Pool proposal (advice needed please!)

afncardsAugust 31, 2010

After enjoying your forum for quite some time now, my wife and I have finally decided to "take the plunge", and have begun the process of having a pool installed. After meeting several times with a perspective pool builder, he has provided us with a proposal/cost figure. Below, I have posted details of the proposal, and I am hoping that you can provide your thoughts as to if we are getting a decent pool at a decent price. Also, please feel free to offer any advice you may have about any of the details in the proposal (equipment, payment schedule, etc.) I am looking forward to getting sound advice from people far more knowledgeable than I. Thanks in advance!!!

Construct one Pacific Pools custom Graphex polymer wall vinyl liner Roman end, True "L" shape pool.

Choice of standard vinyl liner pattern.

Pool width and length dimensions of approx. 16 x 28Â x 42Â

Depths to slope from approx. 4Â-0" (3Â-6" of water in shallow end) to 8Â-6" (8Â-0" of water in deep end).

Concrete bond beam, and concrete pool base.

(2) surface skimmers and (2) VGB approved main drains.

Pool coping to be standard aluminum.

Pool will have fiberglass steps approximately 4Â x 8Â built outside the overall pool dimensions.

(1) Stainless steel handrail. (1) Stainless steel ladder.

(1) Pentair Whisperflo 1.5 horsepower filter pump, (1)Pentair Clean and Clear Plus 420 square foot cartridge filter,(1) Pentair MasterTemp 250,000 BTU electronic ignition pool heater,(1) Nature 2 water purifier with (1) cartridge, (1) Polaris Watermatic chlorine metering dispenser.

(1) Polaris 3900 automatic pool cleaner.

(3) Pentair IntelliBrite L.E.D. underwater pool lights.

(1) Pentair EasyTouch 4 Digital pool control system with (1) wireless handheld controller.

(1) 4Â x 8Â concrete equipment pad.

Electrical from control system to all pool equipment at equipment pad.

(1) Automatic water fill device connected to existing hose bib within 50 Â of pool.

(1)Safety hook with 12Â solid pole, (1) Safety rope float, (1) Test strips, Initial chemicals,(1)Vacuum hose, (1) Vacuum head.

T-7 Diving board with water feed (no light).

(4) Jandy Mini deck jets.

Volleyball/basketball combo set.

Standard excavation of hole, hauling and dumping of fill within 10 miles included. Gravel back-fill.

Machine grading of area around pool.

All pool filtration in pvc piping.

Cover Logix Mesh winter pool cover and winterizing service the first year.

Six Bi-Monthly maintenance visits. Chemicals additional.

Permit costs and associated drawing fees are included.

Gas and electrical feed costs from the house to the equipment pad are included.

Repairs of landscape, driveways, sidewalks, sprinkler systems and utilities will be at the customerÂs expense.


POOL PACKAGE $ 45,550.00 (Tax included)








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The heater is too small. Too much surface area. Get the 400.

Lose the N2. Useless expense. Injects metals into the water. Metals can and will stain. It does NOT reduce your chlorine needs. While the silver and copper can help kill algae and bacteria, the kill time is longer than the reproduction time. Chlorine is much faster.

Speaking of chlorine, The Polaris unit will add a lot of stabilizer since it uses Di-Chlor. Switch to the Pentair Rainbow In Line chlorinator. It's warranty will be extended to 3 years since you have a Pentair Filter and Pump combination. 3" tabs don't add quite as much stabilizer. Since this a fairly large pool, tell the installer to put it in a Top Feed configuration to ensure sufficient chlorine is dispensed. It's cheaper too!

No salt cell?

What remote? Any indoor unit?

Flex is considered PVC too. Caution.
What size?
How many returns?

What bond beam? Any rebar?

Get the proof of insurances faxed from their agent. Subs too.

Where is the dump site?

I hope you realize you will need to check the water chems more than twice a month.

Where is the final cleanup?

No decking?

Is the $2275 final payment enough to keep them interested is there's an issue?

The repairs to property, utilities... has me raising an eyebrow.

Have you checked this builder's references?

Show it to a lawyer. If it costs $200, it's money well spent.

Lots of questions. Hope it's spelled out in the contract. If it isn't written, it wasn't said.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 11:40AM
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the payment schedule concerns me!!
80% of your money gone with really not much work done, a hole with some pvc in it is all your gonna have for $36k.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:05PM
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I am not a pool expert, but am in the middle of my pool (gunite) build now.

If the place you are putting your pool is not level, be aware that material to do so costs extra.

Our contract included 1 truck load of stone for the base of the pool (drainage), with each additional costing $675. They said one should be enough, we needed two.

Our contract included 4 hours of backfill, they said that is plenty. That did not include material. The material from inside our pool was not usable as backfill. They charge $675 a load. We ended up having a separate decking company do it (well, they are doing our decking). We needed 15 loads! Their price was $300 a load. Oh, on top of that, backfill and leveling for the decking took 3 days (so the four hours included by the pool company barely scratched the surface). Note, my backyard slopes in all sorts of ways, but I did not really know any better, I figured the pool company would tell me that things would be way over what they said, they didn't.

Also (I don't have my contract in front of me), but paying 50% on by day of excavation (although I assume you don't have to pay them until they are done that day) seems high. But maybe liner pools are 50% excavation (excavation barely scratched the surface of our gunite pool project). We pushed our pool builder to push final payment (our final payment is 5k for pool only) to after their 2nd cleaning visit (so, instead of paying at water fill, we are paying 1 month later, after we have used the pool and they have checked it twice). I told them I wasn't keen on paying them final payment before I had a chance to use the pool and know the everything was working in a satisfactory way.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:42PM
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That payment schedule really looks out of whack. And I don't know of anybody in my area that requires out of pocket for repairs to damage incurred by the PB and/or sub-contractors at the work site. What's their incentive to be careful during the process to not do any damage to your property?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 1:28PM
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Well, for my pool build the following damages where (are) my problem to deal with:

1) Lawn
2) Driveway (note, there have been no damages, and the decking company cleared all the dirt off my driveway that they trucked in)
3) Sprinklers (I removed all the heads that were in the line of our dig and I disconnected all the water lines that I knew would be torn up so them ripping them up would not pull at my equipment).

Utilities is the only strange thing in there. They shouldn't damage your "utilities" unless there is a line under ground that they don't know about. "Dig Safe" came out to verify all this before hand for us.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 6:00PM
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I want to thank everyone of you who has replied to my post. Your advice is invaluable!

Scott- You raise alot of good questions. Here are the answers to some of them, and the rest I need to find out from the perspective builder. 1) I completely agree that I need to upgrade to the 400 heater, and will be doing so. 2)The N2. I thought that the purpose of this would be to cut down on the chlorine usage, which in turn would help with your concern about the Dichlor tabs adding too much stabilizer. Am I wrong about this? 3)Switching to the Pentair Rainbow. I took a look at this, and I wonder would it provide me with enough chlorine for the size of pool I have? I think this pool should be about 37,000 gallons. 4)Salt Cell- I can choose this option over N2 + Dichlor dispenser. My wife is worried about salt taste and corrosion. I will be using concrete decking. Are her concerns legit, and what of my two options would you suggest? 5)Remotes- It is an Easy Touch 4 wireless. Didn't think I needed an indoor as well, since I have the wireless. 6)PVC- I assumed two inch hard piping, but I guess I shouldn't assume. Returns- I don't know the number. What do you suggest, and I will make sure it happens. 7) Dump site- Unknown location, but in that I live in the Chicago Metro area I believe that it shouldn't be an issue, but I definately need to make sure. 8)Water Chems- You statement here really concerned me, because I am completely new to pools. Is this due to the size of the pool, and how often would you suggest. I certainly don't want to spend all my time testing/fixing chemical readings. 9)Final Cleanup- I thought that this just went unsaid, but I see that I need to get everything written down in the contract. 10)Decking- They wanted $7.50 sq/ft for brushed concrete, and $15 for stamped/pavers. I know this is really high, so I opted to handle the decking on my own. 11) Repairs to damaged property. I am fortunate enough to have a vacant lot next to mine, and I think I will be able get permission to access my yard via this lot. This should really help me with the damage to lawn, driveway, sprinklers, etc. That being said I need to speak with the perspective builder about this section. 12)References- I have three friends who have built pools with this builder, and all have given glowing reviews.

jump427, cnr1089, and rice rocket- I see that I definately need to address the payment schedule. I too was a little nervous over this. Glad to see my concerns weren't unjust. I will negotiate this process with the builder. Also cnr1089, My yard is level, so I shouldn't have much grading issues. As for the damage, I live in a newer subdivision, and fortunatly have a vacant lot next to mine. I should be able to get permission to access my lot via this vacant lot, and this will greatly cut down on the damages. I will make sure to use JULIE (Illinois version of "Dig Safe) to avoid any utility damages.

Again, thanks to all of you who are following/replying to my post. Even in this early stage of the process things can get a bit confusing.

Two more questions I'm hoping you can help me with. Currently proposed is a 1.5 hp WhisperFlow pump. This would do the pool cleaning, as well as the water features (4 deck jets + T7 diving board waterfall). Will this pump be sufficient, or should I add a seperate pump for the water features. Also, do you think the price on the initial proposal if fair, or is too high? I don't have alot of experience, and your advice on this would go a long way in helping me negotiate a price. Thanks in advance, Adam

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 5:42PM
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I really don't think that the construction draw is that unacceptable for the buyer.
There are no decks in his allowance so the only things left after plumbing is electrical, hanging the liner, and the start up. Note, there's going to be over 9 grand left to handle these matters. I would suggest that prior to paying the plumbing draw asking him to prove that the excavation contractor, wall panel assembly contractor (if he doesn't do this with his own men), and the manufacturer of the wall panels have been paid for out of the 50% of the contracted amount you've already paid him. The next 30 percent picks up equipment, plumbing, and coping.

I agree with poolguynj, ditch the Nature 2, Polaris chlorine feeder, and the 250k heater.
Replace the chlorinator with a Rainbow 320 plumbed into the high hole like Scott suggested and get a MasterTemp 400k.
If you think you'd like salt water chlorine generation get rubber/plastic insulated hand rails, ladders etc...
I order them for salt pool builds when people want these features. I wouldn't worry about the SWG and the concrete pool decking but with dark pavers you'll likely see some dried salt which will look like whitish stains over time from splashed water evaporating.
I can't comment on the price because we're in a completely different market. I suggest a price comparison to some other local builders who compete in the same market.

See ya,

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 6:44PM
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Make sure you get Lean Release before you make any payments! It saved us when our pool builder failed

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 7:18PM
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Clanch, you don't get lien releases when you make the initial payment. This is provided by the builder when he delivers his 2nd draw invoice, if it has been requested, to prove he paid for the initial services and supplies.
This is what I was mentioning in my first paragraph of my reply.

See ya,

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 7:31PM
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When using chlorine as a sanitizer, chlorine levels should be 8% of the CYA level when using tabs and 5% when using a salt cell. N2 is, IMHO and that of a great many other knowledgeable people, only a slight supplement, a risk for metal staining, and extra money in the dealers profits that could go to silly things like the food bill that goes up in the summer. Really.

People get sucked into thinking they can lower the free chlorine level and wind up with algae, bacterial infections, water born viruses. etc... that reproduce faster than the metal ions an N2 cartridge can kill.

FWIW, algae is pretty tough. If you get an algae bloom, the chances are significantly higher that some bio-baddie can get a foot hold too.

Chlorine also oxidizes (and thus renders inert) sweat, urine, lotions, fecal matter (could be a bird's or other), dead skin cells, and a whole host of other stuff. The N2 does nothing for this.

The best pool school and care forum I have found on the web is at troublefreepools.com . Gardenweb is the best New Build and Renovation forum I know of. I try to contribute to both. There you will find out which chlorine products do what and add what to your pool's water among other things.

Kelly is spot on with the coated rails and ladders. There are also plastic ladder/rail cups made of plastic. I have used Saftron's rails, ladders and cups successfully in the past but have, on occasion, had to shave the rails and ladder supports that go into the cups. They come in several colors too such as tan, white, black, etc...

The remote you have in your proposal is a remote On/Off switch for up to 4 devices/functions. Example: Deck Jets On or Off, Spa On/Off, Lights On/Off, Heater On/Off .

The Indoor controls or even better remote like the one pictured in the link I posted below will allow full programmability inside or outside. It's a bit pricey but incredibly convenient.

The Polaris 3900 gets a booster pump.

I was at a customer's today installing a heater. She had her girl friend with her kids over who is seriously considering building a pool. She asked if I build them to which I told her no, because I don't. She asked if I could help her so I pointed her here.

My point is you already realize that you aren't the 1st trying to do due diligence before signing and you won't be the last. She has many of the same concerns because of what she doesn't know and she doesn't like that feeling either.

I don't know if the mens store, Symms, was national but their tag line was," An educated consumer is our best customer." The builders here remind me of that line every day. We try to counter the other end of the spectrum that reminds me of the Used Car Salesman trying to sell the 1998 Ford Mustang with 150,000 miles for $10,000.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 11:35PM
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