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, May 5, 2009

What sets projects apart...

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa
Paolo Benedetti

Whether you are building a basic free form swimming pool or one of the cutting edge technologically advanced infinity edge pools, vanishing edge pools, wet edge, zero edge, perimeter overflow pools, knife edge pools, slot over flow pools, disappearing edge pools, or waveless pools... there is one thing that sets them apart...

...the construction details, planning, and supervision.

The soils on a given site will dictate the structural engineering and strength of the structure that will be required to build your vessel.

There is only ONE correct way to plumb and hydraulically design a swimming pool.... and leaving it to the plumbing sub-contractor to decide the pipe diameters, placement on the site, and methodologies is absolutely WRONG. The salesman should not specify the pipe sizes at your kitchen table... Every fitting, foot of pipe, piece of equipment, valve and turn causes friction... know as "head loss." Without determining the flow rate, turnover rate, and calculating the head loss in the system, no one can specify the proper pump size. Pump HP & sizing is the VERY LAST thing that is determined, after all of the other components are determined. Yet, everyday across America, swimming pools are being sold by untrained & uneducated pool salesmen by specifying the pumps first then pipe sized are selected arbitrarily.

The gunite or shotcrete application process is not a neat and tidy affair. Yet almost every jobsite that I have ever observed immediately after the concrete placement, is as clean as an operating room. Where did the trimmings, rebound, and waste material go??? It was allowed to drop into the floor, it was shoveled into the coves, it was thrown into the benches & steps, or it was tossed into the ramp area & plumbing trenches. Why, you ask? Because it saves the contractor from having to haul it away AND he saved on material costs by using it in YOUR POOL!

The equipment pad layout is critical for serviceability and maintenance. Pump baskets will need to be emptied, motors will need to be replaced, & filters will need to be cleaned & serviced. Yet, the equipment pads are often installed in as compact a space as possible, with no regard for the need to EVER work on them again!

Are the pool light junction boxes, where the hard wiring from the equipment pad is connected to the cord from the underwater lamp, placed in unobtrusive locations? Or are they placed directly behind the light 20 feet away from the pool... the shortest path for the electrician to trench & run conduit? Or are they placed where they can be hidden by shrubbery, hardscape, or other landscape features?

Are the bright metallic stainless steel lens rings on the pool lights, left as gleaming reminders of of a 1950's era Route 66 fleabag motel? Or did the builder / designer have them colored to match the finish materials inside the pool, so that they fall into the background?

Were the cheap plastic lids that came with the skimmers used to cover the skimmer wells? Are these ugly discs visually marring and detracting from the overall scene? Or did the builder create custom stone lids or form lids out of concrete to match the surrounding decking materials?

Was the spaside remote control simply siliconed to the waterline tile, or affixed to the top of the coping - where it is degraded by the intense UV radiation of the sun, where little fingers are attracted to the buttons, and where the glowing LED indicating lights are left to shine at night, a distraction from the pleasant scene? Or did the builder create a custom niche to recess the remote controls, covering them with a stone lid or cap - thus concealing them from sight?

Were the skimmers on the pool placed down wind (from the prevailing wind) to maximize their skimming effectiveness? Or was their placement dictated by the plumbing subcontractor on the side of the pool closest to the equipment pad (where they would use less pipe & dig fewer trenches)?

Was the pool provided with an overflow line & an auto-fill device? Or is the homeowner expected to go outside during a storm to drain water? Is the homeowner expected to turn on the fill line to maintain the water level during heat spells? Or was the builder smart enough to install an auto-fill device so that the pumps are guaranteed never to run dry due to a low water level condition?

Were multiple pool lights placed so that they shine AWAY from the primary vantage point? Were they orientated to reduce shadowing and to create an even consistent source of light? Or was one monstrous light placed in the deep end of the pool to light the pool like a cheap motel?

Was the tile & coping set in a few days? Or were the surfaces floated, allowed to cure, crack control membranes or waterproofing barriers installed? Were all of the joints between the coping stones filled with mortar, or were allowances made for expansion & contraction?

Were plastic "pimples" placed all over the interior of the pool (main drain covers, wall returns, floor cleaners, etc.)? Or were special color match fittings used? Were custom drain covers that accept plaster, pebble or tile finishes used to complete the look - blending these components into the background?

Were you limited to the few precast concrete copings, safety grip bricks, or stones carried at the local masonry yard? Or did the designer expose you to the myriad of available materials from around the world? Was the durability & lifespan (and therefor payback/ROI) of the various materials discussed? Was the maintenance of the materials & surfaces discussed? Were these all figured into the overall "cost" of ownership?

Were the drains in the pool deck left as 3" round plastic drain grates or plastic linear trench drains - the ones every concrete contractor buys at Home Depot & Lowe's? Or were the drains detailed with stone covers or concrete trays, so that they become invisible against the expanse of the deck?

Are you left to drag heavy weighted bases around the patio, every spring & fall, and whenever you want to move a table or umbrella? Or did the designer plan for the installation of umbrella sleeves in the deck, so that you can simply slide the pole into the deck? Are these holes concealed with pieces of stone or concrete when they are not in use, to prevent the breakage of an errant high-heel?

Were conduits installed for the installation of landscape lighting and outdoor speakers? After all, they had trenches ran all over the place... why wouldn't they??

Were gas lines supplied for the future fireplace, fire feature or outdoor barbecue? Were electrical conduits, water, and gray water drainage installed for the outdoor kitchen?? The yard was all ripped up & trenched, so why didn't they???

Were sleeves installed into the deck for volleyball & basketball games? Or are you forced to use the cheap looking plastic K-Mart sit on the deck apparatus?

Is the air for the spa jets stubbed up next to or nearby the spa - subjecting the users to a vortex sucking sound? Or was the airline terminated at the equipment pad & equipped with a quite fan driven air blower - for that initial burst to clear water from the airline? Left to draw air from the outdoors area, cold environments find the spa water is chilled by the freezing jets air. But taken to the equipment room, the air is warmer than the outside air, keeping the spa toasty warm. Are the returns in the spa situated low, so that the heat can rise? Or are they placed next to the jets, resulting in a cold foot well?

In the spa, were the benches placed to provide the owners with the seating that offers them the views & vantage points that they desired? Are the benches set to elevations that fit the clients ergonomics? Are the bench elevations set to establish the water level where the clients want it on their body? Is the spaside remote placed to the correct side of a right or left handed person?

Was a well installed by the spa for use as a ice-chest? To store cold sodas, chilled wine, beer or champagne? Was the coping on the spas, set back from the clients head, affording a relaxing head rest, instead of the coping hitting them in the back of the head?

Was the waterline tile installed to minimize cuts? Are the cuts concealed in the corners? Or are they in the expanse of the field? Did the builder plan for the use of whole tiles? Are the edges of unglazed tiles exposed? Or did the builder create curved corners to eliminate sharp angles & exposed edges or maybe they utilized SBN & DBN tiles?

Was the plaster installed in a few hours, or was it applied & left to set on it's own? A few hours means that an accellerant was used, which can cause durability problems in the future. Are the corners under the tile finished cleanly? Are the inside corners trowel evenly? Are there areas of exposed aggregate and roughness? Are there visible footprints and spike marks?

Were the skimmers lowered in a pool with a pool cover, so that the operating level of the water is BELOW the cover dam? Or were they set at the standard elevation for a pool without a pool cover, so that hundreds of gallons of water are lost every time someone swims in the pool?

Was a dedicated overflow line installed in the sidewall of the pool? Or is the excess rainwater expected to flow into the pool cover box to drain - corroding & prematurely aging the pool cover mechanism, gears, ropes & motor? Is the pool cover vault covered with a cheap plastic or sheet metal lid - preventing pedestrian traffic from using that end of the pool? Or were stainless steel trays installed & covered with materials to match the pool deck?

Was a dedicated vacuum line installed into the vanishing edge catch basin to facilitate cleaning? How about a vacuum port inside the detached spa? If the pool has multiple skimmers, is there a vacuum port in the pool to speed the servicing of the pool? All of these, while inexpensive upfront, will cost a property owner with higher maintenance fees. A service company figures their services based upon time spent.... time saved is money saved!

Was a booster pump driven & pressurized pool cleaner line installed? Even if the client does not desire a robotic pool cleaner - such an attachment in the wall of the pool will allow service personnel to quickly remove bulk debris (leaves, etc.) through the use of a Leafmaster. But to operate effectively, it requires pressures that a standard garden hose simply cannot deliver!

These details simply cannot be delivered by a firm who builds pools from behind a desk. A parade of subcontractors in your backyard is not what you hired.... Even casual supervision will result in workmanship issues and disagreements with your contractor.

Like I've said before - it's all in the details!

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