF pump Pentair IntelliFlo Pumps - Further Reading
  • 420 Pentair cartridge filter - good
  • Pentair Easy Touch with salt and Screen logic controls for automation - ET is a 10+ year old system. Consider the IntelliCenter which is going through some teething pains but is the modular future system for Pentair. - Pentair Automation Systems - Further Reading
  • Heater: Raypac 400,000 btu - which model?
  • Automatic Pool Cleaner: Polaris 280 - The only pressure cleaner I would buy new today is the Polaris Quattro Sport. These cleaners require a booster pump to operate properly. Your other option is to get 21st century pool cleaning with a robot pool cleaner - Polaris Pool Cleaners - Further Reading

Lots of reading for you in Construction Best Practices - Further Reading

@kimkats our Queen of Bling may have comments about your pool design.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,308
Tallahassee, FL
HI and welcome to TFP!!! I LOVE your design! I see a good "swim lane" for laps and benches and shelf for sitting in the pool! Well done!

3'->8' depth

may extend to 50', since consensus seems to be you can't go too big
I would LOVE for you to do a diving pool for the kids! If you go longer AND start the shallow end with a depth of 4' then the slope will not be as bad.

WHEN (not if) the kids bring friend home to swim as they get older that deep end will get quite a work out and be oh so much fun! Not to say they will not enjoy any pool but a diving pool is more fun to me.

two bottom drains
If you got with a sports pool I would NOT do the main drains. These are nothing but toe getters in a sports pool. In case your PB says you HAVE to have the main drain point out to him that IF you have a main drain yes it does have to be a dual one BUT a main drain is NOT required. Look up your code in your area and share it here and we can point out the wording you can show him.

three returns
This pool will need more returns. I would like to see on on the shelf to help keep the water mixed in better and the shelf cleaned by the return jet blowing the stuff off it. I see at least 4 returns.

lines run back to filter area
IF you get the main drain make sure it is run to the equipment pad and has it's own valve separate from the skimmer. This will allow you to control the values of each one as needed.

four Pentair square Magicbowls
I would not put those oh so pretty bowls by the spa. You are already going to have the bubblers on the shelf then the overflow from the spa. That is going to be a LOT of noise going on in that area AND they will block your view into the pool from the house. I would also look real close at having the spa there. I know why you did but it will block your view of the pool from house. I just want you to think about that as you look at the house in real life. If you what to share a pic or two of the house and where the pool is going we can help tweak your design.
 

drewbono

Member
May 30, 2020
13
Ashburn, VA
Welcome to TFP.

  • Electrical: Two color LED Pentair pool lights - Which model lights? Pentair LED Pool Lights - Further Reading
  • One 2-hp Pentair whisperflo pump - Get a Pentair IntelliFlo 011056 VSF pump Pentair IntelliFlo Pumps - Further Reading
  • 420 Pentair cartridge filter - good
  • Pentair Easy Touch with salt and Screen logic controls for automation - ET is a 10+ year old system. Consider the IntelliCenter which is going through some teething pains but is the modular future system for Pentair. - Pentair Automation Systems - Further Reading
  • Heater: Raypac 400,000 btu - which model?
  • Automatic Pool Cleaner: Polaris 280 - The only pressure cleaner I would buy new today is the Polaris Quattro Sport. These cleaners require a booster pump to operate properly. Your other option is to get 21st century pool cleaning with a robot pool cleaner - Polaris Pool Cleaners - Further Reading

Lots of reading for you in Construction Best Practices - Further Reading

@kimkats our Queen of Bling may have comments about your pool design.
Thanks for the reply. I have to find out more info on the lights and heater. A neighbor who's getting a pool just told me he has two heaters so he can control his spa and pool separately. And I REALLY appreciate the links. On the cleaner, seems like some people do both the traditional cleaner as well as the robot cleaner. Lots of reading to do tonight and I'll be back with more questions for sure.
 

drewbono

Member
May 30, 2020
13
Ashburn, VA
HI and welcome to TFP!!! I LOVE your design! I see a good "swim lane" for laps and benches and shelf for sitting in the pool! Well done!
Thanks so much! I had to fight my better half for a swim lane, but I'm glad it's there even though I probably won't use it much.

I would LOVE for you to do a diving pool for the kids! If you go longer AND start the shallow end with a depth of 4' then the slope will not be as bad.

WHEN (not if) the kids bring friend home to swim as they get older that deep end will get quite a work out and be oh so much fun! Not to say they will not enjoy any pool but a diving pool is more fun to me.
We have and continue to toss and turn over this one. Our neighbors on both sides of us each have 50x22 diving pools (one 12' deep with a diving board and the other 10' deep with a diving rock). So we were thinking if the kids want to dive, they'd go there. But if they want to play volleyball or hang out, they could come to our place. I realize there isn't a right answer to this question, but it doesn't make it any easier. It's just a lot of square footage to give up for diving. So we're still on the fence, and definitely see the merit of diving pools. We'd never actually even heard of a sport pool until we signed with our PB and got into a discussion about the depth profile. Flying by the seat of our pants on this one. :)

If you got with a sports pool I would NOT do the main drains. These are nothing but toe getters in a sports pool. In case your PB says you HAVE to have the main drain point out to him that IF you have a main drain yes it does have to be a dual one BUT a main drain is NOT required. Look up your code in your area and share it here and we can point out the wording you can show him.
Interesting...I'll look in to this.

This pool will need more returns. I would like to see on on the shelf to help keep the water mixed in better and the shelf cleaned by the return jet blowing the stuff off it. I see at least 4 returns.
Will talk to PB about this.

IF you get the main drain make sure it is run to the equipment pad and has it's own valve separate from the skimmer. This will allow you to control the values of each one as needed.
Thanks! The equipment is going to actually be in a buried area with a concrete pad at the bottom and cement walls to retain the dirt. So the top of that area will be just barely higher than my grade, putting all the equipment underground. I'd never heard of such a thing but the PB says it dramatically cuts the noise down. I worried that water would be an issue but he's assured me it'll be fine with a sump pump. He's apparently done this before with great results. *shrug*

I would not put those oh so pretty bowls by the spa. You are already going to have the bubblers on the shelf then the overflow from the spa. That is going to be a LOT of noise going on in that area AND they will block your view into the pool from the house. I would also look real close at having the spa there. I know why you did but it will block your view of the pool from house. I just want you to think about that as you look at the house in real life. If you what to share a pic or two of the house and where the pool is going we can help tweak your design.
Even if the spa is only raised 18"? We're constrained on the sides by our HOA and the pavilion, so if we moved it, it'd have to be inside the pool area or on the other side of the pool from where it is now. But having it so far away from the house means we likely won't use it as much, as we want it to be a short jaunt away. If we got rid of the sheer descent off the hot tub, does that change things re: the magic bowls? BTW, the sheer descent off the hot tub uses water from the pool, so the hot tub coping is level on all four sides, keeping the water self contained.

Here are some pics of the house, as well as the decking we're looking at (marble or travertine):

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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,308
Tallahassee, FL
The equipment is going to actually be in a buried area with a concrete pad at the bottom and cement walls to retain the dirt.
Say what??? I would ask to see AND talk to a owner who has had this done to chat with them. That is going to make it SO hard to service the equipment in my eyes. I am going to ask a couple of our PB that might have some input @jimmythegreek @bdavis466 Have y'all ever???

Now this is why I asked to see the house! That is one pretty house and with the windows being so high you should be fine with the spa right there! That and the porch is over there = good to go!

Even if you don't do the spa overflow I would only do two bowls across from the spa. To me that will make the stand out as a real feature!

I LOVE your color pics so far!

Kim:kim:
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
19,231
Northern NJ
The equipment is going to actually be in a buried area with a concrete pad at the bottom and cement walls to retain the dirt. So the top of that area will be just barely higher than my grade, putting all the equipment underground. I'd never heard of such a thing but the PB says it dramatically cuts the noise down. I worried that water would be an issue but he's assured me it'll be fine with a sump pump. He's apparently done this before with great results. *shrug*
That is an old technique dating back to the 60's and 70's to hide pool equipment in a pit. I would never do it today. Most houses I have looked at have had the pit abandoned and equipment moved to the ground level as part of a renovation.

Pool equipment is not set and forget. You need to check on it. Things need maintenance and adjusting or cleaning or replacement. Working in a pit is not enjoyable. Out of sight, out of mind, and the equipment gets ignored until you have big problems. And the pit attracts spiders, ants, snakes, mice, whatever you have roaming around your grounds.

What is noisy? A modern VS pump running on low speed is whisper quiet. The noisy item will be your heater. And I don't know how a gas heater can have proper airflow in a pit.

Don't just accept what the builder says. He does not need to live long term with what he gives you.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,353
NY
It's just a lot of square footage to give up for diving.
Just to add some more perspective to make it even more of a difficult decision (sorry), While I enjoy the diving board for fun, I really enjoy the deep end for actual swimming with no touching. There is something about treading water and floating around without being able just stand up. 10 and 12 foot like your neighbors is the extreme, but I would love it if I had it. Maybe 8 ft for a happy medium for you ?

like you said, there are no wrong answers.
 

drewbono

Member
May 30, 2020
13
Ashburn, VA
Just to add some more perspective to make it even more of a difficult decision (sorry), While I enjoy the diving board for fun, I really enjoy the deep end for actual swimming with no touching. There is something about treading water and floating around without being able just stand up. 10 and 12 foot like your neighbors is the extreme, but I would love it if I had it. Maybe 8 ft for a happy medium for you ?

like you said, there are no wrong answers.
Thanks for sharing--we were at our neighbors tonight social-distancing swimming and our kids spent the entire time jumping off the diving board or jumping off their spa into the pool. *sigh* Maybe a deeper pool is in our future after all...
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
2,726
Morris Cnty NJ
That is old school dont do it. Itll be a pain forever. You want to worry about a sump pump working to keep the equipmemt dry? I saw two 4' sheers? That pump will be hard pressed to keep those flowing. You need a full power VS amd I personally would install a seperate water feature pump. What automation panel I didmt see one? You plan on going to pad amd turning valves to make things work? It gets old real fast. Add more returns you need 6 for a pool that big and I agree on depth. I'm not a fan of sport pools. In a normal 6 to 8ft deep end you would have half the pool shallow enough to play. I cant tell you how many people never play games I'm their pool. Kids want to jump and run around the pool. A waterfall or jumping rock is standard for us now 6ft is most popular here for insurance reasons mainly but safety of jumping too
 
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Ematicic

Active member
Oct 10, 2019
39
Spotsylvania, Virginia
Greetings! Our first pool just got done last month and my 6 and 7 years olds have abandoned their arm floaties and rarley stay in the shallow end for long. I think they may be growing gills! I went 6ft deep, already wish I'd gone deeper.
 

Sparks22

Gold Supporter
Apr 17, 2020
150
Austin, Texas
Greetings! Our first pool just got done last month and my 6 and 7 years olds have abandoned their arm floaties and rarley stay in the shallow end for long. I think they may be growing gills! I went 6ft deep, already wish I'd gone deeper.
With hindsight, how deep would you have gone?
 

drewbono

Member
May 30, 2020
13
Ashburn, VA
That is an old technique dating back to the 60's and 70's to hide pool equipment in a pit. I would never do it today. Most houses I have looked at have had the pit abandoned and equipment moved to the ground level as part of a renovation.

Pool equipment is not set and forget. You need to check on it. Things need maintenance and adjusting or cleaning or replacement. Working in a pit is not enjoyable. Out of sight, out of mind, and the equipment gets ignored until you have big problems. And the pit attracts spiders, ants, snakes, mice, whatever you have roaming around your grounds.

What is noisy? A modern VS pump running on low speed is whisper quiet. The noisy item will be your heater. And I don't know how a gas heater can have proper airflow in a pit.

Don't just accept what the builder says. He does not need to live long term with what he gives you.
We're definitely changing to a VS pump, so that will help. I have heard noise coming from our neighbors above-ground equipment from time to time but I'm not sure exactly what is making it. I'm hoping not to pass the noise along. I didn't think about the pit attracting the original inhabitants of the land, which is definitely something to consider. But from what I've seen of their work, the equipment seems like it will be accessible. I plan on being on top of managing it once I digest everything I need to from this site--so glad I found this place! Of course, it will be a pain to keep it dry and maintain a sump system. So many decisions...Untitled.jpg
 

drewbono

Member
May 30, 2020
13
Ashburn, VA
That is old school dont do it. Itll be a pain forever. You want to worry about a sump pump working to keep the equipmemt dry? I saw two 4' sheers? That pump will be hard pressed to keep those flowing. You need a full power VS amd I personally would install a seperate water feature pump. What automation panel I didmt see one? You plan on going to pad amd turning valves to make things work? It gets old real fast. Add more returns you need 6 for a pool that big and I agree on depth. I'm not a fan of sport pools. In a normal 6 to 8ft deep end you would have half the pool shallow enough to play. I cant tell you how many people never play games I'm their pool. Kids want to jump and run around the pool. A waterfall or jumping rock is standard for us now 6ft is most popular here for insurance reasons mainly but safety of jumping too
Good point--I need to add another pump for the water features, since we want to control them separately. For the automation, the PB recommended the Pentair Easytouch and screen logic, but we definitely want the best automation so we'll probably go with @ajw22's recommendation for IntelliCenter.

So you don't like sport pools because most people don't end up using them the way they anticipate? My wife was thinking of doing a 3.5-6-4 config with a sport pool, which would allow jumping from the middle of the pool off either the hot tub coping (provided we get rid of the bench in front of it) or the bond beam wall on the opposite side of the pool. But now I'm wondering if we go with a traditional wedge pool that starts at 3.5', goes to 4.5' over 30', then a steep drop from 4.5' to 8' over 10-11 ft, with the last 9-10 feet staying flat at 8'.
 

Flying Tivo

Well-known member
Jan 24, 2017
1,883
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
Dont get me wrong the work is fine, but if you want to replace a valve or add other pipe, things are very close together. The SWG manual states it needs at least 13 inches of straight pipe on the outflow. Also on the suction side of the pump the manual says 12 inches before an elbow. Im sure it will work just fine. I also second on the pad not being burried.
 

scout123

Bronze Supporter
Feb 18, 2018
386
Northwest GA
So you don't like sport pools because most people don't end up using them the way they anticipate? My wife was thinking of doing a 3.5-6-4 config with a sport pool, which would allow jumping from the middle of the pool off either the hot tub coping (provided we get rid of the bench in front of it) or the bond beam wall on the opposite side of the pool. But now I'm wondering if we go with a traditional wedge pool that starts at 3.5', goes to 4.5' over 30', then a steep drop from 4.5' to 8' over 10-11 ft, with the last 9-10 feet staying flat at 8'.
I would consider the 8' foot depth. I have a 7 year old. My cousin, who lives almost across from us, has an inground diving pool. Her pool is 18x36 and 3.5 - 8.5 or 9 feet deep. We are there almost every day and my daughter doesn't stay out of the deep end. She's learning to dive now. She jumps in over and over. She enjoys swimming down to the bottom. While you can jump in 6' feet, you can't really dive down. I've always felt a deeper pool was safer for the crazy things kids/teens do, and since both 6' and 8' are over your head, I'd go ahead with the deeper one so I didn't have to worry if someone decided to dive in. Either way, it'll be awesome, but I wanted to share my experience while you're still in the deciding phase. Looking forward to watching your build.
 
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jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
2,726
Morris Cnty NJ
Yup we see alot of people can't anticipate the pool usage. If you have family or had a pool you have first hand experience how the kids will use it. The big push years ago on popularity on sport pools was 2 fold. First PBs didmt have to dig so deep and haul material, they saved money charging same price on perimeter. Also homeowners insurance is less a diving board adds about 20% to your total policy here its considered very high risk.
The most versatile pool shape is the L shape. You have the stairs amd shallow end in the main part and then bowl down for a deep hopper in the wing. You need to have the ground space tho. With shapes amd depth some towns regs limit the angle of slope in the hopper.
Tell the PB you domt want that pit amd to credit you the money he would spend on block and concrete. Between the fence needed for barrier amd the labor/material you will save a few grand. You NEVER encase plumbing in concrete there are so many negatives for that setup amd the plus is the noise reduction? You wont even hear the VS pump rum they are quiet
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
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Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
6,407
Central MD
We have a 3-8.5' diving pool. I'd certainly go 3.5' but also no less than 8.5'. It's still not hard to hit the bottom when diving deep (the wrong way). But also diving long and deepish you can hit the slope. If you do a diving pool, I'd go 9'+ since you have the length. "Loving" the comment above by @Newdude didn't seem to do it justice so I will repeat it in my words. I love swimming around in the deep end, treading water, etc. I also only get in the pool by diving from the board or side or pencilling in. That's how I use it and frankly that's a lot of what matters since kids grow up and move out. Generally its only adults who are deep-end averse. My wife walks around some and floats. She spends much less time actually in the pool than me. Or she is standing at the edge, leaning on a towel reading a book. Your kids are younger than mine but they already love deep ends. What happens when the neighbors get a new job or get divorced, etc. and those pools are no longer available. I think that not building what you know your kids will love may come back to bother you.

Check insurance of course. Ours didn't go up, but I did have to get new insurance because our umbrella carrier wouldn't cover the board. I had checked with our primary carrier and all was good. Then after completion I get a letter stating that I have to remove the board in 30 days or we get our umbrella policy cancelled (that won't work). So I re-placed everything and ended up saving money on better coverage. So there original umbrella carrier.

I can't see any good reason to get that pit. Massive overkill and creation of other issues. Electricity out during storm, uh oh. Though you may have a generator. Leaves, and all other debris, no thank you. And as mentioned, it's just plain unnecessary. Do however, plan for a nice enclosure or wall for the equipment to keep it out of sight. Pumps are quiet. You will hear it on higher speeds but nothing bad. Heater will make some noise but again not bad. Not enough to build a bunker. My pet peave when equipment is not at the house, is how most PB's only use metal posts to mount the automation, etc. It's so tacky and unprofessional. Equipment placement should be given the same forethought as the other aesthetics. I'll give your PB props for overthinking. Most underthink. Here's my equipment area, which is right next the deep end. I built the wall for them to use because I knew they wouldn't. The automation is actually on the visible side (between the shed and the wall). Could have done it the other way. The back has the pool light junction box. The front has the automation panel, electrical outlet, post light dimmers, autocover switch, and hose reel.

And don't forget to allow for storage of pool stuff. A shed of a 8 x 8 or 10 x 10 is a good size for it (bigger if you want to store furniture during the winter). Ours is good but was a cheap solution of two things, which doesn't look too bad, though probably the least good-looking thing in our pool area.


 
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