Gun Shy - Buying an Gunite SW Pool

bbdude

Member
Jul 20, 2017
7
Philly
Updated on Nov 16: Gun Shy - Buying an Gunite SW Pool

Hi All - As the title says, we're gun shy as this is a huge purchase for us. We called the three primary pool companies here in Buffalo NY. Two called us back, and only one is actively engaging with us. Builder has done pools in our neighborhood, very responsive and friendly, but I know from experience this means little when it comes to project execution / quality control. Wish we could get more quotes, but builders that are hard to nail down during the sales process is a big red flag for us.

To make matters worse, builder is backed up so our deposit ($1k) would be for a build starting in June 2022. Help convince me to proceed :). Here's the detail of the current quote/bid (~$85k), but haven't nailed down all the details (e.g., plaster, etc.) as design process won't start until fall 2021. Thoughts?

Type - Gunite
Pool - 24'x38'
Depth - 3.5' - 8' (w/ 6' diving board)
Steps - Standard walkin steps, 6' bench
Pump - Pentair Variable Flow
Filter - Pentair Clean & Clear Plus 320
Heater - Pentair Mastertemp 300,000 BTU
Lighting - 4 LEDs
Sanitizer - Pentair IC40 Salt
Automation - Pentair EasyTouch4
Cover - Mesh Safety Cover
Plaster - Wet Edge, Altima White
Construction - 3' light broom concrete w/ 4" compacted stone
 
Last edited:

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
8,648
Southern OK
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool SJ-40
Welcome to TFP :)

In NY that size filter should be good, you should only have to clean it at the end of the season..

get the biggest 400k heater as it will help heat your pool faster and not use much more gas..

You pool will be about 37,000 gallons, you will need the 60k SWG and may still have to run your pump 12 or more hours to create enough chlorine...

get the new Pentair Intellicenter as it is the new one and not years old like the easy touch... Pentair IntelliCenter 5PIC60 Kit - Pool only with Load Center and IC60

try to get the nichless 1.5 inch LED lights...

If the company has done pools in you area and they look good and the owners are happy that is exactly who I would go with :)
 

DeanP66

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2014
1,230
San Jose, CA
That filter may be a little small for that size pool, but it depends on how much stuff you get in the pool. I have that exact same filter on my 20K pool is San Jose, and it works just fine for me. I clean it twice a year and it's never really even that dirty when I do. I don't get a lot of stuff in my pool though. I really wanted to get the next size up, but my pool shed has a somewhat low roof, and wasn't sure if I'd be able to get the lid off without the roof getting in the way when it was time to clean it.

If it was me, I'd get the Pentiar Clean and Clear 420. Also, I agree with cowboycasey that you definitely want the IC60 over the IC40. With the IC40, you'll have to run that thing almost 100% 24/7 to generate the chlorine you'll need for that size pool.
 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
8,648
Southern OK
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool SJ-40
those are an option also.. STAY Away from the globrites, lots of them failing in 2 to 5 years..

The nichless are just a 1.5 inch pipe into the pool with the light screwed into it.. They are cheaper and easy to install and if they break you can change them out... At least that is why I am getting 6 of them :)

 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
8,648
Southern OK
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool SJ-40
They are all replaced the same way, no need to drain the pool.. you pull the light and then pull the cable all the way back from your pad and then pull the new cable back to the pad... most of it is cost.. A nichless light costs hundreds less than a normal Pentair light... There not better or worse (well some are worse as some are only lasting 2 to 3 years) but most times you are stuck with that type light.. So a replacement Pentair light in a Pentair niche costs 400 to 500 dollars to replace where a nichless costs 200 to 250... :)

The worst part is we get plenty of people here asking about blown or not working lights that they only use 3 or 4 times a year and after 2 years it is not working and have to pay 500 dollars per light to replace... adds up when there are 4 to 6 lights in a pool...
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
7,018
Central MD
Pool Size
27000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Regarding diving boards - I have one and like them. I’d recommend going to 8 1/2’. 8’ is legal but not ideal. 9’ is even more margin for error. 8 1/2’ is still easier than I’d like to to touch the bottom in a dive. Plan, educate, pray and insure (heavily).
 

bbdude

Member
Jul 20, 2017
7
Philly
Thanks, both. Given the costs are already at an estimated $85k ... want to push to get some of these suggested upgrades in before I put my deposit down. Seems expensive given what I'm asking for, but alas I suppose 'affordable' and 'pool' don't belong in the same sentance.
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support

bbdude

Member
Jul 20, 2017
7
Philly
Hi All - So we're 6 months into this. Pool builder is going to visit our site in person for the first time next week. Pool build not slated to start until September 2022 due to supply chain issues and other builds, etc. We had to sign a letter acknowledging price increases. With a pool price at $88k before fencing, landscaping, etc. I'm already getting nervous. Also, pool builders son proposed coming out to our home instead of the original pool builder we've been dealing with - told him no ... also contributing to my nervousness. Neighbors also now have yappy dogs that bark all day ... it's not clear if they will be neighborly and reasonable with their dogs.

Anyway, here's where we've ended up thus far with the build. Any other thoughts, comments, concerns? I'll start a build thread once ground is broken :)

Type - Gunite
Pool - 24'x38' (free form and not to exceed 640sqft)
Coping - Cantilever Concrete
Drainage - None
Interior - Altima White Plaster
Depth - 3.5' - 8' (w/ 8' diving board)
Steps - Standard walk-in steps, 6' bench
Pump - Pentair Variable Flow
Filter - Pentair Clean & Clear Plus 420
Heater - Pentair Mastertemp 400,000 BTU
Lighting - 4 Pentair Globrite
Sanitizer - Pentair IC60 Salt
Automation - Pentair Intellicenter
Controller - None
Cleaning System - None
Cover - Mesh Safety Cover
Plaster - Wet Edge, Altima White
Construction - 3' light broom concrete w/ 4" compacted stone
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
7,018
Central MD
Pool Size
27000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Glad to hear there is some progress even if its glacial. My neighbor is waiting to hear if he's on the '22 list or not. Looking like '23 for him.

I would be disappointed with a 3' ring of concrete around the pool. Aside from the water, the decking layout makes it usable. Be sure not to skimp too much there. In pool benches also make a huge difference in the user experience. One 6' is minimal in that regard. Of course these things as with my comment on depth earlier do add costs. But sometimes you gotta go for it to make it work better. I'd skip an upgraded white finish and go with plain plaster to get more deck space. In 15+ years, you can replaster. Ours still looks great after 9. But life is about tradeoffs. Just be sure you've considered the downsides to some of the choices. Sometimes space next to your pool is already like extra deck space. A few pics can help folks here get a good visual.

Also, please continue with this thread as your build thread. Just change the title if you wish. Otherwise all the history and mental clues for the responders are gone.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
18,818
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
16000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Honest opinion and it’s just my opinion alone here - I wouldn’t build a pool right now. Too many unknowns, too many building projects, supply chain issues, etc. And none of this is going to get any better anytime soon. It took 6 months for the builder to even have time to look at your yard … that’s nuts. When we built our pool back in 2013, initial site visits by prospective builders happened within days or a week of inquiry. Can you imagine how hard it will be to get their attention when you’re in the middle of a build?? You’ll lose your down payment for sure but I would write that off.

Again, just me and my negative opinion. My home was built during the housing boom of 2005/2006 just before the Great Recession (I’m not the original owner). It was also a time period of crazy construction and supply/labor shortages. Every time I open up something to do a simple fix (outlets, plumbing, etc), it is shocking to find what poor quality work was done and how things were slap-dashed together just to “get it done and move on to the next job”. I fear many pools this year and last are being built that way as well.
 

bbdude

Member
Jul 20, 2017
7
Philly
I would be disappointed with a 3' ring of concrete around the pool. Aside from the water, the decking layout makes it usable. Be sure not to skimp too much there. In pool benches also make a huge difference in the user experience. One 6' is minimal in that regard. Of course these things as with my comment on depth earlier do add costs. But sometimes you gotta go for it to make it work better. I'd skip an upgraded white finish and go with plain plaster to get more deck space. In 15+ years, you can replaster. Ours still looks great after 9. But life is about tradeoffs. Just be sure you've considered the downsides to some of the choices. Sometimes space next to your pool is already like extra deck space. A few pics can help folks here get a good visual.

Great input, thank you. Design stage is just about to start so we def won't stick w/ a 3' ring. Will go with a wider ring (probably stamped concrete) in some areas to accommodate lounge chairs, tables, etc. I'm okay tweaking here and there to get what we want. $100k is really where I want to stop.

Here's the space from above. It's ~1/2 acre and flat. Goal is to put the pool on looker right (near the driveway). We've measured, plenty of space. Backyard faces south. Neighbors with noisy dogs have a pool w/ club house so want to stay away from that side of yard (lookers left).
Untitled.jpg

Honest opinion and it’s just my opinion alone here - I wouldn’t build a pool right now. Too many unknowns, too many building projects, supply chain issues, etc. And none of this is going to get any better anytime soon. It took 6 months for the builder to even have time to look at your yard … that’s nuts. When we built our pool back in 2013, initial site visits by prospective builders happened within days or a week of inquiry. Can you imagine how hard it will be to get their attention when you’re in the middle of a build?? You’ll lose your down payment for sure but I would write that off.

Again, just me and my negative opinion. My home was built during the housing boom of 2005/2006 just before the Great Recession (I’m not the original owner). It was also a time period of crazy construction and supply/labor shortages. Every time I open up something to do a simple fix (outlets, plumbing, etc), it is shocking to find what poor quality work was done and how things were slap-dashed together just to “get it done and move on to the next job”. I fear many pools this year and last are being built that way as well.
You're not alone and you're not being negative at all. I've had the same discussions with my wife. Things just keep 'happening' that are pushing us to hold off. We have a tough yard to access so I anticipate this adding significant costs. Supply chain issues, project delays, etc. I won't be surprised if this is a $150k project soup to nuts, which is more than I can stomach. Pool builder has been accommodating and understanding to the extent he can. I don't owe substantial money until the week of ground breaking. Lots of time to think.

I have 4 young kids so every year we put things off that's a lot less we get from the pool. Builders around here are already scheduled out to 2024. Tough spot to be in, but just don't know what to do. I'll probably try the local pool this summer to see if it's suitable. None of the pools around here open before 11am, which is a huge downside (my kids are early AM risers). Then again, my neighbors dogs barking all summer would also be a big issue.

What does the letter about price increases say? Is it limited to a certain amount? certain %? Or just whatever he claims?

Basically says, in the event of unforeseen price increases, we will discuss the increases with the builder and have a change order created if we agree to the changes. Otherwise, I can void the contract and get my deposit ($1k back). Otherwise, if no changes in price I will lose my deposit if I void the contract.
 
Last edited:

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
18,818
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
16000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
To me, cost isn’t really an issue. Pools are expensive no matter what and raw materials will always cost more year over year. Pools never get cheaper to build. My main concern is quality and the build process. Builders are swamped everywhere. Good, consistent labor is in short supply. Hacks and crooks abound. One thing I liked about when we built in a recession was that my builder was on speed dial and he answered my calls every time. He was only building 2 other pools along with mine and so he was onsite at almost every phase of the project. We would stand out back and talk shop for hours. He was agreeable to almost every question and change I asked for (because every change request resulted in an up-charge 😂). When problems happened, he was there within an hour to work it out. Even the subs were relaxed and worked at slow pace because business was down. But that meant I could oversee things and discuss issues or simply ask questions and they were totally happy to talk it all through. I would lose my mind if I had to deal with construction/contractors in today’s frenzied world.

Question - have you considered putting up a simple Intex pool for a season to see if it’s something your family will use? Unless the neighborhood you’re in has rules against above ground pools, it might be a good way to gauge interest and it’s certainly better than a community pool where you have no control over hours or cleanliness. A few thousand bucks will get you a nice, flat graded area to set the pool in and a decent sized pool to swim. And you can always sell it on Craig’s List when you’re done and decide to put in a permanent pool.

Don’t be too concerned about the “my kids are only little once“ argument. If they truly love swimming in a backyard pool, they will be doing it for years and years and, truth be told, lots of people say they’re going to use that backyard oasis every single day but the general busyness of life has a way of presenting you and your kids with plenty of excuses to not have to go swimming on any given day 😉

Sincerely,

Mr Grumpy Curmudgeon

(I’m sure I was in a better mood yesterday…)
 

Cena_sea

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2021
93
Northern California
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
While there have been frustrations with materials and delays I felt like there were some benefits. Part of the reason for the delays was the shortage of labor so our builder did a lot himself because he had to. Also spoke to a sub who did an excellent job. Pre pandemic he had a 17 or 18 member crew. During our build he had a much, much smaller (and very competent) crew so it meant he was on-site doing a lot too. He actually mentioned during the housing crisis he’d had a crew of over 30 and it was a horrible time for his industry and this wasn’t like it.

Another sub the best work was done on the days one guy was here. It meant things were slow but the job was done correctly.
 
Last edited:

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support
Thread Status
Hello , This is an inactive thread. Any new postings here are unlikely to be seen or responded to by other members. You will get much more visibility by Starting A New Thread