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The process of Building our - by Fountain Pools Rochester NY

The Purcell pool from concept to creation April 30th - July 14th 2007 (Full slideshow of Photos)

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If you have any comments you can link back to my blog posting and post the comment there http://www.bpurcell.org/blog/index.cfm?mode=entry&entry=1095

 

We went through the process of building our first home last year and soon after I started building our deck which took me into my next project, the family pool. We had a pool in our previous home but it was built in the 80s so I really didn’t know what to expect when I started this endeavor. The design of the deck played into my thought process when deciding on a plan for the pool. We (wife and I) wanted to complement the existing design and remain functional. Before arriving on a final design though we decided on the company that would build the pool. Suprisingly there are nearly a dozen pool companies in Rochester NY that build pools and they range in price and quality. The first company that we talked to built only Gunnite pools and while they look nice they are bit on the ridiculous side in price. At that point I knew I would be going with a Vinyl lined pool. My wife called around in October of 2006 to at least eight different companies and I met with each one. The prices were fairly close for each of the companies and the higher priced companies usually had higher end filters using newer materials and higher end heaters as well as indoor control boards for the system. I am of the opinion that the old sand filter works great (my pool is still crystal clear and clean) enough and the heaters with all of the bells and whistles end up costing more in the long run when they need to be repaired. Keeping is simple worked for me and the only additional maintenance is the fact that you need to backflush the filter from time to time.  We decided on a smaller pool company http://www.fountainpools.net to build the pool. It gave me a good feeling that the representative selling me the pool was ultimately one of the people that would come back in the spring to build the pool. They are limited to a fixed number of pools each year because they do not subcontract the work but you are ensured that you will end up with a quality product in the end. The six employees of Fountain Pools that built my pool had a combined experience of over 125 years in the pool business and they also do all of the concrete work. The only work that is subcontracted is the backhoe for digging and the backfill process. Everything else is done by employees of Fountain Pools.

 

After deciding on Fountain Pools I spent some time looking through their picture book of pools as well as their book of designs. I ended up deciding on a Lazy-L Grecian design. It complemented the design of the deck and I layed it out so that it was opposite of the deck design (see figure below). I usually end up doing my drafing work on the computer but sometimes I prefer to just use pencil and graph paper. I first layed out the design of the deck and house to scale then I cut out a scale version of the pool and overlayed it on my deck plan. This allowed me to move it around until I found the righ mix of spacing between the deck and alignment with the sides of the house. My main objective was to leave enough space for a decent size concrete patio and make sure that the fence on the left side of the house had enough room between the fence and pool. My initial sketch is shown below

 
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Over the winter I played with this design and moved the pool around several times until I found something that my wife and I were happy with. I wanted a design that looked nice but was easy to maintain. Our old pool had grass within 5 feet of the pool and it ended up being a mess to maintain. I also did not want a complex design for the fence so we settled on a rectangular fence area and landscaping with rock between the concrete and fence. I extended this area 1 foot outside of the fence and separated the grass and rock with edging. This should make it easier to maintain when mowing and prevent damage to the fence when trimming the grass.

 

After all of the planning it was time to get started. The original plan was to start at the beginning of April but the entire month was quite wet. By April 30th they were able to get started. You can see the dig below, I was quite impressed at how accurate they dig to the exact level of the pool. They are within an inch in each area in preparation for the concrete bottom. One of the challenges in my backyard was the level of the water table. This forced the pool out of the ground by 2-3 feet on the backside. This increased my cost since it required a LOT of backfill but in the end I think it will be better for drainage and the overall look of the pool.

 
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After the digging process was completed rock was brought in and placed in preparation of the concrete. The framework for the pool walls were also put into place in preparation for assembly.

 
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The following morning the pool walls were assembled and the plumbing for the return lines, drain and skimmer were put in place. You may notice the strings across the pool in the picture below. The strings are used to measure from the bottom when the concrete is poured to get the exact height at the bottom of the deepend.

 
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Before pouring the concrete X braces were put in place to strengthen the sides and deck placed three feet apart. Concrete was then poured around the outside base of the pool to re-enforce the stainless steel walls and keep them in place. Then the inside of the pool was poured starting in the shallow end and working to the deep end.

 
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The following day after the concrete had cured a bit the liner was placed into the pool. In the picture below you can see a vacuum that is placed on the skimmer in the shallow end (at this point the skimmer is not cut out, it is done when the pool is filled near the top). This vacuum sucks the liner to the side of the pool and allows them to keep all wrinkles out of the liner. The vacuum is left on while the pool is filled with water. The fill is completed in three stages. In the picture below you will see a small mark at the bottom of the shallow end. After filling to this mark the water was shut off and the vacuum was then slid up a few feet and then the pool was filled a few feet further. The vacuum was then removed and pool was filled all the way to the middle are of the skimmer. In between the second and third phase the skimmer and light are cut into the liner.

 
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Second stage of pool fill shown below.

 
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After the pool is filled the electrical is completed and the pump and filter become operational. The next step is to start the backfill process.We ended up having to use 7 very large truckfulls of fill sand (100+ tons). The fill sand compacts and fills around the pool a lot better than dirt and the amount of settling was minimal.

 
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Before any of the fill for the pool was in place I ran 12-3 direct burial cable to each corner for an outlet and a lamp post. I ran it out to the corner and brought it out of the ground at the approximate location of each corner. Before starting the fence my wife and I put a 4x4 in place at the corner for the outlet and then poured footings for the lamp posts and ran all of the cables to be connected at a later time.

The pool started to look like an inground pool after the fill was completed. Now I had to wait for the fill to settle. Fountain Pools likes to wait at least three weeks for the fill to settle before the concrete deck around the pool is poured. During this time I worked on the area under the deck. I first skirted the deck with 2x8's at the level where the concrete would meet the bottom of the deck. From the pool edge to the bottom of the deck there is a 3" pitch back towards the deck. I put a 6" drainage line in place across the front of the deck to route water out to the backyard that will run off of the concrete so that it does not seep back towards the pool and erode the fill under the concrete. This is a very important step towards preventing issues in the future. I also placed 9 tons of rock under the deck along with landscape fabric in preparation of building a storage area under the deck in the future.

 
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You can see the 2x8 boards that skirt the deck below. The concrete decking will be leveled at the top of this. Fountain Pools provided a mark at the foot of my deck and I just followed that all the way around the deck.

 
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It was time to start the concrete decking around the pool. On the first day they came in and set the forms in place then placed rock at the bottom and compacted it with the tamper. The concrete that was used had fiber in the concrete for increased strength.

 
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One week later the second stage of the concrete was poured between the deck and pool. By default Fountain Pools offers three feet of concrete around the pool. Anything beyond that incurs an additional cost.

 
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It was at this point that I ordered the fence. I looked around locally and the prices were much higher than I expected, I also looked on the internet at several sites. One of my friends had ordered from a Easy Aluminum Fence the year before and I decided to go with them based on price and quality. I have been very happy with the fence and it was not difficult to install. I will cover that later.

While waiting for the fence to be delivered I switched back to working on the deck. I had to complete the gate and steps to make it easy to get from the house to the pool. Prior to this we had to walk through the mess on the side of the house and lots of sand and muck ended up in the pool. I cover the gate construction at the bottom if you are interested. My initial plan for the steps was to come right off of the deck as you can see in the diagram at the top of the article. One of the workers from Fountain Pools suggested that I build a platform and turn the stairs so that they are parallel to the deck. In the end this added a lot of work but saved a lot of room on the concrete area. The steps and platform are shown below without the railings. While creating the steps I found a great spreadsheet for creating stair stringers. I highly recommend this spreadsheet for building any stairs, the process is so much easier that calculating them yourself and you will not end up making a mistake. You can find the spreadsheet here.

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I will have to say that after I received the fence I did a poor job of documenting the process. I was heads down on completing the fence and did not take any pictures along the way. Before installing the fence in place I placed two pieces of rebar at each corner and ran string that was leveled to get a sense of where the bottom of the fence would be. After the string for the fence was in place I found that i needed more fill to get everything level and where I wanted it. I had another large load of fill sand brought in to level around the pool and hired a bobcat to do the dirty work. The following weekend I was ready to get started with the fencing. I won't get into the full details of the fence installation but if you have a good plan and process it moves very quickly. A lot of my neighbors helped with the fence and I appreciated the help. As well, my wife mixed the concrete.....how many wives would lift and mix 80lb bags of concrete?

My wife then started her landscaping plans. Since the plants would be going into fill sand i brought home a few yards of dirt and she dug out large holes and filled them with topsoil before planting.

After the fence was completed I started installing edging 18" outside of the fence line. I purchased a high quality 6" edging at my local landscaping store and I am glad I did. It comes in 20' straight sections so you don't have to fight with straightening out the rolled up version that you get at Lowes or Home Depot. Since most of the digging for the edging was in backfill the process was fairly simple with the exception of a few areas where it was tough to dig (thanks to Dan and Mike from my neighborhood for helping). One tip when putting in edging is to run a string about 1" away from the top edge to keep it level and straight. After the edging was completed we layed down 300' of landscape fabric and started placing rocks on top of the fabric. In total I hauled 6 tons of rock around the pool, it was a lot of work but well worth it.

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I had the pool area hydroseeded on July 11th. I was a bit concerned about the summer heat preventing the grass from growing well but I lucked out with rain nearly every day and temperatures in the mid 70s. The grass grew to 2" in just about a week, the pictures you see below are taken just two weeks after it was hydroseeded. I have planted grass several times and had new lawns hydroseeded twice. I learned a bit from these experiences and the winning formula is really simple. You have to have a good base to start with so i brought in several yards of topsoil 1-2" covering the areas where there was fill sand. Any areas where there was existing grass or the ground was hard were raked or rock hounded to break up the soil. After hydroseeding was complete i used a hand feeder from scotts to spread starter fertilizer over the entire area and more seed from the hand feeder. It may a bit of overkill but in the end it worked out great. The starter fertilizer only cost $20 and the extra seed I already had laying around.

You will also notice the lamps in each corner of the pool. I have to thank my dad for installing these while I was working my day job. I found them on Ebay for $80 a piece and they look great. I ran the 12-3 wire into the house and terminated them at a junction box just inside the house. I ran a 12-2 wire from the breaker box and connected it to a GFI breaker. I connected a switch with dimmer in the same box where the pool light was installed in our morning room and connected the outlets in each corner along with the lights.

 
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The light on the other side along with the new grass.

 
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An overall picture of the shallow end, fence, landscaping and lamp post.

 
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I built the gate while I was waiting on Fountain Pools to finish the concrete. It was simple to create but I wanted to highlight the hinges and latch that I used. The deck is open to the house and the deck enters into the pool area so I needed to have a self closing gate on the deck with a lockable latch. I found Tru-close hinges while searching on Google and they turned out to be great. You can find the specific hinges at this site. You can find the latch that I used here.

 
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Whats next????

Well I have plans to finish the area under the deck and build a storage area. I will install a corrugated ceiling to route away the water and skirting around the sides of the deck. This will provide a place to put all of the tables, chairs and pool equipment so I do not have to haul it into the basement at the end of each year.

I also have an open area on the left side of the deck where I installed a 10 foot long privacy fence before the aluminum pool fence starts. I would like to build a step down deck that will have a hot tub level with the top of the deck. I will probably do the planning for this project during the winter and complete it next summer or fall. It would nice to be able to have the hot tub during the winter time when the pool is not in use.

On the other side I would like to build a 10x10 gazebo with a paver floor. My goal is to have an enclosed area when the mosquitos get bad as well as a shaded area with a fan. I am exploring different plans for that project as well.

If you have any comments you can link back to my blog posting and post the comment there http://www.bpurcell.org/blog/index.cfm?mode=entry&entry=1095