New pool in Dripping Springs, TX - Specs and design, thoughts?

Segami

Gold Supporter
Apr 12, 2021
5
Austin, TX
Hi ya'll, we've gotten an estimate after a fair amount of design work with a particular builder - hoping some of you might be able to spot any weaknesses or concerns (so many good people with good information up here). Onto the details:

Pool Specs
Size: 18x36
Perimeter: 108ft
Depth: 3.5 to 8 ft
Beach area - 36 (sq ft?)
Benches - 28 (linear ft?)
Gallons: 21,600 (roughly)

Spa Specs
Size - 7’ square with benches, tile, coping, and 6 venturi fed jets
18” raised compared to pool

Equipment
Filter: 300 sq ft Sta-Rite System 3 cartridge filter (up size to 500 sq ft with the spa)
Sanitization: IntelliChlor IC40
Heater: Pentair Max-E-Therm 400K BTU Propane Gas (we have 500 gallon in ground propane tank)
Main Pump: 0.5 to 3 HP Sta-Rite Variable Speed pump (including valves, unions)
Control Panel: i10 Intellicenter Personality Kit and Load Center
Pool Lights: 4 Pentair Glo-Brites (asked for Micro-Brites, getting a little push back from designer)
Bubbler for beach area
Cleaner: quoted with a Pentair Racer LS auto cleaner with booster pump (most likely remove)

Plumbing
2 skimmers, dual main drains, 4 returns (going to get the skimmer independently plumbed)
Autofill with RPZ and inspections

Construction
Plaster - Level 1 or 2 quartz
Steel - #4 Rebar, 9” on centers, both ways
Bonding - #8 bare copper loop for grounding of pool shell per code (one for the halo bond), and #8 bare copper water bond
Quoted with Lueder coping (12” with eased edge), Granite bar top for pool, 6” frostpropof ceramic tile ($8 allowance)

Misc
Autocover with sump/stone brackets and stone leading edge
4 Removable bar stools
Roughly 14’ square sunken deck area
Permits, insurance, excavation, life line, pool school, etc

Also note - equipment pad looks to be at about 110 ft from closest pool / spa edge, not sure if that influences anything aside from having extra costs for longer plumbing runs, etc.

Thoughts, comments, concerns?

I do have a couple areas I’m not as sure about w.r.t. the auto-cover (I’d really like to include mostly for peace of mind about safety, etc).
  1. Would a robot cleaner be able to work under a closed cover? Would I need to open the cover, let it clean, then pull it out and close cover whenever I need to clean? Or would keeping the pressure type cleaner that the PB recommended be better for having an auto-cover? (When I mentioned the drop in robot cleaner, the designer suggested keeping the pressure line anyways in case we change our mind or a future home owner does).
  2. I have concerns about the raised spa / spill-over with the auto-cover. Is that allowed? What about w.r.t. freeze times? My understanding is that Texas pools are configured to turn on all the water once the temperature gets low enough to prevent pipes freezing.
  3. Maybe instead of a spill-over, we have them build a channel inside the spa wall that connects into the pool below the auto-cover line? Or pull the spa away from right next to the pool and let the water pour into a channel that leads to the pool.
Thanks for any insight. I'll include some pictures from the design - sorry about the one with the diving profile overlay (would have to extend the pool quite a bit to get proper clearance), but wanted to show a closer up view of the beach / bench areas. We really like the design. Also, the fire pit is not in the contract nor the kitchen sink / fridge (but looking to at least get power out to that corner of the sunken area. And the in-pool seats are switched out to removable ones instead of permanent. Also the last picture is a thought of how to maybe do an alternative spill-over design with the auto-cover.
 

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gingrbredman

Gold Supporter
Jun 10, 2020
715
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Really like the design, is this the first quote, or the one you like the most?

Just a few thoughts, I'm sure others will have more insight on other parts of the design...

4 Pentair Glo-Brites (asked for Micro-Brites, getting a little push back from designer)
I would push right back. No reason a designer would push back on a better light with an easier install/replacement in the future unless someone has a stock of Globrites they need to unload. Stick with the microbrites, that would be an easy conversation I would think.

Would a robot cleaner be able to work under a closed cover?
Yes, my robot does work under the cover, but just know it does not climb up all the walls as high when the cover is closed. My robot would normally get above the auto cover tracks when it is open when it is cleaning the walls, but with the cover closed, it hits the underside of the cover and just goes back down the wall. Just need to be aware of that, and where your power cord goes into the pool with the cover closed. I have mine go in the shallow end then close the cover if I want it running with the cover closed as the cord can't move freely around the pool as if it were open. I almost never use the robot with the cover closed though, but I don't keep my robot in the pool all the time. With the cover closed when not in use, I get a lot less debris that needs attention, so a two hour cycle when the cover is open almost always cleans the pool.

I have concerns about the raised spa / spill-over with the auto-cover.
Going with a Pentair Intellicenter, you can add a safety mechanism on to the cover itself that will talk to the Intellicenter to let it know if the cover is open or closed. For mine, if the cover is closed, my water features will not turn on, spilling water on to the top of the cover while it is closed. You can not control the cover with this add on, it simply relays information to the Intellicenter the status of the cover. I also have mine set to turn the lights off, or not turn them on, if the cover is closed. My water features all have intellivalves on them, so not sure this applies to a spillover or not, but something to inquire about.

Not sure about the freezing aspect of all that, I live in an area where we close our pool for the winter, so maybe others can chime in on their experiences from areas much nicer in winter than me!
 

Segami

Gold Supporter
Apr 12, 2021
5
Austin, TX
Technically our second quote - it's a doozy, but with a fair amount of more features than the first quote we had gotten (sunken sitting area, lots of curved space, external raised spa instead of built into pool corner, etc).

The designer said they recently had a customer that went with a very fancy setup with PAL lighting - looking around, there doesn't seem to be too many people that actually have PAL lighting, hence a little difficult to tell if there are reliability problems. I do like that the lights feature a plug at the light end such that you don't have to rebuy the wire if you need to replace one. Seems handy. He did mention doing a 24v system, maybe it was their EU version of the lights or something). I also see that the CMP company has niche-less lights with a plug setup, but again, not too many forum posts that caught my eye about reliability.

The Globrites were quoted at roughly $1500 per light - seems crazy high with me being able to find what I think is them on amazon for $450-600 for the light/cable. Maybe all the extra cost is involved in all the piping and conduit / spread out cost for controller?

How well does a robot do on stairs / baja shelf? Is that just an area that I'll need to brush occasionally to get the debris down to the lower areas?

With the intellicenter and the safety mechanism you mention, can you program the pool to deliver less chlorine when covered?

Thanks for the thoughts and info.
 

gingrbredman

Gold Supporter
Jun 10, 2020
715
Chicagoland
Pool Size
11200
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The Globrites were quoted at roughly $1500 per light
That seems like COVID pricing, but you are correct, the price of what you can buy them for, and the installed price are different. I have seen some posts here about CMP and PAL as alternatives to Microbrites. The nice thing about those niche less lights, is they all would fit into where your microbrites go if or when you need to change them out. Not sure how much fancier the PAL lights are than say the Microbrites, but the Microbrites have a lot of colors and themes and integrate right into the Intellicenter. I think whatever you go with, staying away from the Globrites is the right choice. The niche only design, and older light will force you into a less quality setup now and in the future.

With the intellicenter and the safety mechanism you mention, can you program the pool to deliver less chlorine when covered?
Yes! forgot to mention that part as well, but yes, you can set the percent the SWCG runs when the cover is closed. From zero to whatever you want. For me, it was a time of tinkering with the settings to find the right balance. Set it to zero is not enough, even though the cover is closed and the sun isn't beating on the water. Set it to 80% for example was too much when the cover was closed. It will all depend on how long you normally keep the cover closed and how much time it is open, as well as your region, etc., but for sure, my SWCG runs a lot less with the programming and the cover closed. And even with the automation dialed in, it is always best to open the pool at least once a day to let it "breath". gasses can accumulate under the cover and opening it up lets is stay in balance. I usually just kept mine covered at night, then open it in the morning anyway.

@wgipe started a thread last year about the mechanism, and I got it all setup last year...


How well does a robot do on stairs / baja shelf? Is that just an area that I'll need to brush occasionally to get the debris down to the lower areas?
Not as well as you would hope. I do brush my ledge and stairs into the main area and then let the robot do the work. I have bubblers on my ledge and some debris always finds a way to sit in the corners. Some find it a pain to have to do this, but I'm out there anyway, checking chemicals, levels, etc. so a few minutes with the whale brush is no big deal to me. But do not expect even the best robot to clean the ledges and all the stairs the best. But what it does do is the main area a lot more efficient and less time than me doing it manually.
 
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