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If a client asks you to get rid of an old deck all the way up to the coping without adding a new deck, you should think things through before taking the job. If you don't, advises Scott Cohen, things can go very wrong -- and you might be on the hook for a substantial shell-repair bill.
If a client asks you to get rid of an old deck all the way up to the coping without adding a new deck, you should think things through before taking the job.  If you don't, advises Scott Cohen, things can go very wrong  -- and you might be on the hook for a substantial shell-repair bill.
By Scott Cohen

Lots of pools built in the 1960s and ’70s and even through the ’80s were surrounded by ribbons of concrete decking of uniform width, all the way around.  Frequently, those decks were too narrow to make them of much use for more than walking around the pool:  lounge chairs are too long to be set up facing the water, and a poolside table and chairs cover far too much ground to be included.

The solution that runs through the heads of lots of homeowners is simply to

His clients wanted watershapes without chemicals, and Randy Beard was determined to deliver. Long intrigued by the way koi ponds work, he tinkered until he developed a simple system that fills his pools with pure, clear water -- and makes a home's plants happy, too.
His clients wanted watershapes without chemicals, and Randy Beard was determined to deliver.  Long intrigued by the way koi ponds work, he tinkered until he developed a simple system that fills his pools with pure, clear water -- and makes a home's plants happy, too.
By Randy Beard

It started a couple years ago:  More and more often, I was meeting clients who wanted great pools and spas that involved no chemical enhancement – just the water itself.

These were generally people who had studied up.  They had rejected dichlor and trichlor and were opposed to any kind of cyanurate presence.  They’d considered saltwater pools until they figured out that chlorine was part of the package.  They’d looked at ozone and were concerned

4-22 farley artBy Mike Farley

These days, I run into lots of clients who want clean, crisp detailing when it comes to everything associated with their backyard spaces – pool, spa, patio, decks and outdoor kitchens included.  They’re after works of visual art that, when not in active use, can be seen from inside the house as a continuation of the elegant, well-appointed interior spaces they’ve set up so thoughtfully.  

Sometimes, this means that

Among all the problems he's observed as an expert witness, Scott Cohen is particularly aware of what can go wrong when water starts moving where it's not wanted. Often it's a cosmetic issue; sometimes, however, serious damage can result -- and can be costly to address.
Among all the problems he's observed as an expert witness, Scott Cohen is particularly aware of what can go wrong when water starts moving where it's not wanted.  Often it's a cosmetic issue; sometimes, however, serious damage can result -- and can be costly to address.
By Scott Cohen

Last time, we looked at an instance in which migrating water presents mostly aesthetic challenges – scale formation, evaporation residues and other hassles that simply make a watershape look worse than it should.

This time, we’ll look into a case where the migrating water not only made the watershape look bad, but was also doing structural damage to a nearby deck and, ultimately, to the pool shell itself.   It’s a cautionary tale that should make any contractor

Given its spectacular ocean views, Randy Beard knew that this home called for a pool and spa that didn't get in the way. But that wasn't all he had to consider in designing the watershapes and organizing this remarkable space for entertainment as well as private enjoyment.
Given its spectacular ocean views, Randy Beard knew that this home called for a pool and spa that didn't get in the way.  But that wasn't all he had to consider in designing the watershapes and organizing this remarkable space for entertainment as well as private enjoyment.
By Randy Beard

With hillside projects, it’s generally true that lines of sight mean everything.  No matter whether the views are up close or in the far distance, no matter if the space looks out over water, trees, rugged terrain or other structures, a design wins huge style points (and a client’s gratitude) if you are conscious of the way your watershapes fit into their environments.

The project covered in this article had almost every advantage in the view department.  Set on a slope overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Dana Point, Calif., the home sits

Water has a will of its own, observes Scott Cohen, and takes advantage of whatever pathways it can find -- quite often to go where you don't want it to go. Unchecked, it can lead to staining that will seriously mar a watershape's good looks, not to mention a homeowner's good mood.
Water has a will of its own, observes Scott Cohen, and takes advantage of whatever pathways it can find -- quite often to go where you don't want it to go.  Unchecked, it can lead to staining that will seriously mar a watershape's good looks, not to mention a homeowner's good mood.
By Scott Cohen

In my work as a construction-defect expert witness, I see a certain problem in the design and construction of spillways all too frequently:  When the system is initiated, the flow of water down the face of the dam wall will behave more or less as desired, holding to a narrow path into the pool or trough that awaits it.  After a time, however, that water will begin to migrate, spreading out farther and farther beyond the desired pathway until the material – usually some sort of

By Mike Fowler

It’s a fact:  Those who own and operate commercial aquatic facilities spend a lot of time trying to find ways to keep costs under control.  From elaborate hotel pools to huge waterparks, it’s all about finding money to reinvest in new programs and features – or a simple matter of keeping the doors open.

In a recent article, I wrote about how the increasing use of

3-4 farley video artBy Mike Farley

In decades past, comfort wasn’t typically uppermost in mind when spas were being designed and built in conjunction with swimming pools.  Jet placements could be arbitrary, walls were almost always set at 90-degree angles to the seats and, perhaps least thoughtful of all, coping was set up pool-style, with grab edges that hit anyone tall enough to get on an amusement-park thrill ride somewhere in the back, shoulders or neck, making it difficult to relax and enjoy the experience.

These days, fortunately,

They're wildly popular, writes Scott Cohen, but he's seen enough problems with salt-chlorination systems in his role as a construction-defects expert witness that he thinks it's wise to make homeowners aware of the possible drawbacks that can be associated with saline technologies.
They're wildly popular, writes Scott Cohen, but he's seen enough problems with salt-chlorination systems in his role as a construction-defects expert witness that he thinks it's wise to make homeowners aware of the possible drawbacks that can be associated with saline technologies.
By Scott Cohen

In my work as a construction-defect expert witness, I’ve seen how damaging salty water can be to hardscape materials around pools and spas equipped with saltwater chlorination systems.  It’s so common that, personally, I now try to avoid using those devices on the watershapes I design and build.  

It’s not that I think saltwater chlorination is intrinsically evil; instead, it’s the fact I’ve seen so many different things go wrong with watershapes that have these systems that I decided some time ago that they weren’t for me.

It’s often said that

Faced with the challenge of fitting a lap pool into a relatively compact backyard space, Randy Beard used geometry to his advantage in crafting a perimeter-overflow/vanishing-edge pool and spa that aligns sweepingly with the homeowners' needs.
Faced with the challenge of fitting a lap pool into a relatively compact backyard space, Randy Beard used geometry to his advantage in crafting a perimeter-overflow/vanishing-edge pool and spa that aligns sweepingly with the homeowners' needs.
By Randy Beard

These days, we do most of our work in the hills in and around Newport Beach, Calif.  To describe the area as “affluent” is understating the case:  For years now, even modest homes for sale in the area usually draw seven-figure prices – and the more modest the home, the likelier it is that it will be torn down and replaced with something larger and more elaborate.

Through the past few years, we at Pure Water Pools of Costa Mesa, Calif., have been called to many of these built-out properties by homeowners who

2-4 skinner artBy Kim Skinner

Decades ago, people in the pool industry started becoming aware that there was more to pool maintenance than just adding sanitizers to the water (to kill algae and bacteria) and filtering it (to help keep it crystal clear).  Gradually, we learned that even properly sanitized and filtered pool water could become unbalanced.  

Further, we figured out that unbalanced water could be either scale-forming, in which case a layer of

A swimming pool is made of steel-reinforced concrete, right? So the shell will be fine if you pile lots of weight on top of it, right? Wrong, Scott Cohen says emphatically -- and here he explains why no sensible builder should ever make such a potentially disastrous mistake.
A swimming pool is made of steel-reinforced concrete, right?  So the shell will be fine if you pile lots of weight on top of it, right?  Wrong, Scott Cohen says emphatically -- and here he explains why no sensible builder should ever make such a potentially disastrous mistake.
By Scott Cohen

It happens more often than it should:  Even in times when trade shows and educational enterprises such as Genesis 3 all stress the importance of knowing the basic forces at work within and around pool shells, I am all too often called in to investigate cases in which a builder has made a large and careless mistake that can have disastrous consequences.

The point these contractors are overlooking is that the bond beams of many (if not most) pool shells are engineered in such a way that

1-7 fowler art 2By Mike Fowler

Through the years, professional watershapers have learned that good hydraulic design can significantly increase system efficiency while lowering the ongoing costs of operation.  Now they’re also recognizing that achieving these efficiencies and finding these savings are perceived as “going green” – a key to helping

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