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A Hole in our Yard - Another Not a Cruise Live Blog


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I'm not gonna lie. This has absolutely nothing to do with cruising, but I know I'm not the only one hurting for the excitement of living vicariously though someone else's vacation. I really miss seeing those pictures of a stranger's first glimpse of their grand ship, the awe of looking up the centrum or promenade, and all that food, glorious food. So in the spirit of @WAAAYTOOO's house recon I thought I would share my family's journey just to give us all a diversion. We're getting a pool! 

We've talked about a pool for some time. The yard in our old house would have been perfect for one, but with two little kids, we knew we were going to outgrow that small house quickly. So we put the thought to bed. Even though we really wanted one, it just didn't make financial sense at the time. We built the house we are in now almost four years ago, and our yard is much, much smaller. We tossed the idea around every now and then, but it was always just a passing comment and didn't feel right - there wasn't any real excitement around the thought. Then 2020 came along, and we were all stuck at home. Towards the end of spring, we starting talking about finally landscaping the backyard and got excited about putting in some pavers for a fire pit. You know, so we could go on vacation from the tv in the living room.

Summer was coming and the plans were almost finalized. Along with summer comes all things water so we started hitting up the community pool. However, it seemed a hassle with having to time when we thought capacity wouldn't be an issue, but having to come right back home if there were too many people there. Sigh. Then one day in late June, an excavator magically showed up in our back neighbor's yard, and is was a like a sign. We were inspired by the dust and noise next door! What started as a fire pit suddenly grew to add a pool, spa, and since we're having work done anyway, a small outdoor kitchen. I spent about a week researching, mapping out the lot and overlaying some designs... ok, we could make a pool fit back here... let's call a few companies a get some quotes! 

Well just about every other homeowner in our area had the same idea.  After playing telephone tag with 10 different pool builders, we finally got in touch with 3 of them. They took our info and said a sales guy would call us back...in 2-3 weeks! Only 2 of those sales guys actually called, even after following up with the 3rd guy over and over, and we set appointments for them to come out and look at our yard which took another 3 weeks. To be honest, we really weren't surprised at the delay because about every 5th house in our neighborhood had a pool company's sign in their front yard. 

We met with both sales guys on August 7, and after another couple weeks, we finally we got renderings and quotes back from the two companies. One was just ok and was way over our budget due to a plumbing feature they put on every pool that's included in the cost. I had visions of Fargo and William H. Macy trying to sell us the special undercoat was applied at the factory. The other design was a lot more elegant and much closer to the cost we had in mind. So we refinanced the house at a significantly lower rate, cashed out some equity, and signed the contract. Time to wait for permits!

And wait...and wait...and wait. The pool company said it would take 3-4 weeks for the city to approve the permits, but I had been following a few other pool builds on our neighborhood's facebook page and knew it would be closer to 5-6. Well throw Thanksgiving in there, when our small town city offices shut down for the week, and it wound up being closer to 8 weeks. Good news though - our dig is finally scheduled for this Monday. Santa's bringing us a hole in the backyard!  

 

Here are a few different angles of the renderings our builder provided us. Unfortunately, since we live in the outer suburbs of Dallas, the mountains will not be included. 

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We've also picked out the materials for the decking, tile, stone, and interior. The deck will be similar to the coping.

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Once water is in the pool, it should look like this.

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Hopefully we don't have a lot of delays (we expect there will be some; that's just part of a build job). Right now we should have water in the pool in 90-120 days. Just in time for cruising to take back over!

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Gunite. We went with a medium blue. The plaster in pool we had growing up was really white. I'm not sure if that's what my parents picked or if it just faded, but it was too bright. Then they had majo

I'm not gonna lie. This has absolutely nothing to do with cruising, but I know I'm not the only one hurting for the excitement of living vicariously though someone else's vacation. I really miss seein

Yes, they took 2 panels of our fence down to get in. That side of the house has a retaining wall that runs the length of our yard with the fence posts set into the wall. They cut the post between the

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On 12/24/2020 at 4:49 PM, JLMoran said:

Wow, that's quite a project to kick off your Christmas / New Year's season with! Hope it all goes well, without too many additional delays, and with no unexpected (bad) surprises.

We do too! Our first hurdle will be the weather. It's supposed to rain Tuesday and Wednesday. If the dig caves, the crew will have to reschedule a time to come back out to re-dig. That will add a week or so to the schedule (and cost me the equivalent of a drink package or two in their hourly fees). Hopefully the weather men are all wrong and we just get a few sprinkles at most. 

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Chicago area has massive delays on any landscaping projects too.  Our rear neighbors signed with a fence company and a pool company around April.  They got the pool in late October, used it once, and winterized it.  The fence went in the week after Thanksgiving and might have been delayed further if the weather dropped below freezing for more than one night in a row.  They were told it was all supply delays from the manufacturers due to Covid.  They thought they had ordered soon enough to enjoy a pool during the summer at home!

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3 months seems to be the norm here for a pool build, but getting to this point has taken forever. We're just over 5 months from my initial contact with the pool companies. The neighbor behind us did the same thing. Their pool was completed in late August; they used it only a couple times and didn't get into it again. We have swimming weather here (without a heater) into late September. The kids and I were so surprised they weren't living in it - we sure will be!

 

 

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We signed our pool contract last week.  In Northern Virginia it takes about 8 months.  Right now the survey from the county is taking almost3 months because there are so many people putting in pools.  That and due to covid they have less workers actually in the office (distancing).  If all goes well for us we might have it by August.

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On 12/24/2020 at 5:52 PM, WAAAYTOOO said:

WOOHOO !  How exciting !  I am so excited for you.  What a NICE Christmas present.  I love how the project just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  I can relate.

Congratulations.  Please keep us up to date with progress and pix !!!

Merry Christmas !

Our little fire pit idea did grow arms and legs. I forgot to mention we're going to replace the fence too. 

 

13 hours ago, Pima1988 said:

We signed our pool contract last week.  In Northern Virginia it takes about 8 months.  Right now the survey from the county is taking almost3 months because there are so many people putting in pools.  That and due to covid they have less workers actually in the office (distancing).  If all goes well for us we might have it by August.

Yikes! In Texas, you have to have a current survey that's less than 10 years old to clear title and close on a mortgage. So we fortunately didn't have to wait for that. I hope your build goes smoothly! 

 

2 hours ago, StephanieH said:

They started our pool at our new house in November.  All inspections completed from the frame, now waiting or the weather to cooperate so they can do the concrete.  I had a pool at my other house and missed it when we moved back in MAY.  Cannot wait for it to be complete!

 

I had one growing up. You definitely miss it when you are used to having instant access one. The rest should fly by once they get the concrete in. Or so we've been told.

 

We had to do a little prep work in the yard today. We took down a temporary fence that we put in to keep the dogs out of a container garden and moved some things back from the edge of our patio. The kids also helped by starting the hole...they didn't get very far. 

We also received a revised rendering fixing how the steps and ledge meet. Basically pulling that corner out into the pool a little. 

They're supposed to be here around 8:30 in the morning to start taking down the fence and prepping for the excavation. 

 

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@melmar02 our home is 12 yrs old and we live on 10 acres so you need a specific type of survey.  Our design and colors are close to yours. Our coping is Pennsylvania blue to match our patio.  We have a tanning ledge and waterfal with a bubblerl, but we decided to for go the hot tub/Jacuzzi for heater...colder here.  this will be our 2nd backyard reno in 2 yrs.  Last yr we put in a blue flag stone patio with a tumbled stone (like yours in the pics) fireplace and sitting ledges.  

Are you doing gunite or concrete?  

I don't know about you, but I love the deeper color of blue than the traditional.  We wanted the water to look more like a pond than a pool.  No offense to anyone.

Best wishes on the construction

 

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14 hours ago, Pima1988 said:

 

Are you doing gunite or concrete?  

I don't know about you, but I love the deeper color of blue than the traditional.  We wanted the water to look more like a pond than a pool.  No offense to anyone.

 

Gunite. We went with a medium blue. The plaster in pool we had growing up was really white. I'm not sure if that's what my parents picked or if it just faded, but it was too bright. Then they had major problems with the pump and it was a bit so lovely shade of dark green for a while. I wanted something in between. Pebble Sheen Blue Surf.

1 hour ago, cruisellama said:

Just like the Griswall's family Christmas Vacation - salt water or Chlorine?

I'm sure I'll have a cousin Eddie crawl out of the woodwork come summer. That will probably be my brother in law. 😆. We considered both, and we decided on chlorine. 

 

We have company this morning! 

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@melmar02curious too on which you chose.  In our area the pool builders do 1or the other, but not both.  Thus, that is another factor when choosing your builder. We decided to go with chlorine, but took some of the design suggestions from the salt water pool people.

Are you doing the remote control panels that you can doing everything from your tablet...I.e. Change pool lights, turn the bubbles on, etc?  If so keep me updated on how you like it.  

I noticed from your renderings that you don't have a fence all the way around the pool.  In our area there are 3 must have mandates for county code approval.. 

1. Minimum 3 foot cement walk way around the entire pool.

2. Wrought iron fence around the entire perimeter of the pool.  In your design it looks like you can just walk out your back door to the pool area.  For us you would have to go through a 2nd gate.  Caveat you can get an exception to this if you get an automated electric pool cover with a time sensor and separate control panel.  Most people don't do this bc the cost is prohibitive compared to the fence.  For our pool (16x32) it would be 15k.  Wrought iron fence 26 by 42 around the pool plus the pool cover will be 8k.  

3.  We must have 2 egrresses.  Our design is like yours. But to the left of the waterfall we have a bench to sit on that juts out a bit. This counts as our 2nd egress.  By county code it had to jut out instead of staying flush with the waterfall to be counted as an egress.  Theory is that the person needs to grab onto the coping and the waterfall sits up higher, thus can't do it

 

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@melmar02curious too on which you chose.  In our area the pool builders do 1or the other, but not both.  Thus, that is another factor when choosing your builder. We decided to go with chlorine, but took some of the design suggestions from the salt water pool people.

Are you doing the remote control panels that you can doing everything from your tablet...I.e. Change pool lights, turn the bubbles on, etc?  If so keep me updated on how you like it.  

I noticed from your renderings that you don't have a fence all the way around the pool.  In our area there are 3 must have mandates for county code approval.. 

1. Minimum 3 foot cement walk way around the entire pool.

2. Wrought iron fence around the entire perimeter of the pool.  In your design it looks like you can just walk out your back door to the pool area.  For us you would have to go through a 2nd gate.  Caveat you can get an exception to this if you get an automated electric pool cover with a time sensor and separate control panel.  Most people don't do this bc the cost is prohibitive compared to the fence.  For our pool (16x32) it would be 15k.  Wrought iron fence 26 by 42 around the pool plus the pool cover will be 8k.  

3.  We must have 2 egrresses.  Our design is like yours. But to the left of the waterfall we have a bench to sit on that juts out a bit. This counts as our 2nd egress.  By county code it had to jut out instead of staying flush with the waterfall to be counted as an egress.  Theory is that the person needs to grab onto the coping and the waterfall sits up higher, thus can't do it

This is our final design.  We went with chlorine too.  Our neighbor has salt and said unless you really stay on top of it, you can damage the tiles.  Plus, hubby had a chlorine pool growing up so he already was almost set on chlorine, just needed the neighbor with a salt water pool to say it and the deal was sealed.  

The pics include our pre existing patio, but the color is wrong.  It is actually blues, greys and browns.  With slate blue on the benches by the fireplace.

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57 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

Gunite. We went with a medium blue. The plaster in pool we had growing up was really white. I'm not sure if that's what my parents picked or if it just faded, but it was too bright. Then they had major problems with the pump and it was a bit so lovely shade of dark green for a while. I wanted something in between. Pebble Sheen Blue Surf.

I'm sure I'll have a cousin Eddie crawl out of the woodwork come summer. That will probably be my brother in law. 😆. We considered both, and we decided on chlorine. 

 

We have company this morning! 

 

57 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

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20201228_081533.jpgWe went with a dark grey quartz.  Again to make it look more like a pond than a pool.  As you can see by the rendering we have no trees, hence to get that pond look we needed a dark color. The rendering is showing the color with full sun. 

Guessing they took out part of your fence to get the bull dozer in!  Where are they putting all of the dirt?  Our contract is they will degrade the yard or we have to pay them to haul it away.  We are doing degrade due to the size of the yard. However,  if they had to take it away it was going to be some astronomical price of $250 per something cubic, thousands of additional dollars on top of the cost for the pool and fence.

Just curious to see how it works In other states.  

Which pool cover did you get?  We went with the Elephant.

 

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@Pima1988 The builder we did not go with would have done either, but highly recommended chlorine due to the amount of stone. The salt would not be kind to all the stone and the appliances. The builder we went with doesn't do salt, so that decision was really made for us in the end. 

Yes, we'll have automation on the pool and spa. We stayed manual with the fire pit, and it will need a key to turn on the gas and be lit. We wanted to keep control of a fire element out of our 8 year old Evil Knievel's hands. 

We don't have the same requirements here.

1. No walkway is required all the way around the pool. The deck basically ends at the back wall on our design.

2. One fence is all we need here; however there must be an alarm on the gate(s), the latches are set higher so young kids can't open the gate, and there will be an angled piece of wood added to the horizontal supports on the fence panels that is supposed to help prevent someone from climbing it.

3. I'm not sure. Our original design only had the stairs and tanning ledge, not the bench under the back wall which wouldn't be an egress anyway since the wall is 18" above the water line. I don't know if we are only required to have 1 entrance, if the tanning ledge with the seat wrapped around it is so long that it counts as a second, or if the pool has to reach a certain depth to require the 2nd. Ours is only 6 feet at the deep end. We originally wanted deeper, but all the companies we spoke with said over 6 feet was considered a deep dig and would cost quite a bit more. 

I like your kitchen, we didn't really have room to add a bar with stools - looks like the perfect spot for a margarita machine.

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Yes, they took 2 panels of our fence down to get in. That side of the house has a retaining wall that runs the length of our yard with the fence posts set into the wall. They cut the post between the two panels and will weld it back together when they put the panels back up in a couple months. The fence will stay down for most of the project. 

The excavation includes haul away for every company we spoke with, so there are a couple dump trucks taking turns getting filled and taking the dirt away. Excavation, closely followed by gunite, was the biggest part of the total bill. 

We didn't get a cover as we don't really winterize pools here. No sales guy has even mentioned one to us. We'll be able to swim without a heater from the beginning of May through the end of September, and we'll add a couple months to both sides of that with the heater. We had a cover for the pool I had growing up, and we hardly ever used it. We'll just skim the leaves and the the Polaris work its magic in December and January every year. 

Here's a better picture of where they took down the fence. It's starting to take shape. 

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47 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

2. One fence is all we need here; however there must be an alarm on the gate(s), the latches are set higher so young kids can't open the gate, and there will be an angled piece of wood added to the horizontal supports on the fence panels that is supposed to help prevent someone from climbing it.

I'm having a hard time picturing how adding wood (at any angle) makes it harder to climb something.  Maybe it's the rock climber in me, but that sounds like they are adding extra hand/foot holds!

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32 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

We'll be able to swim without a heater from the beginning of May through the end of September,

When I was young, I had an uncle who lived in the Grapevine area.  We'd go down to visit during February school break up here, and my cousins thought I was crazy because I'd go in their unheated pool.

 

Fast forward to my late teens when one of those cousins came to visit Maine in August.  One step in the ocean and he finally understood why I thought Texas pool water was warm in February.  😄 

Congrats on your pool.  It's neat to see the progress.

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47 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

@Pima1988 The builder we did not go with would have done either, but highly recommended chlorine due to the amount of stone. The salt would not be kind to all the stone and the appliances. The builder we went with doesn't do salt, so that decision was really made for us in the end. 

Yes, we'll have automation on the pool and spa. We stayed manual with the fire pit, and it will need a key to turn on the gas and be lit. We wanted to keep control of a fire element out of our 8 year old Evil Knievel's hands. 

We don't have the same requirements here.

1. No walkway is required all the way around the pool. The deck basically ends at the back wall on our design.

2. One fence is all we need here; however there must be an alarm on the gate(s), the latches are set higher so young kids can't open the gate, and there will be an angled piece of wood added to the horizontal supports on the fence panels that is supposed to help prevent someone from climbing it.

3. I'm not sure. Our original design only had the stairs and tanning ledge, not the bench under the back wall which wouldn't be an egress anyway since the wall is 18" above the water line. I don't know if we are only required to have 1 entrance, if the tanning ledge with the seat wrapped around it is so long that it counts as a second, or if the pool has to reach a certain depth to require the 2nd. Ours is only 6 feet at the deep end. We originally wanted deeper, but all the companies we spoke with said over 6 feet was considered a deep dig and would cost quite a bit more. 

I like your kitchen, we didn't really have room to add a bar with stools - looks like the perfect spot for a margarita machine.

Turn Up Reaction GIF by Laff

So interesting.

1. As you can see that is why we have so much brushed concrete since it is required 36 inches for code around the entire perimeter..  

2. They use to allow just a gate at 6 ft., but now any new pool must have a metal fence at least 3 1/2 ft high surrounding the pool itself even if you have the privacy fence.  In our area with your design, it looks like you walk right out to the pool from your back door, you would have to get the automatic pool cover and door sensor on the house with an alarm company for insurance.  Virginia impo is a litigious state.  Everything is CYA. 

3. Our deep end is @ the same. But I think we are 6 1/2 feet.   Our tanning ledge is 18 inches  deep and it looks about the same size. 6 x 9 or 10 feet wide.   In VA there must be a 2nd egress on the opposite end of the 1st aka tanning ledge.  Bench is at 3 1/2 feet high.  This way now with county regs it is considered egress since it is only 3 ft from bench to patio.  

@melmar02

Embrace the memories you are creating.  

 

 

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37 minutes ago, Atlantix2000 said:

I'm having a hard time picturing how adding wood (at any angle) makes it harder to climb something.  Maybe it's the rock climber in me, but that sounds like they are adding extra hand/foot holds!

Here's a photo a neighbor posted on Facebook. It just gives a slant to an otherwise flat surface. I am pretty sure a teenager would still be able to scale it, but that brings the fence to code here.

@teddy I'm about an hour from Grapevine. February is cold here for us southerners.

 

 

Well, we've had our first issue. Fortunately it seems pretty minor. They were setting the forms for the concrete pad on the side of the house where the pump will go and hit a water pipe. The sprinkler system was off, but they hit the line that diverts water from the main to the sprinkler system. It's off now, but we'll have to get that pipe fixed, in addition to the sprinkler lines that were torn up in the dig, before we start watering in the spring. 

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1 hour ago, melmar02 said:

Yes, they took 2 panels of our fence down to get in. That side of the house has a retaining wall that runs the length of our yard with the fence posts set into the wall. They cut the post between the two panels and will weld it back together when they put the panels back up in a couple months. The fence will stay down for most of the project. 

The excavation includes haul away for every company we spoke with, so there are a couple dump trucks taking turns getting filled and taking the dirt away. Excavation, closely followed by gunite, was the biggest part of the total bill. 

We didn't get a cover as we don't really winterize pools here. No sales guy has even mentioned one to us. We'll be able to swim without a heater from the beginning of May through the end of September, and we'll add a couple months to both sides of that with the heater. We had a cover for the pool I had growing up, and we hardly ever used it. We'll just skim the leaves and the the Polaris work its magic in December and January every year. 

Here's a better picture of where they took down the fence. It's starting to take shape. 

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It looks lime they are already forming the Jacuzzi.  So jealous

L

 

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57 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

Here's a photo a neighbor posted on Facebook. It just gives a slant to an otherwise flat surface. I am pretty sure a teenager would still be able to scale it, but that brings the fence to code here.

Screenshot_20201228-110233_Facebook.jpg

That's not what I pictured but it certainly matches your description.  I guess this would deter most younger kids but being able to reach around the pole would let me just walk up that fence!  Is that really the outside of your fence?  Every wooden fence I've ever seen puts the poles & horizontal supports on the inside leaving the outside totally flat (and therefore harder to climb in).  I just assumed it was code that the owner of the fence had to see the structure.  Interesting.

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30 minutes ago, Atlantix2000 said:

That's not what I pictured but it certainly matches your description.  I guess this would deter most younger kids but being able to reach around the pole would let me just walk up that fence!  Is that really the outside of your fence?  Every wooden fence I've ever seen puts the poles & horizontal supports on the inside leaving the outside totally flat (and therefore harder to climb in).  I just assumed it was code that the owner of the fence had to see the structure.  Interesting.

If you look at the photos, the supports for the fence are facing in towards their yard/house.

Other photos show (back side) show no poles or supports.  As a realtor that means the neighbor placed the fence up on their dime.  IE D's has 3 walls of his fence showing the poles/supports inside. 1 wall is flat bc the neighbor already did the frame.  NOW for them the gate to the backyard has to be flush with an alarm.  Hard to scale 

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11 minutes ago, Pima1988 said:

If you look at the photos, the supports for the fence are facing in towards their yard/house

Actually, I think the sides and rear fences face opposite sides (perhaps because not all sides are owned by melmar02).  There's one photo showing a corner where there's visible poles on one side but not the other.  Either way, if the poles and this angled wood are on the inside, that would only make it harder to climb OUT which doesn't make sense since the code requirement should be aimed at keeping people from climbing IN to get to the pool!  I guess I'm just confused by this.

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