What have we got wrong?

PaloAltoPool

Member
Jun 28, 2020
10
Palo Alto, CA
We live in a relatively warm climate (northern CA) and are planning to build a pool in our backyard for the adults (serious lap swimming, but no one professional) and our two kids.

What would you say is wrong with this plan? How would you improve it?

50’ x 10’ pool (possibly 50’ x 12’) + hot tub

3.5’ - 5.5’ depth, to maximize swimming season and minimize heating costs

Gunite + salt water (fiberglass doesn’t seem like an option out here—not sure why)

Solar heat + pool cover; electric heat for hot tub (we can’t do gas, as we already have it in the home—state regulation)


Let me have it.

Thanks!
 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
32,520
Laughlin, NV
Welcome to the forum!
I really suggest if you want a spa, get a standalone version. A built in one without the ability to use natural gas to heat it will be difficult to manage. A standalone spa will be more comfortable and by keeping it covered it will not use as much electricity.
I suggest you read ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry.
 
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manoweb

Well-known member
Apr 14, 2017
130
Hayward CA
I am also in California and I have never heard of state regulation that would not allow gas, in fact I know for a fact modern pools that use it while also having it in the house. Is it a new 2020 thing? Can you describve it better with references to the law?
 

Desert Dog

Well-known member
Apr 4, 2020
203
Alpine, Ca
Palo Alto has banned natural gas. It's targeted at new construction in the city of Palo Alto. I do not know if adding a pool in Palo Alto would limit you from expanding your current gas service, but any new home construction must be electric. I'm sure a call to the building department if not already done would answer that question.

Here is a piece from an article:
The stringent new requirements, which are part of Palo Alto's revised "energy reach code," aim to bring Palo Alto closer to its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030, with 1990 as the baseline year. The city's Sustainability/Climate Action Plan (S/CAP), a document that the council adopted in 2016 to guide its emission-reduction strategies, banks on electrification to achieve 38% of that reduction (22% from electrification in existing businesses; and 16% from electrification in existing homes).

Crazy right!
 

PaloAltoPool

Member
Jun 28, 2020
10
Palo Alto, CA
This (the gas restriction) is something a contractor told me. I haven’t yet had a chance to chase it down.

Meanwhile we have an estimate from a highly reputable company that includes a sundeck, a 6’ square spa, and an automatic cover from Cover-Pools. We definitely want a cover, but I’ve read horror stories about these things. What’s the prevailing wisdom these days?
 

Desert Dog

Well-known member
Apr 4, 2020
203
Alpine, Ca
Trying not to steal the thread but hopefully this is helpful to the OP. The OP probably miss quoted. It is not a state law but rather a building regulation (law) that is specific to Palo Alto building code. A call or further research into the building code or department would clear it up, if Palo Alto Pool or the PB doesn't specifically know. What I know is from articles:

"Palo Alto took its most dramatic action of the year on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions Monday night, when the City Council agreed to institute an "all-electric" requirement for new buildings starting in 2020. " I guess they feel electric is a leaser evil than NG.
 

manoweb

Well-known member
Apr 14, 2017
130
Hayward CA
I am also about to build a pool (not too far from you!) with auto-cover. It is a requirement for me otherwise the city would require a fence around the pool or other measures. What horror stories have you heard? Besides the pretty high cost of course
 

PaloAltoPool

Member
Jun 28, 2020
10
Palo Alto, CA
Read the comments on that video, even his own description the owner was not using it correctly.
Fair enough. (For YouTube the comments are unusually rational!) Still, the maintenance issue gives me pause. And I’m wondering if a fairly long pool (50 x 10 or 50 x 12) will make the cover more likely to run into problems. One way or the other we pretty much have to go this route, for all sorts of reasons.

One follow-up question (for anyone in our neck of the woods): do you manage to keep your pool open year-round? With solar heating and the cover we’re hoping for at least March through October.
 

Rocket J Squirrel

Silver Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 7, 2018
898
Alamo, CA
That is a cruddy cover in the video. With new construction, you want to install a far superior under-track cover. In our area, the company called Pool Covers Inc. is about the only game in town. Thankfully, they are good at what they do.

We don't close the pool in the sense of winterizing it, but we can really only swim May - September ish with solar and an auto-cover. For a longer season, you'll need a heater. My pool is too big to heat economically and your proposed pool is, too.
 
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manoweb

Well-known member
Apr 14, 2017
130
Hayward CA
In my build thread I made calculations for pool wall insulation. The numbers show by insulating the pool with an autocover one can keep it warmer with the same amount of solar panels
 

PaloAltoPool

Member
Jun 28, 2020
10
Palo Alto, CA
Update: it's looking like we might be restricted to 10' of pool width (so 50' x 10' in total)--which is fine, only we'd like to include a 6' x 6' hot tub in one corner of the pool, along with, along the length, a tanning ledge of perhaps 6' x 10' (those dimensions are very rough--open to suggestions!).

The problem is that we really want to use all 50' for lap swimming--but if internal coping has to be added to the hot tub dimensions, we're down to perhaps only 3' of lane width at that end of the pool, which can't be enough. What is a reasonable minimum lane width for those last ~17' of the pool?

Another factor is that we were told that if the hot tub sits inside the rectangle (and isn't raised), the automatic cover can fit over everything. Given our modern home, this sleek/modern solution would look good, so it's a win-win--assuming we can solve the lane problem. Would another foot of pool width solve it?

Thanks!
 

Rocket J Squirrel

Silver Supporter
Bronze Supporter
Jun 7, 2018
898
Alamo, CA
I have an autocover with a level integrated spa. It works great. When you choose tiles, make sure to choose smooth quarter-rounds for the spa dam and the deep end because the cover will drag over them.

I have never heard of "internal coping". The dam that separates the pool from the spa is rebar + gunite + plaster, topped with tile. Probably 6" wide.
 
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