New Pool Build in Los Angeles, lots of pics and QUESTIONS!
we just moved into a new house (well, new to us, it was built in the '20s) in central Los Angeles and decided to add a small pool to our modestly-sized backyard.
we have been reading tons of gardenweb posts about new pool builds to help us on our journey and we thought we'd contribute a post of our own to ask a few last-minute questions and help any other pool builders out there with similar concerns.
13' x 21' rectangular-ish custom-designed pool
1' raised spa, 6' x 4.5', with infinity edge
41' of 1' raised bond beam around back and side wall
18" raised sheer descent water feature
4 ft to 6ft depth
Solar heating system
Salt Wise salt water chlorinator
Automatic water filler
Easy Touch remote, indoor control panel, and spa side switch
Pentair Intelliflo 8x160 Pump
Pentair 420 Clean & Clear filter
400,000 BTU heater (not sure what brand, likely Pentair as well)
Extra Pentair pump for sheer descent
7 spa jets
French Gray plaster
our PB is Gary Gunderson with Mr. Carlos Pools and so far we're very happy with them. there have been a few hiccups along the way, but if anyone in history has ever had a 100% worry-free pool build i would be shocked.
we've been extremely hands-on with the project and very meticulous about every last detail, but gary has been very patient with us, as have all the other subcontractors and mr. carlos staff. and gary was more than fair during the contract negotiations and gave us a price FAR below our next lowest bidder.
if anything goes wrong with our build or our pool in the future, i will return to edit the above review, but so far so good!
so, here's the design...i don't know how many fans of '80s-era punk rock frequent the gardenweb forums, but we modeled the pool after a certain recognizable band logo... :)
the steps have since been moved to the little "alcove" to the right so that the area where the steps are currently drawn is just a shallow-end hang-out area.
here are the initial renderings:
we've since decided to go with gray coping (not sure what material yet, we'll get to that in the questions) and black 3x6" subway tile. here's a rough re-rendering (but with square tile):
we just finished with the gunite phase, so now we have a week of watering, waiting, and consternation about tile and coping ahead of us...
pictures to follow, BUT FIRST, THE QUESTIONS!
1.) does anyone have any experience with black pool tile? we are very concerned about calcium buildup ruining the color...are we making a mistake going with black? we have heard about a device called the mpulse 3000 that supposedly de-calcifies the water electronically, but we can't find ANY online reviews for it. we have, however, found a lot of people skeptical of the science involved. anyone ever use it or know if it's worth buying? and what else can we do to keep our black tile shiny?
2.) has anyone ever seen a pool with 3x6 subway tile of ANY color on a raised bond beam? we can't find any pics online, it would be nice to have a visual reference before committing to our tile choice for LIFE!!!!!
3.) we're a little concerned about the floor of our pool. when they did the dig and put in the steel, the slope started from the spa area to the deep end. we asked our builder if we could have a level, flat pool floor for a few more feet before the slope began so we could utilize more shallow end space. he said that would be taken care of during the gunite phase. i reminded him about it a few times, mentioned it to the gunite supervisor before the job began, and made sure to remind the gunite supervisor several times that i wanted to be there to correct the slope when they were ready for that moment.
...so they shoot the gunite and the sun was going down and the slope was still the same. they had already run out of gunite material, so they couldn't shoot any more in, they just used some of the gunite that they had shoveled out of the pool already and tried to race against the sun to help flatten out the floor. in the end, the slope is still not satisfactory to us. AND since they spent the last half hour or so trying to deal with the slope, they didn't really smooth out the bottom of the pool at all.
so now we are left with a shoe-print-riddled pool with an unsatisfactory slope and a generally uneven bottom with some sections that sink by a few inches.
our gunite supervisor said they would happily correct any flaws, but i'm just unclear on the process. it's not TRAGICALLY off, and i know that plaster will smooth out a few things, but how much can they correct and smooth out once the gunite is shot and set? the deep end is only 5'11" instead of 6' so we're worried that any additional concrete added to the bottom will give us a 5'10" deep end, or lower.
one of the workers also said he was worried about adding too much gunite to the slope because it could cause cracks? that seemed odd to me; wouldn't more be better? not that we're asking for much more, 2 or 3 inches along the top of the slope maybe...
we don't have pictures of the bottom, but we'll try to post some soon.
4.) we have 3 steps, 1' each, except for the bottom step which i think is 15" (hopefully by the third step some buoyancy will kick in). it seems fine walking on them, but they are a bit steep. does anyone have 1' deep steps? or deeper? are they comfortable to use? we don't have kids, but our friends and neighbors do...will they be okay on 1' steps?
5.) our contract says that we need to water the gunite for at least 1 week, 3 times a day. our gunite guy says we should water it for 2 weeks. obviously we want to listen to the gunite guy and take our time, but it takes a bite out of our (already running behind) schedule to finish before we leave for holiday travel. any expert opinions? we'll definitely be watering for a week, can the second week of watering include watering during the tile and coping process?
6.) speaking of coping, we were initially thinking flagstone. but it turned out that that was because we didn't actually understand what flagstone was. :) we want one uniform color of coping with a rough, rock-like finish. possibly slate or maybe basalt? or bluestone? or granite? the idea is something
tight, uniform, and angular, but with a rough surface and a slightly rough edge. (and a medium gray color)
anyone have any recommendations as far as which material would best suit our needs while still being cost effective?
okay, enough talk! it's picture time!!!
hopefully, like us, you enjoy pool build posts with lots of photos included, because that's what you're about to get! :)
here's the yard before it lost its innocence...
this was a cute little arch cut in the hedges between the driveway and the yard:
but she just wasn't big enough... :(
and awayyyyy we go!
goodbye, mr. garden wall!
goodbye mr. lattice structure on the side of the garage!
goodbye mr. concrete slab!
and hellooooo mr. hole!
installing the steel:
ripping up parts of the patio to run the electric...this process made me understand why dogs hide from strangers and loud noises. jackhammers are an unsettling presence in one's yard...
this is the line for the Easy Touch panel inside our house, running under and through the patio:
ripping up the driveway to run the plumbing and install the equipment...our neighbors were so bummed with the noise on this day...but they took pity on us when they saw what the yard looked like at the end of it:
and here is what a plumbed and electrified hole looks like...we had another contractor working on another part of the house around the same time and he said it looked like the guys had done a really good job, which was quite reassuring. any other professionals want to weigh in?
and after some snafus scheduling the inspection, some international travel, some nerve-wracking rain, and a broken cement truck, it was finally gunite day!
if our neighbors were bummed before, i wonder how they felt when they woke up to this on saturday morning:
and then, s&*t got real...
it's hard to say who we drove more crazy: the guys in charge of placing our spa jets or the gunite crew. but neither of them ever complained about our feeble decision-making skills or our OCD-level attention to detail, they just happily obliged us. truly, they are heroes.
here are the stairs as they were first shot:
and here's jorge smoothing them to perfection:
...and unfortunately that's all the photos we have so far! it got dark very quickly after they finished with the stairs and we didn't snap any photos today because we spent the afternoon watching "Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers" and that movie is seriously long so the sun went down before it was over. :(
but tomorrow or tuesday we'll return to read any responses we get and to post some photos of the controversial pool floor and finished steps.
thanks for reading and we look forward to sharing our first plunge with you in the (hopefully) near future!!!
(ps - we're also shooting a time-lapse video of the whole construction process, so stay tuned and we'll post it here when we're finished!)