We at Symphony Pools understand that it can be somewhat of a painful task selecting a new contractor to work on your home. Our team would like to make the experience as smooth and painless as possible. Here is a general description of what “The Process” will look like before and during construction of your new backyard paradise – with Symphony Pools. Every project is unique, so there may be some steps or phases that can happen in a different order, may not be needed, or added phases to your specific project. Let’s get started turning those dreams into a reality and creating your very own paradise!
1. Contractor Candidates
Selecting which contractors to interview can be daunting and an overwhelming task. There are a ton of options online to select from. Every pool builder has a certain style – after all, building an outdoor paradise is an art. When you are searching for a swimming pool contractor, make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured for the work they will perform. This is extremely important as it can prove to be very costly hiring someone who is not a legitimate contractor, or who is not reliable, communicative, and skilled/experienced in their profession. Several factors should be considered when choosing, including location, experience, longevity, craft, professionalism, communication, and client’s budget. Check the links below at Contractors State License Board and make sure all items are accounted for.
At Symphony Pools, we take pride in our clients, experience, professionalism, communication, and craft. It is important that as the clients, you ask the pool professionals if you have any questions. It is our job and purpose to help, inform, and give you our professional advice. During the initial consultation, we will listen to what is important to you, your project ideas and focus, get an idea of your budget, take necessary measurements and photos of the project area, and provide our professional recommendations.
3. 2D and/or 3D Design
We recommend getting a design drafted, or “plan” for your new backyard. This is the basis for what the project entails, and a well thought out plan can avoid unnecessary problems down the line. It will also make sure that everyone is on the same page during the construction process, and the client and contractor agree on what is being built. We offer two-dimensional (2D) plans and/or 3D renderings at an additional fee.
4. Selecting the Right Contractor
How do you as the buyer or client know when the contractor is the right one for your project? You should feel comfortable, confident, and that the contractor is extremely knowledgeable on their trade. We can provide references and portfolio photos upon request. If you would like to see our work in person, we can also arrange to show you previous clients’ projects that can provide inspiration and/or reference to your specific project. Remember cheap prices don’t always mean good quality work!
5. Signing the Contract
It is very important to fully READ and UNDERSTAND the contract. Make sure before signing that you are getting exactly what we discussed and what you expected. This is a big commitment; we want to make sure our clients are happy and we strive to surpass their expectations. We will require a deposit to move to the next phase of the permitting process.
All new construction jobs and remodels need permits and pool engineering. Symphony Pools will draft the permit plans, submit them to your city, and make any corrections/adjustments as necessary. Certain projects may require a soils and geological report depending on the conditions of the soils, and if they are on or next to a hillside/slope. This is usually a 3 – 4 week process. If you are in one of these conditions, we recommend getting a soils engineer involved immediately, and prior to getting an estimate for a pool. We are happy to provide recommendations if needed.
Soils/Grading Inspection (If Applicable) – In hillside areas, when a pool is next to a hillside or slope, or in certain soils conditions, a pool will need soils and/or grading inspections, and a soils and geological report. This can take a lengthy amount of time, so if you know you’re in these conditions, it would be best to have this done prior to submitting plans for permits.
In order to start your project, there may be some demolition or removal that needs to take place prior to us starting the pool and/or spa.
3. Dig Alert
In California, it is required to call a Dig Alert prior to digging underground. This allows the gas, electric, water, telephone, internet, or any other underground utility companies to come out and mark where their lines are underground. We will make sure this is done at the appropriate time prior to excavating.
4. Layout, Grading, Excavation, & Forms
Our team will lay out your new pool, spa, and decking (if applicable) locations and receive written approval from the homeowner/project coordinator prior to starting. Almost all yards are built on a slope for drainage purposes, so we will need to grade the area prior to digging your new pool and spa to achieve the desired elevations. Once the area is properly graded flat or according to elevations, we can start the excavation and forming. Our experienced professionals will make sure forms are sturdy and elevations/depths are correct.
Our pool engineering will show the required steel reinforcement and schedule for each project. This varies depending on conditions, location, and size of the project. The steel or rebar is the reinforcement for the concrete and is what provides strength and integrity to the elements of a pool/spa. Every in-ground (concrete) pool/spa experiences some sort of stress – compression, tension, and/or shear. The steel is what holds the concrete together from breaking apart or crumbling under stress.
6. Plumbing, Gas, & Electrical
“Rough” plumbing, gas, and electrical can be installed before or after steel. This is the messiest stage of construction with open trenches and dirt everywhere. We will install these lines to the equipment area, gas meter, and electrical panel. The lines will get stubbed and pressurized until connected to the equipment later in construction. Trenches can be backfilled upon inspection and approval.
Pre-Gunite Inspection– The building inspector checks to see if the pool/spa are in the proper location, setbacks/utility easements are correct, steel is correctly installed and bonded, bonding to any metal object within 5’ of pool/spa, plumbing is correctly installed and pressurized to 35# to equipment location, gas line is correctly installed and pressurized (test), make sure that nothing is out of the ordinary, and will check work done so far is in accordance to the permit plans. They will also provide gate requirements (see enclosure inspection below).
Gunite/shotcrete (pneumatically applied concrete) will be installed depending on the conditions or application of the project. This process is one of the most interesting to watch, but is quite loud! Our crews will ‘shoot’ the concrete out of a high pressurized hose (aka. “pneumatically” applied) over the steel and plumbing lines. After the concrete is applied, it will be screeded, troweled, smoothed, and formed to the pool/spa shape.
Pre-Deck Inspection–At this point the inspector will check to see if the decking rebar (if applicable), pool handrails, slides, handicap lifts, etc. are all correctly bonded to the pool structure. This is VERY important, so no accidents occur!
8. Drainage System, Coping, & Masonry
It is very important to have proper drainage around a swimming pool and spa. We can connect to an existing drainage line or install a new drainage line around the pool deck area. A properly installed drainage system prevents landscape runoff water and dirt and debris during the rainy season from being washed into the pool. Coping is the band or border of material that goes on top of the pool structure. There are several options – most commonly used are poured in place or precast concrete. We will discuss your options during the consultation and make suggestions depending on the style of the pool/spa and budget. Decking is optional, but certainly recommended in some areas to allow for seating areas and flat surfaces around a body of water. There are also numerous options, refer to our photo gallery on our website, Facebook, Instagram, or Houzz to get an idea of your desired materials. You can also find numerous photos online that are always helpful when designing your backyard space.
9. Waterline Tile
We will typically install a 6” band of “waterline” tile underneath the coping around the pool/spa walls. A couple of our main vendors are National Pool Tile (NPT) and Fujiwa Tile, both located in the San Fernando Valley. If you would like a specific tile or manufacturer installed, please let us know as soon as possible so we can factor that into our estimate proposal and installation. If you are not sure, we will provide an allowance for estimating purposes, and this can be selected prior to ordering/installing. Tile options are porcelain/ceramic, stone, or glass tiles. However, it must be a pool or submersion rated tile.
10. Equipment Installation
There are a variety of pieces of equipment that can be installed on a pool and/or spa. At this time, we will install and bond/ground the equipment, and make final connections to the plumbing, electrical, and gas. On a standard pool and spa, we provide a variable-speed energy-efficient filtration pump, cartridge filter, pool/spa heater, and booster or jet pump. We will also provide an incandescent or LED (color-changing or white) pool/spa light depending on preference and cost. Technology has dramatically increased over the years and there are numerous options available including pool automation/Wi-Fi controllers, cleaning, alternative purification and chemical systems, and lighting options. These options will be discussed during our initial consultation, so don’t hesitate to ask if anything is unclear or if you have any questions about the equipment and technology available.
Enclosure Inspection– An enclosure inspection is required to proceed with plaster/aggregate installation in a pool/spa. This requires that all fencing/walls be at least 5’ high around the property or pool/spa. Gates leading to the pool/backyard area are outward facing, 5’ high, and self-latching/self-closing. There must also be a ‘pool’ door alarm on each door leading out to the pool area (existing house alarm systems will not suffice). Some cities require a third means of safety as well. This could be a pool alarm, pool safety fence, or an ‘approved’ pool/spa safety cover. At this time, the building inspector will check to see the pool equipment is properly installed and bonded/grounded as well. Our team at Symphony Pools believes that safety is the most important factor when building a swimming pool and/or spa, so this is an extremely important phase in our construction.
11. Plaster/Pebble/Quartz Install
We offer a variety of pool interior finishes that can be installed. Plaster is certainly the most economical and can be a variety of colors, but durability is also the lowest. Aggregate or pebble surfaces have become increasingly popular due to their beauty, durability, and lifespan. There are several pebble/aggregate options available that we’ll review during our consultation. The most common manufacturers we install are PebbleTec, NPT – Stonescapes and Hydrazzo. We can also install glass/aggregate finishes with a beautiful combination of glass and rock (like pebble finishes). However, due to the amount of glass in this mixture, this is also the most expensive finish to produce and install.
12. Pool Cover (If Applicable)
There are a couple different options for pool covers to keep your pool warm and to conserve water. The first is a motorized safety-pool cover that can be controlled at the push of a button that provides a safe environment, a clean pool, reduces evaporation and holds in the heat. The other type of cover is a thermal bubble cover. A thermal bubble cover will heat the water, reduce water evaporation, and will reduce chemical loss.
13. Pick-up Items
Construction is almost always not perfect! However, we strive to exceed client expectations and industry standards. At the end of every project, we will walk the project with you to review and correct any outstanding items.
14. Final Inspection
The inspector will check to make sure that the project is fully completed. They will check to make sure the pool light breakers, fences and/or gates and door and/or pool alarms are installed, up to code and working properly . They will check to make sure the mastic around the coping (between the coping and deck) is installed, to seal off the expansion joint. Lastly, they will verify that any outstanding corrections have been fixed according to code.