Pool builder quote in houston area

parker86November 16, 2012

I got a quote from one builder and just need expert's help to see if those numbers are reasonable. Thanks.

Pool with following spec: 39,100

Free form: 40'x21', 720sqft, 3.5'-7' deep


rebar #3 8" o.c.

2" plumbing

vs-3050 pump

420 catridge filter,

1x500w pool light

Exta 110' gas line to heater: 1,100

Extra 300' electrical run: 1,300

Extra steel/Gunite for wall facing lake: 2,000

Extra for deep end ramp+bobcat: 1,200

Soil testing+engineering: 3,000

drainage: 8 heads + 150ft 4": 1,500

upgrade 130' flagstone coping: 1,000

upgrade to 3 LED light: 2,000

Upgrade to easy touch 8 control: 1,900

New 790 deck w/ stamped concrete: 7900

470 stamped concrete on existing concrete: 4700

70' stamped concrete steps: 1,400

Extra deck beams 115' due to slope yard: 2,300

Extra exterior tile 100sqft: 2,400

Extra exterior stamped coat 100sqft:1,000

7' Spa w/400k btu heater/100w LED: 7,000

36' negative edege w/1.5hp pump: 10,000

20' raised beam (12") w/tile: 1,000

5 ton moss rock waterfall w/2hp pump: 7,500

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Another quote:

Similar spec to above with following diff:
610sqft (same 40'x21')
DE 60 sqft plus filter
3x2.5hp whisperflo for pool, waterfall and negative edging
2x500w amerilite
3x100w for spa, waterfall, basin
8 ton moss rock (2 waterfalls)
900sqft new stamped concrete
50' flagstone deck steps
no mention of soil testing/engineering

Forgot to mention for the 1st quote:
Pentair Legend plat cleaner

total $90,000 in comparison to the first quote $99,000

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Some issues I see:

Quote #1

VS-3050 doesn't exist anymore. It's simply a VS. The difference is now it's got 8 pre-settable speeds and an 8 event timer available (on-off cycle = 2 events) in the controller.

A single 500W fixture in the deep end won't be enough to illuminate the pool fully or evenly.

Putting a LED in the spa and a 500W is odd. Spa LEDS are not 100W. Pool LEDS aren't that much in wattage either.

What size is the gas line to be run? Does you gas meter need upgrading?

Watch the flagstone type. Softer stone wears more quickly.

Topping the existing concrete can and will likely delaminate. While somewhat more costly, rip out the old and pour all as new.

Make sure, if selected, the negative edge has it's own filter too. I would run a VS here too. This gives you the variable volume you'll want for different looks at the edge wall, be it a nice sheer or water running down a near vertical wall. That's a long edge with plenty of options to provide different looks, be they different veneers on the outside or different wall pitches.

Get an auto-filler for the basin. Edge pools use more water and you really don't want the catch basin running low.

Extra slope for the Bobcat? Huh?

Costs for any issues involving the soil testing?

A waterfall pump should be specified for the waterfall, not a Whisperflow. A 5 ton W/F with moss rock is not that big. Ask for better size specifics. Put a discharge port in the pool to regulate the amount of waterflow over the fall's discharge port(s). I doubt 100 GPM+ is going to be needed/wanted. The water hitting the pool will be quite loud. The port in the pool will allow you to redirect some water to better suit your wants.

The waterfall will need a reinforced footer to support it. Otherwise, you'll put a lot of pressure on the outside of the shell which is designed to accept pressure in the opposite direction.

A 60,000 gallon salt cell is encouraged.

The 520 will give you a longer cycle between cartridge cleanings.

Your relay count is pretty high. If you maxed the design, I count four pumps, a blower, pool sweep booster, and the spa and pool lights kept separate (spa can be lit separately from the pool). The lack of macros for specific items to run together, rather than individually may want you to consider using an Intellitouch instead. The Intellitouch can go beyond 8 relays too, adding extra relays for landscape lighting control.

The pool, by itself, won't need a lot for circulation but if the spa is using the same pump, having a VS will allow it to be cranked up to produce more flow for the jets.

No remotes? A spa side and or indoor controller are useful conveniences. So is the Screen Logic application.

I assume the 20' raised beam is in instead of the waterfall.

Spec hard pipe. Flex is usually OK for the for the spa jets if it's encased in gunite for the spa but use hard pipe everything else.

Quote #2

Much narrower!

I don't like DE filters in Texas. They need too much water, a pretty precious commodity thereabouts.

Two and a half HP Whisperflows are 2 speed units. They draw the same as a 2 HP on high speed. Waterfalls and Whisperflows are not an ideal combo.

Two waterfalls seems busy to me.

No automation?

Basin lighting? Is the lake going to have people seeing the lighting? Again, the relay count is a concern if an automation system is employed.

No mention of LEDs for the pool and spa?


    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 7:47AM
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Thank you so much Scott.

Let me explain and clarify a little bit if I understand correctly.
Quote #1
Good to know the facts for the Pentair VS pump.

The basic for the 720sqft pool ($39,000) has only 500w light and it costs extra $2000 to upgrade to 3 LEDs.

The basic for the spa is 100w and cost extra $300 to upgrade to LED. My fault, I shouldn't have put 100w for LED.

I don't know what size is the gas line but I will ask. What is your recommendation? Most likely the gas meter need upgrading as I was told by PB

Which type of flagstone do you recommend? Is travertine better? I was told $8/ft for flagstone but $15 for travertine.

Unfortunately we can't take out the old concrete since it is the foundation. I was told it will be pretty thick (2") for the stamped concrete.

Both bids don't have filter for the basin and I will ask the PBs.

I will ask about auot-filler for the basin

Both PBs charge extra for the samll Bobcat. Also they charge extra because of deep end ramp.

I guess the soil testing is too high (1.5k) and probably not needed. Engineering (1.5k) too high?

PB did specify 2hp pump for the waterfall. Is it a good size? I will defintely ask about the discharge port.

Definitely I will make sure the waterfall will have a reinforced footer. Also the PB wants the soil testing/engineering because this and negative edging.

Will the salt cause corrosion for the moss rock waterfall, flagstone coping? I talked to 6 PBs and only one encourages for a salt pool.

I asked PB about 520 filter but I was told 420 is enough and it is waste of money for 520. I'm confused.

Do you mean electric run is pretty high? My main box is on one side of house and I was told they have to put the equipments on the other side. I will ask about the IntelliTouch.

Yes. Pentair VS pump will be used.

I was told that $1900 upgrade to Easy Touch 8 includes a remote.

The raised beam is actually for the catch basin.

Quote #2
I guess this one has more curves and 21' width is the widest so the area is smaller.

Good to know DE filters use a lot of water.

Have no idea 2.5hp whisperflo is 2 speed unit. Maybe this can control the water falls in 2 speeds?

I'm thinking about getting rid of the samll waterfall too.

Sorry, what do you mean for "no automation"?

LEDs will be extra

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 11:14PM
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I am a pool builder in the Houston area. Although I love Scott to death (poolguynj), I disagree with him on some things that are better for us in Texas than they are in the NE part of the country.

I use the Pentair VS3050 all the time and, yes, we still call it the VS3050 in my neck of the woods. In my opinion, it is the best pump out there. One thing I noticed in your bid is that 2" plumbing is specified. If you are using the VS3050, the manufacturer recommends the use of 3" plumbing for the suction side. This maximizes the efficiency of the efficiency of the pump, so I would insist on 3".

For this size pool, I think you should have the Pentair Clean & Clear Plus 520 cartridge filter. The 420 could be undersized for this size pool. You can't get too much filtration.

I agree with poolguynj...one light in this size pool is way too little light.

If this is a negative edge pool, then you will need a separate cartridge filter dedicated to the basin.

The gas meter will need to be upgraded by Centerpoint Gas and costs you $350.

Really need to see the design and know more about the slope before commenting on pricing.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 5:34PM
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VS and VS-3050 are two different pumps. The VS superseded the VS-3050 and added 4 more speeds and a built in, 8 event timer. Its more like the VS-SVRS without the SVRS programming. The main parts are the same. Its just a different controller. I suspect we just have a TOMATO TOMAHTO issue.

Automation is what will control the pool's functions. An Intellitouch or Easytouch are examples.

Expect at least a 1.25" line for the gas. It there is more than a 125' run from the meter, expect 1.5" pipe.

A pretty simple test for stone coping is a scratch test. It it scratches with a nail and the scratch is white, it too soft and will wear, chip, and erode. If the scratch is gray or non existent, it's fine. Please not that is is for stone only. Concrete, brick, and travertine are not included in this test.

Going larger with a cartridge filter almost always pays dividends in reduced maintenance needs.

Most negative edge pools use the edge as a skimmer. Almost 80% of the dirt a pool gets is captured this way. Since most of the dirt is captured this way, having a filter on the edge pump is highly encouraged since most of the collected dirt is going in the catch basin which is where the edge pump is getting its water.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Thank you womanowned and Scott. I value your suggestions and opinions. Linked is one design. Another design is very similar with 3 minor differences: No small waterfall, spa is moved to the small waterfall location, the catch basin near the fire pit platform is converted to a trough with pebbles.

Here is a link that might be useful: pool design

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 12:07AM
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Pretty nice, common design. I think you may regret all that rock, but that's just a quick assessment. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 3:48PM
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By the way, don't remember if this has been addressed, but 3" plumbing for the suction side of the pool is recommended by the manufacturer for the VS-3050. If that is not used, you will not get maximum efficiency out of the pump. What part of Houston are you in?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 3:53PM
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Given that the pump will be running at a low rpm, the efficiency will be fine. At higher speeds, the larger line will help some but not a lot. That is due to the filter, heater, and salt cell being two inch.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 4:57PM
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Any potential issue with the rock? I noticed algae on the rock when we saw one pool with waterfall. The PB specifies 2.5" for the drains and skimmers. Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Scott, are you saying to disregard the Manufacturer's recommendations on pipe size? I could save myself a couple hundred dollars if I don't use the 3" as recommended. You think 2" is adequate?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 9:05PM
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Generally, 3" is more than you need. 2.5" on a pool drain set's main run and 2" on skimmers run individually if the run is under 100' is fine. Spa drains always get 2.5" main runs. The round style drain pots and skimmers almost never have over 2" connections.

There really isn't a lot of head loss at the lower speeds these pumps are normally set to. Spas, with their higher speeds used, can and so since it takes two 2" pipes to feed the same amount of water a 2.5" pipe. 3" is, IMHO, overkill.

Remember, there are plenty of restrictions. Drain pots, skimmers, filters, Intelliflow pumps, salt cells, and heaters all have 2" connections.

While 3" pipes will allow the run to require less energy because the water will run more slowly in them, the difference isn't great enough to justify the use of 3". See the head loss chart I linked below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Head loss chart

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 3:10AM
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Scott, Generally accepted minimum standards for suction velocity is 8 ft per second, our state code for commercial pools is 6 feet per second and I believe the Genesis Group reccomends 4 feet which is what we strive for when sizing plumbing. At 150 gpm a 3inch pipe is 6.63 ft per second or undersized for commercial work. 2 1/2 is 10.26 and 2 inch is off the chart. Anything smaller than 3 inch is not only bad for the pump but is also unsafe for entrapment guidelines.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 8:07AM
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The first question to ask your builder is "Does your plumber run all suction points on one common pipe back to the equipmrnt or does he plumb each pipe individually back to the equipment?"
On residential pools if the answer is one common pipe 3" is the mandatory minimum preferrably 4", if he plumbs individually 2" will work with 2 skimmers and a main drain (3each 2" suction lines) if he plumbs 1 skimmer you'll need 2each 2 1/2" pipes, if he plumbs 2 skimmers and ties the main drain into the front port of a skimmer you'll also need 2each 2 1/2" pipe. The spa needs either 2 1/2" or 3" pipe.
These needs are demanded by the highest speed of the pump and the VS pump will move a lot of water on high speed.
At low speeds following these guidelines allows the pump to Cadillac along with very little effort in moving the mass of water.

Hope all of y'all have been doing great, one of the members of our Club P trip last week asked me why I've been away and I was like I'll make it a point to come back more often.

Parker, congrats on moving forward on your project, it's going to be a very AWESOME pool. Way to go!!!

Happy Holidays,

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 11:11AM
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Happy Holidays Kelly,

Its good to know you survived the downturn and are still humming. That shows the good guys can hang in there. I haven't read this site in a while because things have become busy in the carolinas.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 6:21PM
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Aqua-Link Pools and Spas

Even if you have two skimmers tied to individual lines you should still run a 3" pipe for each. That way you keep it down to the 4.5 FPS range.The spa should also be upgraded to a 4" pipe because of the max flow rate of the VS. That way you will also keep your 4.5FPS.
Do not forget about the return side of no more than 6.5 FPS.
Renoxpt, its good to see there are more builders out there adhering to the Pigs criteria. LOL.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 8:46PM
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Skimmers shouldn't be drawing more than 60 GPM. At that rate, water in a 2" pipe is moving at 6 fps. Bigger pipes? Nah. Not with only 2' of head per hundred feet.

Residential filters and heaters are never more than 2", even when plumbed to bigger pipes. It becomes a bottleneck so the flow gets restricted. The velocity becomes to high, raises the friction head loss to become too much for the pump so the advantages that big pipes no longer become as cost effective at higher speeds. Most variable speed pumps are run at a low speed, further reducing the velocity.

Until the Intelliflo is XF sized, it's limited to 2" ports. That still leaves the filter at 2" internally. You should not bypass excess flow past the filter unless it goes to a second filter.

IMHO, skimmers and drains should be run as individual lines. Drains, IMHO, are the only suction lines that need to be designed to allow a pump to be fed by itself without the additional volume of skimmers added.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 12:54AM
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