Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™
Pools as an art form - the way it should be!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Do it the Right Way

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Building a quality swimming pool takes time. Quality & perfection cannot be rushed. An infinity edge swimming pool & spa simply cannot be made out of level - not even 1/16th of an inch!

All too often, property owners are in a rush to begin their pool construction in the spring and be swimming by June, when the kids are out of school. The commissioned pool salesman will tell them ANYTHING to get them to sign on the dotted line... even blatantly lie as to the projected finish date.

And guess what, the property owners become upset & angered. The pool becomes a nightmare, consuming their every waking moment. Mostly it's because the deadline was not met... but also because they foolishly planned a pool party, months in advance, relying on that finish date. And the entire pool industry gets a bad reputation.

These false expectations are because both parties are out of touch with reality.

To build a pool properly takes time. Various trade industry standards apply to the construction of a swimming pool... concrete, gunite/shotcrete, masonry, tile, & plaster to name a few. While these are not government enforceable "building codes," they are the installation practices for the given trades.

The gunite/shotcrete needs to be installed in a particular manner. The nozzleman needs to be knowledgeable & adequately trained to ensure that he's acquiring the proper encapsulation of the reinforcing steel. A "blow pipe" needs to be utilized to discharge the rebound. Trimmings & rebound can not be allowed to accumulate in the pool. Foot traffic on the floor needs to be minimal, to ensure a structurally sound finish. The waste products & trimmings can not be shoveled into the steps & benches, as they have no structural value. They will only crumble later!

The gunite/shotcrete needs to cure at least 28 days before any coating is applied to the interior (plaster, browncoat, membrane, etc.), in order to allow it to cure properly. Most pool builders rely on the property owner to "water down" the shell in order to keep it hydrated. This is one of the most important aspects of the project & they are pushing the responsibility onto the client???!!! How many multi-millionaire clients are going to water the cement 3 times a day??? NOT!!!

There are a myriad of standards for the installation of the finish materials. These are the specific trades' "how to's." Certain aspects of the installation need to cure for a prescribed number of days. Uncoupling, isolation, waterproof, or crack control membranes need to be installed under certain layers of materials. Vertical & horizontal planes of material need to be isolated. Underlayments need to meed certain load bearing & flexural requirements.

Isolation joints need to separate different materials, as they all have differential rates of expansion & contraction. Control joints need to be installed in an attempt to "control" the direction of concrete's cracking. As needed, mastic needs to be installed in isolation joints to seal out moisture.

Thinsets & mortars need to be allowed to cure prior to grouting. All to often, the leveling bed, tile, and grout are all installed on the same day. That's because they hired a "production builder."

Also know as a "Yellow Page" builder, because they compete with others in their market by trying to place the biggest yellow page ad possible. The true craftsmen, rarely are found in the yellow pages. They don't want to be bothered with the "tire kickers," who are looking for a "free design" or a free construction bid.

Because the production builder's business model is driven by low margins, it takes mass quantities produced to generate the profits desired. Quality becomes the first thing thrown out of the window. You can not have speed and quality, it is an oxymoron. Hmm, morons... ironic how some things seem to be attracted to each other.

A lot of these builders ignore these various industry standards, "because they are not law." But in a way they are.... because when the tile starts to crack, the structure begins to crumble, layers begin to delaminate, or the pool slides down the hill, the property owner's attorney will retain an industry expert, such as myself.

The first questions I ask is "what standards did you follow during your installation." I ask them which year standard did they perform to, of the: ANSI, ASME, TCNA, ACI, ASA, NPC, ASPS, etc...

Just because these are not law, does not mean that they are to be ignored. These standards are the minimum "level of care" that must be followed in the given aspect of the project. These are the standards that the builder will be held to when the wheels fall off. In a civil case, these "become law."

But in order to have a project completed in a few months, something has to give. It is usually the proper way of doing things, the correct curing times & waiting periods, and prudent installation practices that are the first to be sacrificed.

After all, the party must not be delayed!

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa