Help with new pool design (SoCal...south OC)

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
120
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
SoCal...south OC build thread (start page 2)

Hey all...thanks for being here! I'm trying to design a backyard with a pool, spa and fire pit into a pretty small (I would say tiny) backyard...about 46'x20' -- the backyard, not the pool! The good news is that we are on a corner lot at the top of two slopes and have a great view so if I don't screw this up, I think it should be beautiful.


The updated plan is intended to simplify the original idea while still meeting most of our goals to one extent or another.

SKETCH.jpg





IMG_5005.jpg

IMG_5007.jpg


The covered patio area in the above picture is going to be extended across to the edge of the house (to the left in this photo)...the outdoor kitchen will be in that new covered area.

Below is the original concept I sketched out as drawn by my architect, but while the drawing was aesthetically pretty much what I wanted/asked for, I think I need to get a little more practical -- a bridge to the fire pit is probably a step too far. :)

IMG_5008.jpg


Here are our goals:


1) be beautiful and accentuate the view (ideally hide some/many of the roofs below us)
2) support safely jumping into the pool somewhere (kids are going to jump; ideally I’d like to be able to dive from the deck)
3) have sufficient length for out of shape adults to get a little exercise
4) make “the loop” convenient: pool -> spa -> fire pit (we fell in love with that sequence when we first moved out here to SoCal 2 years ago)
5) provide some sense of privacy while at the firepit (voices carry out here in the hills)
6) keep the top-right of our back yard available for the telescope; ideally raised a few feet (I saw the rings of Saturn a few weeks back — wow!)


We're planning to raise the pool a bit...18-24” so that it hides at least the closer roofs below me when people are seated in the house/patio looking out the back and can act as additional seating in certain areas. We’re leaning toward 18” at this point. Arguments for 24 over 18? My preference is 24 (it hides more of the roof structures below us) but the wife prefers 18 because she's concerned 24" will feel too imposing (I can see the argument).


Originally, I had planned on doing an infinity edge along that top length of pool…I’ve always loved the effect of having it look like it just drops off the edge of a cliff. But it is pretty expensive, complicates pool covers and I’m just not sure how impressive it would really be on my property…so I think I’m ditching the infinity edge and opting for an automatic pool cover instead. Can I do both -- do automatic pool covers work on a pool with an infinity edge?


Other questions:


A) Depth dilemma
My diagram had 12 feet of length at 4’ and then sloping down to 8’ at a 1:3 ratio. The PB said “code” where I live is 1:7. I’m not sure if that 1:7 is only up to a certain point (i.e., I see a lot of code have a different acceptable slope after 5’ depth) but I’m curious what others feel about a 1:3 ratio. It seems fairly common based on what I read but folks say it sounds like a very steep slope. PB said we could have a flat shallow end and a flat deep end though, presumably with more of a straight “cliff” at some point. Is that something people do?


If I gave up on the idea of diving, is 6’ safe for regular jumping/cannonball sort of play?


I’m struggling with the depth issue because I haven’t had a pool in 30 years and I read things like “80% of the time in pools is spent at depths people can touch” but I am also concerned that kids are going to jump into the pool no matter what the depth so I’m worried about not having any area that is safe to jump into. We're planning a small bench running along an entire side of the pool and the pool is fairly tiny (only 9.5' wide)...so maybe a deeper pool is ok? Or does it make more sense to just go something like 4' all the way across?


B) Square vs rectangle

Does anyone have thoughts/opinions on whether a square shape may be better/worse than a small rectangular shape like I have? This design is 35x9.5 or so. I have an alternate design that could yield a pool of about 25x12.


C) Outdoor shower?
I personally love outdoor showers but the wife isn’t convinced. Do you have one and if so, do people actually use it?


Anyway, let me know if you have any thoughts/comments/suggestions! Thanks in advance,
 

stodds

Gold Supporter
Aug 16, 2016
94
Round Rock, TX
A) You'll get a bunch of different answers on this one. I have a spa that is raised 18" over the shallow end of the pool that runs from 3.5' deep to 5.5' deep over 35'. Kids jump off the spa into the pool where it is 4 to 4.5' deep. I didn't want them to, but they do. Heck, I've done it. 5'10" and 200 lbs. Diving . . . different story. Jumping into the "deep" (5.5) end is no problem. Cannon balls etc., no issue. Diving is not allowed. My advice, don't dive into a pool at all. Now, having said that, I easily "shallow dive" into the deep end with no issues (think of the dive that starts a race, not a diving competition). One of the reasons we went with out depths was to eliminate so much slope. Since you are dealing with a small area, you may end up really disliking that slope if you ever plan on having several adults over (or kids for that matter) just hanging out. . . I asked a similar question on this site. Answers were all over the place. I just can't imagine 8' depth on a pool that is only 35' (like ours) that starts with a shallow end. But, that's just me.

B) A 2:1 ratio is "typical" on a rectangular pool. I would assume that if you can do a 12' wide pool, the reason you don't do 35 x 12 is that you'd lose too much deck. But, it looks like it is rectangular either way. It seems pretty narrow to me at 9.5. Do you have a better working deck with 25 x 12? Of course, if you shorten the pool, you exacerbate the issue in A, above. Unless you decide 8' is unnecessary.

C) Not much to say here. I suppose I having one would be nice. Having a bathroom out there would be even better!
 

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
120
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
Thanks for your response!

Yes, 9.5' is super-narrow. It's even worse if we go with a bench along one length of the pool. I had initially ruled out a pool because I felt 12' width was the minimum useful pool. The only way I can get 12' is to put the spa and fire pit at one end. In terms of maximizing the pool, it would make the most 'sense' to put them along the left side. The spa would be along the outside as in the original diagram and the fire pit would be between the grill and the spa along that left side.

I'd keep the deck along the right side both as the entry point and the 'telescope' pad.

Depending on how close to the house I'm willing to get, that could give me about a 25' x 15' area for the pool.

That's really the other option I've been toying with.

I'd give up a deep end...maybe just slope it to 5' in the middle or something, or perhaps not at all.

Other 'cons' include: less length (not a huge deal), spa kind of out of the way and right beside our only neighbor (whose backyard is less than half mine -- and their most usable space is like 10' away from where the spa would be), ditto re: fire pit -- super-close to the only neighbor.

But I can see how 25' x 15' might be a more enjoyable pool.

Thanks for your $0.02!
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
23,001
Laughlin, NV
Thought -- drop the integral SPA. Tends to be a pain (wish ours was standalone) and a standalone is alot easier to use in the winter, when most use a SPA. A spillover, with any height difference between spa and pool, creates significant aeration that drives up pH. You have hard water in S Cal, and managing the Calcium scale in your pool will be an important part of your water chemistry balance.
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
1,459
Morris Cnty NJ
I kind of agree with mknauss, make a water feauture if anything and seperate the spa, esp if u plan on using it all year long. Im in NJ but my cousin did a huge pool build w spa and its elevated on rocks and appears to be tied in but its not actually. they made the recirculation look like its coming from spa but the feed is just below the stone lip and you cant tell, but its just pool water going back in and the spa is its own unit, much easier to deal with, heat, and keep water correct. He can use in winter and the pool heater is on a valve that lets it just run the spa, heats up super fast and seperate pumps for it too
 

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
120
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
Yes, we're planning to keep the spa separate to facilitate an automatic pool cover but you've given me more reasons to do so. I didn't realize there may be maintenance complications if it were on the same water system. And yes, we have very hard water over here.
 

AmyJo

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 18, 2015
683
Atlanta, GA
Love your setting - and hands down, I vote for an infinity edge!! I have no idea what that might mean for an automatic cover, but gosh that would be worth every penny to me in your setting - and I'd think the water constantly running off would help greatly with your noise issues.

Our pool is only 6.6' wide. Another foot in width would make it SO much nicer. A width of 9.5' would be heavenly for us! Yes, it's narrower than a standard pool, but definitely wide enough to enjoy - even (and especially) with a long bench.

Depth-wise - unless you're jumping in or floating on a raft, your deep end will get little use. Think of the resort pools you've been to where everyone is so happy in 4'-5' of water. Yes, kids may jump - but they need to be taught NEVER to dive in any pool without a proper diving board/diving pit depth.
 

AmyJo

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 18, 2015
683
Atlanta, GA
Also, 18"H is the average seat height of a chair. 24"H is counter stool height. A height of 18" is much more comfortable if you'd want to perch on the side , which I think is a great idea.
 

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
120
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
Ok, updated design. We decided to reduce the length in favor of increasing the width. The spa and fire pit moved to the left side of the yard. Architect put in artificial turf in the small area between the covered patio and the pool (about 1.5' wide) as well as around the fire pit...don't really love that but not sure what to do instead. We could extend the patio flooring out to the pool but not sure that's a better option...pros/cons I guess.

We're planning to put a water feature (waterfall or the like) along the back of the bench between the fire pit and the pool...something that might help obscure our conversation a bit and be a bit less intrusive to our neighbor.

Planning an automatic pool cover, hidden under the deck along the right side of the pool. The main pool equipment is also planned to be put in a vault under that same deck. Does anyone have any idea if automatic pool covers can do odd shapes? I'm assuming such a cover would only be able to cover the pool -- the spa would have to have its own cover, right?

I've read through the Pool School equipment section but it hasn't helped me a ton re: honing in on what I should be going for in terms of equipment. My priorities are convenience and quality, cost is a less of a concern...not that I'm looking to waste money, but I'd rather pay a bit more if it means getting something that works better or adds meaningful convenience. Assuming variable speed pump, a robot or other automated cleaner, some lights, the water feature, assuming SWG...what about filtration?

Planning solar heating as well as gas -- the solar should be able to be about the same sq. footage as the water surface. Pool is expected to be shallow (probably 3.5-4') unless we have to go deeper due to slope constraints (the deeper the pool, the safer it is, so we may have to go deeper), especially since the whole pool will be raised 18-20" or so.

Pretty sure I'm giving up on the infinity edge. It would look awesome along that view wall but based on what the builders have said, it would add a ton of cost.

Are there other features I should be thinking about? Expect a lot of use by kids (6-7 year olds today).

Also, architect seemed to draw integral spa again...looks like he drew it so the spa/pool wall is basically right at the water line. While I think that effect looks cool, based on the comments above I'm thinking we should keep it separate which I believe would mean we'd just have normal coping across that wall and the system would have its own equipment and whatnot.
 

bizzle

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2017
231
Imperial County, CA
I tend to think that the deeper the pool the more dangerous they are, not the other way around. Deeper pools are certainly less convenient and fun to relax and recreate in, in my experience.

I know you're concerned about diving but I don't know how much weight you should put on that. Our association's pool is 3.5-4-3.5 and the most use is kids. They run and jump and do all sorts of rule violations but I have never seen them dive. Growing up, I infrequently dove into pools head first and I never did into the ocean (grew up in SD on the beach). That said, I did a lot of things that I wouldn't do now, like jumping off roofs and jumping off cliffs into water. But again, not much diving and neither did anyone I grew up around.

If you think it's a big concern, take some kids or go where kids are, and watch them interact in the pool. My experience is that jumping in and climbing out of a pool frequently is an exerting activity and isn't sustainable for long. After that initial burst of activity, the bulk of the activity is going to be standing, lounging, sporting, and swimming around and for that the 4ft depth will be much more suitable.

When I am hanging out with friends we just stand around holding our beverages, etc. When I went to my niece's birthday party they had a pool like you're describing and no one went to the deep end. I was pushing my 1 year old daughter around in a floaty and half of the pool was essentially unusable because I had to bounce on my toes and then swim while pushing her. It was tiring and there wasn't any obvious places to rest other than the shelves and the crowded shallow end. A lot of kids and adolescents were at that party, too, and I don't remember seeing anyone jump in it let alone dive.

I much prefer our association's pool to the one we're moving into that has an 8' deep end. I wish I could fill it in to one level but that's cost prohibitive. I'm thinking of other ways to make that end of the pool usable, maybe a grotto, but other than that I expect the deep end to get little to no use.


As for the infinity edge, I read a post recently by someone here who analyzed costs somewhat differently than usual. Let's say your pool is going to be $50,000 and your edge is going to be an additional $5K. You could think of it as 10% and say to yourself, "wow!" but you also might consider that over the life of the pool (or your mortgage) that the $5K spread over 10, 15, or 30 years is really only $1 to $0.50 per day, for example.
 

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
120
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
Sorry for the confusion bizzle, I meant deeper = safer only in terms of the structural integrity of the pool. We may be forced to deepen the pool so that it has less chance of sliding down our slope onto our neighbor's house below!

We're hoping to keep it shallower 3.5-4.5'.

I haven't seen the price difference in the infinity pool edge but it would be 25' long and pool pricing in SoCal seems ridiculous so I'm guessing they will price it out a lot more than $5k... I'm asking them to quote that as an option, we'll see. But one of the builders I had onsite earlier estimated $20-25k more...so unless I can get that figure down drastically, it is not happening.

I'm also not entirely certain how cool it would really be on my property. I have constant winds up here, so the surface would never be 'glass' and the roofs of the houses below us will still largely be visible (if your standing looking out over the pool anyway, less so if sitting). I wish there was an easy way to simulate what it would look like...

Regardless, thanks for your thoughts on depth -- they align with where we are at this point...this whole process is pretty nerve wracking!!
 

proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,656
Chandler AZ
I would think the pool depth wouldn't have much bearing on the pool sliding down the slope or not - IF the engineering is done correctly and any additional retention bracing, reinforcement or whatever the engineer designs in is put in place correctly.

If you're not doing the diving pool, you may want to consider 3.5'-5.0'-3.5' ... both ends 3.5' and the very center area 5.0'.
 

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
120
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
Right, well, we were told more extensive engineering may be required depending upon the depth and that a deeper pool may actually reduce the engineering requirements.

The way it was described to me is that the deeper you dig, the further from the slope edge the base of the pool becomes and therefore the more earth is basically pushing back on the pool. A shallow pool may require larger and deeper support structures.

At the end of the day, until we get the engineering done we have no idea what we're in for...

Re: we've been told given how small the pool is (25' long x 15' wide), we probably won't have much opportunity for depth change. I was told it can be no steeper than 1' drop every 8' of length and I don't think the drop can start for 6 or 8' from the entry. I agree that putting a dip in the middle might be our best option but it's probably more like 3.5 - 4 - 3.5 or 4 - 4.5 - 4 or something of that nature.
 

Michele17

Bronze Supporter
Sep 2, 2017
16
Ojai, CA
We're up the coast from you a bit (Ojai) and are in the midst of construction right now (shotcrete next week). Your plans look lovely! I decided to chime in because we went through some of the same decisions. We have a lot of room, so some of our choices won't apply but here goes:

1. Depth: We ended up going with a 8.5 ft deep end and a diving board. Our kids are older (14, 14, 18) and two of them spent a full week mostly jumping off of the diving board where we vacationed. We went back on forth about this (I was most concerned about safety), but in the end I decided that these kids (and their friends) are going to dive and cannonball whether there is a deep end or not, and a diving board would most likely keep that activity to the deep end. And our pool is definitely sloped greater than 1:7 where it goes deep.

2. Before we decided on the deep end and diving board, our PB said 6 ft is adequate for a shallow dive from the side.

3. Hubby wants to be able to swim laps, so one half of our pool is 5 ft depth minimum along its length.

4. We are planning on an outdoor shower, too (hopefully to keep some dirt out of the pool). No design yet, but will be happy to share ideas!

Good luck!! (Again, your site and plans look lovely!)
 

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
120
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
Ok, architect gave us another update to the design with a few more tweaks.

View attachment 69459

Changes include:
*) showing spa as stand alone
*) added sheer descent feature on side of spa (not where I asked but may make sense)
*) replace the artificial turf with hardscape (by fire pit and between patio and pool)
*) drew below grade vault for automatic pool cover (between patio and pool) : ** doesn't make sense to me **

Questions:

1) Automatic cover below grade on a raised pool??
The pool is raised 18"...does it make any sense that he put a vault for the pool cover below grade? Can it work that way? I'm assuming he just wasn't thinking it through. I think we need to extend the raised deck on the right side of the pool so it goes the full side of the pool there and then the cover could be stashed under there?

2) Wood decking?
I love the look of teak/stained IPE...but I'm reading wood gets super hot and our entire backyard gets sun all day (due south exposure). I'm a little nervous about the maintenance of a wood deck also, although I'm not averse to restaining it every year. Travertine seems to be what folks are suggesting for something that can stay reasonably cool, looks nice, not too slippery... Can anyone with experience with either wood or travertine weigh in on this?

3) Sheer descent -- useful for background noise?
We asked for the sheer descent feature to help obscure conversations in the spa/firepit area. If anyone has a feature like this...could you comment on whether it might achieve that goal? Would it be too loud (i.e., makes conversation too difficult) or too soft? Are there better ideas on how to achieve better privacy? They seem to draw it with a 3.5' drop -- they said the higher it is the louder it will be...are there showrooms that have these sorts of things anywhere?

4) Pool equipment in vault under deck?
Equipment is expected to be in a vault under the wood deck. Only other location is in the side yard behind the garage which is very far away and would also reduce quite a bit of usable space back in that area. Does this sound reasonable? I'm concerned it may be difficult to maintain due to access issues...has anyone heard of this? Are there other risks in doing this -- like might ventilation be a problem or something of that nature? If I move away from the wood deck due to (2) above, the vault may have to go too.

Thanks again for everyone who has looked or responded already!!
 
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dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
120
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 5.07.51 PM.jpg

Does anyone have thoughts on locating pool equipment underneath a deck? The architect is suggesting the pool equipment cold live in a "vault" under the wood deck. The wood deck would have a hinge so that it could be lifted up when maintenance had to be performed.

In the conceptual diagram above, there are two separate 'vaults' under the wood deck, both outlined in red. The one closer to the pool is for an automatic pool cover. The other one would be for the equipment. There are also two other red outlines on the top side of the diagram -- those were alternate locations for the automatic pool cover vault...ignore those, we're hoping to do an infinity edge along that wall so I don't think we can effectively store the cover on that side of the pool.

The only other location for the equipment is way down the other end of our property behind the garage (close to our neighbors)...probably 100' away and only about 5' from the neighbors property.

How often do you need to do maintenance to the equipment?
How loud is the equipment while running?
Other than upfront expense, are there additional problems with locating the equipment 100' away from the pool?

I like the idea of it being hidden and not eating up any of our rather limited yard. I'd also like to be sensitive to putting anything loud near the neighbors. But I'm concerned that it could make maintenance even more of a hassle than normal which doesn't sound like a great idea either and also wondering if there is more risk re: leaks for whatnot with the equipment so far away from the pool.

Joe
 
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