Building this fall/winter in south Alabama

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Hey all, we're getting quotes again - last fall we got a few gunite pool quotes and that combined with the other site and patio work we couldn't pull the trigger right away. Instead we did much of the site work to include removal of a few small trees and dozens of shrubs, and tore up and replaced the 20 year old porch stairs and patio with new pavers. This year we're back on the pool research train, this time looking at vinyl liner pools. Have some decisions to make before we settle on a builder, hoping the wisdom here can at least educate me enough to make the right decisions for our situation. We've only met with one builder so far (two others have yet to return several calls over the past 7-10 days), so any price/builder opinions below are based on that one conversation.

Pool size planned - 16x32 freeform (Gemini shape) with 6' deep end plus tanning shelf. Estimated 16,000 gallons.
Decision 1: molded steps or inlaid liner steps (+$1500)? Wife likes the idea and look of the inlaid/liner steps, my concern is durability (chance of dogs using the pool), potential slip hazard(?), and most of all how much pool/shallow end will be lost to the steps.

Chlorination/filtration/pump: first pool builder suggests a standard chlorinator with a Nature2 system, says he's been installing them 30 years and loves them, talked up all the benefits. I've done just enough research on here to know the popular TFP opinion is they seem to work but are likely putting too much minerals/metals into the water with no way to verify and thus are not a good deal, is that about right? Said he'll install SWG if we preferred, believe it had an added up front cost but can't remember how much. He warned about possible corrosion of the liner track (pool walls would be polymer at least). Filter would be a Hayward sand filter. 1 HP pump.
Decision 2: I have a vague personal preference for SWG, I don't know why though, maybe it's just the "novelty" of it to me. Did my searching/reading here and I don't think the corrosion is as much of a concern as he makes it sound, provided I keep the pH in check, is that about right? Or should I still skip the Nature2 and just go standard chlorinator? I know a lot of this is personal preference, just want to be sure whether the pool finish (vinyl liner) should or shouldn't be a contributing factor to what we select.

Bottom drains: builder said these are only required above 30,000 gallons, he doesn't feel it's needed on a pool this size but left it up to us at an additional cost of course (unsure of cost).
Decision 3: yes or no? I don't know enough to know what I don't know here, and haven't done much research.

Skimmer: did not discuss with this builder but looking at his other project pictures, seems he typically only installs one on this pool.
Decision 4: Is one skimmer enough?

Water features: We'd love some sort of sheet fountain but our yard is predominantly level so we don't have any need for a retaining wall or the like, not sure how else it would make sense but he did suggest 3 jets - not deck jets from the pool deck, I believe they are installed in the pool side but above the water line? $200/each.
Decision 5: Are they worth it? Just marketing? We do for sure want some kind of feature for the background noise and to break the surface tension of the water.

Lights: Suggested one light for a pool this size, I want the color changing option (6 year old daughter will love it). Color adds $300.
Decision 6: One light enough? Worth it for the color upgrade? Is swapping a standard light for a color LED something I could do myself later for less than $300?

Deck: This builder only does concrete, but we would want to have our paver guy come back and do the deck to tie it into the existing patio.
Decision 7: I don't really know what the decision is here, I guess I'm just trying to wrap my head around the "how" - how does the pool builder set the height of the walls such that another contractor can come do the coping and decking and ensure it's going to be level with our existing patio? I'm probably overthinking this and the professionals will have no issue accomplishing it, but I like to try and understand the whole process. I've been burned by trusting contractors in the past.

Trees: We have 3 live oaks within the "pool area" - I don't want to cut down all 3. One for sure will come down, and I'm hoping the others can be trimmed enough such that actual tree limb to pool overlap will be quite minimal, understanding though that I will still have to contend with leaves.
Decision 8: Am I being naive? Will I regret leaving them? I guess in my mind I'd rather leave them now and remove them later if even at a much higher cost than remove them now and wish I had not.

I'll update this thread a little later with some pics from my phone and a mockup of the pool area, hopefully can help illustrate what I have now and what we're hoping to have soon. Thank you in advance for any advice and pointers you are all able to provide!
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Ok, some pictures. First, here's what I started with:
yard3.jpg

Went to work with a tractor to remove all that growth and the smaller trees, as well as the old patio and fence:
yard8.jpg

Pool was just too much at that time, so we added a new patio and threw sod down:
yard12-1.jpeg

So that got us to where we are now, and we're back in the pool talk game. For sure the closest tree (trees if you count the sweet olive on the left) in the picture above are going to come out. There are two other trees closer to the house, the one next to/behind the patio we for sure want to keep, the one at the corner of the house is iffy. More pics!
yard14_LI.jpg

So here's the "vision" - note: may not be to scale! Other note, keep in mind we want to tear up the border of the patio and wrap the same pavers all the way around the pool.
yard15_LI (2).jpg

Another angle:
yard19_LI (2).jpg

One last pic, I was standing on the patio behind the plumeria in the blue pot for perspective. As far as our house layout, the back of the house faces north so this picture was straight east. You can see that the "?" tree blocks a LOT of morning to mid-day sun, so while it might not have a ton of branches over the pool, it sure will let it warm up quicker if it were gone.
yard22_LI.jpg

Alright, it's time for me to shut up and listen now, plus I've reached my max allowed 10 pictures anyway! If these don't provide a good enough perspective let me know and I'll happily include some more angles, but most of my questions/decisions above are independent of the tree discussion. Once again, thank you for reading and opining and Happy 4th to everyone!
 

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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,614
Evans, Georgia
Hiya....
First off you do not want a pool under two big trees like that. Between the debris the trees will drop i. the pool and the shade they'll make your pool water might not warm up like you want, nor will the sun burn off any of the chemical "debris" that the chlorine will make. From what I can tell you might want to look at putting the pool over near where the play set is.

I like liner covered steps, but if a dog(s) are in the picture, going will fiberglass is a safer idea. They make fiberglass steps in blue or gray which makes them look far nicer then the stark white ones. They blend right into the liner color better.

Don't even *think* about mineral systems. No ozone either. Waste of money.

Salt Water Chlorine Generator *for the win!*....best pool option ever invented!!

A lot of pools these days go without a bottom drain. I would avoid it on a liner pool because that's just another cut that could be a problem. Get a sump pump for lowering water when desired.

Water features can be fun, but folks complain about the noise they make when trying to talk and they also mess with the water's pH requiring you to manage that more.

You don't want any pump other than a variable speed pump. Not variable flow, though.

Maddie
 

username3

Member
May 19, 2020
7
Chattanooga, TN
Just a thought, not sure which direction your back yard faces in relation to how the sun sets. My whole backyard and back of house gets absolutely blasted with sun from about 4 until 8pm or so. It's beyond miserable. I would do anything to have some nice tall shade trees back there to help out. However, as beautiful as your trees are, there would probably be a LOT of leaves falling in the pool. I hate to say it, but I'd probably cut down or try to find someway to have the pool as far away as possible from them. On a side note, your before and after pics look incredible! I didn't even realize it was the same property.
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Thank you for the input so far. I think we have landed on the fact that the “?” tree needs to come out without question. But the one between the patio and the porch will not - that is to say, the pool would most likely be better off if it did, but we’re not willing to give that one up.
We really want the pool tied into the patio space we have now, if that means battling extra leaves until we finally grow tired of it and take out that last tree maybe that’s what it will have to be.

The back of our house faces north, so the pool will run west (patio/shallow end) to east (deep end). Removing the “?” tree will allow for lots of morning sun, then starting around 12:30-1 the shallow end will start getting shade from the remaining oak. During the summer with the sun in the northern sky, the rest of the pool will get a little more shade but still have a good bit of sunlight on it until the sun sets behind the garage in the evening.

Also it doesn’t look like I captured it in any of those pics but there is an even larger live oak not far from the play area. We could maximize “away from trees” by pushing it out into the middle section in the direction of the play area, but if it came down to that or removing the tree by the patio I’d sooner go that route to keep the pool closer. Really want it to be a part of the outdoor living space, not a separate area of its own if that makes any sense.
 
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Kellyp

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
Jul 5, 2018
108
Acworth ga
My opinion, you will regret leaving trees around the pool.
Being in Mobile, I assume like me, you'lI leave the pool open all year. I have just one ornamental pear, cleaning the pool in November and December is misery for the leaves.

I thought nothing could be worse, until spring when the pollen and flowers then shed. Not to mention the little faux pears that shed winter spring summer and fall. You will immediately get sick of leaf clean up.

I wanted to keep my pear for the lovely shade it threw on my deck furniture. 2 weekends ago the top of the tree sheared off, guess where it crashed? Yes, took out two fence panels, marred the finish on the teak furniture, and ended finally in the pool.Screenshot_20200706-075524_Gallery.jpgScreenshot_20200706-075519_Gallery.jpgScreenshot_20200706-075456_Gallery.jpg
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Ouch! Sorry about your pool Kelly, at least that problem took care of itself in one way or another!

You're correct that the pool will stay open year round. We have accepted the fact that we're going to have to fight leaves and pollen even if we removed all 3 of these trees in question. I have 13 oak trees on the property in general along with some sizable ones in the neighbor's yard that hang over (not over the pool, but close enough where wind will help them find their way in). We are in a neighborhood of about 40 homes, probably 15 of which have pools and all but 1 or 2 with oak trees within 50-100' if not overhanging the pool, and everyone has said the same thing that "yes it stinks, but you just do what you've got to do." With that said we're 100% removing the two biggest offenders mentioned in my posts above; after they come down we will re-evaluate and may yet remove all three.

Pool builder is coming back out Wednesday, need to come up with a full list of questions/details to get from him, recapping from my original list of decisions:

1. Options/cost for colored (blue/gray) fiberglass steps if we do not do the liner steps (but leaning toward liner steps for sure).
2. Drop the chlorinator/Nature2, replace with SWG.
3. Skip the bottom drain as planned.
4. How many skimmers included (expect it is just one)? Should I ask for a second?
5. Water jets - still undecided, as of now will probably keep that unchanged.
6. Light - will keep the single color changing LED for now.
6a. Also, there is no automation in the first quote. I don't need the full suite of automation, no heater to turn on when we're on our way home, etc. But it might be annoying to have to go around the house to change the light color. Not sure what the minimal need would be to at least be able to control that from a phone.
7. Will ask for concrete quote just in case, while also trying to understand better the process for preparing the pool for pavers to be laid by another contractor and ensuring pool remains level with the patio.
8. Trees - discussed above, now for sure removing 2, possibly all 3 but won't decide on the 3rd until the first two are gone and we can re-evaluate.
9. Ask him to provide model #s for all equipment quoted so I can come back here and get your collective input.

Anything else?
 
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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,614
Evans, Georgia
re: colored lights- mine change via a single on-off light switch near the pool. Each time I turn it off then on it changes stationary colors, then the last option is it randomly changes itself like every 30 seconds or so. No automation, but hardly difficult.

For that pool I would suggest two lights, maybe three??

Maddie
 
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ChrisBJax

Bronze Supporter
Jun 4, 2020
29
Jacksonville, FL
@YippeeSkippy to piggyback off OP’s question, since you don’t have automation and I don’t think we’re getting automation either, are your lights on a timer so that the lights turn on/off at the preselected times every night? In other words, it’s not a switch you turn on every night, right? Sorry, I’ve never owned a pool before!
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,614
Evans, Georgia
No, I have to manually turn them on if desired. I suppose they could easily be tied into an Intermatic timer, whichnis what controls my pump and SWG.

Maddie 🌻
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
re: colored lights- mine change via a single on-off light switch near the pool. Each time I turn it off then on it changes stationary colors, then the last option is it randomly changes itself like every 30 seconds or so. No automation, but hardly difficult.

For that pool I would suggest two lights, maybe three??

Maddie
Thank you Maddie, that does sound easy enough. Our pool growing up never had a light at all let alone the color changing variant so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I will ask about the cost to add a second light as well. Still not 100% certain on which shape we’ll end up with but I’ll try to find pictures of similar pools at night to help decide on lights as well.
 

BMK

Bronze Supporter
Mar 29, 2016
445
SW PA
Judging by your photos, even with those 3 closest trees removed, it looks like there is still a lot of trees in close proximity. With that setting, I would suggest you revisit doing away with the main drains. I have a similar setting, and for a few weeks in the spring and fall, my skimmers can get clogged up frequently....sometimes within hours of emptying. The skimmers can get so clogged with leaves and such that they become watertight. I have to shut the pump to lift out the baskets, and they hold the water as if they were a solid vessel. The main drains keep enough water flow through the pump to keep everything working until i get to it. In many (most?) locations bottom drains may not be absolutely necessary. In environments with a lot of potential for leaves, pollen, tree debris, etc, it's not nearly as cut and dried. I personally would probably have gone through 1 or maybe 2 pumps by now without the main drain backing up the skimmers. Just something to give a little more thought to, especially if you'll be going with only one skimmer. Obviously it's a moot point if you're sure that the remaining trees present no problem.
 
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Kellyp

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
Jul 5, 2018
108
Acworth ga
Judging by your photos, even with those 3 closest trees removed, it looks like there is still a lot of trees in close proximity. With that setting, I would suggest you revisit doing away with the main drains. I have a similar setting, and for a few weeks in the spring and fall, my skimmers can get clogged up frequently....sometimes within hours of emptying. The skimmers can get so clogged with leaves and such that they become watertight. I have to shut the pump to lift out the baskets, and they hold the water as if they were a solid vessel. The main drains keep enough water flow through the pump to keep everything working until i get to it. In many (most?) locations bottom drains may not be absolutely necessary. In environments with a lot of potential for leaves, pollen, tree debris, etc, it's not nearly as cut and dried. I personally would probably have gone through 1 or maybe 2 pumps by now without the main drain backing up the skimmers. Just something to give a little more thought to, especially if you'll be going with only one skimmer. Obviously it's a moot point if you're sure that the remaining trees present no problem.
Agree about heavy pollen and main drain, my skimmers easily need cleaning 3 times a day in spring. Agree with Maddie about having 2 lights in a pool your size. I don't have any automation either, but have no spa, waterfalls, etc.

My light operates like Maddies, simple on off switch. You flip it on and off a particular number off times to correspond to the light color/show that you want.

My pump runs on a schedule so all I ever do by hand is turn on the light at night and occasionally change output on the swg, no big deal. The heater stays set on my minimum at all times.

Finally, you have a beautiful yard and no matter if its a pain to clean, you'll love having the pool!
.
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Thank you! We really do love the yard now that we finally got rid of what was probably a nice "courtyard" in the past and the overgrown fence and natural area separating it from the outer yard. I'm a little bummed at the thought of all that nice grass getting torn up during construction, but I'll get over it! I also plan to rent a sod cutter and save as much grass sod as possible to relocate to other areas that need it and be able to move some back in around the pool/decking after construction.

Sounds like I'll definitely push for two skimmers, two lights, and will re-open the discussion about the drains. I like the thought of less cuts in the liner to open up areas for leaks, but understand also about clogging the skimmers during heavy pollen and leaf fall.
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Pool builder is coming back out Wednesday, need to come up with a full list of questions/details to get from him, recapping from my original list of decisions:

1. Options/cost for colored (blue/gray) fiberglass steps if we do not do the liner steps (but leaning toward liner steps for sure).
2. Drop the chlorinator/Nature2, replace with SWG.
3. Skip the bottom drain as planned.
4. How many skimmers included (expect it is just one)? Should I ask for a second?
5. Water jets - still undecided, as of now will probably keep that unchanged.
6. Light - will keep the single color changing LED for now.
6a. Also, there is no automation in the first quote. I don't need the full suite of automation, no heater to turn on when we're on our way home, etc. But it might be annoying to have to go around the house to change the light color. Not sure what the minimal need would be to at least be able to control that from a phone.
7. Will ask for concrete quote just in case, while also trying to understand better the process for preparing the pool for pavers to be laid by another contractor and ensuring pool remains level with the patio.
8. Trees - discussed above, now for sure removing 2, possibly all 3 but won't decide on the 3rd until the first two are gone and we can re-evaluate.
9. Ask him to provide model #s for all equipment quoted so I can come back here and get your collective input.

Anything else?
Whoops. Apparently that was next Wednesday. So now I have a whole other week to immerse myself in information overload and go back and forth on every decision at least a half dozen times. :LOL:
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Ok, got some product info from the PB. Here's what our proposal includes, would love to have some feedback on the equipment listed and if I should request quotes to sub out any of this. Pool will be approximately 16x32, 16,000 gallon, vinyl liner.

Filter: Hayward Sand S244T Pro Series
Pump: Hayward .75HP MH MaxFLO XL
SWG: Hayward Aquarite AQR 940 w/Ext Life Cell
Light: 120V Amerilight pool light w/120 Color Splash LXG LED lamp (one included, ~$900 for an additional light)
Cleaner: (default was Polaris 280) - sub out Polaris for Dolphin S200 for $300 off of proposal, or Dolphin S300 for same price as proposed - leaning S300 for the remote capability and caddy
Skimmer/Returns: 1 skimmer ("extra wide" for what it's worth), 2 return jets.

Please let me know what you all think!

Also, pertaining to some of my original comments, I think we are now about 95.7% convinced we will be removing all 3 live oaks from the area, even the "Keep" tree.

1595881935029.png
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Sorry for the old "to the top" bump, hoping to get some feedback on the equipment list so I can respond to the PB in the next day or two. I did a couple of hours of research for these specific items last night though, and unless my research failed me I feel pretty good with most everything but suspect the one area people might suggest upgrading is the pump - I understand 3/4 HP is likely plenty, but I believe the MaxFlo XL is a single speed pump and I might see some advantages requesting at the very least a two speed pump or preferably a variable speed pump - though I have to confess I don't fully understand what the advantages are, please educate me! Based on flat online prices I'll assume the cost to upgrade to something like a MaxFlo VS (model SP23115VSP) will be in the $400-$600 range. Not sure how long one could expect to recoup that added expense in energy cost, we talking 2 years, 10 years, 20 years?

Also I can't find any similar pricing to compare if I wanted to go one step further to the Omni MaxFlo model for automation controls - not a need by any stretch, but would consider it if it wasn't a huge increase.

My other decision is on adding the second light or not, but I'm thinking we will want to add a second light to have them both along the "house side" of the pool instead of one in the deep end pointing straight back towards the patio.
 

Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Filter: Hayward Sand S244T Pro Series
Pump: Hayward .75HP MH MaxFLO XL
SWG: Hayward Aquarite AQR 940 w/Ext Life Cell
Light: 120V Amerilight pool light w/120 Color Splash LXG LED lamp (one included, ~$900 for an additional light)
Cleaner: (default was Polaris 280) - sub out Polaris for Dolphin S200 for $300 off of proposal, or Dolphin S300 for same price as proposed - leaning S300 for the remote capability and caddy
Skimmer/Returns: 1 skimmer ("extra wide" for what it's worth), 2 return jets.
Updated build list, any further advice?

Pool: Vinyl Latham Gemini 16x32 with inlaid liner steps and tanning shelf
Filter: Hayward Sand S244T Pro Series
Pump: Pentair 1.5HP VS pump (unsure of exact model, this was what PB told us when I mentioned I wanted to upgrade to VS)
SWG: Hayward Aquarite AQR 940 w/Ext Life Cell
Light: 2x 120V Amerilight pool light w/120 Color Splash LXG LED lamp
Cleaner: Dolphin S300
Plumbing: 1 skimmer ("extra wide" for what it's worth), 2 return jets, 0 main drains
 
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Auburn02

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2019
49
Mobile, AL
Well, we signed! Construction won’t start until November; could have started sooner but gives us time to get the trees taken out and allow me to do some preliminary grass relocation on my own time, plus even if it started sooner it likely wouldn’t get used until Spring anyhow. I’ll either bump this or start a new thread when things start happening.
 
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