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Quality Gunite and Shotcrete Application for a Successful Pool Project

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Quality Gunite and Shotcrete Application for a Successful Pool Project

When constructing a gunite pool, many factors contribute to the success of the project. Shotcrete application often influences the appearance of the plaster surface. Therefore, shotcrete and gunite pool builders should use the right construction equipment, shotcrete mix, and application technique for the concrete pool to achieve high bondability and durability.

Quality Gunite and Shotcrete Application for a Successful Pool Project

Keep in mind that a poor concrete job adversely affects the whole construction project. One mistake during shotcrete application can cost you thousands of dollars. Before plastering a pool, contractors should carefully examine the concrete surface. If they identify any surface or structural problems, they should fix them immediately. But how will you know that the pool shell has issues?

Pool shell issues

Evaluating the pool shell requires you to pay attention to the below.

Check the texture of the pool’s surface

The first thing to do would be to examine the texture of the surface of the pool. Is it loose, uneven, or sandy? Also, is it possible to rub off the surface material with your hand? If you notice any of these signs, then the pool shell has a problem. It could be that the shotcrete was not mixed properly or that you didn’t give the pool enough time to cure. Moreover, these signs may indicate that the contractor used a rebound during application. Uneven surfaces on the pool shell prevent the plaster from setting, curing, and bonding uniformly.

Examine the porosity and permeability of the pool shell

Normally, the entire pool shell should absorb water at the same rate. In case some sections of the pool shell take longer to absorb water, it means that the pool surface does not have uniform levels of porosity and permeability. This problem is mostly caused by the techniques used during shotcrete application.

In areas of high porosity, shotcrete builders must have used the hand packing technique during application. On the other hand, builders hydraulically placed shotcrete in areas of low porosity. At times, concrete builders have to pause when applying shotcrete to pool steps or walls. And this leads to inconsistencies in the pool shell.

Are there any pool cracks?

Another issue to look out for when examining the pool shell is cracks. Concrete is popularly known to crack during the hydration process. Some cracks are completely normal, while some may indicate a serious issue. So, how do you differentiate normal cracking from abnormal cracking?

Normal pool shell cracks resemble a smashed eggshell. This cracking results from the drying of concrete. And these cracks should not raise a cause for concern since they are not structural. Also, concrete pools experience shrinkage cracks when the concrete begins to set. Such cracks tend to widen and extend into the pool wall and floor. But you need not worry about these cracks; they are not structural.

On the flip side, seeing many extensive cracks may indicate a problem with the pool shell. The pool shell can have a structural crack that interferes with the pool’s foundation and the appearance of the finish material. Moreover, structural cracks affect the durability of the pool. You can notice a structural crack when you notice a leak point or rust around a specific area. It would be best to fix structural cracks immediately before proceeding to the next step. Failure to do so would cause the crack to widen even more.

Check whether the pool shell is experiencing calcium leaching

Never forget to check for any signs of leaching. You can spot calcium leaching through numerous colored spots surrounding the pool. Calcium leaching is a sign of structural cracks. Once you notice this problem, fix it first before you proceed to the next step. Calcium leaching affects the strength and bondability of the plaster.

Examine hidden corners and penetrations

Before plastering the pool, ensure you check the situation around penetrations. Most pools have hidden corners and penetrations that are hard to access during shotcrete application. So, check all these areas to ensure they are consistent with the rest of the pool surface. Only an expert concrete pool builder can reach these areas and apply concrete accordingly. Additionally, ensure that the porosity levels of these sections match with the rest of the pool.

Evaluate areas with flash coats and even out all sections of the pool

Ensure that the whole pool shell is uniform in terms of thickness. Occasionally, pool builders use a flash coat to make the entire pool surface level. If you choose to do this, make sure the flash is firmly attached to the pool’s surface. Also, some builders use plaster to even out the entire surface.

The concrete application plays a huge role in determining the success of the project. Therefore, pool experts advise hiring an experienced and expert gunite pool builder when constructing a gunite pool. Remember, you want to avoid all common mistakes during gunite pool construction. Ultimately, employing a reputable company helps you create a strong foundation for your pool.

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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Say No To Doing Free Pool Designs

Builders need to start saying no to doing free pool designs. This practice devalues the service designers provide.

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Say No To Free Design - Free Pool Designs Are Bad For The Industry

Pool design has changed dramatically over the last decade. In the past, builders either did a hand drawing or used a series of stencils to quickly come up with a pool design concept. It’s only been within the last decade that pool companies felt the need to begin incorporating free designs into their sales process. In years past this had become a common practice. Builders created advertisements with tag lines like “Get a FREE Design” to attract homeowners, hoping to sell them a pool and gave the designs away for free.

The days of having to give away free designs are over. Ads like this hurt the industry.

One thing that the pandemic has done is reignite an interest in swimming pools the likes of which has never been seen. The days of having to go that route and give away a valuable service like design are behind us. Builders no longer have to do that to entice homeowners. These days everyone and their mother-in-law wants a pool. It’s time to start saying no to free design.

A decade ago using 3D design presentations was considered a differentiator. Over the past 10 years that perception has changed. These days the majority of large pool companies incorporate some aspect of 3D design as part of their sales process. Homeowners have come to expect a 3D rendering and their tolerance for quality is quite high given the status of the technology available today.

Why Giving Away Design Is Bad For The Industry

One major and significant aspect of doing designs is often overlooked and that is the amount of time needed to create a sophisticated 3d design. Even when using cutting edge technology like Structure Studios, a design could take anywhere from hours to even days or weeks to complete depending on how elaborate the design plan is.

The average homeowner in 2021 expects to see a 3D rendering of what their pool design will look like.

Accommodating every single prospect that could conceivably want a pool this season with a 3D design is impossible says Cameron Rhodes, co-owner of Southern Poolscapes. “We’ve gotten away from doing free designs a while ago. Honestly, with the amount of folks that want an inground pool right now, you really don’t need to be doing that anymore.”

Ryan Baird of Beyond Blue Pools in Houston said that he has done away with free designs altogther. “Honestly, I feel like if a homeowner truly values the work that is going into the design they should pay for it. There is a cost associated with doing these designs as well as how much time they take.” said Baird whose design / build firm has had their busiest season ever.

Design is a Painstaking Process

There is a growing consensus in the pool & spa industry to do away with free designs. Many experts feel that offering a design service for free commoditizes and devalues the creativity and labor that is involved with creating a custom backyard design for the customer.

The entire process of creating a custom 3d rendering for a customer is a time consuming process. So why not charge for it?

The level of detail and intricacy programs like Vip 3D are capable of achieving has upped the bar for pool designers considerably. An incredible amount of personalization is involved with creating one of these designs. Just learning the software itself takes professional pool designers a long time to perfect.

Swimming pool designer Brandt Gibert of Windgate Custom Pools said his process is seldom a one off design. “Each version of one of my designs takes me a few hours to complete and customers sometimes want to see 2 or 3 different concepts before they come to a decision.”

Say No To Doing Free Pool Designs
Even using a design template involves hours of customization to create a backyard design. Photo Credit – Dan Everton

“Even using a design template only gives you the basis for creating a foundation for a backyard design. It’s not like you can hand that to a customer and say here’s your design.” said Denis Nadeau of Your Backyard Haven in Ontario. When formulating the overall design concept of the pool, experts say it’s difficult or impossible to make a one design fits all type of solution.

“There is no cookie cutter or templatized approach towards designing custom luxury inground pools” said Jason DeBosky of Crystal Blue Aquatics, “People want something unique. A truly discerning homeowner is going to want to see their home, their environment, and the elements discussed during project planning in their design concept. I don’t know how you make that happen with a template.”

Lack of Accreditation

Being a designer in the pool industry has its own unique set of challenges. Most designers get their experience once they are actually in the industry. While there are a number of training programs such as Genesis and Watershape University, there are currently no prepatory or formalized college programs specifically focusing on pool design. Quite often, pool builders who are adept at construction struggle with learning the design aspect and mastering the software. In fact, many builders prefer to subcontract out the design process entirely and pay a staff to produce designs for their customers. Which makes one wonder, if companies are paying for the designs, why are they giving them away for free?

Education is one thing that differentiates pool designers from landscape architects or engineers. Each has accredited college degrees associated with those disciplines. Many pool builders say that not having a pool design focused degree they can hang their hat on has been what has held them back from charging for their services.

The vast majority of professional designers have spent weeks and months first learning and then perfecting this new design craft by watching a series of tutorials and engaging in the trial and error process of teaching themselves to be 3D designers without any formal instruction. This certainly begs the question “how does the pool industry determine who is qualified to be a pool designer?” It’s not an easy question to answer.

One question that is easy to answer is “why stop giving away free designs?” Many pool companies are reluctant to do away with free design because they consider it a value added service. This train of thought is flawed and I’ll explain why. Companies that don’t charge for design train customers to associate zero value with the service.

Truth be told, each design takes someone a substantial amount of time to create. When accounting for the hundreds of man-hours spent learning the software and adding on the recurring costs of purchasing high-end computer hardware and 3D rendering software it all adds up.

The toll on the design staff performing their 20th round of revisions to Mrs. Jones’ pool just to get her to sign the contract is mentally taxing, especially when you’re not being paid for them. The price tag associated with allowing that process to continue during this climate when pools are practically selling themselves is unfathomable. If you are still offering free designs, you should probably stop.

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Pool Builder

Building a Luxury Inground Pool

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Building a luxury inground pool

You can turn your backyard dreams into a reality by installing a luxurious inground pool. Luxury inground pools not only offer exceptional aesthetics but also increase the value of your property. Nonetheless, building a luxury inground pool is not a walk in the park. You have to employ a reputable pool construction company in your area. Alternatively, you can conduct a DIY project if you have the relevant background and experience in pool construction.

Building a luxury inground pool

A detailed process of constructing a luxury inground pool 

Step one: Coming up with the pool design

When constructing a luxury inground pool, the first thing to do is to come up with a pool design that matches your requirements. More often than not, your pool design will depend on the size of your property and budget. Most dependable pool contractors present 3D pool designs to help you choose a good pool layout. All in all, your pool design should complement all your needs and budget. Currently, there are thousands of luxury pool designs to choose from. The design process usually takes about one to four weeks. It depends on the pool contractor you hire. 

Step two: Obtaining permits

Before you proceed with construction, you have to obtain the necessary permits. Usually, your state will require you to meet a certain criterion before you start constructing your pool. To get a construction permit, your local authorities have to conduct a thorough inspection of your property. It would be best to hire a reliable pool construction company to help you get these permits. In most instances, they are in a better position to communicate with the state authorities. Getting a pool construction permit can take about one to six weeks. The time varies depending on your state. Some states can issue a permit in less than two weeks.

Step three: Pool excavation 

Once you get the construction permits, it’s now time to start the work. First, you have to find a good pool space on your property. Most homeowners use their backyard space. Then begin by digging up the pool area based on the pool layout. During pool excavation, get rid of any debris and dirt lying around in the area. It takes a shorter time to excavate a simple pool design. But generally, excavation should be complete within two to seven days. Some pool contractors may use trucks to excavate the pool faster. 

Step four: Pool plumbing, Electrical 

After excavating the pool, install all equipment and cables involved in pool plumbing. The size of the pool plumbing system will depend on the equipment and water features you want to install in your pool. The pool plumbing process often takes about one to two weeks, depending on the extent of the pool plumbing and your pool contractor.

Step five: Installing the luxury inground pool

After completing the pool plumbing, install your pool. At this point, the installation process will depend on your type of pool. At present, there are three major types of pools; fiberglass, vinyl, and concrete. Concrete pools incorporate the longest installation time. These pools take approximately 28 days to cure, so they will likely be complete in one to two months. Fiberglass pools, on the other hand, have the shortest installation time. It takes about seven days to install a fiberglass pool. So, on average, it takes one to three weeks to install a luxury inground pool.

Step six: Landscaping, custom features 

When it comes to constructing a luxury inground pool, you’ll spend more time installing water features and decks. But generally, it takes one to four weeks to install custom features to your pool. Always install the most suitable water features that match your landscape. Also, use high-quality decking material to minimize maintenance costs.

How long does it take to build a luxury inground pool? 

One of the most frequently asked questions by homeowners is how long it takes to build a luxury inground pool. On average, it takes eight to twelve weeks to build the pool. Of course, this time varies depending on a wide range of factors. Although it might take a long time to build your dream pool, consider the benefits you’ll get out of these stunning features. Hire a top-notch pool construction company that is capable of bringing all your pool dreams to life.

Conclusion

Luxury inground pools are fantastic sources of relaxation and enjoyment. However, they are expensive, and they incorporate a long construction period. Therefore, make sure you employ experienced and professional pool contractors who can construct your luxury dream pool. Remember, one mistake during construction can cost you thousands of dollars. If you are conducting a DIY project, ensure you follow all the right steps of building a luxury inground pool.

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SCP Suing Olympus Pools over Million Dollar Debt

Olympus Pools response to million dollar lawsuit and other alarming concerns

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Olympus Pools was being sued by SCP for $1 million dollars

Olympus Pools is back in the media again and now facing a $1.1 million dollar lawsuit with the country’s largest pool supply distributor SCP. A recent lawsuit filed in Pasco County by SCP Distributors LLC is suing Olympus Pools for over a million dollars in equipment delivered and installed in customers backyards. This is yet another challenge Olympus Pools, a once prestigious and well known builder faces amidst an onslaught of bad publicity due to allegations of unfinished pools and ongoing lawsuits.

It appears that SCP intends to go after Olympus Pools rather than begin putting liens on homeowners. This latest recent development has begun to make many trade partners and subcontractors extremely concerned.

SCP filed a million dollar lawsuit against Olympus Pools

Brian Leung, an attorney for SCP, said the distributor agreed to a promissory note with Olympus recently last month in April to settle the debt. In it’s lawsuit, SCP said that Olympus Pools had 6 months to pay off the $1.1 million dollar debt owed to the supplier. To date, Olympus has failed to make the first installment payment of $191,000 which prompted the recent litigation.

Leung said that when Olympus Pools failed to meet the agreed upon installment payment, that triggered the litigation which now seeks the full amount in addition to 18% interest.

SCP Distributors suing Olympus Pools for $1 million dollars

Response to recent SCP Lawsuit

We reached out to Olympus Pools owner James Staten for comment about the ongoing issue with SCP and received an official statement via his public relations representative .

“Even though we continue to do business with SCP daily, they felt after the media reports it was in their best interest to secure our credit line.”

Olympus Pools – Public Relations Representative

“In my opinion, it is disappointing that despite being one of their best customers for many years, they chose to make things more difficult for our clients and team instead of supporting us during this time. However I’m sure we will get it resolved with them soon enough.”

In a statement a month ago to Pool Magazine, Staten responded to allegations directly and listed a variety of reasons why Olympus Pools had fallen behind on jobs. Staten cited the recent shortages of labor and materials impacting the pool industry.

“The conditions that arose during the pandemic, instead of increasing 20 to 30 percent we doubled in size.” said Staten.

While the pool industry itself may understand Staten’s plight, homeowners and investigative reporters have been much less sympathetic. Staten has faced virtual non-stop calls, picket lines and visits from reporters since the story first broke roughly 2 months ago. Backlash from customers has been brutal on social media. Consumer watchdogs and investigative reporters said hundreds of pools currently remain unfinished.

Staten admits that he and his staff sold way too many pools last year. Ultimately, he said that he “takes full responsibility” for the situation. However, homeowners have been livid at the waiting times as their projects have lingered. Many customers have complained that Staten continued to take on new projects while their backyards remained an ongoing construction zone for months and months past their promised deadlines.

Homeowners are increasingly concerned they could get stuck footing the bill for Olympus Pools unpaid subcontractors. Some homeowners have begun receiving liens in the mail.

Rumors of Criminal Investigation

Olympus Pools may face worse problems aside from the million dollar lawsuit filed by SCP. A spokesperson for the company responded to Pool Magazine inquiring about a recent report by ABC Action News that indicates 2 separate Florida counties have opened criminal investigations into allegations of fraud and misuse of funds.

“We have heard through the media that it is actually Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties. While we won’t speculate on behalf of law enforcement, what we can tell you is that we have not broken any laws and we are working to get these pools finished. There are a few people out there, however, who have become obsessed with seeing our company destroyed, despite their pools being finished.” said Olympus Pools in a statement to Pool Magazine.

Staten himself says that no wrong doing took place. “I know we have committed no crime. Just because someone makes a report or tells a story it does not mean that it is true.” said Staten in a statement to investigative reporter Jackie Callaway.

Many Olympus Pools customers have reached out to Pool Magazine over the last few weeks, sending us photos of their job sites, complaints and the various stories and news articles that have been written about Olympus Pools. The amount of negative attention in the media has surmounted to the point where Staten has brought in a professional press relations consultancy firm to help communicate with the media. In a statement released to Pool Magazine, an Olympus Pools representative said:

“Individuals have coordinated attacks on our company through a private Facebook group. They’ve coordinated physical pickets and protests on the street, coordinated efforts to reach out to the media and coordinated efforts to reach out to law enforcement. As a result, authorities clearly have to take those claims seriously, however, as I have said before, we have not broken any laws and we are still here. We’re completing work every day. We are not hiding and we are not going anywhere. We will finish all of the jobs we started, so long as our license remains intact.”

Olympus Pools Responds to Subcontractor Complaints

We questioned Olympus Pools point blank about recent allegations made by local subcontractors that are complaining to the media that they have not been paid. Recently Humberto Jimenez made a claim that he was owed over $380,000. Another contractor Brian Wagner had claimed he was owed over $73,000.

“$73,000 is huge for us. We could potentially lose half our employees,” Wagner told investigative reporter Jackie Callaway. “Our last resort is to file a lien. It is something we have discussed and really don’t want to do.”

“I didn’t want to speak out because I don’t want to start trouble and not get work from other builders.” Jimenez told Pool Magazine Editor Joe Trusty, “Many other subcontractors are owed money too, and they are afraid to speak out for the same reason.”

We inquired with Olympus Pools as to both of these particular contractors that reported to the media they had not been paid, a public relations represenative for Staten said the following:

“Regarding Mr. Jimenez, his statement that he is owed $380,000 is flat out false. Last week, he told the media it was $300,000 and we provided proof of payments to the reporter. We spoke to the person who handles Mr. Jimenez’s accounting and she told us that there is an issue on their end and that they failed to apply payments we made to their invoices. According to his own accounting people, they haven’t recorded our payments. As soon as Mr. Jimenez has his accounting in order, and it is accurate, we will review his invoices and determine the accurate amount to see if in fact there is a balance to settle. Regarding Brian Wagner, we have paid him $47,512 in the last 6 weeks and now owe him less than $24,000.”

It is important to note that Olympus Pools has made some headway with subcontractors since our last report. Pool Magazine Editor – Joe Trusty, was in communication with Aaron Allen of Paver Solutions who recently reported that his firm had finally reached a resolution with Olympus Pools.

Can Olympus Pools New Plan of Action Reverse The Damage?

In a phone call back in April with Pool Magazine, Staten insisted that he fully intends to finish each of the projects Olympus Pools has been contracted for. He also said that he would not take on a single new project until his company was caught up on their current jobs.

“We’ve cut off taking deposits, we’ve cut off starting excavation. all we’re focusing on is the jobs under construction,” Staten said.

As far as the homeowners who are afraid their jobs will not be completed, Staten said “Their pools are going to get completed. We are working tirelessly. I promise you, you won’t find anybody, any company out there working harder. We doubled the size of our in-house construction team so we can be more self-reliant and give better service.”

While the lawsuit and criminal allegations aside may prove to be nothing, Staten has a lot of work to do in terms of repairing Olympus Pools reputation. We asked them what they plan to do in order to restore confidence with the community and with their trade partners.

Staten insists that he has the funds to complete the projects he is under contract for. Recently he released a press release saying that he was partnering up with respected builder Jordan Hidalgo and Pools by Jordan to help finish jobs in a more timely fashion. This is news which may bode well for homeowners. Staten seems to have made considerable headway since partnering with Hidalgo who will now be managing administration, accounting, permitting, purchasing, and customer relations starting Tuesday.

Since May 10, Olympus Pools has completed the following:

  • 26 Pools passed final inspections
  • 18 pools have had concrete work completed
  • 13 job sites have been cleaned up by cleaning crews
  • 12 pre-grades were completed
  • 11 pools had electrical work completed
  • 11 pools had brick and tile completed
  • 10 pools had plumbing work completed
  • 4 screen enclosures have been completed
  • 3 pools had plaster work completed
  • 2 retaining walls completed

“I’m looking forward to putting this chapter behind Olympus and showing what our talented teams are capable of accomplishing together,” said Hidalgo.

Only just last year, Olympus Pools had an “A” rating with the BBB. The story this year is much different. Outsiders can only hope that bringing in a seasoned veteran like Hidalgo can turn the tide. Homeowners, law enforcement and the entire pool industry are watching closely.

The pressure is certainly on Staten to deliver. Although it may seem that forces are conspiring against him, there is probably not a single person involved in this entire mess that truly wants to see Olympus Pools fail.

Not the reporters and investigators who are just doing their job. Certainly not the employees whose futures and reputations are entwined with Olympus Pools. Neither do the trade partners and subcontractors that helped build Olympus into what it was. Nor the homeowners who entrusted Olympus Pools to be good shepherds of their backyard dream. Truth be told, the homeowners are probably the last ones in the world that want to see this company fold.

Right now, one can only speculate as to whether or not Olympus Pools can make a recovery and hopefully salvage a once highly respected reputation in the pool world, as well as their own local community.

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