What I've Learned from TFP with each stage of a pool build by Twinkiesmommy2009


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TFP Guide
Apr 7, 2015
Houston, Texas
I just saw a post which reminded me of this great list of suggestions or things to watch for during the different stages of a pool build. I was pretty sure Twinkiesmommy2009 had written it, but my memory was too vague to remember exactly what it was. So... I PM'd her, and she answered immediately!!! (she hasn't forgotten us at all!) She gave me permission to post her list again. I was going to post it as a reply to a single member, but decided it's worthy of a new thread and title in hopes of helping more people in Under Construction. Please chime in with additional things you have learned or are learning!

Her list below is copied directly from her thread. If you would like to read the comments and suggested additions on her thread, go here: What I've learned from TFP... So far...

TM’s List of Gained Knowledge from TFP

There is no way I’d be able to remember who said what, or give credit where credit is due, so I give everybody on TFP all the credit in the world and thank you for sharing your knowledge. (Any extra credit for this part goes to kimkats!)

Builders & Contracts
• Make sure to get at least 3 bids from different builders. You can play them against each other for the best pool/price.
• Meet all project managers and feel comfortable before signing contract.
• Look at a minimum of 3 pools built by your builder – minimum.
• Make sure all promises or guarantees are in writing and part of the contract.
• Layout the pool using spray paint or a bright rope so you can see exactly how it fits in your space.
• Have the final plans printed and hung up where they can be seen by everybody. Point out the details and make sure that each sub and contractor can see it and has the final plan in hand.
• Make sure it’s in writing that they don’t get the final payment until all equipment and such is up & running correctly AND you know how to work them.
• Review the site plan.
• Have builder stake and paint in your yard to confirm final design.

Design & Bid
• Measure potential depths against your body. Sit on the ground and measure depths of seating, and sun shelves.
• Is depth calculated from bottom to waterline or top to bottom?
• Tanning ledge depth - from bottom to water line, or top to bottom?
• Tanning ledge – Ideal size for 2 loungers is at least 10 x 10.
• How are you calculating total gallons? Is it an estimated average or actually calculated using splices of our design?
• Can we get samples of the pool finishes we’d like to consider?
• Do you use fixed costs for each stage? (Example: dig challenges)

• Get part/model/serial numbers from each piece of equipment as it arrives to your house and take a picture of relevant information you’d want to be able to locate.
• Register all equipment and products online.
• Inline filters?
• Do you get a warranty bonus for using a single vendor for all equipment?
• If Pentair, get VSP model #011018 (Approximately $900.00). 150 watts for 1100 RPM.
• Should have an oversized filter, oversized SWG, and but pump should never be oversized.
• Skip IntelliChem and just get IntelliPH. Search ORP on TFP for more.
o Get a larger cell so you can run it at a lower % power setting for the same pump run time and chlorine production. Cell life is a fixed 10,000 hours of production time, so if you can run the cell less, it will last longer. (I should look at an IC60)
• Unions on all equipment
• Heater – Make sure you have a bypass if getting a heater so acid and such doesn’t get into it.

• Consider Pentair Screen Logic Interface and Wireless Connection Kit 522104. Allows operation of the Easy Touch 8 from inside the house.

• At least 2 pool lights, 1 in spa, facing away from the house (LED’s recommended).
• Make sure lights also don’t face into the house, primary seating areas, or swimming lanes.
• Shelves need a pool light so the whole pool can look lit up.
• Small LED’s on ledge (maybe in bubblers). For a 20k gallon pool, 3-4 lights in the pool recommended.
• Small LED’s on steps?

Pool Finishes
• What material are skimmer covers made out of ?
• Deck drains?
• Can we get samples of our choices? Where do we go to look at these?
• Do you share materials between builds? (Exp: Will workers take stuff (i.e. stone) from my site to fill shortages at another?)
• Colored drain covers in the pool so they blend with the plaster finish better.

• Be there on the day of the dig to answer questions and concerns. YOU want to decide what to do if there is a question rather than leave it to others.
• During dig, have foreman with the level, double check depths, that bond beam forms are level, and that the skimmers are the right height.
• Measure after the dig. Add about 6 inches for gunite and plaster. Is it long enough, wide enough, deep enough, are all of your benches there, entry, etc…

• Electrical requirements (sub-panel?)
• Surge protector on pool subpanel – The Intelliflo pump specifically is sensitive to power surges.
• Verify ground wire is attached to the rebar.
• Copper bond wires stubbed up from rebar cage should be clearly marked and pulled out as far as possible from the shell so they don’t get lost in the gunite.
• Equipment Panel – U-Channel frame or custom option?
• Wire Easy Touch for max level amps (100-125?), not minimum 30 amps. You may want to use it for other things later.
• Surge protector for the pool, will it tie into your existing whole house protector? Whole house can be mounted in breaker box for around $150 installed (by electrician).
• Extra GFCI outlets – for robot, landscaping, one in Easy Touch Panel. NEC requires GFCI protected outlet between 6’ and 20’ from inside wall of pool.
• Additional 120v outlets?
• Grey PVC for GFCI at both ends of the pool? Run 1 ¾” orange pipe for speakers?

• T Split from the main to the heater to the fire pit should be in an accessible location so concrete or decking won’t have to be pulled up if there is ever a leak.

• Unless someone is getting an in-floor cleaning system, how necessary are main drains when we don’t have an in-floor cleaning system? Would an extra skimmer and extra returns with no mains be better? (Reference APSP Case Study)
• Minimum 2” PVC plumbing size. 2.5” – 3” is better.
• Everything should be labeled.
• Skimmers on opposite ends of pool and on opposite long walls.
• Minimum 2 skimmers with 6-8 returns.
• Add at least 1-2 returns on ledges or tight spaces like tables to prevent debris from accumulating.
• Returns in a completed pipe loop – not a dead end run. 2” minimum PVC, 2 ½” – 3” is better.
• Drains – VGB Channel drain (long rectangular drain) or more typical dual round drains? Main drain system should have anti-entrapment protection and a hydro static relief valve.
• Main drain and/or each skimmer should all be plumbed separately to the pad – will you put this in writing? Should also be able to control how much water goes back through the skimmers on return for a venturi effect (can also help with energy bill).
• All skimmers and drains should have pipes running all the way back to the pad with valves on each so they can be turned off separately in different circumstances. (On the return side, pipes should be divided up as much as possible.)
• All plumbing should be run separately to the pad.
• Every pipe in the pool should have a valve. No valve means no way of isolating if ever an issue.
• Dedicated vacuum port for manual vacuum that is NOT tied to the skimmer. When tied to the skimmer you’ll get lousy suction. Shouldn’t cost anything or will be super cheap to add during build).
• Plumb a skimmer to the pad so that a valve controlled by EasyTouch can be added to fill the pool without having to run a hose across the deck. Also, water at the pad?
• Overflow or drain should have to the ability to drain the pool. A standard faucet right in the pressure side of the pump’s plumbing shouldn’t cost any additional money.
• Overflow should have a shut off valve (kids splashing, wind storms, etc)
• Pump should be installed with couplings. SWG and filters usually come with them but pumps don’t.
• Consider bubblers on main pump. Water features need a high volume water flow, but low pressure. Don’t use a WhipserFlo for features – it’s too big. Are two pumps necessary or can the VSP handle it with features on a separate loop?
• Use Neverlube style valves
• Solid PVC all around. No flex hose.
• Lots of PVC unions and ask for spares of the exact same ones used.
• Backfilling plumbing lines with sand to a 2” cover is always a good idea but often overlooked.
• Hard plumb the back flow drain into some PVC pipe into the ground out to the curb?
• Extra hose bibs for fresh water access?
• Autofill?
• Run a direct fill line with RPZ valve attached. Make sure pool water won’t back flow into the water supply.
• Plumb for later addition of Stenner Pumps for MA and winter chlorine. Leave room on equipment pad. Should at least be plumbed with straight 24” run of PVC to add it later.

• Be there on the day of steel. As questions as they work and if something doesn’t look right, say something.
• All rebar should be spaced 3” from the dirt (minimum) and get at least 3” of cover (minimum).
• All rebar ties should be bent down and out of the way. Not ties should protrude above rebar.
• Measure again. Add about 3 inches for plaster. Make sure all of the details can be seen and if it is not there, ask why.

Equipment Pad
• Equipment pad should be made out of gunite and large. Minimum size at least 9x3.
• Leave exposed pipe between every joint and valve for easy repairs in the future. 18” rule – Should be enough stub below any valve or fitting to cut out and replace the fitting if needed.
• Don’t pack tight. Consider 18” between any valve and piece of equipment. 18” should apply to concrete and any other valve on a manifold (allow 9-12” here for practicality.)
• Should include a flood light.
• If on an exterior wall that is a bedroom, space it off the house a reasonable amount of feet. Consider fencing between it and the house for an added sound barrier. Have equipment with functionality that allows for a timer so equipment isn’t running during sleeping hours.
• Can we put our kid’s or animals prints in the concrete? How would that work?
• Make sure existing hose bib isn’t covered up with plumbing and equipment.
• Print picture of completed set-up and label everything. Keep in a folder or notebook with all of your pool info.
Equipment Pad Layout (Questions to ask)
• Look at each component and ask, “When it fails, how much else do I have to cut out and replace with it?”
• Look at each component and ask, “If I have to replace this (pump, filter, heater, etc), is there room for a different model to fit?” For example, is the plumbing spaced so that there is no room between the wall and the plumbing for a longer pump or bigger filter to fit?
• Is there room to install future upgrades (SWG, heater/heat pump, automation, etc) and is the electrical amperage service big enough for those things as well?

• Be there for gunite.
• Make sure that all features are as they are intended to be (ex. Step instead of beach entry.)
• Make sure that the foreman and nozzle guy know you want driest possible mix.
• If shotcrete, no H20 should be added to the cement by driver or crew. If mix needs water to flow through the pump, reject the load.
• Rebound should not be in the pool and we want to see a spoil pile of the rebound not used that they will haul off site.
• Place a small level on the skimmers during shoot to double check that they are level while guys are still on site.
• Check to make sure there aren’t any voids under the light niches, plumbing stubs, and water features.
• No water applied anywhere to gunite for 4-6 hours after set-up.
• Water gunite often after set-up. Keep wet.
• Ask for forms to be removed at the end of the day or very next day.
• Be there for plaster.
• Ask to see the color of the plaster and any extras you added BEFORE they off load the truck. It happens where they have the wrong one and you don’t want to get a lower grade plaster.
• Can ask calcium guy for it if you need calcium chloride. He may let you buy it from him cheap.

• Rough electrical before deck – bond wiring bonding grid under slab, and all conduits.
• Trenches should be backfilled before the decking.
• When the yard is graded, get out two ground stakes (wood or rebar), some nylon line, a line level gauge, and a tape measure. Make sure the deck is sloping gently away from the pool. 1/8” to 1/4” drop per foot is considered a gentle enough slope that still “feels” level with no more than 1/2” per foot or you’ll feel the slope. (You don’t want rain washing your deck and filling your pool with dirt, silt, and debris.) How will water flow around the pool area for good drainage?
• If too much water is in the mix or if trowel is done before all the bleed water has risen, deck surface will blister.
• Kool Cote averages about $1.85 sq ft new decking and $2.85 sprayed over existing.
• Leave us with an extra 2 gallons of spray deck paint for touch ups. How long until it cures?
• Consider spray deck overlays or stencils for a better look and less cost.
• Consider sealing stones to protect from wear but also from staining

Landscape or Gardening
• Consider Drift roses, Variegated Pink Lemon Tree, Busa Masjoo Banana Trees for a Tropical look.
• Sago Palms are poisonous to dogs and cats.
• Add backyard rain gutters and set-up drain system or rain water collection barrel.
• Programmable irrigation?
• Add ambient lighting – LED light strips can be mounted to the underside of fence rails using 3M double-sided outdoor tape or you can screw them down using the brackets that come with the lights. Power could be tied into other lights to be controlled with wireless remote.
• Sod pallets in Houston area average around $250/pallet.

Fencing or Pool Gates
• Ground your metal fencing using a sarcricicial zinc anode to the bond wire and then bury the anode. It will slow corrosion by a lot.

Other Features
• Features – General stuff
o Have all water features on a separate loop designed to work with a waterfall pump for maximum efficiency and low noise.
o Can consider a second, less powerful VSP for water features but only with proper plumbing so multiple speeds can be utilized to their potential.
• Spa
o How many spa jets? Consider extra.
o Lower spa jets for calves?
o Can we get Twirlybyrd or something like it that we can change the face plates?
o Jets on a pool bench?
o Jets in a spa able to function as a venturi for lesser bubbles without the blower on.
• Fire Pit
o Make sure gas line is included in the cost.
o Integrated into pool with its own spillway into the pool? Butt against it with no spillway? Separate?
• Built-in Bench
o Back, no back, angled for comfort?
• Outdoor Kitchen
• Solar panels and controller?
• Robot
o Make sure storage of hose doesn’t let it curl too much or it will create a memory of bends. Consider getting a hose that comes in pieces for easier storage (and kid sword fights).

• MA (Muriatic Acid) should be stored separate from chlorine – in a secure, vented location.

Other Questions & Things to Consider
• Add lots of umbrella sleeves to be used with umbrellas, volleyball, and basketball set-ups. Have them included on the site plan.
• Screen Logic 2 package?
• Mobility issues: Consider 5.5”-6” high risers for steps. At least 9” instead of usual 12”.
• Self-closing and locking back gate. What kind of lock for back gate?
• Add a lock to the entry area to your back yard. Any lock. Something that says no trespassing so that if the lock is broken and somebody gets hurt in your pool, you are not liable.
• Consider an umbrella policy or expanded insurance.

Recommendations from others (Glads/No Regrets)
• Two Flo-Viz meters (2nd on heater outlet)
• Robot over other cleaners
• Oversized filters
• VS pump (Get 3” suction lines and 2.5” returns for VSP’s at 2.5hp or higher)
• Heater
• LED Lights (at least two)
• Largest shallow end (it’s where all the adults and kids seem to be hanging out.)
• Huge sun shelf (not too shallow) with umbrella sleeves
• Large deck for lots of potential seating during parties.
• How to set-up with a projector option for an outdoor screen?
• Evaluate closely if you will regret depth – diving, no diving, cannon balls, throwing the kids, etc.
• Glass tile add-on would be approximately $500 for pool and spa.
• Pressure Wash your fence for a completed new look after everything is done.

Houston Specific – Vendors
• South Bay
• Modern Method Gunite (MMG)
• Uno
• Pool Works
• MMG (Pebble Tec)
• La Hacienda

• IST – Innovative (Patterned Spray Deck)

Things to Know:
• Set-up marking appointment for utilities. May want to do it twice. Call811.com
• Consider providing refreshments and water to your workers to promote good will.

Pool Rules:
• Always find out which people can swim, and which can’t. (Adults AND kids). Make everyone aware of who can and cannot swim.
• Always make sure someone specific is watching the pool. When everyone assumes that everyone else is watching, there is often no one watching. When the designated person needs a break, they should make sure someone else assumes the primary responsibility.
• Make sure that the kids know to keep an eye on each other, and what to do if they think there is a problem. Teach them to recognize potential problems before they happen, such as a non-swimmer getting in the pool without their parent.


Bronze Supporter
Jun 20, 2016
i remember reading this so many months ago! it is a good one! can a moderator make it a sticky?



Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
TFP Guide
Apr 7, 2015
Houston, Texas
I didn't get a chance to read the rest of the thread. There might be a couple of corrections to make or suggestions to add.

I have no idea who decides a thread is 'sticky worthy'. There is a lot of good stuff there. We'll wait and see if the mods come along - see what they say.


Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
Tallahassee, FL
I am working on it! We are going to turn it into an article for future use.

Suz, oh Suz..............I may look to you for proof reading and such if you are willing. :angel:



Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
TFP Guide
Apr 7, 2015
Houston, Texas
I am working on it! We are going to turn it into an article for future use.

Suz, oh Suz..............I may look to you for proof reading and such if you are willing. :angel:


I'm here if you need me! I was planning to revise what I could - my own thoughts, adding/correcting using the posts that replied to this original post, and combing through past threads for info. If you and others are already doing that, then I'll wait for you guys to tell me what you need me to do.

Thanks Kim! And thanks, Jim, for the great suggestion!


Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
Tallahassee, FL
I have not started any work yet. It was just put on my plate so thought I would reach out to you and see if you were willing as I KNOW you are very able to help.

I will get with you and we will see what each others thoughts are. This will be FUN!


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