New Pool Build in Northern California

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
Hi everyone -

Stumbled upon this site a few days ago - what a great place! I've jumped into all of the recommended reading and have reviewed a ton of build posts to get ideas flowing. I'll definitely be supporting soon to help keep this site such a great resource. We are looking at starting a pool project early next year, and are currently finalizing design and specs. Pool prices in our area are insane the last couple of years (Northern California), but we're excited to build one and enjoy it with our family for a long time.

Design
  • Freeform shape, 20' by 40'
  • Baja shelf - estimated 15' by 8'
  • 3.5' in shallow end, 8' in deep end
  • Concrete flatwork - minimum 4' of walkway around the pool but may extend this to 5' if budget allows. Also adding additional patio area for table/chairs and connecting all of this to our existing patio area.
  • Currently no water features planned, but looking into a diving rock
Yard Configuration
We built our house last year, and have quite a bit of yard space (1 acre+). We do need to shift the pool to the left portion of the yard due to our septic lines, however, we shouldn't have an issue fitting everything. We'll move into landscaping once pool is completed - can't wait to have grass and plants instead of weeds and star thistle!

Equipment
  • Pentair Intelliflo VSF Pump
  • Pentair Clean and Clear 520 Filter
  • Pentair Intellicenter automation with IC60 SWG
  • Pentair Intellibrite Color LED lights (x2) and Pentair Microbrite for baja bench
  • Pentair U3 skimmers (x2)
  • Superpro auto filler
  • Robot cleaner

Any feedback is much appreciated! Pool design draft attached. Thanks!
 

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mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
13,222
Pleasanton, CA
Welcome to the forum!

If not using a SWG, what do you plan on using for chlorination? Hopefully not puck feeder. Worst thing you can do in CA as CYA will continue to build up rendering CL useless.

Also, I definitely would consider a robot. Any cleaner other than a robot will end up costing you a lot more in CA as the others require much higher energy use to run.

Lastly, I am not a big fan of VSF pumps. There is really no benefit to setting flow vs RPM and the pump usually costs a bit more.
 

dustin2471

Silver Supporter
Jun 19, 2014
112
Roseville / CA
I am not sure about the VSF pump, I have 3 VS pumps as in CA VS is mandated, as far as the water features I have a few, a grotto with a large waterfall, a waterfall/fire wall, slide, bubbler, and 4 laminars. When the grotto is on its loud like you must speak at a much higher level to be heard, the waterfall/fire wall is a trickle and I guess soothing, bubbler is the same as the waterfall/fire wall, but the laminars are what I would probably choose, just make sure they put the drains into them otherwise mold can be a problem. Regarding the easytouch/intellitouch I always choose the more expandable option (intellitouch) as unless you know exactly what your automation options are going to be its easy to have to many ports/module than not enough? and if you are installing a spa you probably wont have enough with an easytouch?
My own personal opinion on filter, get the biggest one you can I think its the 520 not that much more $ like $150?
Love our autofill any new build that is a must!
Not a big fan of umbrella sleeve in the pool, salt water reeks havoc on the poles (wood or metal) might want to put the umbrella sleeve (or two so you can have umbrellas on either side of your baja shelf) in the deck as this will raise the umbrella higher and it wont be an eye poke hazard?
We have the SWCG system and its so easy to take care of, absolutely love it, got the Pentair IC60.
We have a dolphin m500 robot, I run it a twice a week just because its so easy and I am never sure that running once is enough and again we love it too. We have the guts to have a vacuum but with the ease of use of the dolphin I don't ever think it will be used.
And lastly costs will vary but our pool is a similar size to yours and regular plaster bids were $3800-$4300 and pebblesheen style (everyone has their own) was between $8100-$8900. Good luck, we built our own house and 10 years later a pool, the pool was more stressful than the house :)
 

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
I've updated the original post with a picture of our yard, as well as a draft pool layout. Feedback is welcome!

If not using a SWG, what do you plan on using for chlorination? Hopefully not puck feeder. Worst thing you can do in CA as CYA will continue to build up rendering CL useless.
Also, I definitely would consider a robot. Any cleaner other than a robot will end up costing you a lot more in CA as the others require much higher energy use to run.
Lastly, I am not a big fan of VSF pumps. There is really no benefit to setting flow vs RPM and the pump usually costs a bit more.
@mas985 - thank you for the input! The more I read about SWG, the more it seems like it would be a good fit. I'll research more but I think we're leaning that direction. I think we'll also go with a robot vac, but should we keep the pressure side pump and plumbing (or at least the plumbing)?

@dustin2471 - thank you as well; nice to hear your experience with the Pentair equipment. The plaster cost on our quote was around $7,800, so I ended up calling our regional Pebble Tec installer and found that as an owner-builder, Pebble Sheen runs $7500. I'm wondering if our quote was in fact Pebble Sheen, or if that plaster cost is just high. I'll figure out next week.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
13,222
Pleasanton, CA
I see no reason to keep the booster pump. Preasure side cleaners are so inefficient and given the price of electricity in CA, I would never own a pressure side cleaner.

However, it could be useful to have a dedicated suction port that could be used for manual vacuuming.
 

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
I see no reason to keep the booster pump. Preasure side cleaners are so inefficient and given the price of electricity in CA, I would never own a pressure side cleaner.

However, it could be useful to have a dedicated suction port that could be used for manual vacuuming.
Perfect - I’ll plan on going that route and installing a dedicated suction port. Appreciate the help!
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
44,706
Tallahassee, FL
That is a huge yard! It NEEDS a pool in it!!! What fun that will be!

I would like to talk to you about the design. With your shelf there you break up the "swim lane". If you were to shift the shelf to the left (towards the bottom of the picture you will have an open swim lane. I like everything else about what you drew out.

Kim:kim:
 

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
Hi Kim -

Thank you for the suggestion! I’ll take that into consideration and see what we could do. I think the baja shelf would need a bit of resizing or reconfiguration of the steps to work, but it could be feasible.

Greg
 

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
Hey all -

Update on progress - we have finalized the design and are scheduled for a winter/early spring start depending on the weather. I've attached an updated pool design with more open swim lane, as well as an updated equipment list in the original post. We are going to start picking out tile and PebbleTec colors here shortly, and perhaps a diving rock.

I do have a few questions:
  1. Our builder is somewhat against SWG pools and highly recommends against it. If needed, should we purchase a Pentair Intellicenter and IC40/60 and leave room for that to be plumbed in later on if/when we want to convert over to saltwater?
  2. We plan on two pool lights, but should we consider a small light (Intellibrite spa light perhaps?) for the baja shelf?
  3. We haven't configured light placement or returns just yet as we figure out orientation in the yard. What is a recommended amount of returns for a pool of this size?
  4. Other than making our equipment pad sufficiently roomy, any other recommendations for future-proofing our pool / plumbing / etc that would be good to consider?
Thanks!
 

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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
44,706
Tallahassee, FL
LOVE the design!!!! Very well done!

-Swg=YES! Your pool/money=your way. Tell you want it and they are to install it.
-small light for the shelf for sure IF you don't think the house light will be enough. How close to the house/patio will the shelf be?
-all pool lights facing away from any sitting or gathering areas (light in the eyes). I would not put them in the "swim lane" for the same reason.
-returns-Allen has you covered
-equipment pad-light for those dark nights, unions on everything so it can be repaired or replaced easier, room so you can move when working on anything on it.

Kim:kim:
 

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
Thanks, Allen and Kim! Regarding the pool distance to house - we're going to set it out maybe 40-50 feet off the house and have the patio run out to it, so I think we'll go with a smaller light for the baja shelf. Appreciate the feedback!
 

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
Okay, so we're making progress! Dig should start in the next 2-3 weeks, so we're hoping to be swimming sometime in June if all goes well. I'm hoping to get some feedback on lighting and skimmer placement, below.

Lights:
I think we're shooting for 2 Pentair Intellibrite 5G lights, and one Pentair Microbrite light for the baja shelf. I've attached our pool design and site layout for reference. I know we don't want lights directly facing the house, and ideally spread out to properly distribute the light. Would love to hear feedback and/or suggestions on placement. In this configuration, I was concerned about putting them in the swim lane, however, I don't see myself (or others) swimming laps at night.

Skimmers:
We are planning on 2 skimmers, and 5 returns (4 for main pool, 1 on baja shelf to push stuff off). We don't seem to have a predominant wind direction from what I can recall, so distributing one on each end of the pool would probably be preferred. Again, any guidance or recommendations here would be greatly appreciated.

Pool-Lights-Skimmers.png

Thanks!
Greg
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
15,914
Northern NJ
120V or 12V IntelliBrites?

IntelliBrite 5G LED lights do not have good reliability and are expensive to replace. Consider using all MicroBrite lights which may last longer.
 

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
120V or 12V IntelliBrites?

IntelliBrite 5G LED lights do not have good reliability and are expensive to replace. Consider using all MicroBrite lights which may last longer.
I was looking at the 12v Intellibrites. I also considered 4 Microbrites to replace the 2 Intellibrites, but wasn't sure how the coverage was in comparison. Definitely open to that Microbrite setup, though. Should I expect much of a difference in cost to install 4 Microbrites vs 2 Intellibrites?
 
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kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
44,706
Tallahassee, FL
Light placement-the reason I say to not put the lights in the swim lane is for the light in your eyes while swimming laps as well as if you do a flip turn you might hit or push off on the light.

Skimmers and returns-I love the return on the shelf to help keep it clean. The skimmers placed across from each other but no by the shelf or bench and be away there will be a skimmer cover over the hole so you don't really want that in a high traffic area such as right in front of that circle seating area.
 

gregfl2001

Silver Supporter
May 20, 2013
20
Chico, CA
Thanks, Kim!

Our dig is scheduled for this Thursday so we're finally getting moving! I've updated my design to show what (I think) will be the placement for 5 Microbrite lights, 2 skimmers and 5 returns. Our prevailing winds are often from the Southeast and West, so I tried to place them out of the way of benches and ledges, but near where they can pick up the most debris and on opposite-ends of the pool.

Pool-Lights-Skimmers.jpg