Thoughts on pool design/layout/features

atlas5

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Jun 1, 2020
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Hello all, we've been trying to figure out a pool design and this is what we've come up with so far. Hoping to get some thoughts on general design/layout, features (or lack thereof!), spa placement, bubbler steps vs sun shelf, equipment, bench locations, etc as I don't know proper design, but have trusted the PB to put together a good concept (pics attached).

Some of the pertinent details and features are:
- Roughly 19' x 38', 3.5' shallow to 6.5' deep end
- White Travertine coping, dark luna quartz plaster (st maarten)
- Jandy Var speed pump, 4 function i-Aqualink controller
- Ozone generator, UV, Powerclean chlorinator, cartridge filter
- Sheer descent in raised beam portion, with concrete deck jump area
- PVR in-floor system with 2 venturi skimmers

We're trying to keep it as cheap and straightforward as possible, but still hit some highpoints like a jump area into the pool, water feature, spa, travertine, in-floor. Aspects I'm weary of:
- pool being too far below level of house (yard slopes down, back of pool will already be out of the ground, but feels like a lot of steps down)
- shallow end being the far end of the pool from the back door
- step/bench placement and relation to the spa pergola/gazebo area, lack of sun shelf
- shallow/deep end depths (no small kids and I've read where people have wanted deeper than 3'6'' shallow)
- raised beam approach for the water feature

This has been such a valuable forum, thanks so much for any thoughts/feedback anyone may have (red markups and blunt criticism welcome)!!

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Jimrahbe

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5,

Bluntly.. :mrgreen: If you have read this forum for more than 10 minutes you should know that we never recommend Ozone, UV, or tab feeders in general.

Most of us here do not recommend In-floor cleaning systems (IFCS) as they are kind of like using an old black rotary-dial phone instead of using today's cell phone. I would recommend one of today's robots, which I would not buy from the pool builder. They look like this and do not require your pool pump to work..


You say you want straightforward yet you want an IFCS, which adds 3 x the complexity to your plumbing...

A Venturi skimmer also adds to the complexity and do not really help when you have a VS pump.. The whole point of a VS pump is so that you can run at a low RPM..

I personally like large VS pumps and cartridge filters..

Let's see what some of our other members have to say...

Good luck with your new pool build,

Jim R.
 
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bmoreswim

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Hi A5! Looks like fun!!

No need for ozone and UV. They are just unnecessary. I see you don't have a saltwater chlorine generator (SWG). We highly recommend them for convenience. In-floors are expensive and not necessary. And there can be downsides related to maintenance issues. Budget $1K for a good robot and call it a day. You can keep it in or remove it after use like I do. Waterfalls/sheers can look nice, but there is a downside. They can be loud and also raise your pH while running. It's the aeration that raises the pH. I'd personally have the back wall of the pool include a minimal 3' decking and lose the high wall.
 
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atlas5

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Jun 1, 2020
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Thanks Jim and Bmore, appreciate the bluntness! 😁 I did know folks are pretty much unanimously in favor of SWG, however for some reason most every PB we've talked to has tried to talk us out of it. I'm not totally sure why, and am not sure of the cost difference if there is one versus that listed package (which seems to be the same standard type package across multiple builders, maybe because it's the cheapest?). I also didn't realize that was a special type of skimmer, thought maybe that was just some fancy brand name! I see now where it's a specific design that may require higher pump pressure. In-floor certainly has plenty of critics here, however a handful of folks always chime in and say they love theirs, which I like to think we'll feel that same way! My thinking on that is we'd put up with some additional complexity and expense of in-floor in exchange for not having to pull the robot/polaris etc in and out of the pool. I'd love to have the additional 3' decking all the way around the back of the pool, but with that being built up above ground level, we're told it would be a significant cost adder for the construction back there, so we've let that go.
 

bmoreswim

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On the back wall, if you want it, the process would be to have the gunite crew shoot a wall on the outside edge of the decking (or have a rough framed wall and poured concrete), taking it down to the frost line. Then fill between the pool and wall with gravel and that's the base for the deck. Functionally it's quite nice to have it back there. I could also tell you how much time I wander around my pool, doing nothing really, but it would be embarrassing. You could likely swap the IFCS for the little or no cost. Our pool layout is the same regarding a drop. The back side was 3' out of the ground on one end and about 2' on the other. Then they backfilled with a bunch of the dig spoils which then rapidly drop off in a rounded mound many feet below. One picture (OK two) to show it then I'll quit harassing you! The second picture is deceiving because the drop from the machine level to the grass below is probably 6'.

Regarding the location of the deep and shallow ends. Yes, I would generally agree that shallow should be the first end you arrive at, but yours is not as clear cut and seems fine. Your shallow end is very accessible coming out and is also by the larger of the two seating/gathering areas. Shallow end depth of 4' is not super common but those with it seem to really like it. It's certainly a reasonable choice if you want it. Though gunite pools do slope from the first bit of length, unlike vinyl which have a flat section. Which direction is north in your drawings? I'd be interested in a bench in the shallow end on the back wall in that nook. It seems like that end of the pool will be the more talkative end and talking from the pergola to the far in-pool benches, is a little far.

IMG_6776 - TFP.jpg

IMG_6808 - TFP.jpg
 
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atlas5

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Jun 1, 2020
6
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@bmoreswim your build looks amazing! Time spent wandering, lol!!! If I had that privacy back there I would too. You bring up some great points about the deck on the back, you've convinced me to get some costs on that. And totally agree on the bench in that shallow end nook, that's definitely going in the plan. On direction orientation, shallow end to deep is basically straight south to north (that west fenceline heads 340 or so).
 

kimkats

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Hi and thanks for letting us help you spend your money build your pool!

The orientation is good. I would keep it just like it is. I like where the steps are. That will be purrfect for access to both the house and the covered seating area.

How high is the spa going be? I worry about it blocking the sight line from the house into the pool.

Back side of the pool-If the cost for more concrete is too high you could think about putting a wooden deck out there. If nothing else I would put steps from the seating area to the ground back there. You will thank me the first time you throw something out of the pool in that area!

Depths-make sure you and your PB are talking WATER depth! See some call depth from the bottom of the pool (correct way) to the bottom of the coping (wrong). The water will be in the middle of the skimmer face & waterline tile. You could lose 3 to 4" of water if they go to the coping with the numbers.

Equipment-make sure to get model numbers. What you shared is very general. We can look over the model number to make sure they are the correct size for your pool.

Features-bubblers and such are "party tricks". Then end up be rarely used do to noise and pH rise.

Kim:kim:
 
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Rich D

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We're trying to keep it as cheap

In-floor certainly has plenty of critics here, however a handful of folks always chime in and say they love theirs,
IFCS <not equal > Cheap... :mrgreen:

You have obviously been reading the posts on the IFCS. I am one of those IFCS lovers. We opted for no- spa to keep costs and complexity down and neither of us were "spa" people. Perhaps that could be a cost cutter.
As for IFCS I think anyone with one would agree that It would be very wise to plumb the pool for both IFCS and conventional retruns. I only have 2 returns, my IFCS and my waterfall. Skimming is the major downfall of the IFCS. To be able to use a conventional return skimmer operation would be a huge improvement. In addition if anything did go terribly wrong with the system then abandoning it would be very simple and relatively low cost. So in hind site I would have definitely paid for the additional conventional returns.
 
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proavia

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I love my IFCS for what it is... 1990's technology.

If I were building a new pool today, I'd come into the 21st century and buy a robot instead. Better cleaning and MUCH lower electric costs.
 
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bmoreswim

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atlas5

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Jun 1, 2020
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@kimkats The spa is 12" raised, but with the pool being so far below the level of the house, I don't think it will impede. Good advice on the water depth, I need to amend the bid to explicitly state the water depth rather than just a nominal pool depth. Very reassuring that you didn't see any big problems in the basic orientation and layout. I will see if I can get the model numbers for the equipment included in the bid, I believe they only use Jandy.

@Rich D Good idea on the back up conventional returns, would be good peace of mind. I will inquire about that.
 

Soggydoggies

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Our pool shape/setup is very similar to yours. We did a stepped down deck on the back side (we also have a grade that slopes away from the house), and just kept the raised beam on the back visible. That back deck gets more use than the deck closer to the house, partly because it’s the first to get shade in the evenings, but also because with the raised spa (18”) it’s hard to see every area of the pool from the house side decking. When you’ve got kiddos in the pool, the mamas want to see every kid all the time! We had other reasons to keep the spa where it is and I wouldn’t change the spot it’s in, but having the back deck gives us options for everything we want to do in the space. We have lights built into the steps in the decking which looks gorgeous at night and keeps it safe also. Our kid and his friends love to jump from the raised spa edge into the pool! Here’s pics from several different angles standing on the decking so you can see the only clear view of the whole pool is from the back side.



5361CA12-4E5A-4EDF-93BB-5F453D68C7C3.jpegE7B7D8C6-4FC4-4158-B376-7C420C80B048.jpeg616FB618-EDD8-41D7-8DDA-58583E92A48D.jpeg0C400B4D-BB77-4260-A565-8F5EBB238FAB.pngC743DEF5-B717-4E9A-8045-16937A111F96.jpeg
 
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Nikilyn

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@Soggydoggies Thank you for posting those. In our original plan we had the spa raised to 18". @kimkats had mentioned making sure nothing blocks the view of kids in the pool. At the last minute I changed it. I wanted it flat but compromised with 6". From seeing your pictures of how much it blocks the view, I am so glad I insisted on the change.
 

atlas5

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@Soggydoggies Great pics, that Tahoe color looks amazing! May have to try to see which Luna Quartz color is similar to Tahoe. Great idea with stepping down the decking on the back side, that may really help the feasibility for us. Also good to know about the kids tendency to jump off the raised spa, I'll have to take a look at depth around that landing area.
 
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Soggydoggies

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@Soggydoggies Great pics, that Tahoe color looks amazing! May have to try to see which Luna Quartz color is similar to Tahoe. Great idea with stepping down the decking on the back side, that may really help the feasibility for us. Also good to know about the kids tendency to jump off the raised spa, I'll have to take a look at depth around that landing area.
It is pretty water! The added glass made it a tad more turquoise than a usual Stonescapes tahoe I think. We have a sports depth pool, so the deepest point is in the middle and it’s only six foot there. Plenty for people to do cannon balls, but no diving!
9C96C610-D8FC-4F79-8BFF-5C85E7C9B40D.jpeg
 
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YippeeSkippy

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If you're looking to save dollars I'd ditch the IFCS and go robot. I leave my robot in mostly. If its "off" it gets put into a deep end corner and we don't get bothered by it at all. Simplify your plumbing, save the cash and get a better cleaning.
ALSO- a good robot climbs the walls and brushes up to the water line! Brushing is important and often forgotten to do.

Maddie :flower:
 

Nikilyn

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I leave my robot in mostly.
Is it ok to leave in? I thought someone said you can't leave it in and it voids the warranty, or something like that. The thought of taking it out and putting it in every couple of days does not sound fun. We'd like to leave it in if we can and it won't cause any problems.
 

jark87

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I think you’ll like having the spa near your house. We flipped ours to the other side so that we could see the waterfall from the house, but it makes for chilly walks in wet bathing suits on the rare occasion that we actually use it. A couple of notes based on our experience:

1. Make sure your builder plans for proper drainage and that they know what they are doing in this regard. You mentioned that the yard slopes down from the house towards the pool. I can’t tell you how grateful we are that we spent the extra $ going with a builder who had experience in setting the pool at the proper elevation so that it doesn’t flood. Every pool on our street has flooded at one point or another during heavy thunderstorms except ours. A flooded pool is a major headache. We’ve never had water flow into our pool nor has our pool ever overflowed. I see that you’re in OK, so I’m assuming you get the same kind of storms we get in DFW, probably even worse.

2. You‘ll never have too much decking, so allocate as much space as you can to that. Everyone loves a pool, but our experience is that most people like hanging out around the pool more so than in it. Make sure you have plenty of room for chairs, tables, umbrellas, etc.

3. We’ve had a SWCG for 13+ years with no corrosion issues at all. I can’t emphasize enough just how much easier it makes pool ownership - no constant trips to the store to buy chlorine, no storage of the chlorine bottles and no constant chlorine additions. The SWCG takes care of all of that for you. My only repetitive maintenance task is adding a few ounces of muratic acid each week to keep pH in check. I know what the results of my water test are going to be prior to actually testing almost every time. It’s just a quick verification so that I don’t miss something.

4. My equipment is 13+ years old, so I’m not as well-versed in all the current bells and whistles. The one equipment recommendation I’ll make is to consider a chiller if your pool will have significant sun exposure. Our water temp would hit 95° by mid-July and no one really enjoyed the water. We added a chiller 5 or 6 years ago and it gave our pool new life, as the water is refreshing all summer long. (I keep it in the low to mid-80s.) You can always add a chiller later on if you want to see how your pool handles the sun - just be sure to have space in the equipment area and a circuit available on your controller panel.

Good luck with your build! Our backyard is a huge extension of our living space because of the pool and surrounding area.
 

YippeeSkippy

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Never heard that about warranty issues. How would a company know if the robot was left in or taken out? They're meant for water so yeah, they get exposed to it. Skippy takes ours out once a week during the summer and checks the basket (empties).
Robots don't require high energy pump electricity so you save cash. They're easier to fix or even replace which makes them cheaper than IFCS. The brush the walls. What's not to love??

We've read many a story here by pool owners who hate their IFCS. Something breaks and its a pain. Or they miss areas entirely. Or they just don't work that hot. AND they cost a fortune! That alone makes a robot a better buy, IMO.

Maddie :flower:
 
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