rookie builder questions, (lots of them)


Old 08-07-05, 12:58 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 5
rookie builder questions, (lots of them)

I am considering building an in ground pool in Wisconsin, and like many others on this site want to do it myself. For a 20x40 rectangular pool, by the time you add heater, cleaner, solar cover, winter cover, reel, fencing, etc. the builders are in the $40 - 50 K range. In our area vinyl seems to be the most common, not sure if that is due to climate or other reasons. I am starting to lean toward a do it yourself project, and think I can cut the cost by at least half. I have found an excavator who does a lot of pools. I will most likely hire the electrician & concrete work out as well. I will do the PVC, and install the pool walls from a kit (leaning toward polymer walls) , fencing, landscaping, vinyl liner etc. Probably go with a Polaris 380 cleaner. If I build it myself I will go the extra mile on materials build it to last as long as possible.

OK, here are my questions.
1) My area has a low water table, low clay soil, good drainage, and the pool will go on a high side of the yard. No anticipated problems with low water table. If I use the AquaGenie skimmers, do I still need main drains at the bottom of the pool? If so is this for high water table relief valves, or for pool circulation. AquaGenie brochures seem to imply you don't need bottom drains, but they stop short of stating that.

2) I have a lot of trees in the yard. I am thinking on going heavy on skimmers, at least 2, maybe 3 or 4. Pool will have 20 ft walls on North/south, 40 ft on East/West.Thinking of 2 Aquagenie skimmers on the downwind (east)side, one on the upwind (west)side. Thoughts on this?

3) I have looked at a lot of the kit websites and installation guides, and none of them mention any use of soil compaction. I would think this is critical on the backfilled areas under the concrete apron. Also none make much mention of proper stone fill under concrete patio. Do the pros recommend renting a soil compactor for the bottom of the pool, and for the pool apron area?

3A) Speaking of backfill, I have also not seen any mention of backfilling with stone rather than soil. Especially in our climate with ground freeze, wouldn't it make sense to use stone backfill around the pool walls? (for those not familiar with Wisconsin winters, local codes call for 4 ft deep footings under decks, mainly due to winter freeze/thaw cycles).

4) An automatice cover has appeal, but concerned about both cost and maintenance with the tracks & alignment. I also am concerned about the cover reel, since in our climate the solar cover will need to be on often. Seems like a nuisance to roll on & off, and then pull reel off to side. Looks rather ugly & in the way if you leave the reel with cover under the diving board. I think a solution would be to have a manual cover reel box with a door 'submerged' in the pool apron, just in front of the diving board. I think this could be designed easily, with proper stone & drainage at the bottom of the 'box', so the reel assembly is always in the right place and yet hidden & out of the way. Anyone do this, or have seen any kits for this?

5) Pool bottom is still a little confusing. Is it a soft sand/vermiculite mixture, or hard concrete? Or do I have options for both? pros / cons ?

6) Vinyl liner. Certainly thicker will be stronger, but from what I have read is that most do not fail from leakage, rather they fail from UV sun & bleaching, and many get replaced for cosmetic reasons. Is thicker really better or does that just make the installation harder (heavier).

7) Vinyl liner installation. For a first timer, how hard is this? Looks like a critical part of the job.

I know this is a lot of questions, appreciate any & all comments. thanks.
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Old 08-07-05, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: So. Calif.
Posts: 540
Hi Dave ....... can't resist this statement... " If I build it myself I will go the extra mile on materials build it to last as long as possible. "
If this is indeed a concern I suggest you seriously consider gunite,

the thicker liner is a plus, also ultra vilot inhibitors in the liner , to keep the sun from making the liner brittle just above the water line,

the hole is most critical, as anywhere that its over [ too big ] the liner will have to stretch thus putting more stress on it, you must be careful not to allow any object in the pool that could poke a hole in the liner and or cut the liner this goes for cleaning equipment,

instead of the polaris consider the letro ledgend cleaner , looks like the polaris , however it has 4 wheels instead of 3 [ more stable ] larger mouth to suck up debris,

one skimmer will be fine , and besides you do not have enough water flow to properly utilize 2 , or more skimmers.

from what Ive read about the Aqua-genie skimmers, Im not that impressed,
a normal skimmer , in conjunction with your letro cleaner, and directional fittings on each of your returns will be adequate,

a 2.0 hp whisperflow pump [ 2 1/2 " suction necessary ] along with a 60 sq. ft. d.e. filter will keep your pool quite clean and crystal clear,

also consider a chlorine generating system , I prefer the digital, unit made by Autopilot , 5 yr. warranty, there pretty much bulletproof , the water will feel velvety , no eve irritation and no chems to buy, altho I do recommend a copper based algaecide to enhance your chemical maintence program.

Old 08-07-05, 09:04 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 5
Stevie, thanks for the reply. Not sure why, my guess is climate , but I have yet to see a gunite pool in this area. Maybe 80% vinyl, 20% fiberglass from everyone I have talked to.

I will look into the Letro Legend and chlorine generating system as well.

Any thoughts on soil compaction or back-filling with stone?

I am surprised about your comments on skimmers. The builders I have talked to have quoted extra skimmers.

For directional fittings, what are these? Are these to aim the flow in a certain direction to ensure the best circulation, or are these to ensure the flow is only one direction?

Thanks again.

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