Thoughts About Building A Pool
Congratulations! You have just arranged for the construction of a new swimming pool and or spa. It will be the source of many enjoyable, fun-filled hours of family fun, exercise, and pleasure.
Constructing a pool in your backyard can be inconvenient. There is noise (quite a bit at times), construction equipment damaging the landscaping in the access, workers coming and going, and a hole in the fence. We understand these problems and we will strive to make your construction as stress free as possible.
THE JOB IS VERY COMPLEX
Building a swimming pool is one of the most complex construction projects around. To build a quality pool involves the use and coordination of many different building trades and crafts. It is no job for a novice. Years of education and experience go into the ability to build a quality product. Sundancer Pools has been building quality pools since 1985 and we’re very proud of the reputation we’ve earned as one of the premier pool builders in the industry.
It is impossible to excavate a pool, dig trenches for plumbing, electrical, and gas lines without moving and storing a lot of dirt. The large equipment required to dig a pool is a good example. The tractor must access your yard (usually through the side yard), excavate the pool, turn around, and then transport the soil in its bucket out to the waiting truck. After dumping its load into the truck, the tractor then repeats this process approximately 100 times, or more, per pool. Needless to say, a lot of noise and some dust, is created. When you add steel, plumbing, gunite, electrical, masonry and plaster crews to the mix, it can be hectic.
We will strive to minimize the mess and stress. Please understand that this temporary inconvenience will result in a backyard filled with fun and beauty for years and years to come.
ACCESS TO THE POOL SITE
As part of the contract price, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to provide adequate access to the construction site. We will be responsible for any damage resulting from negligence by our crews, but we cannot be responsible for damage to grass, flowers, trees, sprinklers, concrete, etc. in the access area.
A few moments spent in advance will minimize, or completely avoid, needless damage. Here are a few suggestions to help you get ready.
Locate and mark all hidden or below/ground systems, such as water and sprinkler lines, electric and gas lines, septic tanks, leach lines, or any other underground installations.
Try to choose an access route that is large enough to allow the equipment to maneuver.
Remove any plants, flowers, shrubs, and sprinklers that you wish to save, prior to the excavation.
ACCESS THROUGH A NEIGHBOR’S PROPERTY
If the only way that your pool can be built is through your neighbor’s property, you must obtain a signed “Access Letter” granting us permission to cross their property. This will protect both you and Sundancer Pools.
Building a swimming pool is a major construction project that can be subject to a variety of unknown conditions. These unknown variables can affect the time it takes to complete your project, or even the final price. Examples of these possible variables are:
Inclement Weather: Rain-Not only do we lose those days when it rains but frequently the ground is too saturated to allow men and equipment to work for days after the rain.
Inspections: Building Inspectors schedules can vary from day to day. If one of their fellow inspectors get sick and they have to substitute, it may delay your scheduled inspection until the following day. They do not inspect on most holidays and some cities close every other Friday. There also may be a heavy load of inspections, in your area, on the day your job is scheduled. Since we cannot continue construction until the inspector signs off on your job, more time elapses.
Hard Soil or Rock: It is almost impossible to know the exact soil conditions below the surface of your property. The soil can be so dense, or full of rock, that the tractor can no longer dig. In most cases, an additional piece of equipment (a hammer type breaker) can be used to break up the hard soil/rock enough to allow the tractor to continue digging. This will result in extra charges for the additional equipment and the additional hours necessary. If the rock is so dense that a breaker will not work, it may require drilling and compression splitting. Blasting with dynamite is only used as a last resort...
High Water Tables: High water tables are more unusual than hard soil conditions. When they are encountered, they cause the need for the installation of a Hydrostatic pressure relief valve in the pool floor. If high water is present, the resulting pressure can literally float a swimming pool. Unfortunately, the need for this device is not determined until after the excavation is complete. This installation will usually add approximately $500 to the contract price.
HOW TO MAKE WORK ORDER CHANGES
Clients often decide to make some changes in the work they originally requested. We realize that some items are very hard to plan in advance; sometimes you just have to see the project unfold to get a clear idea of what you want. That’s fine. It is your pool in your yard and the project should turn out the way you want it. Please make sure that all of your requests for deviations from the original plans and specifications are written in an Addendum Contract. That way we both know what you are getting.
IF YOU ARE HAVING A GAS HEATER INSTALLED
Building codes require that gas lines be buried at certain depth to prevent damage. This results in a large mound of soil next to the trench. These trenches cannot be filled in until after the local building Inspector has approved the continuity and integrity, via a pressure test, of the gas line. We apologize for the inconvenience of the open trench and mounds of soil. The trenches will be filled in as soon as the lines are inspected and approved.
If you have ordered a natural gas heater, you will need to call SDG&E after your pool is filled with water. They will need to know the sizes of all gas appliances (measured in BTU’S) in and around your home. This enables them to determine if your existing gas meter needs to be replaced with a larger capacity meter. Sorry, we would gladly do this for you but SDG&E will only speak with the homeowner.
To hook into the gas meter, the flow of gas through the meter must be shut off for a brief time. This will extinguish your pilot lights. You will need to be home so that we may re-light then promptly.
HOOKING UP THE ELECTRICITY
The main electrical power conduit lines will be installed in the same trenches as the gas lines and are subject to the same inspections.
If you are having additional outlets, lighting fixtures, BBQ hookups, etc. installed, it is best to have then installed and inspected at the same time as the main inspection. Waiting until later may be inconvenient and costly.
To hook up the power lines for the pool pumps, lights, and other devices, the electrician must turn off all power at the panel. We recommend that you turn off all computers and any other electrical device that may be affected during this time.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE HOLES AND PIPES IN THE POOL?
When the gunite is complete, you will see holes in the floor of the pool. They are very important and placed there for a reason. If the water pressure in the soil outside of the pool were to increase during construction of the pool, your pool could literally float like a boat. The holes allow for water, from the soil, to enter the pool and reduce the pressure. These holes will be filled at plaster and the weight of the water will prevent flotation.
The pipes sticking out into the pool are temporary. We install extra long pipes so that they can be trimmed flush when the plaster is installed.
The recessed areas around the plumbing pipes are deliberate and will be filled with additional plaster to provide a waterproof seal.
You will notice that there are two pipes, three feet apart, in the floor of pool and the spa. These are split safety drains designed to prevent entrapment. Special drain covers will also be installed over these pipes at plaster.
WHEN SHOULD I CHOOSE MY COPING AND TILE?
The most visible parts of your pool are the coping (the stone, brick, or concrete edging) and the tile. Since each pool is custom created and uniquely designed to meet your individual lifestyle, selection of just the right coping and tile is very important. With this in mind, we recommend that you start exploring your options, and the various materials, as soon as possible. From the lists that we have provided, locate a stone, or tile, company that is close to you. Visit their showroom and select the coping stone edge and tile that best suites your style and budget. The sooner we can order the materials, the better.
WHY THE DELAY TO INSTALL COPING?
After the gunite shell is installed, it is very important to water cure it for a minimum of seven to ten days. Since gunite is applied dry, it gets the water needed to cure it properly afterward. Gunite is like a sponge because it will absorb the water it needs and any extra will just run off. If coping is installed too soon, the gunite will absorb the water in the mortar used to set the coping. This results in a weak bond between the coping and the gunite shell.
LANDSCAPING AND DRAINAGE
When installing your landscaping, make sure that it drains away from the pool and deck area. Your decking contractor will drain water away from the pool edge. However the decking contractor usually only provides drainage to the deck edge. If you are having deck drainage pipes installed, make sure that they are connected to your landscape area drains.
We include an automatic water refill system with our pools. This system includes an overflow pipe to drain excess water from the pool (rainwater). Make sure that your landscaper has an area drain pipe available to connect this overflow pipe to.
FENCING AND GATES
All local jurisdictions have regulations regarding fencing and gates around swimming pools and spas. There is a minimum height requirement of 5 ft. (measured on the outside) of the fence surrounding pools and spas. Gates leading into the pool area must be a minimum of 5 ft. tall, open outward, be self-closing and self-latching. This simply means that they will close firmly and latch by themselves. Adding a spring from a local hardware store will usually suffice.
Fencing must be in place and gates functioning before a pre-plaster inspection can be scheduled.
WHEN WILL MY POOL BE FINISHED?
Plaster, or one of the many specialty finishes, is the last construction phase before your pool is filled with water. When all of the construction phases are complete, the fencing and gates are in place, and alarms are installed on all doors leading into the pool area, we will schedule a final inspection. As soon as the building department gives its approval, we will schedule the plaster. Plaster application usually follows within a few days. Filling the pool with water is started by the plaster crew and usually is complete within 30 hours. When the pool is full, our start-up crew gets the pool running so that you can start enjoying it.
SOME LEGAL ISSUES
California law and the Contractor’s State Licensing Board govern the legal aspect of transaction between the client and the contractor. Two items of importance to homeowners:
After your construction begins, you will probably receive a “Preliminary Notice” from one of the subcontractors, or material suppliers to your job. Don’t Panic! It does not mean that a lien has been filed against your property. California law requires you to be furnished with these notices from those persons that have worked on, or provided materials to, your job. It simply states that they have the right to file a Lien if they are not paid for their work or materials provided to your pool.
A Lien Release is a document which states that they have been paid for their work, and or materials, and waives any future right to file a lien on your property. Sundancer Pools routinely collects these documents from all of the appropriate tradesmen and suppliers as we pay them. We then provide copies to our clients.
We hope that by sharing these “Thoughts” with you, the building experience will become as pleasant as the end product is enjoyable. It is our goal to minimize the inconvenience that building a swimming pool and, or, spa in your backyard brings.
Thank you for selecting Sundancer Pools to help create that special backyard that you will enjoy for years to come!