Newbie: AGP Install on Steep Slope (MN)

MnHotRod

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 28, 2012
25
We are installing an above ground pool on a steep slope. We’re looking to put a 21-foot pool on a 25-foot circle. The 25-foot circle will have a 53-inch retaining wall on each side. One wall holds up the hill. The other wall holds the dirt on the hill. See image below.



I have a few questions.

1) How much space will we need to leave between the pool and the vertical retaining wall next to it? I spoke to a local installer and it was difficult to get answers. He said 2-feet. When I said we were going with a 2-foot pool, he said we need a 25-foot circle. 2-feet will get tight at the posts correct?

2) The installer said we need 6-inches of compacted Class 5 across the entire surface area under the pool. My retaining wall contractor says we only need 4-inches. Reading posts on the forum, it looks like people go with 6-inchs. Should we use something other than Class 5?

3) The installer said we need 6-inches of sand. Reading some posts on the forum, maybe we should skip the sand and go with a Gorilla Pad and Foam Cove?

4) The installer said we should go with a “Winter Cover” between the Class 5 and the sand. He said we need to do this to prevent the gravel from coming up through the sand and making contact with the liner. Why not skip the sand all together? Is there a difference between Class 5 and “road screenings”?

5) I see that some people add cement blocks for the rails to stand on. Do I need this or will the compacted gravel suffice?

6) Can anyone recommend an experienced installer who can answer questions that my retaining wall guy has been asking? We will of course hire the installer. I’m not impressed with the installer we talked to at the retail store. In fact, I will buy the pool elsewhere if we can get it. The 21-foot pool seems hard to find.
 

cramar

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Nov 10, 2010
1,143
Sault Ontario
A lot of people recommend enough room between wall/pool so that you can do some maintenance in there if you have to, so a couple of feet is probably good.
Gorilla pad is not for a cushion or padded feel, I have it in my pool and it has no padding value at, it is solely for preventing rocks and such from cutting your liner, it's not something that you can use in place of sand, it's a geo-textile fabric that is used in addition to sand. Personally in your situation I would use it.

Personally I'd recommend going past any minimum standards for your build, you've got an aggressive site there so better safe then sorry.

Post some pics when you get building!
 

Casey

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 16, 2007
10,855
SW PA
That looks like my yard and you can keep it too!!!!! :shock:



Good luck with your project. I'm putting up a 16x48 Intex pool. I don't have the money right now to slay a hill side like ours for anything bigger atm.
 

mcoonan

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 1, 2008
292
Mendota Heights, MN
Looks like a great design. Make sure to post pics and keep us up to date!
1) How much space will we need to leave between the pool and the vertical retaining wall next to it? I spoke to a local installer and it was difficult to get answers. He said 2-feet. When I said we were going with a 2-foot pool, he said we need a 25-foot circle. 2-feet will get tight at the posts correct?
It depends on you, at the posts, you will not have 2-feet, you will have more like 1'8". Is that tight for you? Can you work in that space?

2) The installer said we need 6-inches of compacted Class 5 across the entire surface area under the pool. My retaining wall contractor says we only need 4-inches. Reading posts on the forum, it looks like people go with 6-inchs. Should we use something other than Class 5?
I would go with the the 6" of Class 5 or road screenings ( my contractor says they are the same thing ) It looks like they will be filling in some areas, make sure that they compact the fill every 6-8" so you do not get any settling

3) The installer said we need 6-inches of sand. Reading some posts on the forum, maybe we should skip the sand and go with a Gorilla Pad and Foam Cove?
I would not go with the sand. Make sure the class 5 is smooth and level (maybe some sand to even it out (not to level it).
then 2" foam (http://menards.com/main/building-materi ... c-5779.htm) the seams taped, with 2" pavers cut into the foam under each leg then a heavy duty cover of some type (roofing rubber, HD tarp, an old pool liner...) and then the foam cove.


4) The installer said we should go with a “Winter Cover” between the Class 5 and the sand. He said we need to do this to prevent the gravel from coming up through the sand and making contact with the liner. Why not skip the sand all together? Is there a difference between Class 5 and “road screenings”?
See #2 and 3.

5) I see that some people add cement blocks for the rails to stand on. Do I need this or will the compacted gravel suffice?
See #3

6) Can anyone recommend an experienced installer who can answer questions that my retaining wall guy has been asking? We will of course hire the installer. I’m not impressed with the installer we talked to at the retail store. In fact, I will buy the pool elsewhere if we can get it. The 21-foot pool seems hard to find.
Cannot recommend an installer. Do not know any. That said, I would look at a 24' instead of a 21'. If you look at the cost difference not many $ and that extra 3' is nice.
Good luck and have fun!
 

MNPoolDreamer

Well-known member
May 13, 2009
198
Mn
I don't have a lot of input, but make sure you are accounting for the width of the top rail and the distance that will be from the wall. We made the mistake of calculating our pool as 24' and put the fence 3' from it. We didn't take into account that the top rail sticks out of the pool almost a foot. The we didn't have enough space to get around the pool. We moved our fence out to 5' and that made it easier to get around. If your putting a deck around the pool then it is a non issue, but with only 5' to work with from "below" the pool, it is still a little cramped at times when I'm spreading chemicals and taking the solar cover off.

I see you are in MN. We got our pool from Family Leisure and they use (I think they are called) JTs out of Stacy,MN for pool installation. I think they are very knowledgeable (but this is our first and only pool). The were very firm about cutting in and no building up! My sister had their pool "built up" into a slope and have had nothing but sinking issues. We have patio blocks under each of the uprights, but they are buried in the sand.

How would you put the sand over the gravel and not have that wash out?? But I don't think you want just gravel under the pool...That would cut into the liner. Even with a gorrilla pad, won't that wear through over time? Why wouldn't the pool just be set on the ground you are cutting into (with sand for a base and cove...or maybe foam cove since you are not able to bury the uprights).

There are other pool places in MN...What about Valley pool?
 

MnHotRod

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 28, 2012
25
By the time all was said and done, we went with a 20-foot round area for the pool and a 16-foot round pool. These leaves room for us to work between the pool and the back wall. Walls were finished last week along with footings for the deck. We set up the pool a week ago and the kids were swimming on tuesday. Here are some photos of our project so far. More to come as we complete the deck and concrete stairs.










Photo Slideshow:
LINK
 

friggy

Member
Jul 20, 2012
5
That is an awesome setup! Looks great, Nice job! What material did you end up backfilling with?
 

MnHotRod

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 28, 2012
25
BACKFILL: We went with black dirt. Since this area will likely be grass at some point, I didn't want a material we would have to remove. Not sure this was great thinking but it will have to do for now.

FYI - Make sure you hire a good civil engineer when you do something like this. An 16-foot round pool, 48-inches deep will weigh about 45,000 pounds when it is full of water. We hired one and we are glad we did.
 

1380ken

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2012
347
MA
That looks great . I don't want to be negative but why not go with a more permanent pool. Your site prep costs must of been much more than the cost of the pool. The Intex pools are more of a temporary pool. They need to be taken down every year and will probably not last much more than five years.
 

MnHotRod

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 28, 2012
25
We may build a permanent AGP at some point. The Intex pool gives us a pool today versus waiting a year for more cash reserve. We can replace the Intex every three years with a new one and still have less invested than an AGP. Since we have never had a pool before, it felt better "diving" into the Intex than a bigger commitment. While browsing TFP I saw a thread showing an Intex with a deck and slide. The pics with the kids having so much fun sold me on going with an Intex.

My mistake getting us this far was forgetting to factor in the costs to upgrade the Intex pump and SWG. We are now at $900 for the Intex versus $3500 installed for the AGP. I need to put the included Intex pump on eBay so we can get some cash back on our purchases.

For reference, the estimate on the retaining walls and site prep for the pool was $4000. The actual cost was closer to $6000. We also added 15 footings for a deck which added extra cost we had not budgeted for. So yes, the site prep was expensive. When our kids get too old for the pool, we can take down pool and still have equity in the retaining walls and added usable space in the yard.

If you look closely, you can see a deck below the pool where we put our 16-foot wide movie screen. When the pool is gone, that area will be balcony seating for our backyard theater.
 

MnHotRod

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 28, 2012
25
So others can see more of what we are doing with our backyard in general, I'll post some photos of our backyard theater. Adding the pool was just one more thing to make our yard the ultimate playground for both adults and kids. We do not have the best of anything, but we do have a nice setup.

The photos below were taken on Halloween at a party we have every year. When our landscape work is completed this year we are going to have a backyard movie party with a Jaws marathon to celebrate the addition of our pool.

In the photo below you can see the house and deck on top of the hill. On the left side of the house you can see the stairs where I took a couple photos of our pool area looking down the hill. In this photo, the pool is located half way between the house and the fire pit area. You can see the projector shining towards the camera. The movie screen, which you cannot see in this photo, is above and to the left of the camera.



In this photo, we are looking down the hill at the movie screen from about the center of our property. The pool area is to the far right of this photo. The paved circle you see below with people sitting in chairs is the same height as the pool area and about the same size in diameter.

 

MikeInNH

Well-known member
Sep 26, 2007
476
Southern NH
Wow, I commend you for the great usage of the landscape you have. The kids must love it. As for going AGP, my view is if my pool is not used much 5 years from now then it can easily go away and the space used for something else. IG is too permanent for my needs.
 

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,454
Portland, Oregon
That is very unique, and remarkable. I love it!

It'll be nice for when you decide to sell too. I can see people wanting to purchase the property just for the movie theater.
 

MnHotRod

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 28, 2012
25
Thought it might be a good time for an update. We finished the lower landscape wall below the pool, got the sod in and the firepit back in order. For reference, while you are looking at the entire yard, we installed 900 Versa-Lok block (90lbs each) this year and 900 three years ago. We added a small deck to the pool a few weeks ago, with a plan to build the rest next year. The kids have had so much fun using the pool, we decided to splurge and add the rest of the deck this year. Aluminum fence panels to follow after that. We have spent much more on landscaping and the deck than the pool. This makes sense for us because it's all about spending money where it creates the best bang for the buck. Had we purchased a traditional above ground pool, we wouldn't have been able to build the deck or the second retaining wall.

Some progress photos below. Decking and fence posts should be done tomorrow. More pics then.

SMALL DECK - NO FENCE:






BIG DECK - SOME FENCE:





PHOTO SLIDESHOW:
LINK