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Hillside Gymnastics

By Randy Beard

10-24 beard video artThrough the years, I’ve had the good fortune to work on a wide range of difficult sites and been forced to familiarize myself with all of the technologies and techniques that go into making these projects work.

The two videos linked below offer a case in point: We were called in to build a pool at the base of an oceanfront lot rising about 70 feet to the street at an uncomfortably steep angle. The soil itself is mostly sand – nothing you want to build a pool in, let alone a multi-million-dollar home.

As you’ll see in the videos, the initial stages of our work on site had little to do with structures and everything to do with substructures – systems of caissons and grade beams designed to support the structures up the hillside and secure them to bedrock in such a way that the sandy soil is basically irrelevant.

The videos show what’s involved in getting the show started, but there’s one hugely important point I didn’t make as I walked around the site: There’s no way on earth I would tackle a job like this – no matter how carried away I might be about its potential – unless I was fully armed with detailed soils and geology reports and a full and complete set of engineering recommendations.

And take that advice from someone who had built the pool just next door and was therefore reasonably familiar with local conditions: In a case like this, it’s so foolish to generalize based on experience that I wouldn’t even dream of it. Yes, it was an advantage because I knew in a general sense what I was tackling, but no, past history didn’t give me license to improvise.

To see the first of the two brief videos, click here.

To see the second, click here.  (Depending on your server, this second video may simply pop up once the first one is finished. If that doesn’t happen, just return to this page and click the second link.)


Randy Beard operates Pure Water Pools, a construction/service firm based in Costa Mesa, Calif.  He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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