Two bids for new pool construction

CarolineOK

Active member
Sep 1, 2019
38
Edmond, Oklahoma
I need help! I’m completely overwhelmed with my lack of knowledge. We are getting bids for a large gunite pool. Several say don’t do saltwater (what my parents have), others don’t, some say UV or Ozone or Both, different pumps, heaters, etc, and the magnitude of this investment has me panicked that we’ll make the wrong decision(s). Can you help me analyze these two favorite quotes and decide what’s worth the $ and what isn’t? Also, this project is already costing more than I expected so if anyone has suggestions on what to expect for the unexpected/unforeseen costs (or anything left off the quotes) I would also appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

1st quote plan:
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2nd quote plan:
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
11,283
Northern NJ
- Get the salt system.
- i like Pentair equipment better than Jandy
- the novelty of the bubblers and sheer descents will wear off quickly and you will not run them a lot because they will cause your pH to rapidly rise. Skip them and save some budget.
- get the new Pentair Intellicenter instead of the old Easy Touch 8
- replace the pressure cleaner with a robot cleaner
- you can probably save some money buying a robot cleaner yourself. Just have an electrical outlet installed for it
- how many gallons will the pool/spa be?
- oversize your salt system cell by at least 2x your pool gallons
- get model numbers for all equipment- pump, filter, salt cell
- you don’t need ozone or UV. The sun gives you all the UV you need for free.
 

CarolineOK

Active member
Sep 1, 2019
38
Edmond, Oklahoma
Thanks so much! Those were some of the thoughts I had from my skimming of posts so it helps to have them confirmed. I also thought I would need an extra pump for the water features so they could be winterized, and that would be even more $.

We expect it to be 40,000 gallons. I know that’s a lot, that’s what we are used to at my parents and it’s what we want.

Any other thoughts on designs or quotes? Any red flags? Thanks again for the input so far!

Caroline
 

CarolineOK

Active member
Sep 1, 2019
38
Edmond, Oklahoma
One other question I have, obviously with the wall we have some elevation issues. The second quote has the pool raised so the wall is the border of the pool nearest the house (does that make sense?). One, has anyone had issues with that sort of semi-above ground design? Two, there are “upgrades” for the finish, does anyone have any reasoning as far as stone, tile, or stucco for longevity, and for concrete or travertine for the coping?

Thanks again!
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
1,781
Stuart/FL
OK,

I agree with Allen, salt is fine and preferred in my opinion. Also, agree with his other recommendations. Here are a few additional comments:
  • Your quotes are based on different scopes of work. This makes it impossible to tell which one is really the best value. For example one has permits included, other is silent, one has large tree removal, other is silent etc.
  • Decide the scope issues then get each bidder to re-quote to the same quote.
  • Make sure the entire scope is written, sometimes the PB will reply verbally. Not good enough, everything must be written.
  • Personal preferences are a big potential for late scope changes. It's your pool and personal preferences are important. Make sure you have considered them carefully enough that you won't change later.
  • If the PB's use different brands of finish materials such as pebble plaster make sure you see samples of them. Avoid language like "Brand A equivalent to" unless you have seen it.
  • Ask both PB's what you have to provide in the way of access etc. PB should be required to get all permits and know what they are.
  • PB should be required to identify any known underground obstructions such as utilities.
  • What does "lifetime warranty" mean? Get it in writing.
  • It's sometimes difficult to get an absolutely identical scope. For example one PB may prefer brand A equipment the other may prefer brand B. In these cases just make sure the models are really equivalent. Instead of being extremely rigid it is usually better to let the PB use the brands they are familiar with and often they get better pricing with a particular brand.
  • One builder includes a part of their design specification for the concrete shell. Make both provide a complete specification and agree to furnish design drawings after award. If you don't do this you can't tell if the less expensive price is just a thinner shell or cheaper shell. You never want the cheapest, you want the best value.
  • There are hidden conditions underground such as unexpected rock or boulders and even undocumented pipe etc. Ask each builder what their unit rates are for such work and how they approach this.
  • Terms and conditions in the contract can be as leveraging as the scope. Get a copy of each contractor's contract. You will almost certainly need to change some of it. Right now you have the most leverage to ensure fair terms to both of you. Please note this does not mean one-way in your favor, just fair to both parties. Owners that force contractors into untenable position always lose.
You''re actually off to a great start by at least comparing two different quotes. But you do have more work to do so you can select the best value and in the process you'll get to know how well you can work with the builder. It's in both party's best interest to develop a good working relationship during this time. You will almost certainly have some unexpected surprises. Your goal right now should be to minimize this with a very well-developed/documented scope and make sure you can cooperate to solve the surprises.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
15,048
Bedford, TX
Caroline,

I have a couple of questions for you...

1. Is the pool your folks have 40K gallons?
2. What problems, if any, have they had with their saltwater system?
3. Does your folk's pool have a spa?
4. Have you ever been in a gunite spa?
5. Is your intention to use the spa in the winter?

We recommend that salt system be rated at 2 x the pool volume, but 60K is about as big as residential system are made. This just means you may have to run your salt system at 100% and for longer run times to make the chlorine you need.

I would never mix and match brands.. Either get all Pentair (what I would do) or all Jandy, but I would not have a Jandy pump and Pentair automation system.

While the "old" EasyTouch will work just fine, the new IntelliCenter will work much better, and at about the same price.. Here are a couple of examples of why...

The ET can store 12 programs max, the IC holds 100. The ET has no options, what you see, is what you get. The IC is modular and you can add optional cards to increase its capabilities. The ET needs an add on system, called ScreenLogic, that allows you to use your phone, tablet or PC to control your equipment. This comes build into the IC.. The list goes on, but I will quit now.. :) I have an EasyTouch, which works just fine for me, and I have no desire to upgrade to the IntelliCenter... But, if I were to build a new pool today, I would install the new IC.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
42,142
Tallahassee, FL
Allen nailed it! All of what he said! Then add in what Chris said and you have a solid plan to move forward with.

As for the semi above ground or not.......I am not sure which one is best. Which one will work best with your yard and what your end vision is?
 

CarolineOK

Active member
Sep 1, 2019
38
Edmond, Oklahoma
That helps a lot! It is so hard, I’m trying to educate myself but it’s like comparing apples to oranges, are they both good despite their differences or are the apples rotten?

What is the concrete shell spec on the quotes? Is it the 3/8”? What should I make sure it is?

For some of the things you mentioned we’ve discussed (permits, utilities, tree removal and access), but others we haven’t (plaster). I will definitely visit show rooms and get those in writing before we sign.

What sort of personal preferences should we be thinking about?

We have a third quote we’ve thrown out bc we didn’t feel the sales guy was as knowledgeable in our questions, didn’t have a vision, and his design was much simpler but still the same price range. We’re still waiting for two additional proposals but the two I put up were our favorites based on conversations with the contractors.

What are thoughts on the in-floor cleaner? The quote we aren’t considering had it included, the 2nd quote above had it as recommended but extra, and the 1st quote above recommended a robot but quoted for the Polaris. We have a lot of oak trees and with the ledges I’d pretty much dismissed the in-floor.

Thanks again, I grew up with a pool but I had no idea what we were getting into with all of the differences!
Caroline
 

CarolineOK

Active member
Sep 1, 2019
38
Edmond, Oklahoma
Ok, my parents pool is 40k gallons. They’ve had it since 1986 and it was existing when they/we moved in so I don’t know what issues they had before compared to since their saltwater conversion several years ago. Its 20x40 plus a spa and 11ft deep. I do know they did a replaster, retile, conversion remodel 5-10 years ago and since have also had to replace a pump, and maybe a filter? And they’ve had issues with tiles on their spa wall coming loose and salt accumulation on their tiles since the conversion. I know their spa is a pain to clean.

We do plan on using our spa in the winter, OK is a (typically) milder winter with more ice than snow. When we got quote #2 I polled lots of friends with pools and without fail all said a spa was a must and they used theirs in the winter.

I guess my question with above vs not is more water and drainage. Our house is about 2-3’ lower in the yard, though water tends to run away from the house on either side (I can get a pic if needed), and all pool consultants have said we need to avoid water pushing dirt in pool and water from pool flooding toward house, but different means of ensuring that (#1 lowering yard/pool to house with wall and #2 raising pool to yard elevation). So I was just curious to see if there were any thoughts one way or another.

Thank you again, I am so glad I found you as a resource, this is all so helpful. Hopefully I’ll get all the language down and become an expert too!
Caroline
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
11,283
Northern NJ
Skip the IFCS. A good robot cleaner will clean the floor as well or better with lots less complexity and maintenance.

The maintenance on your parents pool is typical for a pool over 33 years. It has nothing to do with having a SWG.

If you are going to have a pool over 30,000 gallons it is best to have a 60K cell. Pentair has the IC60, Jandy does not.
 

setsailsoon

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
1,781
Stuart/FL
That helps a lot! It is so hard, I’m trying to educate myself but it’s like comparing apples to oranges, are they both good despite their differences or are the apples rotten?

What is the concrete shell spec on the quotes? Is it the 3/8”? What should I make sure it is?

For some of the things you mentioned we’ve discussed (permits, utilities, tree removal and access), but others we haven’t (plaster). I will definitely visit show rooms and get those in writing before we sign.

What sort of personal preferences should we be thinking about?

We have a third quote we’ve thrown out bc we didn’t feel the sales guy was as knowledgeable in our questions, didn’t have a vision, and his design was much simpler but still the same price range. We’re still waiting for two additional proposals but the two I put up were our favorites based on conversations with the contractors.

What are thoughts on the in-floor cleaner? The quote we aren’t considering had it included, the 2nd quote above had it as recommended but extra, and the 1st quote above recommended a robot but quoted for the Polaris. We have a lot of oak trees and with the ledges I’d pretty much dismissed the in-floor.

Thanks again, I grew up with a
pool but I had no idea what we were getting into with all of the differences!
Caroline
Caroline,

I'm very happy my comments were helpful. Here are some comments and responses to your reply:

  • Specifications are a description of the engineering details for almost anything. They are generally categorized by engineering discipline such as civil/structural, electrical, mechanical. One bidder provided the rebar spacing and thickness. The other didn't. You should ask each for their specifications for structural, electrical, and mechanical. They may resist but just tell them you need to be able to fairly compare their price to others and if they won't provide them it will hurt them in your evaluation.
  • Make sure the results of your discussions are in writing as a part of your scope of work and/or in the contract terms and conditions as appropriate.
  • Personal preferences are usually things like color, finish, or details around final shape or layout. But they can also include brands etc.
  • I don't know much about in-floor cleaners other than what I've read here on this site. Most here seem to prefer a robot cleaner so I'd go with the robot if it were me. Maybe others more knowledgeable can comment.
Just by asking the questions and interacting with our experts you're way ahead of the game. Take your time and make sure at the end of the process you understand everything you're signing up for. Please do ask each PB for their contract. It's very important. If it's fairly constructed it will reduce your stress and the builder's stress during the job.

Good luck and keep the questions coming. Your PB's have a big advantage since they know so much that you don't. We can help level the field since all our experts are on your side!

I hope this helps.

Chris
 
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YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
11,802
Evans, Georgia
You mentioned closing down the pool in the cool months- that would also mean closing the spa. Does it get so cold in OK that you need to close a pool, I dunno?

I find pool spas really uncomfortable compared to my stand alone hot tub which has various seats and designed jets for all body parts. It also is easier to heat hotter and having it closer to the back door makes for a quick dash when its snowing outside and you want to sit in *steaming* hot water and soak in the stars.

Maddie :flower:
 

CarolineOK

Active member
Sep 1, 2019
38
Edmond, Oklahoma
My parents always closed theirs, but none of my friends and neighbors do. When we’ve talked to the consultants they’ve said we don’t need to close it down but would turn off/winterize water features (which is why I thought they needed a separate pump?). I am set on the attached spa, especially if we nix the water features the spa will give us some water movement.

Going back to the bubblers and water features, how much of an issue are they? We had told most consultants we weren’t interested in water features due to cost and needing to winterize but didn’t realize the bubblers could cause issues too. Since we don’t have any other “fancy” things (I really just want big and functional/user friendly) I had kind of liked the idea of them, but not if they’re going to cause me more trouble than they’re worth.

You all are amazing! All the consultants had poo-pooed salt and pushed ozone/U-verse/both, and I’m sold on both the robot cleaner (good brands??) and the Pentair IC60. I so appreciate you!!
Caroline
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
42,142
Tallahassee, FL
Here is where a LOT of people buy from: Home | Marina Pool Spa & Patio If you call them they will ask a couple of questions then tell you what cleaner they think would work best for you. If you do a phone order you will get the full warranty as well!! They also have some of the best prices on the web. If you do a search for the different robots use the G as it tends to do a better search for some reason.

Bubblers=party trick. They are neat and fun for a little while. Then you will turn them off due to noise or people get tired of being splashed by them.
 
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CarolineOK

Active member
Sep 1, 2019
38
Edmond, Oklahoma
Another question... filters? Both these quotes include cartridge filters but I have a friend who replaced theirs with a sand filter after several years and is much happier. Opinions?

Continued thanks and appreciation!!
Caroline
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
42,142
Tallahassee, FL
Filters-sand or cartridge or DE=Ford, Chevy, or Dodge LOL

So lets learn about your area. Take and share a pic of where you think the equipment will be going. Now talk about your water situation. Any restrictions? What are the rules about where you can send water to? sewer, road, etc???

Me? I LOVE my sand filter. It is so easy to clean and use. BUT it does not filter down as much as the cartridge or the DE.

Here is a link that goes a little deeper into the differences: Pool Filter Comparison - Trouble Free Pool
 
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CarolineOK

Active member
Sep 1, 2019
38
Edmond, Oklahoma
That was a great article and video. It sounds like sand should be fine, I’m sure that’s what my parents have and can confirm bc I’ve heard them mention backwashing. Definitely something to talk about with the companies. I don’t have any water restrictions that I’m aware of. Quote #1 said “I’m a cartridge filter guy”, Quote #2 we didn’t discuss but cartridge was quoted.

As far as where to put it, that’s another point of contention. One company said it needs to be within 40’ of the pool and so they recommended the north side of the house...
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The others said to put it closer to gas and electric sources which is on the south side of the house...
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That’s another differing opinion. Some say we need to hook directly to the gas meter (which is far away at the end of my yard), quote #2 said we can hook into the gas input right by the fireplace in the photo. Opinions on that?

Here are a couple pics of where the pool will go... my husband was currently mowing, please don’t judge the yard 😂. The first is the view out from the porch and the second is from the fence back.
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The second pic also shows the north (left) and south (right) sides. And they show the elevation issues I mentioned in a previous post, any thoughts about issues either raising the pool to the upper elevation or lowering it to the lower?

The second pic also shows the large oak right next to the house, this is NOT the cedar tree mentioned in quote #1, that’s seen on the first photo. Quote #1 leaves the oak but has the spa right next to it, I’m beginning to question that as I worry the spa is going to be hard to clean and that tree drops a ton of leaves, oak seedlings that make yellow dust, and sticks. Quote #2 assumes taking out that tree as well as the cedar, though I’m not sure that removal is covered in the quote, something I’ll clarify. Any opinions on taking or leaving the tree?

Thanks again!
Caroline