Let the Pros Build Your Pool

It has come to my attention that there are quite a few people buying vinyl liner in ground swimming pool kits online and building them on their own.  This may seem like a good idea in the aspect that it will save money.  However there is a downside to doing this.

Think about it this way.  Companies that build these pools usually have a good deal of experience to rely on when something previously unseen comes to light.  When building a pool there are many things that must be done throughout the process.  First is that you will need to have all of the appropriate permits to do the things required in building a swimming pool.  In addition to that you will also have to have inspections done throughout the process.  These things represent costs that you may not have taken into consideration.  Having a pool professional build your pool will allow you to rest easy knowing that all the appropriate permits and inspections are being obtained.  It is my personal recommendation to have a company that has been in business for a while build your pool.  They will likely know what permits they will need and what kinds of inspections will need to be done.  This is only the start of it.

Please understand that there are a lot of things that must happen in a certain order to end up with a well built pool.  In some situations if a step is missed or done out of turn then it could result in added expenses to you.  In addition to that there are certain building codes that must be met to be in compliance with state and local authorities.  Again these are things that a professional pool builder would already know.  If you were to do something wrong and it was caught by the authorities you could be looking at a fine and have to spend even more money to fix it.  I have read that in recent years state and local authorities have been using google earth to spot swimming pools in backyards.  Then the cross check their paperwork to determine if all permits were obtained for building that pool.  This is just a heads up to anyone thinking about going around the codes.  You may have read or heard about several incidents this year where someone was hurt or killed in a pool due to electricity.  This is a very real concern when it comes to building swimming pools.  Proper precautions must be taken to prevent such things from happening.

Aside from all the legal stuff that one must make sure they follow when building a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool, there are also things that may happen related to the actual build of the pool.  Suppose you are building you own pool and as you dig deeper and deeper you encounter ground water.  How would you deal with that?  Do you know how to solve the problem?  Some do some don’t.  If you successfully build the pool do you know how to plumb the system, or cut in the liner?  I’m almost certain that people willing to take on such a big project, will more than likely have a background in construction of some kind.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will turn out a flawless swimming pool.  That really goes with any trade.  An electrician may not be the best plumber and vise versa.  For instance I have been building pools for almost ten years, but that doesn’t mean that I would feel comfortable in taking on a project like building my own house.  While they are similar in that they both fall under the field of “construction” they are still different enough that I would never think about building my own home.  I suppose that is what it comes down to.  Are you comfortable enough to try to build your own pool?  Are you comfortable enough to know what permits are needed and what inspections are needed?  These are the things you must consider before you start.  Even though the materials may be cheaper online than buying them from a pool professional, they still represent an investment.  Are you confident that the finished product will be worth the time and money you put into it.  If there is even a shred of doubt then I would let the professionals take care of it.

There are so many variables that come into play that building your own pool may not be something you want to try.  Below is a list of things to consider.

1) Are you confident in you construction skills?
2) Are you confident in your knowledge of building codes?
3) Do you know what permits you need?
4) Do you know how to trowel a bottom?
5) Do you know how to plumb a pool system?
6) Do you know how to wire the lights, cover, and sub panel?
7) Do you know how to properly bond the pool?
8) Are you confident in your ability to cut in a liner?

These are just a few things to think about when it comes to building your own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  There are many, many other things that go into building a pool that I did not mention.


Vinyl Liner Pool Building – Leave it to the Pros

Have you ever wondered about the best way to build an in ground swimming pool?  Have you been thinking about getting a swimming pool but are concerned about the cost involved in the build of it?  Are you really wanting an in ground swimming pool but are hesitating because you think that it will just cost too much?

Well let me be the one to tell you that the best way to go about building your very own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is to let a professional do it.  I know that this may not be something that you want to hear or read in this case, but it is something that I think is worth really knowing.  I am aware that there are several places online where you can obtain a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool kit and build it yourself.  However, in my opinion building your own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is never a good idea.  There are so many aspects and components that go into a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool that it would be very easy to miss a step and end up with something that you will not be happy with.
As a pool builder I am aware of all of the problems that can arise when installing  a vinyl  liner in ground swimming pool.  If you do not know what to do in order to effectively deal with these problems then they can turn into larger problems and before long you have spent far more money than you had anticipated.  At that point you might as well have just paid to have the pool professionally installed to begin with.  To make this point even clearer I want to go through the process of the build and point out areas in which problems can arise.
The Dig:
By the time I get to this point I like to have a very clear plan in place for the pool.  I will have already laid out the pool in the backyard so I know where everything will go.  You have to realize that unless you have an excavator or backhoe of your own you will need to rent one.  When renting something like that, time is money.  You don’t want to be wasting time trying to figure out what goes where while digging the pool.  Once I start that thing up I will want to just power through it until the pool is dug.  One of the key components of doing this right is to have someone checking the depth the entire way.  Getting the depth of the pool right is very important.  If too much dirt gets taken out then it will cost even more money to get it back to where it needs to be because you can’t just put the dirt back.  Loose dirt will settle over time and under the weight of the water in the pool.  If that happens then there will again be a large expense involved in repairing it.  Stone will need to be brought in and placed in the hole to bring the bottom back up to where it needs to be.  In my opinion the dig is quite possibly the most important part of the entire pool build.  It will dictate the quality and ease of the rest of the build.  If it is off by a little, then more work will need to be done, more money will need to be spent, and more time will need to be spent working on the build.  When digging the deep end of the pool I usually always dig it a foot or so deeper than what it needs to be just so I can add stone for proper drainage.  Around here there seems to almost always be ground water that collects in the deep end.  The amount that collects will change depending on location, but it is almost a sure thing that there will be ground water.  Ground water is another aspect of the installation that a builder has to address.
There are a couple things that I do to combat ground water issues.  I almost always install a sump pit just off the deck area of the pool.  This sump pit will allow the homeowner to remove water around the pool at any given time.  In most cases they will just leave a sump pump in the pit and allow it to use its float to turn itself on and off as the water level raises and falls.  Another thing that I will do is install a drain in the deep end of the pool.  This is where that one foot of stone will come into play.  A very simple way to do this is to use a piece of flex pipe.  Simply drill some holes in the line, smaller than the stone of course, coil it up, and bury it under the stone.  From there the line will be ran up the side wall, under the wall panel, and up the trench with all the other plumbing lines.  This will allow the home owner, or the service tech the ability to pump the water out from underneath the pool.  Usually though it is enough to just drill some holes into a five gallon bucket and bury that in the stone and use that to pump water out of until it comes time to do the bottom and drop the liner.  At that point, I will drop the liner and fill the pool.  The weight of the water in the pool will, in almost every case  be heavy enough to keep the ground water away.  Think of it this way, if the ground water has nowhere to flow to then there will not be a problem.  Again there are extreme cases in which the pressure from the ground water is strong enough to counter the weight of the water in the pool.  If that happens then there is a strong possibility of the liner floating.
Again This is another reason why it is best to allow a professional to install your swimming pool.  Ground water is an issue all in itself, but throw a liner in there and you can end up with a bigger problem.  I have seen a liner float so bad that it ended up needing to be replaced.  The key is taking care of the ground water before the liner gets to the point where it is being stretched out around the main drains.
The Build:
This part is not necessarily that difficult.  It is a matter of bolting the panels together in the right locations, and installing all the proper bracing.  The hard part comes when it is time to level them.  Again this is where a good dig comes into play.  I have seen digs that were so spot on that very little had to be done in order to get them level.  On the other hand I have seen digs that were so far off of where they needed to be that the crew had to spend an entire afternoon leveling the pool.  I have seen this part of the build done a couple different ways.  Typically the walls will be completely put together before leveling the pool.  Then using wooden blocks and shims the panels are brought to the correct height.  I have also seen crews use pavers to level their pools.  In this case they would put down a paver and get it level and then set the panel on top of it.  I suppose either way works, but to me it makes more sense to build the walls first and then level them.  It seems that leveling pavers first just adds more work, because even after the walls were finished being built they went back and double checked the levelness of all the panels anyway.  I have never been one to tell someone how to build a pool, I just know what works best for me.  Once the walls are level, square and all the plumbing has been ran, then it is time to pour the concrete footing or collar.  After the collar is poured I always double check the levelness just because in some cases the weight of the concrete can cause the panels to sink a bit.  Once the wall panels are level I always straightened the walls.  The best way to do this is to use turnbuckle braces.
The Backfill:
I would always allow the concrete footing to set up overnight and then return the next day to run the electrical conduit.  This part may require the need for an electrician.  The building codes differ from place to place, so builders always check and make sure they are following all building codes that apply.  This is yet another reason it is best to allow a professional pool builder to build your pool.  Many people are unaware of what the building codes are and if they are not followed it could result in a fine.  Obviously that would cost money as well.  Anyway, once I get all the conduit ran around the pool where it needs to go, I would then begin backfilling the pool.  Some people backfill with dirt, however if I am intending on pouring a concrete deck around the pool then I will prefer to backfill with stone.  I know that I could use deck braces to support the weight of the deck, but that would not help with the dirt settling around the pool and leaving voids under the deck.
The Deck:
Once the pool is completely backfilled then it is time to prep for the concrete deck.  For this I will again plan out what the deck should look like.  By that I mean shape.  Next I will lay down a layer of stone, and get it all to the appropriate height.  The concrete deck of the pool should be about four inches thick and it should have fall.  This means that the farther away from the edge of the pool the lower the deck should be.  This will allow any water to run off the deck away from the pool.  When I have the stone at the right height in all the proper locations,  I will then form the deck using concrete forms.  Once the deck is completely formed up, I will use rebar to create a grid within deck area.  This will help to give the concrete strength.  Once all the rebar is laid out within the forms it will all have to be tied together.  When that is finished it will then be ready to pour the concrete.  Pouring the concrete really does require some technique.  Not everybody has the skill needed to do it right.  If it is not done right then it will look bad and once it cures it will look bad forever unless it is busted up and re-poured.  This is another reason why it is important to have a professional install your pool.
The Bottom:
The bottom of a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is something that requires a lot of technique and labor to do properly.  Usually it is done with either a sand/cement mix, or by using vermiculite.  Either way the process of doing a bottom on a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool is a challenge.  Perhaps I am just a bit of a perfectionist, but I have seen some bottoms that were in pretty rough shape.  The idea is to get it as smooth as possible.  I can assure you that anything that happens to get underneath the liner will be easily felt from inside the pool.  I don’t know why exactly, but for some reason even the smallest piece of debris under the liner feels like a rock from inside the pool.  Anyway with a good crew and the know how, an average size pool bottom will take anywhere from three to four hours to complete and get the liner in.  Again if there is ground water in the pool, obviously it will have to be dealt with when the time comes.  Once the bottom is finished it is time to install the liner.  This is a job for a few people.  Liners are large and typically have some substantial weight to them.  They need to be sucked back into place by using vacuums, and then all the proper holes will need to be cut for the main drains, returns, lights, skimmers, and anything else.  Again this is something that is best left for the professionals.  A hole in the wrong spot could result in the need for a new liner, or a patch/aka eyesore.
Like I said, there are several places where a vinyl liner pool kit can be bought online, however the cost of hiring a professional pool builder would be worth it.  A professional will have the experience and know how to deal with any issues that may and will likely arise throughout the building process.  Not to mention all of the permits needed will be obtained by the builder and all of the liability will be on the builder as well.  If anything were to go wrong then it would be up to the builder to handle and correct it.  When it comes to building vinyl liner in ground swimming pools I think that it is best left up to the professionals.
For more information on in ground vinyl liner swimming pools please check out my other blog posts.

How a pool professional replaces an automatic pool cover

I strongly recommend contacting a professional when it comes to this type of swimming pool maintenance.  The following is for educational purposes only and in no way do I recommend attempting to replace your automatic cover on your own.

In the world of in ground vinyl liner pools it is no secret that there are a couple of components that will need to be replaced from time to time.  I would say that the biggest of these components is the liner itself.  Typically a liner will last anywhere from 5 to 10 years.  As with anything there are some exceptions to this.  Depending on how a person takes care of their pool I have seen liners that are anywhere from twelve to fifteen years.  Conversely I have replaced liners that were a mere two years old.  There are several variables that come into play that can affect the life of a liner.  I can remember one specific example in which I replaced a liner that was only a few weeks old.  That one was a result of a lot of holes put in the liner from the son of the home owner.  He and his friends thought that it would be fun to use the telescopic pole and attempt to pole vault over the pool.  This resulted in many many holes in the liner at the bottom of the pool.  They may have been able to be patched but the homeowner insisted that the liner be replaced.  The point of all this is to show that there are variables that come into play.

The other larger item that will need to be replaced from time to time is the automatic cover.  It is important to understand that not all pools have an automatic cover.  However homeowners with pools that do have an automatic cover will have to have them replaced from time to time.  The life of a cover is similar to that of a liner, and will be subject to the same variables that affect their life.  There are a couple of things that play a larger role on the cover than they do on the liner.  One is the sunlight.  Sunlight will start to fade the color of the cover itself and the UV rays from the sun will begin breaking down the material.  Over time the material will become more and more brittle and need to be replaced.  The other thing that will affect the life of the cover is the fact that it is a moving component.  As with anything that moves it is subject to wear and tear as they say.  This will result in a need to replace the cover as well.  So how does a pool professional replace a cover?

This is a task that requires some know how and an understanding of how the cover functions.  One thing that I always check is the condition of the pulleys.  If it is the first time the cover is needing replaced then it is likely that the pulleys are still in good condition and will not necessarily need to be replaced.  Next, the pool will need to be open.  This will allow the installer to more easily remove the cover when the time comes to do so.  The rope guides will need to be removed prior to removing the cover itself.  The rope guides are located at the end of the tracks on both sides of the pool closest to the cover box. (The box is where the motor and reel are located)  Once the rope guides are removed, the leading edge of the cover will be able to be taken out of the track.  At this point I would cut the ropes as close as possible to where they attach to the cover itself.

The next step will require the help of another able bodied person.  Now that the leading edge is free from the tracks and the ropes are no longer connected, the leading edge bar can be removed and the cover can be pulled out over the pool.  Be aware that because the cover is no longer in the tracks it will likely begin to sink.  Now that the cover is pulled out over the pool, it can be removed from the reel inside the box.  Typically there will be several screws holding it to the reel itself.  They will need to be removed and depending on their condition, they may be able to be used again on the new cover.  Now that the cover is no longer attached to anything, it is ready to be folded up and disposed of.  Again this part is easier with another person.  Typically my helper and I will do this by pulling the cover off the pool three feet or so at a time folding it up accordion style as we go.  This may take some muscle depending on how much water is sitting on it.  Once the old cover is off we would begin the process of installing the new one.

Now what we have is an uncovered pool with the ropes from the old cover still in the tracks.  We leave them there for the time being.  They will come into play again while installing the new cover.  Typically the new cover will come rolled up and wrapped in a piece of cover material.  It will be laid out just behind the box on the deck. (Typically the deep end of the pool)  Before we get that far we will make sure that the area is cleaned up and free of anything that may tear or scratch the new cover.  From my experience most covers will have a warning label on them, usually in the center of the leading edge.  This label should face up.  If not then the cover is upside down and will need to be corrected.  Once the cover is laid out the way it should be we would go on to the next step.

This is where the old ropes that are still in the tracks come into play.  Both ends of the ropes will be protruding out into the box area one end is that which we cut free of the old cover, and the other end will be going through a series of pulleys and attached to the motor.  The end attached to the motor will have to be removed from the motor and pulleys.  This will give us two free ends of the rope on both sides of the pool.  We will tackle these one at a time.  Over the years I have learned a trick that makes running the new ropes a bit easier.  Instead of removing the tracks from the wall, which is time consuming and can be a bit tedious, I will leave them in and just attach the new ropes to the end of the old ropes which are already in the track.  To do this I use an awl, a propane torch, some string, some electrical tape, and some magic lube.  First I take the end of the old rope that I cut from the cover, heat up the end of the awl with the propane torch, and push it through the rope about an inch from the end.  The ropes are vinyl so when the hot awl goes through it the area around the awl will melt, leaving a nice open hole.  I do this again with the end of the new rope.  Now I will take my string and run it through each of the holes I made in the two ropes.  I will then cut the string leaving enough excess to tie the ends together.  It is important to butt the two ends of the ropes together rather than overlapping them.  Once I have the string tied in a tight not I will wrap the ropes and string up with electrical tape.  I want to be careful not to build up too much electrical tape around the ropes.  I want to try and make the taped area not too much thicker that the ropes themselves.  Now I will apply a good amount of magic lube to the taped area to make sure it slides through the track as easily as possible.  Next I will pull the new rope through the track by pulling the old rope out.  I will pull from the end that was previously attached to the motor.  Once the taped area reaches the pulley at the other end of the pool it will become tougher to pull.  With some steady and gentle pressure the taped area will slide through the pulley with the help of the magic lube, and become easier to pull again.  If I were to pull too hard, the string would break and I would have to remove the track and feed the ropes through by hand.  Once the taped area comes back out of the track in the box I can cut the old rope free of the new rope and now I have the new rope in place, and ready to be run through the pulleys in the box, cut to the proper length and attached to the motor again.  This process will be repeated at the other side of the pool with the other rope.  Once that rope is through it will go through the proper pulleys, cut to the proper length and attached to the motor.

Now I am ready to attach the new cover to the leading edge bar and insert it into the tracks.  I will then replace the rope guides at the end of each track.  There will be some slack in the ropes and I will again need the assistance of a helper to operate the switch while I ensure the ropes get wrapped up properly.  Once all the slack is out of the ropes, my helper will continue to operate the switch to close the pool.  The new cover will begin to slide out over the pool and I will go back and forth to make sure that the cover is sliding through the rope guides properly.  Once the cover is entirely over the pool we are ready to attach the end to the reel again.  Again depending on the condition of the screws we took out of the old cover, we will use them again to attach the new cover.  If they are in bad shape I will use new screws to attach the cover to the reel.  Once the new cover is attached to the reel I will have my helper start to open the pool.  I will make sure that the cover wraps around the reel properly.  After that it is a matter of running it open and close a couple of times to ensure that it is functioning properly.

As with anything regarding in ground swimming pools it is almost always best to leave it up to the professionals.  There are many components and things that require experience to assess and properly address.  In addition to that most reputable pool companies will guarantee their work so if something does happen they will come back and take care of it.  I never recommend taking on anything of this nature by yourself.  It is always best to leave it up to the professionals.

In ground pools – How to choose

When you begin thinking about getting an in ground swimming pool there are some things that you can do so when the time comes you are ready.  I have written about this subject in the past, however today I am going to approach it from a different angle.  The reason being that today’s world is technology driven.  That is something that I forgot the last time I discussed this subject.  For many of us, we have access to all of the information in the world.  In fact most of us have it right in our pockets.  We can access it at any time and without even thinking about the significance of what it means.  The majority of people use this technology to update their Facebook status, upload videos to Youtube, or just watch the Youtube videos that already exist.  Let’s face it the minute we stop going to school, that is the minute that we stop using the internet for what it really is.  The internet is our gateway into the world.  The possibilities are virtually endless.  That being said it stands to reason that we should utilize this technology for purposes other than recreation.  One of my favorite websites is Houzz.  With this site a person can view projects that others have done and create their own idea book.  This is where the process of getting a pool should start.  Granted their are other websites out their that can function similarly.  However with Houzz, a person doesn’t have to filter through a bunch of other stuff to get to what they are looking for.  Houzz is a jumping off point for a lot of people who want a swimming pool but just don’t know what components they want.

Step 1

The reality is that there are many things that a person can add to their pool to truly customize it.  Getting an idea of how what these things look like and how they work plays a huge role in the decision to purchase them.  Seriously, when was the last time you bought something without having at least some idea of how it works or what it looks like.  With Houzz people can see what others have done and get a feel for what would look good in their own backyard.  It allows us to see the many options that can compliment a swimming pool before actually buying anything.  The idea book aspect of the site allows viewers to take specific pictures and store them all together.  Now imagine having that when you sit down with a builder.  It will help to eliminate them trying to sell you the same pool that they put in down the street two years ago.  After all if you are spending your money on it and have to see it for years to come, don’t you want it to reflect your personality?  Having an idea book will help the builder understand what you like and and don’t like and help you decide what works and what doesn’t.  That is the first step to getting a pool.

Step 2

The fun part comes when you get to share your idea book with your significant other.  This is where you fine tune what you want in order to accommodate both of your tastes.  Use this to bounce ideas off of one another, eliminate the things you can live without, or identify the must haves.  Another major benefit to this site is that a lot of the projects that you can view are images of projects from start to finish.  This will allow you to see what’s to come during the build process.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have come up to me to tell me that they didn’t realize this or that.  With this site you can get an idea of what the project will look like at various stages.  This will allow you to eliminate that element of surprise later.  You can remain ahead of the game and know what is next.  Having that ability may be beneficial if you are still indecisive on some aspect of the process.  There are some things that can be changed before specific points during the build.  For instance if you are having concrete poured around the pool to form the deck, you may not be sure of how you want it to be formed.  If you can decide before your builder is ready to pour then you may be able to change it.  That is something that you obviously can’t change after the fact… Well unless you are willing to spend the money to have it busted out an re-poured.  However having these elements decided on before hand will definitely speed up the process.  That is another reason Houzz is ideal for people who are thinking about getting a pool.  All of these things can be decided on before you even meet with a builder.  If you and your significant other have two different idea books then you would likely have different pictures in them.  When you sit down and go over each others books you may be surprised to see something that you had not encountered during your search.  On the other hand you may see something that you saw and quickly passed on because its just not your taste.  When it comes down to it though, this is a big part of deciding what you want and having photos will definitely help.

Step 3

Finding a reputable builder is a very important part of this whole process.  You don’t necessarily want the guy in the pickup that will build the pool cheaper than anyone else.  A lot of time guys like that have very little experience and are just looking to get your money.  I have noticed that the most reliable builders are those with a store front.  However don’t just pick a builder based on that.  Use the internet and research their company.  Most builders are quick to identify how much experience they have.  You might see on their website that they were established in 1976 or something like that.  Also you can often find reviews that their past customers have written.  Be sure to look outside their website for these.  While they may have some testimonials posted on their website, you can be sure that what is there was hand picked to help make their company look perfect in the eyes of the consumer.  If you feel that you have identified a good builder take the time to go to their store and have a look around.  Obviously you want to make sure that they are what their website says they are.  If you drive up to an old barn with a paper open sign hanging in the window then you may want to do more research.  You may be wondering why it matters that they have a location and that it is one that is up to date and clean.  Well a lot can be said by what a company has.  A nice updated showroom in a clean building with an electronic sign out front shows that a company is responsible, at least to the extent that they pay their bills and maintain a nice showroom.  Granted the guy in the pickup truck may be a good builder and may be as responsible as the one in the nice building.  However keep in mind that you are about to spend a decent amount of money with them.  All politics aside you want the person building the pool to do a good job and you have to weigh the risks.  Once you feel comfortable with the builder you have chosen then you are ready for a consultation.

Step 4

Arrange a date and time to sit down with the builder and discuss the possibilities.  From your research you will likely have some questions for them and it is a good idea to have them written down ahead of time so you can make sure to get them answered before committing to buying a pool.  This is also the time in which you can show them you idea book.  In all my years as a pool builder I have found that talking about different components of a pool can be somewhat difficult.  It is difficult enough to do talk with someone else in the field so it is very tough to do so with someone who doesn’t know the terminology.  Photos of things you want to talk about will greatly help the builder understand the things you are wanting.  Likewise the builder should have plenty of material to go through with you as well.  The builder may have photos of pools that have been built in the past.  You can probably choose to get one like the one in the picture, or you can start from scratch.  You will have to decide why you want the pool to begin with.  Do you have children?  Do you just want a place to relax?  Do you want a deep enough pool to jump into?  These are all things to consider when choosing a pool.  However their may be some things that you have overlooked that the builder can help with.  Things like orientation of the pool in the backyard or size of the pool in general may be easier to decide while talking with the builder.  They may be able to give you some insight on what has worked in the past and steer you away from installing a pool that is much too large.  Your idea book will be very helpful to show the builder for things like concrete.  There are many ways a builder can do the concrete.  It can be standard white concrete, it can be colored, it can be brushed, it can be stamped.  You can have a boarder around the pool in a different color than the rest of the concrete.  If you have photos in your idea book of the style of concrete then your builder will walk away with a very good idea of what you want.  This can alleviate any confusion later.  Once you have determined the wants and needs associated with your pool you can move forward with the build process.

With the way that technology is moving it makes perfect sense to use it to our advantage.  Utilizing different websites and social media to benefit you in your search for your perfect pool or project in general is the next big thing.  It allows you to more easily identify the things you like and need and discard the things you don’t.  That way when the time comes to sit down and talk with a builder, you are fully prepared.  Being that Houzz in particular often shows you projects from start to finish you can go in with a greater knowledge of how the process will go.  In turn that will allow you to identify and write down any questions about the process so you can get them answered right off the bat.


Why have a professional close your pool?

Why so sad?  Is it because pool season is coming to  a close?  Or is it because you didn’t want to pay a company to close your pool and now you are concerned that you may not be closing your pool properly?  You may have thought that it can’t be that difficult, or maybe you are thinking that since you saw how the pool professional closed your pool last year, then you know exactly what to do.   Unfortunately for you now that it has come time to close the pool you are second guessing everything.  Perhaps you are wondering what the worst thing that can happen is.  Well allow me to shed some light on this.

What could happen if a pool is not closed properly?

There are several things that can happen if your in ground pool is not closed properly for the winter.  One thing that can happen is something very unlikely and that is nothing.  In very rare instances your pool could go the entire winter without being damaged.  Unfortunately if you live in a northern state that will probably not happen.  Instead, what will likely happen is that you will find that one or more of the plumbing lines running to your pool has froze and ruptured.  This is not a very easy fix.  For instance if it your main drain line freezes and busts, then you are looking at a quite expensive repair.  This is due to the fact that the main drain line runs the deepest and it is very difficult to determine where in the line the rupture is.  It may come down to running a new line to the main drains.

That would mean that to repair it you would have to bring in some heavy equipment to run the line.  In addition to that, the bottom of your pool would have to be busted up so that the new line could be hooked up to the main drains.  Then the bottom of the pool would have to be repaired, and you would more than likely have to purchase a new liner.  On top of that you would have to pay for the water, chemicals, and the cost of heating the pool back up.

If the line that breaks is a return line or skimmer line then the repair may be a bit easier.  It really all depends on the sidewalks around your pool.  If you have 4′ walks around the pool then it wouldn’t take to much effort to dig underneath them to expose the line.  If you have an enormous amount of concrete around the pool then you are looking at a more expensive repair.

These are the reasons why pool professionals typically blow out the lines and then dump antifreeze into them.  When closing a pool the goal is to get the water out of each line and get at least a gallon of antifreeze in.  By doing this it will ensure that the lines won’t freeze a rupture over the winter.  In addition to that it is important that your equipment also be free of water.  I also tend to tell folks that they may want to keep certain equipment components inside their garage or pool house to make sure it stays safe over the winter.  I always take out the o rings and all the small parts associated with the equipment and store them in the pump basket for safe keeping.  I will also make sure that the heater and filter are free of water.  The filter is a bit more difficult to do this with but I have found that if you take the plug off the bottom of the filter it will allow the majority of water to drain out.  This will give any water left over room to freeze and expand without damaging anything.  However when it comes to the multi port valve I always make sure I blow it out.  There is not a lot of room in it already so it is important to make sure it is free of water.  To do this I hook my blower up to the inlet side and go through each setting except for closed and filter.  The closed setting will not let the air flow through and the filter setting will cause any water in the tank to come through the valve and out.  Obviously if you are trying to rid the multi port of water then it is counter productive to put water into it.  Also, if the equipment is inside a room then I wouldn’t want to make a mess.  If the valve is free of water and the drain plug is off then the filter is good to go for the winter.  When I am finished blowing out the valve I will turn it to winterize, or closed depending on the valve.  This will prevent any water from getting into the valve over the winter.

As I said before, the main drains are another part of what I would consider a vital element of your pool.  Obviously they are on the bottom of your pool.  This makes it somewhat difficult to ensure that the line is free of water.  There is a trick to this that I will get to shortly but first you must realize that when closing a pool there are a couple of ways to do things.  You can either drain your pool down to below the returns or you can leave the water in the pool and take a couple extra steps of precaution.  Either way, the main drains will remain under the water.  So how does one ensure that the main drain line is free of water.  This is where that little trick comes into play.  First you have to realize that there is a lot of weight pushing down on the main drains.  That being said, it will allow you to achieve an air lock.  To do this I would blow through the main drain line until both main drains begin to bubble.  I usually allow them to bubble for a good ten seconds or so to ensure that all of the water is out of them.  At this point I very quickly remove the blower and plug the line.  This is how an air lock is achieved.  The weight of the water pushing down will not allow the air to come out and the air in the line trying to get out will not allow the water from the pool to come into the line.  This is called air lock.  At this point the main drain is properly closed.  Even though there is no antifreeze in the line, there is also no water so there is nothing that can freeze and cause the line to rupture.

When it comes down to it, closing a pool is not all that difficult.  However it is something that requires a lot of care and attention to make sure that it is done properly.  Nobody wants to deal with expensive repairs in the spring so if there is any doubt about it at all, then it may be best to leave it up to the professionals to close the pool.  One reason is that they generally have the experience and the know how to get it done right and another very important reason is that they will usually take responsibility if something does happen and repairs are needed.  So before you close your own pool you need to first ask yourself these questions.


Before closing the pool.

1. Do I know what needs to be done?
2. Am I confident that I can do it?
3. Do I have the materials that I need to get it done?

After closing the pool.

1. Do the return lines and skimmer lines have at least a gallon of antifreeze in each of them?
2. Did I get an adequate amount of bubbles coming through the main drains?
3. Am I confident that I have properly closed down all components of the pool and can rest assured that no damage will be occur over the winter?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions then maybe you need to consider allowing the professionals to close your pool.  The information in this post is just a reminder of what can happen if your pool is not properly closed.  It is not to be taken as instructions to close your own pool.  In my opinion it is always better to have a pool professional work on your pool.  They will generally have the experience and know how to get done what needs to be done, and do it with confidence to ensure that there won’t be a problem.  In addition to that, if for some reason there is a problem, then they will be responsible for taking care of it.

Landscaping – Swimming pool builder – Working together

I have recently read an article in “the Edge” magazine about how to achieve a successful collaboration between a pool builder and a landscape designer.  This article can be found in the 2014 first quarter copy.  I found it to be very informative and would like to offer my readers the gist of what it is about.  We all know that with the internet we can obtain information in a matter of seconds.  We have the luxury of researching things with far more ease than the generations that came before us.  That being said when it comes to building your pool or doing your landscaping around the pool, you should first look into what has been done and what company you should hire to do these things.  More often than not you will have to hire two different companies to do both of these things.  There are few companies that build pools and do landscape designs.  Today I just want to give you some insight on how to get your pool and landscaping done efficiently while working with two different companies.

First off you will want to research the companies you hire.  Look on line and see if there are any reviews available that were written by their previous clients.  This will give you some pretty good insight as to weather or not to hire them.  After all, when someone has spent a good chunk of money on something they will not be too reluctant to share their experience.  Especially if they can do it on line, in written form.  If they are unhappy with the outcome then they will not hesitate to share it with others.  That is the beauty of the internet.  You can use the experience of others to make an educated decision about your own project.  I also want to stress that while you may have an idea in your head about how you want things to look in the end, it is important to remember that the landscape architect is there to do the designing.  However it is acceptable for you to come to the designer with some ideas that you like and ask that they incorporate them into their design.  Most designers will be happy to accommodate you.  That is another nice thing about the internet, it has Pintrest.

Pintrest is a good resource for researching landscaping and pool ideas.  Another important key to a successful pool/landscaping project is having a pool builder and landscape architect that see eye to eye.  If your builder and landscaper are constantly butting heads then you will likely have a not so desirable experience and the outcome will reflect that.

Conversely if your pool builder and landscaper work well together then you will likely have a positive experience and the outcome will reflect that.  A few things happen when the builder and landscaper are on the same page.  First is that any problems that may arise during the process will be solved effectively and in a timely manner.  Second is that they will likely be in good spirits which will show in the end.  Third is that they will likely learn from one another.  In many instances when a builder and landscaper work well together they can both make suggestions and take them to heart.  You will not find that kind of interaction with a landscaper and builder who don’t see eye to eye.  This will not only benefit you by having your backyard be the result of people who work well together, but it will also help others because that builder and landscaper will likely remember the suggestions for their next job.  So you may be wondering how to ensure that your landscaper and pool builder work well together.

There are some things that you can do to help them out.  One thing that you can do is make sure that their roles in the project are clearly defined.  If you have two different companies working in the same backyard then you want to make sure that the pool builder understands that the design that the landscape architect created, and you signed off on, is the plan you want.  Sometimes when situations arise during the build, the best solution may conflict with the overall design.  This is where a good working relationship between the builder and landscaper is key.  Obviously in this type of situation something will need to be done.  With a good working relationship the builder and landscaper can talk about what needs to be done, and what is the best way to do it.  If it comes down to changing the design a touch, then it will be up to the landscaper to do so and bring it to your attention.  This way everybody is on the same page and there will be no surprises in the end.  After all you are the customer, and ultimately if you are not happy then they are not happy.  These are some things that can help ensure that your backyard project turns out beautifully.

Closing Your Pool

Summer time is almost over 🙁 … I know that there wasn’t much of one anyway.  On the other hand we did have some good days for swimming.  Here in the northern states people will be thinking about closing their pools in the next few weeks.  I know it seems like this summer has gone by too fast.  The kids are gearing up for school and the moms and dads are breathing a sigh of relief.  I am sure that there are many of you who will have a company come out and close your pools.  In my opinion that is the best way to do it.  It allows you peace of mind to know that it was done right and in most cases if not, then it will be that companies responsibility to repair anything that happens due to them improperly closing the pool.  At the same time I am sure that many of you are thinking that it can’t be that difficult to close a pool.  Even more so I am sure that some of you have had companies close you pools in the past and after seeing the bill you are seriously contemplating closing the pool yourself.  So how do pool professionals close your pools?

To begin they come fully equipped to handle anything that might occur.  They will usually have a truck full of tools and know what to expect.  You on the other hand may have some tools but are not sure what you will need, and there is nothing worse than needing a tool right now and having to wait on it.  Here are 10 typical tools that a pool professional is likely to have for closing a pool:

1. Large channel locks
2. Small channel locks
3. A roll of tape
4. Rags
5. Flat head and Phillips screwdrivers
6. Antifreeze (specifically for pools or marine craft)
7. Plugs
8. A mighty vac (Powerful shop vac)
9. PVC pipe and fittings.
10. Assortment of rubber pressure plugs.

These are all things that will help a pool professional close your pool.

The Process:

1) First thing is first, they will have to shut off your pump and heater.

2) Now they are ready to disconnect the plumbing.  Hopefully the person who initially plumbed the system did it using unions.  Unions make it much easier to disconnect the plumbing and close the pool. (Be sure to remove all of the o rings in the unions and save them in a safe place)

3) It is important to drain the filter of the water. (at least most of it)  There is usually a cap near the bottom of the filter that can be unscrewed for the water to drain out of.

4) I would usually stick the nozzle of the mighty vac into the filter head and switch the multi port valve from one setting to another to make sure that it too is free of water. (If this is done while on the filtration setting water will spray everywhere.)

5) They will also remove the sight glass and pressure gauge from the filter.

6) The pump is another thing that they take care of.  They will remove the plugs from the pump.  There are usually two that will unscrew using a flat head screw driver.

7) It is also a good idea to blow out the heater or heat pump as well.

8) They will also have to blow out each of the lines going from the pool to the pump. Blowing out the
returns and skimmers are where the PVC pipe and fittings come into play.  Using the pipe and fittings they can make “up pipes”.  These are pipes that get threaded into the return fittings and the skimmers and stick up above the water level.  Before they can thread these pipes into the returns they will need to remove the eyeball fittings, and they will need to put these pipes in all of the returns.  Once the up pipes are in place the will blow the lines out from the pump side.  Typically one return will be blown out before the others.  When that happens their helper will put their hand over the pipe to force the air through the other return line.

9) When the lines are free of water they will then dump a gallon of antifreeze into the line and get ready to plug it. (for the returns they will need to remove the PVC up pipe they made.  To do this they will need to plug the up pipe they made so water doesn’t get into the line while they are removing it and they have to have fast reflexes, because as soon as that pipe is free, water will start to enter the line again.  They will have to quickly plug the return.  Repeat the process for each return.

10)  The skimmers are a bit different, typically they can close the pool with water in the skimmers.  They will need to have some sort of foam on hand to do this effectively.  First you will want to remove the skimmer basket and insert the up pipe they made into the skimmer.  Ideally they will want the pipe to be long enough to be above the water level but short enough so that it does not stick up past the deck height of the pool. This pipe is going to stay there all winter so they will make sure that they have plenty of teflon tape around the male adapter so that it doesn’t leak.  Again they will blow out this line from the pump side.  Once the line is free of water they can pour a gallon of antifreeze into the line, and plug the opening.  Repeat this process for each skimmer.  They will then fill the empty space in the skimmer with the foam.  This will keep the skimmer from cracking when the water freezes

11) The main drains are again a bit different.  Typically on newer pools there will be two main drains on the bottom of the pool.  They will be plumbed together and being that they are on the bottom of the pool would be difficult to plug.  However they are actually easier to winterize.  They simply have to blow out the lines until they see bubbles coming out of BOTH main drains.  It is good practice to let them bubble for a good 30 seconds to make sure that all of the water is out of the line.  Again this is a point in which they will need fast reflexes because they will have to plug the line at the pump side and quickly.  As soon as the blower leaves the line water will begin to enter.  Once the plug is in place, then the water can no longer enter the line.  If bubbles come up from the main drains after they plug it then they need to blow it out again.  Once they have all the lines blown out they can start plugging the openings to the pipes at the pump side.  I always plug the openings on the pump, filter, and heater just to make sure that no critters get in there over the winter and cause any damage.  I also find it convenient to store all of the plugs from the filter, and pump in the pump basket along with the o rings and sight glass.

12) The next step is to place anything that can be removed inside a garage or storage area so that they are out of the elements.

This process may be different from person to person.  Not all companies work the same way.  This is just some general information on how a pool professional would go about closing a pool.  In my opinion it is always best to let the professionals take care of things like this just so if there are any problems it will be the professionals responsibility to correct them.

For more information regarding general swimming pool information and specifically vinyl liner in ground pools please check out my other posts.  My entire blog is geared toward vinyl liner in ground pools and I have used my experience as a pool builder and service technician to put together information that I feel a pool owner may be interested in knowing.

A Day in the Life of a Pool Builder Grunt

Throughout my blogging experience I have geared my posts toward teaching my readers about the different aspects of owning/having a vinyl liner in ground pool built.  Today’s post will be the 67th post I have written.  I have covered topics related to pool safety, from how to keep you children physically safe while in the pool, to how to prevent recreational water illnesses.  I have discussed topics related to specific products as well as covering more general topics like choosing a heat pump or gas heater for you pool.  I certainly hope that what I have written thus far has given people some insight into the swimming pool world.  However out of all of these topics I have covered I have yet to write about the pool builder grunt.  Today, just for a change of pace I want to give my readers a look into the life of the average pool builder grunt.

I would venture to say that the majority of professional pool builders consist of a crew of at least 5 workers.  Some builders, depending on the size of their company and the volume of pools they build each year may have several crews.  Within the crews you will likely find that there are one or two workers that act as the bosses on the job.  Typically there will be one person who is heading up the job.  They may be the owner of the company or they may be the “project manager”.  Basically beyond that the rest of the crew consists of what I would call grunt workers.  These individuals are those that do what they are asked to do and have little say in the way the build should progress.  In an effort to clear things up a little better I will go through my own experience as a pool builder.  I think that this will give you a better understanding of how a pool company works.  At this point in the post you might be questioning why you would even care.  The reason is that I think that it is just as important to understand the lives of these workers as it is to understand the process of what they are doing.

When I started building pools years ago I came into the company knowing nothing about pool building or construction for that matter.  The only thing that I had going for me is that I was a reliable employee and had a good attitude.  I went in my first day with an understanding that the work I was about to do was going to be harder than any job that I had ever done before.  However I didn’t realize just how hard it would be.  The process of building a pool is a very physically enduring at times.  Some days all you do is work your butt off.  What makes it a bit more difficult is that you are doing this throughout the heat of the day.  I live in northern Indiana but let me tell you that we get some very hot summer days in which the heat index reaches 108 or so.  In addition to that when you are down in a hole surrounded by very reflective steel the temperature rises even more.  So after my first day I seriously contemplated looking for something different.  However I thought to myself that due to the physical nature of the job if I stuck to it for a while then the compensation would get better.  When I started I was making just barely above minimum wage.  In addition to that I was a seasonal employee and got laid off every November.  I received no benefits like health care, vacation time, sick days, or personal days.  It was the perfect job for me at the time because I was in school and figured that I could at least work my way up a little bit in pay and after receiving my degree I could move on to something better.  Well I busted my butt for a few years without getting a raise.  At that point I took on a second job at a local radio station as a remote technician.  That certainly helped me out financially but definitely made time management a bit more difficult.  There were days in which I would have to wake up at 5:30am to be at work by 6 building pools until about 4:00pm when I would have to leave to attend class.  After class I would have to go to the radio station to pick up the remote equipment and drive to a location where the DJ would be broadcasting from for a few hours to set up the equipment.  After the broadcast I would load up the equipment and drive back to the station to unload and get home around midnight to do whatever homework I had or study until about 2:00am.  Then I  would wake up a few hours later to do it all again.  That is how my life went for a while, and I imagine that there are other pool builder grunts that are currently in the same situation.

It took about three years or so before I got a raise at the pool company.  That is when I again stepped up my game and took it upon myself to do the jobs that others didn’t want to do or that I wasn’t trusted to do in the past.  Then one summer I got a call from my brother asking if there were any position open at the pool company.  It turned out that a friend of ours was looking for something new and had experience in construction.  I knew that he would be a good fit with the company and would thrive there.  In addition to construction experience he had an immense knowledge of all things technical.  He was basically a pool building whiz and just didn’t know it yet.  After I got off the phone with my brother I called my boss and told him the situation.  He told me to have my friend put his application in.  I called my friend and told him to put in his app.  After that call I got a call from my boss telling me to have my friend call the owner on his cell.  The next morning when I arrived at work I saw my friend sitting there ready to work.  I was right about the fact that he would do well in the company.  It wasn’t but a few months that he was making more money than me.  I know that you aren’t supposed to talk about your wages with your fellow employees but this was my friend and actually more like my brother.  In fact we were so close that in my younger days I was in a band that was named after him.  At first I was a little upset but, in reality it made perfect sense.  He had a better understanding about the process and how things went together.  Also come to find out shortly after, he was making like 3 cents more than me.  What that did was light a fire under me.  I realized that this was the person that I should base my work ethic off of.  He was always ready to go and nothing intimidated him when it came to work.  He would go about doing something new as if he had been doing it for years.  That is exactly what I did.  I took on everything they threw at me with confidence and it paid off.  I began to get raises and more responsibility.  My friend and I always stayed within a few cents from each other and things went on like that for a while.

The day finally came when I graduated with a bachelors degree.  I was still working at the pool company without benefits and getting laid off each winter.  Then something happened that changed everything.  I got news that I was going to be a daddy.  That is when the second fire was lit under me.  I went to my boss and told him that I needed year round employment with a raise and benefits or I would have to find something different in a hurry.  I made my case by detailing the progress I had made over the last seven years all the while working at another job and attending school.  I described my dedication to the company by returning each year.  Unfortunately I was not able to continue building pools full time.  Instead I was transferred to the service side of the company.  I received year round employment and health benefits.  I was relieved that I finally had something worthwhile that would allow me to take care of my new family.  At the same time I was a little sad that I no longer got to work with my friends on the construction side of things.

I spent the next summer doing nothing but liner replacements and while I was happy that I was finally making more money and had health benefits for my son I was unhappy doing the work I was doing.  I could never see myself as a liner replacement guy in my 40’s or anything and meanwhile I now had this degree that I wasn’t using.  At that point I decided it was time for another change.  That is when I got into my current position and I could’t be happier.  I am finally using my degree, and I don’t go home smelling like something that came from the black lagoon everyday.  I am also gaining more knowledge everyday and I am in the position to pass on that knowledge to my customers.

You know for every high there is a low.  In all my excitement with my new job I feel that I am slowly losing touch with those guys I worked with for so long.  I used to see them every day.  In regard to that friend who I based my work ethic off of, I used to hang out with him every Wednesday evening.  Then it got to the point where I would only be able to make it out every once in a while.  Then something terrible happened.  I was sitting at my desk one morning when I got a call from my former boss from the pool company.  Initially I spoke to him like I used to in a light hearted manner, but after he began to speak I could sense the seriousness in his voice.  He said that he had bad news, and that my friend who had been like a brother to me and whom I based my entire work ethic off of was found dead in his house that morning.  This is one of those things that is impossible to wrap your head around at first.  I mean I had just saw him at my wedding, and before that at my bachelor party, and before that at my 30th birthday, and he was there the day I proposed to my wife.  A friend like that just doesn’t pass away out of nowhere.  It turned out that his girlfriend had shot him in the head shortly after he told her that she had to move out of his house.

The reason I am willing to disclose this information is because I know that some people often overlook the human aspect of a grunt worker.  When it comes to something like building a pool, the customer is paying a fairly substantial amount of money and wants the best.  They can often overlook the fact that the workers in their backyard are people.  It sounds weird to say that but I think that it is true.  If the homeowner has a problem or question they go to the owner of the company.  They don’t talk to the worker.  They often don’t express their gratitude for a job well done.

I will always remember my friend as the man who taught me the importance of a strong work ethic.  I take every challenge that comes my way head on because I know by the years of watching him that if you attack a challenge with confidence you will rarely fail at it.  He was a very good worker and a very good friend.  I would have liked to see more people tell him that while he was here because I know he would have appreciated it.

Please don’t take the people building your pool for granted.  They are working hard to give you something that will bring you and your family a lot of happiness for years and years.  More often than not they are not doing it because they make big bucks, because most of them probably make just enough to get by.  They are doing it because it is rewarding.  They take a plain old backyard and turn it into a beautiful space.  One of my favorite things about the job was when I got to see the looks on the faces of the homeowners kids when they finally got to jump in for the first time.

Trust Your Pool Builder – Many ways to build a pool

There are many ways and different techniques that are used to build a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  The basic process is for the most part the same from builder to builder but each builder has different things they do that are specific to them.  Today I want to talk about the building process again and what types of things builders do differently from one to the other.  To do this I am going to go through the build process and as I get to something that varies from one builder to the next I will go into more detail about it.  Keep in mind there are several ways to do things in the pool building world and they all work just fine.

To begin the builder will mark out where the pool will go in relation to the house and yard.  Getting the orientation of the pool right is the first step in the process after the initial agreement to build had been made.  This is pretty consistent across the board of builders.  They will use stakes and paint to mark out where the pool goes and in which direction the steps will be facing.  Next comes the dig.  The dig may vary a bit from builder to builder, and more so when it comes to free form pools.  With a free form pool the dig drawing will have a lot of different measurements on it that the builder will follow when marking out the pool.  These measurements are important to get right if the builder intends to use that drawing to order the liner from.  Now because that is the case some builders are very particular as to making sure that all the measurements are correct.  On the other hand some builders will be more concerned with just getting the pool to fit the hole.  You have to understand that with a free form pool there is some adjustment that can be made.  Once the wall panels are bolted together you could easily move a section of the wall in or out.  Some builders use this to their advantage and instead of relying on the specific measurements they will move the walls in or out to fit the hole the best they can.  Then when it comes to the liner they will take new measurements to go off of and have the liner made to fit the pool rather than trying to build the pool to fit the liner.  Either way works just fine and the end result is still a beautiful pool.  Another thing that differs from builder to builder is the way they go about setting the wall panels.

The way that I am accustom to setting panels is to just bolt them together on the ground and work my way from one side of the step all the way around until I get back to the step on the other side.  Some other builders will go ahead and set blocks or spikes to the correct height and then set the panels on top of them as they bolt them together.  I have seen this several times in the past and I think that doing this makes bolting the panels together a bit easier, but every builder that I have seen do this will also double check the height of the panels with a transit at the end and have to do some adjustment anyway.  Its hard to tell if doing this saves time, wastes time, or equals out.  I suppose it also depends on the dig as well.  In reality if the pool is level in the end it doesn’t really matter how they go about it.  Another thing that I have noticed is a difference in they way and products builders do and use to do the bottom of the pool.

When it comes to the bottom of the pool there are two main types of material builders will use to make the bottom.  Some builders will use a sand/cement mix, while others use vermiculite.  Regardless of the product they use they will still trowel it out so that it is nice and smooth.  Some builders will put down a layer of stone and put the bottom material right on top of it.  Typically when you dig down 8 or 9 feet you will get some ground water.  Depending on the severity of the ground water builders will have to do something to ensure that it doesn’t effect the bottom process.  I have seen builders simply bury a five gallon bucket full of little holes so that they can easily pump out all the water right before they trowel the very bottom and drop the liner.  If the ground water is really bad then some builders will bury a line in the stone that will remain under the pool so they can pump out any water after the liner is is.  There is also a difference in when the bottom will be done.  Some builders do the bottom directly after they backfill the pool and before they pour the concrete deck around the pool, and some will pour the concrete before they do the bottom.  I always did the bottom last, for a couple reasons.  One is that it was just easier than having to clean concrete off the liner or out of the pool, and two is because there is less of a chance to puncture the liner if you wait until the end.  Again I suppose both ways work just fine and ultimately it is up to the builder to decide when and how they are going to do the bottom.

These are just some differences in the way that pool builders operate.  I am not saying that one way is right and one is wrong, just that they are different.  I think you should be aware of them in case you were to have a pool built and expect it to go one way and not the other.  The bottom line is that if the pool gets finished and looks amazing then however they did it must work just fine.  As a former builder I know what it is like to have a homeowner breathing down you neck about the way you are doing things, and I know first hand how frustrating it can be, so let the person you hire to build your pool do what they do and trust that it will look phenomenal in the end.  If you have picked a good builder then there is nothing to worry about.  These builders have likely been doing this for some time and know what they are doing.

Who can I trust to build my pool

In the most recent copy of Pool and Spa News there was an article about an installer up in Michigan who has received a bad review by the BBB.  This has sparked a concern from other builders in the area.  At this point you might be wondering why these other builders have a problem with this one guy getting a bad review.  That is what the topic of this post is going to be about.  Granted this installer does above ground but the same applies to in ground builders as well.

You may or may not know that building an in ground swimming pool represents a pretty significant investment.  With that kind of investment consumers want to make sure that they are getting the best quality possible.  This makes absolute sense, when you are spending a lot of money on something you want to make sure that it is the best that it can be.  Aside from the product itself I think that for most people this concept also relates to the builder as well.  If someone is spending a lot of money on a pool they will likely want the person building it to be reliable.  In my opinion the best way to make sure that you are getting the best quality of build out of your pool builder you have to do the research ahead of time.  Below are some things to look for in a pool builder.
1) Make sure they have a store front – I know that some people might think that this is irrelevant but the fact is that if the builder has a store that they work out of they are likely paying rent to use the location or they own the property and or building they are working out of.  This means that they are more likely to be responsible and reliable.  No offense to anyone but a company called Jed’s Swimmin Pools and is ran out of the back of a pick up truck may not be the company you want to trust to take your hard earned money and in return give you an elegant, well build in ground pool.
2) Look for reviews online – If they have been installing swimming pools for a decent amount of time then someone along the way has written a review and posted it to the internet somewhere.  You’d be amazed at what you can find on the internet.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I searched for something and not had any results.  It may take some digging but with some persistence you will find what you are looking for.
3) Have you heard of them? – Typically there will be at least one builder near you that is bigger than the rest.  What makes them bigger than the rest is that they do more in sales.  Now either they sell cheap pools or they do quality work.  More than likely if they have been around for a while it is because they do quality work.  Remember if they sell cheap pools than someone would likely have something bad to say about them and you will be able to find it on the internet.
4) Are they well established? – I know that in my area there is one builder that stands out from the rest and that is because they have been in business since the 70’s.  A builder that has been building in ground pools for that long is likely to be a decent builder, otherwise they wouldn’t be in business.
5) Ask around – There are many people you can talk to about pool builders.  For the most part pool builders sub out some of the work to other companies.  It may be a trucking company to come and pick up loads of dirt, it might be a concrete company, or concrete workers, or an electrician.  These are all people you can talk to about their building quality.  However the best source is someone who already has one of their pools.
These are just a few ways that you can protect your investment from questionable builders.  Now, back to the installer in the article.  It seems that this installer has had several complaints by customers recently.  One of which involves someone who paid him and the job was never finished.  Only the excavation was complete but the pool was never built.  The customer has since requested a refund and is still waiting on it.  Since then this customer has had to purchase a pool elsewhere and have another company come out to install it.
It is things like that which give pool builders a bad rep.  Let me assure you that not every pool builder out there is this way.  This is the concern of the other pool builders in that area.  They see this one guy not coming through on what he promised to do and in turn that fear that people will begin to associate that one guy with the rest of the pool building world.  They feel that consumers will see them all in the same light.
This is so far from the truth.  I am a former builder myself.  I worked for a larger pool company for almost ten years and I found that the owner of the company was very true to his word.  However, you must understand that if a builder gives you specific dates of when they will start and when they will finish, it will be dependent on the weather, and you can’t hold the builder responsible because it rains.  Aside from that a good builder will make sure to keep you in the loop as far as what is going on and what the next step is.