2001 (Swimming Pool)


2001 (Swimming Pool)
2002 (Landscaping)

In 2001, "construction" meant swimming pool.  The project began in March, and we were swimming in mid-August.  Sure is nice to have a pool!



Here's how a pool is built

bulletFirst, they dig a big hole, using an excavator.  The hole is about a foot longer and wider than the interior pool dimensions.  
bulletThen they place rebar inside the pool, to hold the gunite (concrete) in place.  
bulletNext, they spray concrete.  A machine mixes water, sand and concrete mix, and pumps it through a big firehose into the pool.  The person doing the spraying has to be pretty skilled to get the right shape inside the pool.
bulletUsing a big spatula, someone smooths out the gunite (and does some final shaping) before it dries.  
bulletThe gunite is dry enough to walk on within 24 hours.
bulletThey then do the concrete prep-work for the patio surrounding the pool.  (The concrete is the foundation on which the flagstone gets laid.)  The concrete is poured.
bulletNext, you battle with the contractor about the height of the patio surrounding the pool.  This battle only ends when you force them to sign a contract accepting liability for any height differences.
bulletStones are cut and laid out.  They're not mortared yet, though.  A team of about five people can do between 100 and 200 square feet in a day.  
bulletThen you battle with the contractor over the lack of randomness in the stone shapes and sizes.  This battle is ongoing, and is only resolved when you identify the questionable stones and make the contractor replace them.
bulletAfter that, you battle with the contractor over the unnatural nature of the cuts being used on the stones.  This battle only ends when you force them to redo 80% of the work they've done over the last two weeks.
bulletAfter cutting all the stone, it's time to mortar (cement) them into place.  This takes about a week.  At the end of the week, you force the contractor to redo the various pieces that weren't set properly and replace the stones that were broken in the process of mortaring.  The words "incompetent" and "shoddy" are used frequently in conversations these days.
bulletWe're not there yet, but based on past experience the next step is being horrified at the contractor's invoice.  You battle with him over the excessive costs.  
bulletThe waterline tile is glued into place.
bulletFinally, they plaster the pool and fill it with water.  To get the water, they run a hose from the nearest fire hydrant through the neighbor's yard, and into our pool.  We need somewhere between 40,000 and 45,000 gallons of water.
bulletNext is the most painful part of the process...waiting until you can actually enter the pool.  It takes almost a week until the water is clean enough and the chemicals are in balance enough and the plaster is cured enough for people to enter.  Dogs, however, aren't aware of the dangers, so they seem to enter at will. 
bulletThe pool cover isn't installed until almost a week after the pool is filled.  Amber only fell in once.  But that was enough for us to appreciate the importance of a pool cover.
bulletJust when you think things are just about finished, you realize that the water isn't draining into the drainage pipes, as it's supposed to.  You make the contractor tear up the parts that aren't draining properly, and redo them.  The contractor complains that he's not making any money on this project, but you don't seem to care too much.  While you're at it, you make him re-mortar some of the stones that still weren't done correctly (even after the second attempt), re-grout the messy parts and re-clean the grout stains.
bulletEventually, after about five months of workers in your yard, everything is finished.  Or so you think.  You very quickly realize that the retaining walls, steps and grass that you were hoping to put off until you can afford them, really must be done immediately.  So you begin the process of searching for a contractor again.  You wonder why the current contractor won't take the job.


We had a digging party.  This is the mothers working  Ladies.jpg (45117 bytes)

The excavator  Excavator1.jpg (48276 bytes)  Excavator2.jpg (54744 bytes)  Excavator4.jpg (56520 bytes)  Excavator3.jpg (52686 bytes)


Spraying gunite  gunite sprayer.jpg (68855 bytes)  Gunite equip.jpg (58090 bytes)

The deep end, with rebar going in  With rebar.jpg (58574 bytes)

An intermediate stage  Digging.jpg (57335 bytes)

Overhead view after the gunite was completed, but before the patio concrete was poured   

Overhead view after the patio concrete was poured but before stonework was completedOverhead2.jpg (43119 bytes)  Overhead1.jpg (49461 bytes) 

Until recently, there was a pile of sand in our back yard from when they sprayed gunite (concrete).  Sammy loved playing in the sandpile, but we're sure glad it's gone.   Do you have any idea what sand can do to wood floors?

sand hill.jpg (60815 bytes)  Sand hill 2.jpg (58406 bytes)

When they brought the flagstone for the deck around the pool, they stacked it up by the driveway.  It sat there for a couple of months until they finally got around to laying it on the deck.  Here are some pictures of the stonework.  

Stone for pool.jpg (37570 bytes) EarlyDeck.jpg (60573 bytes) DeckWithStone.jpg (47853 bytes) Stonework.jpg (27889 bytes)

For perspective, here's what an 8 foot deep pool looks like without water: Perspective.jpg (22780 bytes)

Finally, on August 9, they plastered and filled our pool.  The water was pretty green for the first few days, before it was purified by the pool chemicals.  But when it comes out of our taps, we can't tell that it's green, so we drink it anyway.  Yes, that murky green stuff is the same stuff that we drink!

PlasteringPool.jpg (39267 bytes) FillingPool1.jpg (32478 bytes) FillingPool2.jpg (34044 bytes) FillingPool3.jpg (50956 bytes)

Finally, the completed project in use! PoolInUse1.jpg (43501 bytes)  pooluse.jpg (74432 bytes)