Owner-built pool build

ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I'm planning to self-build a pool in Houston. Here's some details. I'm looking for feedback, suggestions, advice - open conversation (at this point).
Pool Basics
  • 22" W x 25' L x 4-1/2' (water level) D Pool (actual 5' depth)
    • + 22'W x 14'L x 6" D tanning ledge
    • with a 7'x7' x 38"D infinity-edge spa
  • Gunite construction
  • Pool equipment pad will be added alongside a workshop expansion slab, about 10' from the pool
  • Planned build Jan '22-Apr '22
  • No decking on long sides of pool - I'll be putting astroturf.
  • The short edges will have wood patios over slabs (the concrete slabs will serve as impervious decking). (this is the inspiration).
Pool Equipment
  • Pump: Pentair IntelliFlo 011056
  • Filter: Hayward W3C4030
  • Heater: Hayward W3H200FDN
  • UV sanitizer: DeltaUV ES46
  • SWG: IntelliChlor IC40
  • Spa blower: Air Supply Silencer 1.5HP 240V
  • Automation: Pentair IntelliCenter i5PS w/ valve expansion 522038Z
  • (2) Bubblers: CMP Brilliant Wonders 4"
  • (2) Skimmers: Hayward SP1072S2
  • (2) Spa drains: Hayward 1053AVPAK2
  • (4) Returns: CMP 25524-200-000
  • (8) Spa venturi's: CMP 25580-290-000
  • (2) Pool lights: Florida Sunseeker Pooltone Std Color, 12V 18W
  • (1) Spa light: Florida Sunseeker Pooltone Std Color Spa, 12V
No main drain.

The work I won't be doing myself ("what's contracted out"), and why
  • Structural engineering: required by Texas
  • Land & topographical survey: required for permitting
  • Private utilities location: I lack equipment
  • Plaster: I've always been frustrated by mudding drywall, and suspect this would be a similar frustration
  • Bricklaying (for pool bath): similar to plaster, I expect frustration
  • Slab pouring and smoothing: cheap enough
  • Rebar: cheap enough, and because I'll be racing the clock at that point
  • Gunite: I lack the tools and experience
 

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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,119
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Welcome to TFP.

Delete the UV - UV Systems - Further Reading

Consider getting an IntelliCenter instead of the EasyTouch + Screenlogic


Pentair automation will not control a SuperFlo Vs pump. Get an IntelliFlo or IntelliPro Vs pump.

Why the Hayward heater instead of a Pentair MasterTemp?

Consider the AirSupply Silencer air blower....


Why the CMP chlorinator instead of the Pentair IntelliChlor SWG?

Look at the CMP Brilliant Wonders 1.5" LED lights....

 
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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I've gone through and updated my list after looking into your suggestions, thanks for the tips!
I want the IntelliCenter, but can't seem to find a price or anywhere to purchase it. I put it on my build list to figure out, but can easily downgrade back to the EasyTouch.

I prefer the Hayward heater. Plus, cheaper.

Today I started a rendering of the design, and worked a bit on the elevations of the pool, slab, and new pool bath. I've contracted a structural engineer (as-required by Texas) to provide formal structural drawings, but I'm performing the architectural and MEP. The drawings help me create a more complete BOM. All this is beneficial to my building the pool in my afterhours.
 

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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,119
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I want the IntelliCenter, but can't seem to find a price or anywhere to purchase it.


Get the IntelliCenter bundle that has an IntelliCenter cabinet with integrated SWG Power Center, a IC40 cell, and two IntelliValve actuators.
 
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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Pending further input, the (updated) equipment list is finalized. I also drafted the electrical plan.
240V:
Spa air blower
Pump
SWG power center

All other circuits will receive 120V (and stepdown to 12V, as req'd).
You also get to preview the workshop addition, and pool bath! Drawings not-to-scale.
 

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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,119
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Your wiring plan is not correct if you are using an EasyTouch or IntelliCenter.

What is your plan?
 

Sean ATX

Bronze Supporter
Nov 30, 2020
30
Austin, TX
I don't think we've seen an ICF block build detailed here so that would be good to see. You're going with no main drains and I'd like to hear what some of the pros think about that. With a concrete pool in Houston I wonder if the water table is high enough that you may be at risk of popping the shell if you ever drain the pool?

BTW, that inspiration pic is gorgeous. 😍
 
Last edited:

ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Your wiring plan is not correct if you are using an EasyTouch or IntelliCenter.
What is your plan?
I thought it was correct. I cleaned it up for easier presentation, but still didn't find the errors. This is only for the HV wiring - none of the control, communication, or bonding. I haven't done the wiring internal to the IntelliCenter.
 

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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I don't think we've seen an ICF block build detailed here so that would be good to see. You're going with no main drains and I'd like to hear what some of the pros think about that. With a concrete pool in Houston I wonder if the water table is high enough that you may be at risk of popping the shell if you ever drain the pool?
I've also been curious about main drains. It seems very common, but only appears to help with keeping debris off the floor. Excluding main drains eliminates rough-in before the floor slab is poured, and was one less critical dimension to worry about.
The only evidence I have the pool won't pop when empty, is anecdotal: I've done some reading, and asked around my area, and those few people have said it wouldn't be a concern.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,119
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
The SWG power center is part of the IntelliCenter cabinet, not a separate unit.

The IntelliCenter is the subpanel for your pool electrical equipment.
 

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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The SWG power center is part of the IntelliCenter cabinet, not a separate unit.

The IntelliCenter is the subpanel for your pool electrical equipment.
Ah, okay, I understand! My drawing is correct, but needs some clarity:
I'm assuming I won't be able to get the IntlliCenter + SWG kit (looking around it seems a bit on short-order), so my worst-case is to get the external power center. If I can get the IntelliCenter + SWG kit, then I'll use the internal Power Center (as you indicated).
I have a separate subpanel for a workshop expansion. The IntelliCenter (with internal subpanel) will be fed off the new subpanel.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,119
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
What flow rate and pressure are you expecting out of the 8 spa jets?

What do you think the maximum flow rate you will get therough that setup?
 
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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The spa is about 10ft from the pool equipment pad. I haven't spec'd the jets yet, but I figured the world would be my oyster: I'm expecting head losses fairly low (~40ft). I hadn't spent much time on it, with the assumption I'd have plenty of options.

I received unfortunate news about my schedule. Permitting won't allow me to do the MEP work until the Homestead exemption is approved (ETD January 1). My water main needs to be relocated before I can break ground on the pool. I'll be spending the extra (2) months doing more project planning, and start the build in January '22.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
29,119
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
You need 10-15 gpm of flow from a spa jet to have a strong water flow. With 8 jets plus a spa return you need 90 - 135 gpm of flow.

I don't think the IntelliFlo will give you much more then 70 gpm through your filter and heater.

To have a good strong flow through your spa jets you should use a separate spa jet pump with separate suction drains in the spa and 3" pipe.

You want to keep the water velocity below 6 ft/sec on the suction and below 8 ft/sec on the pressure side of the pump.

Pipe Size6 ft/sec8 ft/sec
1.5"38 GPM51 GPM
2"63 GPM84 GPM
2.590 GPM119 GPM
3.0"138 GPM184 GPM

Are you going to have a spa air vent or blower?

From Equipment Pad Best Practices - Further Reading

 

Sean ATX

Bronze Supporter
Nov 30, 2020
30
Austin, TX
Hey there, @ShadycrestPool. Sorry your pool plans have been slowed down by a couple of months.

I'm curious about your concrete floor. What precautions need to be taken to prevent cracks from forming? Or is okay to have some cracks underneath the plaster finish? Are you going with BuildCrete Pool Plaster? Last I looked I hard time finding examples of people using that for their pools.
 

ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Hey there, @ShadycrestPool. Sorry your pool plans have been slowed down by a couple of months.
I'm curious about your concrete floor. What precautions need to be taken to prevent cracks from forming? Or is okay to have some cracks underneath the plaster finish? Are you going with BuildCrete Pool Plaster? Last I looked I hard time finding examples of people using that for their pools.
I'm attempting to switch to gunite construction, primarily because: 1) cost comparison from preliminary ICF design (~$6k for basic shell excluding pool, spa, and ledge slabs), 2) time-advantage of not requiring multiple pours. I've stopped planning the ICF build overall, pending some Gunite contractor quotes - but with the overall schedule delay, my focus has been refocused on the workshop expansion.
That said, here's my prelim research re: rendering:
  • BuildBlock released engineering details for pools, which is fairly over-engineered. For me, this required a 6" slab reinforced by #3 rebar 12" OC.
  • I'd put 6" of gravel below the slab, based on experience
  • ~30days of drying prior to plaster, based on internet research
  • In my area, soil is expansive. Although drainage is important, my Structural Eng informed me that the change from wet > dry was the bigger problem (expand > contract). He recommended an irrigation system to maintain a mild wetness, combined with the drain tile that BuildBlock recommended (to prevent over-saturation).
  • My garage concrete floor and rear patio (4" thick w/ #4 rebar) have no cracks (both ~1970s additions). My home foundation was inspected & measured this year, and showed no significant settling. Although these slabs are different in many ways from the pool slab, this increased confidence.
  • BuildBlock actually recommended I use a different plaster. Theirs was described as a perfectly good product, but difficult to apply. Their recommendation was Sider-Crete.
 
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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I'm officially moving towards Gunite construction based on some cost analysis. For anyone looking in the future:
ICF Cost Estimate
  • $49.33/block total cost
    • 48Lx16Hx11W (5.33sqft. surface area) ICF block estimated $33.77/block (there's a variety in pricing)
    • 0.098765 cubic yards of concrete per block, $117/cubic yard delivered concrete cost = $11.56/block of concrete cost
    • $1/block add'l pumping
    • $3/block rebar ($0.30/ft)
  • 119 blocks required = $5870.27
    • Excludes cost of slabs: main pool, spa, and tanning ledge
    • Excludes ICF cost to build the ledge wall
    • Excludes bracing
Gunite Cost Estimate
  • 10" thick
  • 1160 cubic feet = 43 cubic yards
  • $215/CY = $9,245
    • Excludes cost of rebar
It looked like the ICF best-case would be about the same as gunite, but it will take longer to build, and require more work from me. Contracting out the gunite I think will save me ~2wks, and is more common process. In Texas, ICF provides negligible energy-savings.
 
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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
16
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I've downsized to the Hayward 200BTU heater (from the 400BTU previously). Our 678USG spa will take about 2x as long to heat, but we're okay with waiting an hour to save the $1000 on the heater. Going down the 200BTU also means I can use 1" gas line (vs. the 1-1/4"), which - surprisingly - is nearly 1/2 the cost!
I've also decided to contract-out the pool rebar $2800. This was primarily because 1) cheap enough, and 2) timing - once excavation is complete, I'm hoping to beat any rain while simultaneously building the foundation for the workshop. Contractor will do it in 1 day.
 

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