Lessons Learned

Planning for a Rainy Day
In most backyard swimming pool projects, we install the drainage systems for decks after the swimming pool's plumbing, basically because the pool plumbers use big trenchers that will likely destroy the small drainage plumbing if
Expansive Errors
The lessons we've covered in this long sequence of articles have typically revolved around single, key errors and have generally called for commonsense (and often simple) remedies.  In the world of pool construction, however, there are situations in which the problems are far more complex, often rising from multiple missteps and clusters of intertwined failures. This is one of those situations, and it has to do with a basic pool/spa combination in a brand-new housing development.  Although the pool contractor charged only $35,000 for the installation, the associated legal
All Cracked Up
In recent years, we've seen a dramatic increase in the use of faux stone as well as concrete flagstones and pavers.  Popular for their affordability and ease of installation as well as the ever-improving realism of their appearance, these materials are widely available for use on
Water Gone Wild
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
Water on the Move
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
Coping with Salt
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
Overbearing Rockwork
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
Edgy Issues
Even after all these years, in which countless seminars and classes have covered proper techniques for designing, engineering and building vanishing-edge pools, I am still all-too-frequently confronted in my role as a construction-defects expert witness by installations that are just plain wrong in one way or another.   The biggest problems usually have to do with the
Raising the Floor
In a great many of the renovation projects I come across, one part of the program involves raising the floor in the deep end of the pool to create the classic play-pool contour with a deeper area in the middle and shallower sections on both ends.  This retrofit brings these pools into line with one of the most popular features of today's new pools, so many of which are set up for pool volleyball and other vigorous games. The great thing about these sporty pools is that the shallower ends have a
2014/11.2, November 19 — Lifting Pool Floors, Pleasing Frogs, Impalas in Flight and more