New Owner Build Long Island - Is it possible?

bulldog0321

Member
Jul 11, 2017
14
Bayport NY
Hi All,

I live on Long Island and my wife and I are keen to put a new IG pool in. Most people in this area do vinyl liners which we are not crazy about because a sun ledge is a must and we have two very curious bulldogs that LOVE the water. The stress factor of having the two of them romp around and tearing the liner is just not going to be worth it. Fiberglass is possible but is very uncommon here, and gunite is for the wealthy as the numbers we are getting are $70-80k for a basic pool w plaster finish.

We want an 18x38 or 20x40 rectangle with a 6' or 8' long sun deck going across the entire width, and steps also going across the entire width. No deep end, we are thinking 3.5' to roughly 5.5 or 6'. The shape/style would be similar to the Leisure Pools Pinnacle 40 model (but wider and no deep end):

The Pinnacle | Leisure Pools USA

No decking, just bluestone coping surrounded by sod. If you google "hamptons pool" that is the look my wife is going for. I am working on her for a small bluestone patio off the shallow end for a few lounge chairs and 2 umbrellas. No deal as yet, her argument (funny enough) is that it's money we don't need to spend now and it can always be added later if we want to. Form over function. Every time.

We were actually pretty close to pulling the trigger on the Leisure Pinnacle but when all was said and done with equipment, electrician, heater and a loop-loc type safety cover (not an auto cover) we were at $55k. No coping or decking. This was with Leisure installing the pool themselves as they have no dealers in our area.

So we began to investigate gunite options to see if we could get close to that number and unfortunately it doesn't look like it's going to happen based on the few PB's we've spoken with. On top of this, it doesn't seem like there are ANY PB's on Long Island that have great reputations - every one we have come across has some negative feedback or horror stories. Essentially there is nobody we've found that we'd be 100% comfortable with for this size job/amount of money.

Ive noticed that many people on TFP have done successful gunite owner builds and that got me wondering if we could pull it off also. I don't know anybody and have never heard of anybody on Long Island doing this before. Is anybody out there who has?

My first question is, do I need structural pool plans? We have a large acre and a half property, the pool would not be near any structures, although it would be about 10' off a row of 25-30' tall cedar privacy trees as a backdrop. No spa. I know pooleng.com could do this for us if it's necessary. I don't have a problem with paying for plans as I would want a detailed plan for the electrician, plumber, really all the subs to look at since I am not that familiar with all the details that are going to be required for each job. Any comments on this?

I have found somebody for the gunite shoot and somebody to do a pebble tec finish, about $20k for those two pieces. I am assuming I can find an excavator to do the dig and truck out the fill without a problem. Steel is a bit of a hold up, I've called about a dozen people but they are all doing larger construction jobs, not pools. One guy said he would do it and get back to me with a rough number for 20x40 w no deep end but I haven't heard back. :roll:

Plumber and electrician I haven't started calling yet as the 4th of July vacation ended and now it's back to the salt mines.

Not trying to put the cart before the horse, but as far as equipment is there an easy way to get a package of good equipment that can handle automation? I believe most filters in this area are cartridge, at least that's what I always had as a kid with my parents vinyl pool. We want a SWCG but one PB tried talking us out of it because of the "corrosion" argument with the plaster. As far as pump size and speed, any comments on this would be appreciated. The mrs. doesn't want bubblers or deck jets or any other complications, again she just wants the simple pool that looks "estately."

I think a heater is a must because our season is so short here. We do have nat gas in the house but plumbers here are outrageous when it comes to running gas lines. Pool is prob 50' off the house so I think the install would be more for gas than heat pump. I don't know about the running costs. From what I am reading on TFP solar isn't going to be dependable or effective enough to get us up to comfortable swimming temps in may/sept. Solar cover isn't going to happen bc of the fur babies going out at night.

Any help or guidance would be hugely appreciated!

Thanks for reading and thanks to all at TFP for running this great site!!
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,963
Damascus, MD
Wow lots of fun!

First off, dump the bluestone! I have it and it gets REALLY hot! It will burn your feet. I would not get it again.

100% go saltwater. No pool should be built without. 3 hp variable speed pump is a must. Cartridge filter for sure. 400k btu heater. saltwater chlorine generator. You could use exactly what is in my sigline and be fine.

Gas heaters are cheaper than heat pumps so with installation this will be a wash. Go with gas.

I would get at the minimum basic automation. Once you settle on a brand, stick with Jandy, Pentair or another tier 1 maker.

Self/owner building is very popular due to the possibility of cost savings. You are at a pretty good time now since there is no chance really of you swimming this year so it will be easier to schedule and get contractors to show up. Most of their loyalty is to pool builders for obvious reasons. If you put in the time and are organized enough to act as the general contractor you will save money in the end and end up with superior product.

Don't forget permitting!
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
12,673
Houston, Texas
Hi, welcome to TFP! I wish you luck on being a general contractor for your pool build. I have no experience in that area but there are several members who have, and I'm sure they will be happy to advise you. Have you tried calling any local union halls to find contacts for steel rebar work and other components? They may be able to put you in contact with people willing to take on a "small" job. Timing the job may be critical too, if this project can be started in late fall, early winter you may have better luck finding people willing to do it.

SWGs are not corrosive to pool plaster in and of themselves. As long as you keep the water balanced you won't have corrosion issues.

Vinyl liners are tougher than you think, and if you keep the dogs' nails trimmed you shouldn't have any problems with them tearing up the liner.
 

bulldog0321

Member
Jul 11, 2017
14
Bayport NY
Thanks! Hugely helpful suggestions! Scrapping the bluestone is going to be a tough sell, do you have any recommendations for alternatives? We want that color and a gray pool finish. This may sound stupid but we want it to look like it's obviously a gunite pool. Some inspiration photos:
IMG_1076.jpg
IMG_1063.jpg

Again, form over function is my wife's M.O. The saving grace is her style is infinitely better than mine.

Appreciate the equipment help also and automation is definitely on the wish list.

Agreed on the permitting, I wanted to get some more info before going to my town. I think I will need drawings, I just don't know how detailed. When it comes to things like size and spacing of rebar, plumbing lines, electrical lines etc, I need there to be a set plan so the subs don't do it improperly and I don't realize until it's too late.

- - - Updated - - -

Hi, welcome to TFP! I wish you luck on being a general contractor for your pool build. I have no experience in that area but there are several members who have, and I'm sure they will be happy to advise you. Have you tried calling any local union halls to find contacts for steel rebar work and other components? They may be able to put you in contact with people willing to take on a "small" job. Timing the job may be critical too, if this project can be started in late fall, early winter you may have better luck finding people willing to do it.

SWGs are not corrosive to pool plaster in and of themselves. As long as you keep the water balanced you won't have corrosion issues.

Vinyl liners are tougher than you think, and if you keep the dogs' nails trimmed you shouldn't have any problems with them tearing up the liner.
Thanks! My dogs have wresting matches in their kiddy pool right now so I'm not comfortable taking the risk with vinyl. We are also rescue supporters so I don't see there being a point in the future where there are no dogs or this is no longer a concern.

I havent thought of the union idea, I'll look into it.

Thanks also for the reassurance about SWG! Definitely going to go that route.
 

skimmerswimmer

Well-known member
Jul 30, 2013
367
Long Island, NY
My neighbor did bluestone coping and is regretting it. After one winter with the loop-loc cover, the weight of the snow has caused the cover to gouge out the edges of the coping where the straps align with the loop-loc anchors (about every 3 ft). Bluestone appears to be too soft to be used as coping with these covers and snow loads.
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,963
Damascus, MD
The darker it is, the more heat it is going to absorb. Remember most people are going to be out there barefoot. Thankfully we just have it for coping but you can't sit on it and dangle your feet in the pool in the sun unless you hose it down until it is cool. And then it heats up rapidly. Not sure of an alternative with the same look but without heat issues.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
6,515
Central MD
I'll offer the counter opinion on bluestone. Yes it's hot, quite hot. But our stamped concrete decking is hot too (a little less hot - but neither is a joy to stand on dry on a hot summer day). I would use it again in a heartbeat. It looks awesome and is my idea of a pool coping in the NE. Also, having a rectangular pool, similar to your design ethos, made me really only consider bluestone. Splash some water on the coping and it is bearable quickly and then comfortable in short order thereafter.

Regarding the Loop-Loc safety cover. I too have a safety cover, though my brand is Merlin SmartMesh. I have not experienced any such issues whatsoever with gouging. We have had some healthy snows in the last 5 years to test it. It is frequently down on the water surface, with the springs compressed. So I don't think it's from lack of cover travel back and forth. I will note that our cover did come with plastic strips on the underside with are on the straps, and also a second layer of mesh fabric which is attached and goes below the main cover and those plastic strips. These two things are what bear the brunt of the friction versus on the straps. Though I always think of this as more to keep the strap in good shape versus any protection for the coping. Bluestone in general is quite a dense stone so I'm just surprised (but not doubting) the wear from the straps.

I do think that you will need to really make sure you get a good anchor method for your safety cover since you won't have decking. Using only pipes, now matter how deep, could lead you to be unhappy with their solidity/staying power. I'd recommend having concrete piers places where you will have anchors. And yes, this would potentially complicate later deck installation. Though if you have the concrete remain several inches below a future decking level, you could eliminate a potential future headache.

I know it doesn't sound like it's in the budget, but I can't recommend enough an autocover, especially on a rectangular pool. Heat retention is a major benefit as is cleanliness (and less pump run-time if you wish). You will likely double your heating costs by not covering your pool. Breezy, dry air of early and late season is a killer combo leading to high evaporative losses.

+1 on SWCG's.

There are more pics in our build thread linked in my signature, but here's one showing the coping. The pool is 18' x 38'.

 

schwimmen

Bronze Supporter
Jan 30, 2017
127
Houston TX
Your wife has nice taste. I like the bluestone, too, but it's not an option for us. Our PB suggested a thick, solid flagstone coping from India that can handle a SWG pool with proper sealing and balanced water. I've left it outside and occasionally go out and step on it to see if it's too hot in the sun. So far so good temperature-wise. I've also seen concrete coping that has a similar look. We're mid-build, so I can't speak to the durability of either yet, but it seems like sealing the stone is fairly important for SWG pools.
 

bulldog0321

Member
Jul 11, 2017
14
Bayport NY
I'll offer the counter opinion on bluestone. Yes it's hot, quite hot. But our stamped concrete decking is hot too (a little less hot - but neither is a joy to stand on dry on a hot summer day). I would use it again in a heartbeat. It looks awesome and is my idea of a pool coping in the NE. Also, having a rectangular pool, similar to your design ethos, made me really only consider bluestone. Splash some water on the coping and it is bearable quickly and then comfortable in short order thereafter.

Regarding the Loop-Loc safety cover. I too have a safety cover, though my brand is Merlin SmartMesh. I have not experienced any such issues whatsoever with gouging. We have had some healthy snows in the last 5 years to test it. It is frequently down on the water surface, with the springs compressed. So I don't think it's from lack of cover travel back and forth. I will note that our cover did come with plastic strips on the underside with are on the straps, and also a second layer of mesh fabric which is attached and goes below the main cover and those plastic strips. These two things are what bear the brunt of the friction versus on the straps. Though I always think of this as more to keep the strap in good shape versus any protection for the coping. Bluestone in general is quite a dense stone so I'm just surprised (but not doubting) the wear from the straps.

I do think that you will need to really make sure you get a good anchor method for your safety cover since you won't have decking. Using only pipes, now matter how deep, could lead you to be unhappy with their solidity/staying power. I'd recommend having concrete piers places where you will have anchors. And yes, this would potentially complicate later deck installation. Though if you have the concrete remain several inches below a future decking level, you could eliminate a potential future headache.

I know it doesn't sound like it's in the budget, but I can't recommend enough an autocover, especially on a rectangular pool. Heat retention is a major benefit as is cleanliness (and less pump run-time if you wish). You will likely double your heating costs by not covering your pool. Breezy, dry air of early and late season is a killer combo leading to high evaporative losses.
Thanks for the comments on bluestone, hugely helpful. I understand the concerns about the heat but I don't know what alternatives would solve that and still achieve the look we are going for. Thanks also for the point on anchors, I haven't thought about that yet.

Have you had any issues with the auto cover and the salt water damaging the motor/tracks/anything else? One PB was saying this was a common problem with salt pools, but his take was since we didn't want the auto cover then the SWCG would be fine for us. I do admit to some concern here. If those can be alleviated and if i can figure out a way to afford it i agree the auto cover would solve the heat loss and safety concerns. Does your auto cover also replace the loop-loc when the pool is closed?

Thanks again.
 

bulldog0321

Member
Jul 11, 2017
14
Bayport NY
Your wife has nice taste. I like the bluestone, too, but it's not an option for us. Our PB suggested a thick, solid flagstone coping from India that can handle a SWG pool with proper sealing and balanced water. I've left it outside and occasionally go out and step on it to see if it's too hot in the sun. So far so good temperature-wise. I've also seen concrete coping that has a similar look. We're mid-build, so I can't speak to the durability of either yet, but it seems like sealing the stone is fairly important for SWG pools.
Thanks, do you know if you used "blue ice"? It is very similar to bluestone but a bit lighter in color - more of a pale grayish blue. I know this is imported from India, but i was told it was a type of limestone not flagstone (if that makes sense). We actually have samples of blue ice and bluestone sitting on our porch because were trying to decide between the two. I don't know that the ice would really stay much cooler and from what we were told it was a softer stone, so not as good for coping or when mixed with salt water. When we heard this we leaned back towards the bluestone. I wonder if this is what your PB recommended though?
 

blakeusa

In The Industry
Jul 8, 2010
609
Ashford, CT
I have bluestone coping and have had zero problems. Its easy to cut so if your installing yourself its faster than say granite.

And you can save money going with a square pool. Coping is easy to install as well as covers etc. Easy to design the flow and everything else at least from my experience.

Square pools also look nice. Wish I did a square but wife wanted free form.. so guess what I got.
 

blakeusa

In The Industry
Jul 8, 2010
609
Ashford, CT
And I do think you could do an owner build on an gunite pool. Gunite and Plaster are TWO major subs.

IF you could just find a local guy who say is a site super for a pool company or used to work for a pool company that did concrete pools or any pools for that matter you could hire them as a
consultant or project manager. To help come onsite and answer questions and help plan.

You can get a plan done by many pool design guys online. They have special CAD programs and can make them quite easily. This will spec out all your plumbing, and pool electrical as well as a site plan. You can go to the town and get a permit.

Structural plans are not needed, but you will get inspections after the steel, electrical and final CO at a minimum.

So if you could just find a steel guy and someone to do the plumbing and electrical you would have enough to do the project.

I will say that you will most likely get closer to your 50k + number when all is said and done, without landscaping or a fence.

But you will get a high quality pool that will last and some pride of ownership.

Keep asking around and I bet you will find the subs you need.

There is also a lot of good help here at TFP.
 

jimim

Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
2,939
NE/Pa
I can comment on the attachment points for the winter cover when not on decking but in earth. Like grass or landscaping. If u look at my thread I dug in 36-40 inch deep piers that were poured with concrete. These r all in landscaping area. I dug them in below the coping line a bit so I can cover them with rock when landscaping so they don’t show. A few even shifted a bit this winter even though my buddy said they only did cause the ground was still soft and not settled cause it was late in season. Even though I’m below the frost line. That’s how much stress snow will put on the load. I would never ever use the earth spikes that go down 15 inches only that the company recommended. Ya if I needed 2 here or there but mine is half of my pool attachment cover points. Look st my build. Urs will be the whole thing. U deff need something solid to anchor to. I can’t imagine a cover holding the weight of snow with just earth spikes.

What my builder actually wanted me to do was a continuous pour down 36 inches 6 inches wide. Pretty much a super deep curb. We just didn’t think it was necessary and was just fovery ngcto be a pain to hide and also form since I’m free form.

Mall in all my piers work fine. Ya a few shifted a few inches but u won’t see them and no way something 36-40 inches down is going to pull out like a spike.

The grass around the pool hamptom look is just awesome but I think I’m the real world to pull off is hard in a snow zone.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
6,515
Central MD
Thanks for the comments on bluestone, hugely helpful. I understand the concerns about the heat but I don't know what alternatives would solve that and still achieve the look we are going for. Thanks also for the point on anchors, I haven't thought about that yet.

Have you had any issues with the auto cover and the salt water damaging the motor/tracks/anything else? One PB was saying this was a common problem with salt pools, but his take was since we didn't want the auto cover then the SWCG would be fine for us. I do admit to some concern here. If those can be alleviated and if i can figure out a way to afford it i agree the auto cover would solve the heat loss and safety concerns. Does your auto cover also replace the loop-loc when the pool is closed?

Thanks again.
Jimjim’s follow-up on the anchor points was great.

I would not personally worry about any issues with any equipment from a SWCG. There is no rust or corrosion on any of the aluminum or stainless aspects of the autocover. If I recall, only the main tube/drum in the kit might be steel and shows rust. But as thick as that is, it would be forever before an issue appears.

I do not use our autocover as a winter cover. You can, with caveats, but it is not done by the majority. It is not a set and forget as ours mostly is with a mesh, save for an occasional midwinter pump down if not frozen too solid.
 

bulldog0321

Member
Jul 11, 2017
14
Bayport NY
And I do think you could do an owner build on an gunite pool. Gunite and Plaster are TWO major subs.

IF you could just find a local guy who say is a site super for a pool company or used to work for a pool company that did concrete pools or any pools for that matter you could hire them as a
consultant or project manager. To help come onsite and answer questions and help plan.
Thanks for the support! I don't know where I could find somebody to be a consultant though. There are only a handful of gunite builders on Long Island. This would be huge though because one of my biggest concerns is getting a proper grade. I'm not even sure which sub would ultimately be responsible for the grade. Is it the gunite sub or steel sub? Neither?

You can get a plan done by many pool design guys online. They have special CAD programs and can make them quite easily. This will spec out all your plumbing, and pool electrical as well as a site plan. You can go to the town and get a permit.

Structural plans are not needed, but you will get inspections after the steel, electrical and final CO at a minimum.
This is what I was thinking, and even if the structural plans aren't required by the town I would like to minimize the room for error on the subs/my part by having detailed plans.

So if you could just find a steel guy and someone to do the plumbing and electrical you would have enough to do the project.

I will say that you will most likely get closer to your 50k + number when all is said and done, without landscaping or a fence.

But you will get a high quality pool that will last and some pride of ownership.

Keep asking around and I bet you will find the subs you need.

There is also a lot of good help here at TFP.
Exactly! I understand this can't be done for $30k, but if I can get a better pool with a high quality finish for 10-15k less than PB is quoting for plaster finish this is a no brainer. Assuming it can be done without an unintentional waterfall over one side anyway.
 

bulldog0321

Member
Jul 11, 2017
14
Bayport NY
I can comment on the attachment points for the winter cover when not on decking but in earth. Like grass or landscaping. If u look at my thread I dug in 36-40 inch deep piers that were poured with concrete. These r all in landscaping area. I dug them in below the coping line a bit so I can cover them with rock when landscaping so they don’t show. A few even shifted a bit this winter even though my buddy said they only did cause the ground was still soft and not settled cause it was late in season. Even though I’m below the frost line. That’s how much stress snow will put on the load. I would never ever use the earth spikes that go down 15 inches only that the company recommended. Ya if I needed 2 here or there but mine is half of my pool attachment cover points. Look st my build. Urs will be the whole thing. U deff need something solid to anchor to. I can’t imagine a cover holding the weight of snow with just earth spikes.

What my builder actually wanted me to do was a continuous pour down 36 inches 6 inches wide. Pretty much a super deep curb. We just didn’t think it was necessary and was just fovery ngcto be a pain to hide and also form since I’m free form.

Mall in all my piers work fine. Ya a few shifted a few inches but u won’t see them and no way something 36-40 inches down is going to pull out like a spike.
Thanks, I appreciate the help. I'm going to screenshot this for future reference.

The grass around the pool hamptom look is just awesome but I think I’m the real world to pull off is hard in a snow zone.
Hard/impossible, yes we are on the same page. But when she wants what wants... and it postpones a $10k+ patio for a year or two... I'm willing to give it a shot and see what happens.
 

bulldog0321

Member
Jul 11, 2017
14
Bayport NY
Jimjim’s follow-up on the anchor points was great.

I would not personally worry about any issues with any equipment from a SWCG. There is no rust or corrosion on any of the aluminum or stainless aspects of the autocover. If I recall, only the main tube/drum in the kit might be steel and shows rust. But as thick as that is, it would be forever before an issue appears.

I do not use our autocover as a winter cover. You can, with caveats, but it is not done by the majority. It is not a set and forget as ours mostly is with a mesh, save for an occasional midwinter pump down if not frozen too solid.
Awesome, thanks for the reassurance. I'm going to look into the covers some more. I was assuming the winter safety cover was still going to be needed for NY winters but wanted to make sure.

BTW your build came out fantastic. And those Leylands... glorious. I dream of one day having a wall like that.