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Barrier Codes


Prerequisites for Cleanup:

  • Fence and Barrier work completed
  • Any other miscellaneous ancillary work (that would produce a lot of construction debris) so that cleanup can haul everything away in one fell swoop just prior to final inspection.



Over the months, the pool has become somewhat of a big trashcan.  As you can see in the pictures below, not only has water and trash collected at the bottom, but its also become a big science project, teeming with all kinds of interesting plant and animal life forms.  A week after the shotcrete shell was shot, a huge storm moved into the valley and dumped a few extra inches into the pool.  As we headed into the late fall/early winter months, the rate of evaporation began to slow way down and the water just hung around.  The result was the big mess you see below.


In addition to the junk in the interior of the pool, big piles of trash also collected around the exterior of the pool as well.  Its important to note that everything that you see in these pictures are typical when a pool gets built.  Pool subcontractors typically do not take their trash with them when they finish a job.  As a result, the cleanup phase is a standard part of building a pool and its a necessary step in preparing the pool for the final interior plaster/pebble work that still  needs to be done.  The decking phase was one of the biggest culprits.  In addition to the wooden stakes and pegboard/fiberboard used for the forms, there was plastic and paper used when the concrete was poured and more plastic and paper when the acrylic was applied.  Most of the trash around the edges of the pool is from that work.

In addition to real trash, there's also a lot of loose dirt that has been moved around and piled up during the grading in preparation for the prep work.  A lot of these little piles have sprung up in various locations around the pool.  Below you see trash thrown on top of a pile of loose fill dirt.  I plan on keeping most of the loose fill dirt for landscaping purposes after the pool is done.


In addition to the trash in the back, a lot of trash has been collecting in the front of the yard from the rockwork sub and from the tearing down of the old pilasters for the front gate.  My neighbors and HOA have been very patient with me, but its about time that I get this stuff hauled away.


Cleanup is a formal phase of the pool building process that a lot of people don't seem to appreciate.  Its a very crucial step in getting the interior of the pool ready for final plaster work.  It also represents the final opportunity to "repair" and "restore" the backyard after months of getting trashed and abused.  This is important for prepping the yard for landscaping and returning the backyard to a usable state.  As much miscellaneous / extra work should be accomplished prior to cleanup as possible so that the yard doesn't get trashed again before interior is done.  Any sub that comes in after the cleanup phase needs to be as meticulous as possible in cleaning up after themselves.

For the cleanup work, I contacted a couple of different cleanup subs to get bids.  Both offered identical services for about the same price.  In the end, I went with the company that had the largest operation and has been around the longest.  They run 8 crews simultaneously during the height of the summer boom time and peak at about 30 pool cleanup jobs a day.  For the pool interior, they charged $125.  This includes pools with up to 500 sq ft areas.   Larger pools are extra.  For a spa, its an extra $35.  For a full interior/exterior with spa, the total was $300.  The complete job includes:

  • Interior (Pool and Spa)

    • Pumping out water and removing debris inside of the pool

    • Scraping the pool concrete surface clean of the built-up gunk in preparation for the interior work

    • Cutting all pool plumbing pipes to release pressure and water (except for main drains and waterfalls)

  • Exterior

    • Removing 3 tons of debris around the pool including shotcrete/concrete waste

    • Removal of any leftover forms (shotcrete or decking) and/or miscellaneous rebar 

    • Backfill trenches, remove berms, and fill in areas near gates to meet barrier code

    • General grading around pool and deck area to level the surface

Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 10:22am
The cleanup crew arrived just before 10:30am.  The truck they brought was huge.  The crew super's name was Tomas.  Interestingly, like most other subs that I talked to, he has been with the same company for a long time.  Tomas has been with the company for 14 of the 17 years the company has been in existence.  When I first started the pool project, I would have guessed that there would be high turnover in the construction industry, but it has turned out just the opposite.  In fact, Tomas said that one of the guys in the crew has been with New Leaf for 12-13 years and other guy 2-3 years.

I noticed that on the side of their truck, it said, "Landscape and Design."  When I asked Tomas about that, he told me that its somewhat of a misnomer - that the company only does pool cleanup jobs.  I guess that the pool cleanup business has become so lucrative for them that they don't need to waste their time doing anything else.  In fact, the owner of the company had told me earlier that his company does over 3500 pools a year working for over 35 pool different pool builders in the valley.  He runs 8 crews, doing about 30 pools a day during the height of the season in the summer.  That's a lot of pools.

When they arrived at the house, they had just come from another job.  I looked in the back of the dump truck and it was about half full of trash already.  Tomas said that the previous job earlier that day produced the full 3 tons of debris.  He said that there was just enough room in the truck for my 3 tons of debris.  Tomas said that they typically charge $45 for every additional ton (about 6 full wheelbarrows full) of junk they haul, but they would be hard pressed to find more room in the truck for any additional junk.


They started to unload their equipment, which consisted of a couple of wheelbarrows, a submersible sump pump, a bunch of hoses, and a miscellaneous assortment of other tools (buckets, picks, shovels, ...).


They lowered a ramp from the back of the dump truck to the ground and went around back with the wheelbarrows to start hauling.  They started picking up the miscellaneous trash near the back of the pool.

In the meantime, one of the crew members started depressurizing the plumbing pipes by cutting off the ends with a hacksaw.  After months of staying under pressure (I was checking it periodically as the subs came through), they were finally getting cut.   Its important to note that the pressure of the pipes should be checked frequently during the course of the pool building process, but especially before the decking concrete is poured.  After decking, its too late to repair any leaks without some serious rework.  Now that the decking was done, keeping the under pressure was no longer needed.  He started with the waterfall suction lines and bleed valve near the skimmer, then worked his way around the pool cutting off all the remaining pipes.  The only pipes he didn't cut were the main drains on the bottom of the pool and the waterfall feed pipes coming out at the top of the waterfall.  I understood the waterfall pipes (the rockwork guys said they would be back to do the cutting themselves and to put the capstone on top of it), but I didn't understand why they didn't want to cut the main drains.  When I asked, I was told that the interior guys have asked them in the past to leave it for them to complete.  I don't know why this would be.


When the pipes were cut, a huge torrent of water came gushing out of the cut in the pipes as the pressure was released.  After a few minutes of watching the water being emptied from each pipe, the work was done and the remains of each of the sealed end caps were discarded with the rest of the trash.


Another item that I had not realized was still around were the forms leftover by the shotcrete people.  There were areas around the perimeter of the pool that still had forms stuck to the side of the bond beam.  Most of the remaining sections were half-way buried under dirt, making it hard to spot, but they found it, and proceeded to dig it out and haul it away with the rest of the junk.


Once the pipe cutting was done, the same crew member started to clean out the auto-water leveler (AWL).  After months of collecting rain, dirt, and dead insects, the AWL was just as disgusting as the bottom of the pool.  He stuck a hose into the AWL hole and started to flush it until it ran clear.


Meanwhile, the other crew members were busy either hauling away more trash, or removing excess dirt heaped up in corners of the yard. 


After finishing the AWL, the interior guy turned his attention to the entry step of the pool, which had a 1/2" - 1" thick crust of construction residual (concrete bits, sand, nails, steel, etc.) stuck to its surface.  The interior guy spent quite a bit of time in that area, scraping away the junk with his scraping tool while blasting it with a high-pressure water nozzle.


After the entry step area was done, he moved on to the skimmer and started by spraying out the basket and other inserts in the skimmer.  Like the AWL, he put the water hose directly into the top of the skimmer and blasted out all the junk that was collected in there over the months until it ran clear.  The water that came streaming out of it started to collect at the bottom of the pool. 


While he was taking care of that, the other crew members were beginning to grade around the pool, backfilling any trenches, but mainly breaking up the berms and excess piles of dirt that the decking guys piled around the pool.  Before some of the berms could be leveled, a lot of excess construction debris and larger rocks had to be removed.


Once the larger pieces of rocks and miscellaneous pieces of concrete/shotcrete were removed, they began to rake smooth the final grade of the dirt.  They leveled it so that there was approximately 3" - 4" from the grade to the top of the deck surface.  Later on, after putting in the landscaping lights, drip system, and plants, I'm planning to fill in the remaining area with decorative landscaping granite.  


The cleanup job included hauling off 3 tons of debris, including concrete from the shotcrete phase.  And concrete there was - so much of it that they had to bring in a sledge hammer to break up a big pile that had been left near the equipment before they could fit it into their wheelbarrow.


It didn't look like a whole lot of fun wheeling the junk into the back of the truck.  In fact, in these pictures below, the crew guy started up the ramp without sufficient speed heading up, and almost lost the load as he hit a bump near the top of the ramp.  The wheelbarrow almost went over sideways trying to get over the top of the hump.  Fortunately, he was able right the thing in the nick of time and get the concrete into the back of the truck.


Here are some shots cleaning up the area around the decking that collected a lot of the extra concrete residual.  After hauling away the big pieces, the area was graded and leveled.


At this point, the interior guy had finished the skimmer and started on the pool bottom.  He started by scraping the crust from the bottom of the pool near the spa dam wall and pushed it towards the center of the pool.  He had the hose blasting the debris forward while he continued to scrape and push everything towards the bottom.  The water at the bottom of the pool was starting to grow larger, but the submersible sump pump they placed at the bottom of the pool started to pump it out.


I had no idea it was there, but the cleanup crew had located a storm drain just behind my house over the wall.  I didn't realize the blue hose going over my wall at first, but after I saw what they were doing, I jumped on top of the waterfall out of curiosity to see where they were disposing the water.  When I peered over the wall, I noticed that the hose fed right into the opening of a storm drain that was directly behind my property (about 20 feet away from the wall).  This gave me some ideas for backwashing later on.  I estimate that from my equipment to the storm drain, it would require about 50-60 ft of hosing.  It sure would make the yard look better if I didn't have to empty the water into a pit.  I think I may have wasted $100 on paying the excavators for digging me that backwash pit a few months ago ...


The interior guy started to make his way around the pool to the other end, and continued to scrape the crust there, pushing it to the bottom of the pool, and letting it collect to be removed later.


Here are some additional shots of him working on a bench from a wider perspective.  You can see how much crud he was able to scrape off the surface using that simple scraping tool and a high-pressure water nozzle.


Here are some additional shots of cleaning the bench at the far end of the pool.


As the sludge from the scraping continued to build up at the bottom of the pool, there was no way that the sump pump was going to remove it.  They had to shovel this sludge into buckets and haul it away.  You can see the interior guy here filling up his orange bucket with the stuff.


Each time the bucket was filled, it was handed to another crew member outside of the pool waiting with a wheelbarrow.  It was totally disgusting.  If you're eating lunch while reading this page, I would suggest that you don't look at the enlargement of the picture of the wheelbarrow below.


After most of the sludge was removed, the interior guy started working on the waterfall, spraying it down and getting rid of the haze and dust that had covered it since the waterfall work had been completed.  I must admit that the waterfall earth tone colors looked much more vibrant after he was done cleaning it.  I was actually considering getting the waterfall acid washed when the interior people came through, but seeing the waterfall get so clean after a simple high-pressure water blasting, I'm reconsidering it now.


Here's the interior guy applying the final touches to the interior of the pool.  I couldn't believe how clean they had made the pool!  It almost looked like a new shell!  I could actually see the grey concrete at the bottom - something I hadn't seen since the shotcrete work was done.


To wrap it up, he cleaned out the holes where the main drain pipes were coming up out of the bottom of the pool and drained out the remaining water in the bottom.  Very nice.


Meanwhile, the other crew members were wrapping up with the external cleanup work.  The final mess was the big pile of rock, masonry brick, and other junk in the front yard.  When they originally looked at it, they said that the full pile in the front yard ALONE was about 3 tons.  Since there was a lot more trash in the back, I asked them to instead just take out the big pieces of debris from this pile in the front and leave the loose fill dirt.  I could always find a home for it in the backyard somewhere.


After the interior guy finished the pool, he moved on to the spa next.  The bottom of it was completely covered with trash.  He moved the sump pump over to the spa and adjusted some of the hose going over the wall.


And like the pool, he started off by cutting the pipes in the spa and releasing the water and pressure that had been there since the plumbing phase.


Next, he started scraping the surface of the spa while blasting it with water under high-pressure.  He also sprayed down the waterfall leading into the spa until the haze and dust was gone.


He continued to scrape while pumping out the water into the storm drain.  All the sludge that was collected at the bottom of the pool was shoveled into the orange bucket and hauled out.  Pretty soon, the spa was sparkling clean, just like pool.

Once the pool and spa interior were done, and the exterior work completed, there were only a few more miscellaneous items to take care of.  I noticed a few weeks back that when the decking guys came through, they had completed covered up the pool lights with masking tape.  Over the weeks, the heat from the sun caused the masking tape to turn brittle, and trying to remove it now was a pain in the neck.  I asked them if they could remove it and they happily obliged.  Finally, they sprayed down the entire length of the pool deck with water to clear off all the dirt that had accumulated over the weeks until it was nice and clean again.


The crew was gone by about 12:45pm - a little over 2 hours after they arrived.  Here are some final shots of the pool after the cleanup work was completed.  All the pipes except for the main drains and waterfall pipes were cut and de-pressurized.


The bottom of the pool and spa were sparkling clean as you can see in these next couple of shots.  I had never seen the pool this clean since the day they finished the shotcrete.  Just as importantly, most of the trash around the pool had been hauled off and the area surrounding the deck and pool had been graded to a perfect level.


I'm now ready for the final (pre-plaster) inspection.  After the final inspection, I'll be ready to get the interior done.  However, I'm not planning to do the interior work until at least after the new year, and maybe even as late as the end of January.  I figure that the pool is going to be unusable until June anyways, so I may as well save time and money on pool maintenance until then.  That being the case, I'm hoping that the pool stays reasonably clean until then.  That might be a bit challenging, especially if we get some rain over the next month or so.

So on we go to the final inspection.  I called the City of Chandler Developmental Services to schedule my inspection for this Friday.  After punching in my information into their automated phone scheduling service and getting a confirmation number, I called Forrest (Chief Inspector for City of Chandler) to schedule the actual time.  Forest said that due to the increase in the number of inspections going on this week, they were hiring some contract inspectors to get them over the hump.  He said that most likely, I would be getting a contract inspector.  That's fine by me.  I just want to get my final green tag and get this pool over with.

Problems with the Cleanup Phase / Things I would have done differently:

  • Nothing


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