Exploring owner build in Gilbert, AZ

Norcalpablo

Gold Supporter
Nov 29, 2020
4
Gilbert, AZ
I apologize in advance for my first and excessively long post!

We are on nearly an acre in Gilbert, Arizona. We lived in the area a long time ago, and I maintained a pool way back then. When we retired, we moved back to Arizona and intentionally bought a house without a pool, intending to retreat to a cooler climate in the worst of the summer heat. Things have changed such that we expect to be here most summers, and to entice our grandkids to spend more time with us, we're going to bribe them with a pool.

As many of you have found, pool builders seem to be backlogged. We've been able to get one quote, working on a second. Mostly what I've learned from that quote and from this forum is how much things have changed over the last two or three decades! So many choices, and of course the costs are substantially higher now.

I'd like to keep our overall spend below $50,000 (and $40,000 would be much better!). I have a pretty strong technical background. In industrial applications I'm comfortable with electrical work (although I'll need to brush up on code compliance), plumbing, pumps, valves, etc. I can read prints and create basic CAD drawings. I'm less confident with concrete/rebar and I'm overwhelmed with the dizzying array of equipment and visual choices that go into designing a modern pool. Despite my ignorance, I'm considering going the owner build route. I do not expect to actually do any of the work, aside from running the power from our 200 amp service entrance to the pool equipment (located on the far side of the house, of course).

I just built a 600 square foot ramada with an outdoor kitchen, and the pool would be immediately adjacent to the ramada. This will provide shade for spectators. We're not looking for an elaborate luxury resort pool, but we do want it to enhance the space. Something as small as 16' x 26' would probably be adequate, and would tuck in nicely. The expected use would be for my wife and I to relax throughout the summer in the late afternoon/evening hours, and to help keep several active kids (oldest now 12) busy a couple of weeks each year. Our initial proposal was for a freeform pool, and I think we favor that style, but we're not locked into it.

I'm reading the posts and informational articles on TFP in an effort to make sense of the incredible variety of options. In narrowing down our design, it would be helpful to have a sense for the relative costs of water features, baja shelves, spas, benches, and related choices. For example, if I knew that adding a water feature would add $4000 to the overall cost, that would be a deciding factor. How can I efficiently go about making these decisions? What tools have you used to work through the design process? I am aware of at least two local businesses that provide owner-builders with a design package and limited support (at a significant cost). Is this the best option, or is it likely that can I do that work on my own?

Regarding the power requirement, the one pool builder that quoted says he recommends 100 amps. I assume this would be needed if we ever decided to put in a heat pump (no natural gas in our area). I doubt we will, but I'm okay with the added cost as I don't want to do it twice.

I expect to utilize a SWCG. I don't anticipate a lot of automated features, but I'd still go with an Intellicenter. Probably no separate spa, but a comfortable seating area with jets would be very nice (again, I have no concept of the added cost of a spa).

I'm a sponge at this point, and welcome your candid feedback. Thank you!

Paul
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,656
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60

Nikilyn

Bronze Supporter
Sep 3, 2018
779
Gilbert, AZ
Pool Size
17000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Hi neighbor! We are currently doing o/b in Gilbert. We expect to be under $50,000 But not much. We do have a spa though so you may be closer to $40,000 without one. Our real rock waterfall is going to be 30 sq ft and will be between $2000-2300, depending on who we pick and that decision is based on whose rock choice I decide on. We have a pool consultant (not BYOP) who we paid to draw the plans, buy our equipment at wholesale and give us a sub list. I have found the list to be invaluable because it actually is subs who work with o/bs. I know there are others on here who are having a hard time finding subs who do. Where are you located? We are by the San Tan mountains.
 

Norcalpablo

Gold Supporter
Nov 29, 2020
4
Gilbert, AZ
Thank you, Allen. That is helpful. I've read some, but not all, and I'll review the rest. This site is an incredible resource. The generosity of the members is outstanding.

I'm fairly comfortable with the equipment side. I have a little background in that area, and I'll be able to sort through that end. I'm more overwhelmed with basic pool design from the perspective making good cost/benefit decisions in selecting features. It's hard to know the cost implications of even basic layout changes.

Paul
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,656
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I think cost/benefit should be reframed as cost vs. actual usage over time. I think a lot of the water features lose their novelty quickly and are rarely used after the first year.

Baja shelves take up space in a small pool. What type of pool user are you? A soaker and swimmer or a sit on a ledge with your feet in the water?

Waterfalls, sheers, and bubblers look cool but then can be noisy and if you run them constantly they will raise your water pH requiring frequent acid additions.

We use our spa more then the pool. I would not have a pool without a spa. Either an integrated spillover spa or a standalone spa.

If you are on a budget then forgo anything more then a basic pool with a spa. And don't go crazy on bling with expensive tiles or stone.
 

Norcalpablo

Gold Supporter
Nov 29, 2020
4
Gilbert, AZ
Allen, thanks. That helps move us toward "best bang for the buck".

We lived in Northern California for a while, and we used our spa plenty. But...I'm not sure if you've been in the Phoenix area in the summer...I certainly wouldn't use a heated spa. And I assume that our lack of natural gas makes it less viable during the winter? Would a comfortable shoulder-deep bench seat with massage jets would be a pretty good compromise in our warm climate?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,656
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
We lived in Northern California for a while, and we used our spa plenty. But...I'm not sure if you've been in the Phoenix area in the summer...I certainly wouldn't use a heated spa. And I assume that our lack of natural gas makes it less viable during the winter? Would a comfortable shoulder-deep bench seat with massage jets would be a pretty good compromise in our warm climate?

I have spent quite a bit of time in Phoenix in the summer when you get your hands burnt gripping a black steering wheel if you get into your car too quickly before it cools down.

Consider the benefits of the spa 12 months out of the year. In the summer you don't need to heat it. Not having NG makes heating a spa on demand more difficult.

Consider the ways you can cool the pool or spa...


Some massage jets in the pool can be an alternative. Just consider how the massage jets are plumbed to give you the flow and water pressure you want.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Nikilyn

Nikilyn

Bronze Supporter
Sep 3, 2018
779
Gilbert, AZ
Pool Size
17000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
We are doing a spa but weren’t going to in the beginning. Most of our kids are grown and we have grandkids. We realized that the older kids will want to come to the spa and hang out with each other for cheap date nights in the winter. Then in the summer it’s a good baby pool for little kids, plus a good place for adults to hang out in without the heat on in the summer. We used to do that at my BILs pool. We also find a Baja step to be very useful. When we had our last pool, one of our boys was 5 and very timid. He would not leave that step 😂. It was his pool. I also enjoyed sitting on it. Now we have grandkids and know it will get a lot of use. As for waterfalls, I LOVED mine! I love the sound of the water. I do not like the sound of sheer descents. Those sound like you are pouring a pitcher of water in the pool and that is not a soothing sound to me. The waterfall is also a good place to jump off of. When we asked our kids what they wanted our pool to have they said a spa, waterfall and deep end.
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,842
Stuart/FL
Pool Size
12800
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
Nor,

Allen's references get you way ahead of the game on this project. Only adders I have are:
  • Pool is a great grand-kid attractant. Ours love the pool and can't wait to get back. We have a blast every day of their visit in the pool!
  • I'm a little confused about the work you want to perform yourself. Foundation forming and rebar can be done by home owners but it's time consuming and how do I say this PC? It's a young person's job. Lots of work on your knees and requires a lot of flexibility. I did this decades ago when I build my first house... not viable anymore even though we're pretty active with scuba diving, swimming, sailing and golf.
  • It can look attractive to install the equipment yourself but this almost always comes at expense of very limited warranty unless you go with other than the "big 3" equipment suppliers.
  • If you don't go with a spa consider a separate hot tub. My wife and I have a spa and love it but most owners that have one never use it and it becomes wasted $. We use it a couple times per week year round but that's our personal preferences are different than most.
  • Really do think about Allen's question on your real uses for the pool. They drive a lot about the perfect pool for you.
  • If you're going to be an owner builder it helps to know how the work should be performed and how to assure the quality of the work. But equally (or more) is how to price, negotiate, plan and schedule, manage craft labor, and manage'/control all the interfaces. These includes scopes that overlap with multiple contractors ability to start or complete their work impacted by another, permitting, weather, hidden underground surprises, poor performance etc.
  • Think about now and the future. I've added a lot of stuff to our pool. Ended up having to pull larger power that would have been much cheaper and easier when the pool was first installed. Same for equipment pad size.
  • I am thrilled with our Intellicenter automation. We use it literally all the time especially the remote features like heating up the spa on the spur of the moment when we're out and decide to relax in the spa when we get home. But with no spa, solar and other features it would have limited benefit.
I hope this helps.

Chris
 

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Scott1975

Member
Sep 13, 2020
9
Gilbert, AZ
Nor,
Welcome to the forums!
The People here are awesome, their knowledge is wonderful.
The Reading is endless.

I am a new owner-builder as well in Gilbert. Lindsey and Warner. Close to old town.
Planning to break ground in January.

My helpful comment is...
Beware of the soil. All of Gilbert was farmland. It has very expansive soil.
At my 1st house in Gilbert (Cooper Ranch. West side of Cooper and Houston), I had 10+ neighbors who had to redo their pools due to the pool walls being caved in. Not enough Concrete or Rebar. Most of their pools were built in the late 90's / early 2000's.

Good Luck.

Scott
 
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