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Contractors and Builders

Add a Tanning Shelf to your Swimming Pool

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Add a Tanning Shelf to your Swimming Pool

A tanning shelf is an extensive shallow section in a pool where swimmers relax and enjoy breathtaking views. The area is often positioned close to the steps, and it affects the pool design and performance. Tanning shelves differ in shape and sizes, and once integrated with other design features like placement, length, and width; they primarily affect the appearance and management of the pool.

Add a Tanning Shelf to your Swimming Pool

Stunning pool feature

President of Lorax Design Group, Kurt Kraisinger, views tanning shelves as quality architectural structures. Kraisinger says, “Our Company always recommends tanning shelves in every pool project we carry out. This area of the pool is enjoyable and the pivotal point of other activities around the pool.”

Founder of Ledge Lounger, Chris Anderson, acknowledges that he has seen the increase in tanning shelves over the years. His company has succeeded in establishing a significant market share through its unique tanning shelves and beach entries. He says, “Contracting companies are in love with our products because they offer beautiful sceneries. Pool owners love furnishing ledges since it gives them a resort-like view.”

On the other hand, Anderson confirms that tanning shelves have been existent for a long time, although he cannot figure out how they came to be. He says, “It’s quite fascinating, does the drinking fountain design explain the tanning shelf’s origin, or is it the other way round?” People’s demand for a certain kind of water led to the invention of the bubbler. Perhaps, when people noticed how they enjoyed the bubbler, they thought of creating something much larger.

Notwithstanding their origin, tanning shelves are currently one of the most approved elements. “We have a large population of young buyers with small children; maybe this explains its rising popularity. They are in all types of pools, fiberglass, vinyl liners, business, and domestic pools.”

David Owens concurs and states that he perceives tanning shelves as an opportunity to be creative. He says, “Tanning shelves offer the ideal location to install unique art. Tanning shelves designed with creativity are more attractive, and this is my blueprint. Our customers love them!”

Stepping, lighting and cleaning

Contrary to popular belief, cleaning the tanning pool area can be quite challenging. Why? A regular automatic pool cleaner cannot sanitize the area because water has not extended far down into the pool. It is possible to clean this section using an in-floor cleaning system, although it’s costly. What’s the solution then? “Some constructors install returns on the sidewalls of the pool to ensure water flows over the ledge,” Anderson says. There is a high possibility for stagnation if there are no returns to move water over the ledge. Pool companies should, therefore, ensure all sections of the pool are purified and free from microorganisms.

At times, the tanning shelf can appear dark while the rest of the pool has excellent lighting. Pool owners should thus make sure there is proper lighting in this area. Anderson says, “Halogen lights are not a good idea. Instead, small LED lights will be awesome in lighting the ledge. Installing the lights does not take much effort. If the customer desires to use the area at night, you have to consider lighting.”

Kraisinger states that you need to discuss the depth of the ledge with your customer because it impacts the surface’s appearance compared to the deeper parts of the pool. He says, “It is advisable to choose a gloomy shade where it’s not evident and distinguish it with products that are noticeable like glass tile.” Additionally, Owen says that artistic features can tamper with safety.

As a pool builder, it’s good to design the shelf in such a way users can see the end of the shelf.

Eugene, Oregon, designer/builder, david owens

Most shelves have high-friction materials like exposed aggregate since there are usually many people hanging out in this area. Pool owners should thus ensure a reliable surface foundation on shelves because accidents can quickly happen in such areas. Tanning shelves also serve as play areas for children; therefore, surfaces should be of high friction.

Depth and dimension

A right tanning shelf floor is between 4 to 18 inches. Choosing the most appropriate pool depth and dimension is a crucial decision. “We help our customers choose tanning shelves designs,” Anderson says. Designs are often influenced by the latest trends depending on a location. He says, “The depth and dimension vary across different geographical locations due to climatic conditions. As a result, there is no uniform design for tanning shelves, which explains why we create many products for distinct sizes.”

Pool builders have to apply certain logic when coming up with a tanning shelf size. Some customers enjoy relaxing in deeper parts of the pool. Other customers desire to read, take pictures, and sit thus will prefer shallow tanning shelves. Owen says, “The water in shallow tanning shelves is much warmer, and our end users enjoy it.”

The purpose and style of the pool both affect the size and shape of tanning shelves. Kraisinger says, “Owners prefer a large tanning shelf where their users can sit, relax, and enjoy the sun, especially on a sunny day if it’s a pool meant for business purposes. Homeowners, on the contrary, choose the dimensions based on the size of their pool area.”

Basic construction

As seen from this article, tanning shelves are constructed across various types of pools. Today, builders of fiberglass pools provide designs inclusive of tanning shelves. On the other hand, package pool constructors provide “liner over steps” incorporated into most pool designs.

If your geographical area has extensive soil, you will put in a lot of effort to prepare a good foundation for pool construction. Additionally, the shelves should be built with respect to the soil characteristics, among other factors. “The shelf has to be constructed according to the standards of a normal pool,” Anderson says. It is important to note that the more you excavate the less money you will spend on pool construction. If the shelf is enormous, a point of strain could occur if you have underground movement.” Ultimately, Anderson has never heard of anyone who needs any unique building technique throughout his experience in the industry.

Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Contractors and Builders

When Customers Don’t Want To Pay For Their Pool, Don’t Do This

These guys give contractors everywhere a bad name

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When Pool Customers Don't Want To Pay Their Bill, Don't Do This

Every single builder in the pool industry has encountered that one problem customer, the perpetual goal line pusher that is constantly moving the bar and making it almost impossible to finish their pool construction project. Quite often, it’s easy to get frustrated when a customer refuses to pay for work that has been performed on their property. There have been many times when I’ve heard pool builders say over the years “Man, I wish I could just go back there and jackhammer everything out.” What they don’t do, is actually act out their fantasies of getting even. No matter how frustrated a builder gets on a job site, there is always a better recourse to take than willfully destroying someone’s property and immediately opening yourself up to a civil and potentially criminal penalty.

Recently a video went viral featuring a contractor destroying a customers bathroom for refusing to pay the balance of their bill. The video itself elicited plenty of cheers from fed-up contractors on Facebook who have probably faced a similar situation themselves.

We’ve all been there and have been confronted with a customer that you just can’t make happy. It can feel like no matter how hard you work or how much you’ve done that they are impossible to please.

Destroying a Customers Property is Probably The Worst Way to Settle a Contract Dispute

Contractor Terry Gregory went viral this week for his rather unorthodox way of settling a job that went sideways with one of his customers. He was caught on camera destroying his customer’s bathroom after she refused to pay the balance of a bill he had submitted.

Obviously there are tons of folks who can empathize with said contractor getting stiffed on the bill and “taking back” his work product. Like many who saw the video that was my first gut reaction, however there are always two sides to every story.

The homeowner Amber Trucke, had been documenting her experience in a variety of Facebook Groups and was receiving feedback from ongoing work on the progress she was posting to the group.

Trucke’s complaints stemmed from the fact she had paid $3,000 down on a tile remodel for her bathroom but that as work progressed she noticed that her bathroom tile renovation was beginning to look like amateur hour on her dime. She posted photos of work that contractor Terry Gregory had performed to date. The reactions she got from the group left her with serious reservations about paying the balance of her $7,500 bill.

Many Facebook Group members told her that based off of the photos she was showing, that in their opinion the job was substandard and was a complete do over. Hundreds of homeowners advised her that the work was not up to snuff and told her not to pay the remaining balance.

Trucke had been going back and forth with Gregory and his business partner Jordan Cazares over the project and had been presented with a bill for $4,225.00 to which she stated the she was not prepared to pay yet because she had not had time to inspect the final work product and was not happy with the overall work based on what she had last seen.

The company she hired Dream Home Remodels of Colorado, released a statement to the news regarding the incident. “After several weeks of work for a customer, communication broke down at the end of a project. There was no displeasure expressed, and we proceeded to ask for payment on the project by the end of the day. Communication broke further after that and resulted in our company repossessing a tile shower.”

‘Repossessing’ the tile caused considerably more damage to both the homeowners property and the firms reputation. On camera Gregory was recorded saying “Is someone going to pay me? Let me tell you something. No contractor in the state of Colorado will fix that when they found out that I took it back because she refused to pay me. No one!” and continued to demolish the bathroom.

That turned out not to be true. After witnessing the video three local area contractors offered to fix Trucke’s bathroom for free. The behavior was all documented on camera and can probably be used in a civil suit against Dream Home Remodels of Colorado at some point. It’s important to note at the end of the day the contractor did not get paid the balance on the work they performed and may have caused future irreparable damage to their reputation for acting in such a fashion. Ultimately it may prove that there may not be a homeowner in the state of Colorado that wants to work with the firm after watching how they resolve conflicts with customers.

What Can Pool Builders Learn From This?

The lesson here as it applies to the pool industry is that no matter how angry a customer may make you, or how justified you feel in your frustration with their behavior and ingratitude, that there are often two sides to every story. Personally, after having seen the photos the homeowner posted, I would not have been eager to pay my final bill either.

A builders first impulse may be to say, “oh that customer is crazy” or “they’re just being difficult”. There are some who immediately shut down to criticism and refuse to accept that their work may not be their “A” effort and could be sub-standard. Not allowing for customer feedback and insisting they pay for work they are unhappy with is a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully we don’t hear stories of unpaid pool contractors acting out on their impulse to destroy a customers backyard. That’s probably the best way possible to go out of business. However, what this whole story can teach us how important it is to listen to the customer and work towards finding the best resolution that satisfies them.

It’s important to note that there are a few huge social media groups that cater to homeowners that are building a pool as well as existing pool owners. For pool builders to ignore the fact that their work is being posted on Facebook and Instagram and being critqued by homeowners is tantamount to living in a vacuum.

It’s a fact that homeowners are giving customers feedback on the pool construction process. When a homeowner encounters an issue that brings quality of construction or build decisions into play, they will often head to one of these groups to get feedback from others.

In some instances the comments they receive may lead to pushback on paying their final bill. How builders handle that criticism and proceed in satisfying their customers are what separates them from the Terry George’s of the world. At the end of the day, it’s probably better to file a mechanics lien than it is to act on impulse and harm your reputation.

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Contractors and Builders

How to Hire a Pool Builder

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How to Hire a Pool Builder

A swimming pool can modify your backyard into a first-class haven. Even so, constructing a pool is not a walk in the park. This process consumes a lot of time and effort. Thus, you have to be careful and employ a reliable pool builder. Keep in mind that they can either make or break your project. Moreover, swimming pools cost thousands of dollars. Subsequently, you cannot afford to hire an unreliable pool contractor.

How to Hire a Pool Builder

What is the cost of hiring a pool builder?

Pool construction often varies depending on the pool builder you hire. But on average, it costs $36,700 to $66,500 to build a pool. Most professionals charge approximately $50 to $125 per square foot for pool construction. The labor costs vary depending on the type, size and design of the pool. Pool contractors usually charge more for complex pool designs and landscapes.

Hiring a professional pool builder vs. conducting a DIY project

Some homeowners prefer building their own pools. Constructing a pool is a tedious process, especially if you have no experience. So, you would rather leave this work to a professional pool contractor. Although it might be cheaper to conduct a DIY pool construction project, you might end up spending thousands of dollars in the long run. Remember, any mistake made during pool construction can take a toll on your budget. So, unless you have extensive experience and knowledge of pool construction, always hire a reputable pool company.

How can I find a reliable pool contractor near me?

Generally, it can be hard to find a reputable pool contractor. So, conduct thorough research on the best contractors near your area. From there, compare quotes and narrow down to your best option. Below are some ways that’ll help you settle for the best pool contractor near you.

Getting referrals

One of the best ways to find a reputable pool contractor is to ask for referrals from your neighbors, friends or family.

Check customer feedback

Never forget to evaluate all customer reviews and feedback about a company’s services. Pool contractors with the highest ratings are more likely to deliver quality pools. Also, read all the customer reviews. Doing this helps you find the best pool contractor who caters to your needs.

Check pricing, terms and conditions

Different pool installers charge differently. Thus, it is essential to know how much a prospective pool professional charges. Keep in mind that your pool contractor should cater to your requirements and your budget. Also, it is crucial to understand all the terms and conditions of construction before hiring a pool builder.

Is the business legal and licensed?

Get to know a brief history of the company you plan to hire. Check whether they have a valid license and insurance cover.

What are the services offered by pool builders?

Typically, there are many aspects involved in pool construction. Most are always willing to provide all kinds of pool construction services. Some of these pool services include:

  • Coming up with the pool design. A good company will always recommend the best pool designs that suit your requirements.
  • Obtain all the pool construction permits for you.
  • Excavating and setting a good foundation for the pool.
  • Putting up the rebar framework.
  • Installing all pool equipment; pool filter, pump and heater.
  • Installing additional features in the pool.

Do you need to hire a pool builder?

After knowing the pool type and design, you wish to install, decide whether you want to hire a pool builder. A pool builder is undoubtedly necessary if you have zero knowledge of pool construction. Pools incorporate a long construction period. Thus, it would be best to hire a professional pool contractor to handle the project.

What should you tell your pool builder?

Once you find a reputable pool professional, ask them questions to get clarification on everything concerning pool construction. A good percentage of reliable pool contractors are always willing to address all your queries, fears and doubts. Below are some of the questions you should ask your pool contractor.

  • Are you the one responsible for coming up with the pool design? Do you give recommendations based on my requirements?
  • Is my landscape fit for excavation? How do you deal with problems with my landscape?
  • Are there any challenges that are likely to show up during the pool construction process?
  • Do you offer any pool financing options? If you do, how can I apply for the pool loan?
  • Do you recommend the equipment and materials I should use for my pool?
  • Do you have a valid license and insurance cover?
  • Do you offer warranties?

Final thoughts

Before hire a pool builder, there are several factors you need to consider. Generally, your contractor should have a valid license, extensive experienced and exhibit professionalism. Remember, pools cost a fortune; so, you have to hire a dependable pool contractor.

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Contractors and Builders

Jimmy Reed Is One Of The Elite

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Jimmy Reed is One of The Elite

Jimmy Reed is unquestionably one of the top experts specializing in glass tile interiors today. A master artisan, he is definitely on a short list of A list installers. When it comes to tile, Reed is often sought out for his expertise in that particular realm.

We had the opportunity to catch up recently on the Pool Magazine podcast and discussed his impressive body of work. Working with a veritable who’s who in the swimming pool industry, Reed’s work has taken him from coast to coast working on some of the most jaw dropping pools in America.

Reed’s expertise is highly prized, consequently he’s become a frequent collaborator with luxury pool builders like Dave Penton.

Jimmy Reed Has a Reputation

A native of Southern California his entire life, Reed first began building a reputation on the West Coast for his incredible mastery at installing glass tile interiors. That notoriety has spread over the years to catapult Rock Solid Tile as a premier consulting firm providing expert pool tile installation all over the country. Today he is widely considered by many to be one of the best of the best.

With almost 50 years under his belt, there isn’t a whole lot about glass tile Jimmy Reed doesn’t know about.

Reed first got his start in tile almost 5 decades ago and has become a permanent fixture in the pool industry. A humble and unassuming person, you’re almost lulled into the false security of believing he’s just a regular guy. In fact Reed is without a doubt one of the crème de la crème when it comes to tile and an important resource for veterans who value his craftsmanship and wealth of knowledge.

Mosaic tile interior Reed installed in a collaboration with elite designer Shane LeBlanc – Photo Credit: Jimi Smith Photography

“The first important job I ever had the opportunity to work on was for Jaqueline Bissett” who costarred opposite Steve McQueen in the 1968 classic “Bullitt”. Over the years, Reed has worked on tile interiors for a laundry list of Hollywood celebrities and famous athletes.

Skip Phillips and Dave Penton collaborated with Reed on this stunning custom luxury pool.

First getting his start as an assistant in the 70’s, Reed would spend years learning the trade and honing his craft. “I inevitably wound up hiring most of the guys I used to work with” said Reed, discussing his progression to starting his own firm Rock Solid Tile back in the early 80’s.

First starting with luxury tile interiors for kitchens and bathrooms, as tile interiors began to become more popular in swimming pools, Reed would eventually focus on making that a bigger part of his repertoire. “It was kind of a new thing back then, especially in L.A. to be doing an all tile pool interior.” said Reed. Over the years glass tile would become a mainstay with him. “Glass tile really began to take off around the late 80’s” said Reed, “over 85% of the pool interiors we do today involve glass tile”, he explained.

Seeing as though he’s collaborated with some of the most well known designers and builders in the pool industry, we wanted to know Reed’s process for consulting on a high end glass interior.

“Every project is different and I get called in at all different times,” said Reed, “Often, I’ll get the call before the pool is even built and be the first one called in to consult with a client who doesn’t have a pool or they have an existing pool they want to add tile to.”

This was certainly the case on a major remodel Reed worked on with Dave Penton, Alison Terry, and David Peterson for one luxury home owner in San Marino, California. The homeowner had the budget and the desire for a complete pool and landscape makeover.

While elite pool builders know to consult with Reed when it comes to glass tile, Reed likewise knew to tap his resources in the industry to consult when adding on all of the extras the client was asking for to compliment the $250,000 glass tile interior he was installing.

“Sometimes I’ll come in and recommend that we create a team with a landscape architect, and a legitimate viable pool builder to really take on the project and make it what they are ultimately looking for.” said Reed.

Jimmy Reed continues to impress builders with his amazing eye for detail. – Photo Credit: Jimi Smith Photography

Advice For Those Aspiring To Learn Glass Tile Interiors

“Learn the techniques and the trade from the ground up, don’t take any shortcuts. It’s not just about putting tile on a pool. There is so much preparation involved. If you can master that, by the time you get to the tile installation part, that should be a breeze.” said Reed.

However when it comes to actually pulling off luxury tile interiors, Reed admits the number of installers capable of doing high end work at that level are far and few between.

Personally, we have seen our fair share of glass tile installations posted to social media showing evidence of catastrophic failure. Consequently, we asked Reed to weigh in on what folks may be doing wrong. Some of the failures have occurred in areas of the country where tile typically experiences more expansion from season to season. Reed stressed that proper surface preparation can account for expansion even in cold environments which aren’t traditional markets for glass tile interiors.

Builders sent a snapshot of the mosaic tile installation Reed did standing up to another harsh Wichita, Kansas winter.

Reed’s best advice for those tempted to take on glass tile if it is outside of their wheelhouse; “Don’t do it, or hire someone that’s experienced in those types of installations” he explained. Suggesting that because of the high price tag associated with glass tile interiors, doing one wrong could be prove to be extremely costly. “Homeowners doing a project of that nature typically have no problem taking care of themselves on an installation that goes wrong. I’d either go into it with the utmost confidence or not do it at all”, said Reed.

Many builders would love to be doing more glass tile interiors but there is a limited number of skilled tradesmen capable of taking on high end work. Many contractors are unwilling to learn how to properly install glass tile. We asked Reed if he saw a lot of that going on in the pool industry. “It’s very true, they don’t need to do the training because they are very busy as it is. It’s like learning a different trade. They don’t see it as learning how to do their trade better, it’s something completely foreign to them.”

For those that want to do high end glass tile interiors Reed explained that there is actually a really short list of installers that specialize in the types of installation work he does, mentioning Tributary peers like Danilo Bonazza and Ray Corral who frequently work on the East Coast.

A Return To The Norm

Although Covid-19 has seen unprecedented demand for inground pools, the pandemic has brought it’s fair share of challenges for many folks in the pool industry. This has also been true for Reed, who has had to scale back his operations. “We’ve been busy, but not as busy as we’re used to. We scaled down so our overhead is lower, our workforce is smaller. We’re still very busy though. This season has been nuts (referring to demand).”

We asked Reed if he expected a return to the norm soon, now that the demand associated for pools due to Covid-19 has begun to taper in the market; to which Reed responded “I do, at least we’re certainly seeing that on our side.”

Listen to our entire interview with Jimmy Reed on the Pool Magazine podcast

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