Prerequisites for Layout:
A drawing of your pool/spa in 1/8" scale, showing all
water features, raised bond beams, steps, benches, skimmers, lights, and location relative to
property lines and house edges.
Yard that has been marked by Bluestake.
City Pool Building Permit (for
Chandler, AZ anyways)
Area in the backyard where the pool will reside should be
cleared of debris, rocks, weeds, and any other artifacts that could prevent the
spray paint from contacting the ground. If the backyard has an
existing landscape which includes concrete, brickwork, or other hard-scape
features, a special Pre-grade sub may need to come out to professionally
perform a pre-grade. Your excavator may also do the pre-grade, but it
will be additional money on top of the excavation fee.
The Layout sub is probably the quickest and least expensive sub
in the pool building process. Usually they're in and out in about an
hour. They just take a can of spray paint and sketch out the shape of your
pool from a drawing that you have. They make the shape about
6" larger than the actual shape all around. The reason they do this
is because they need to take into account the pool shell thickness. The
whole job only cost me $85. It was $70 for the pool, $10 for the
spa, and $5 for the waterfall.
Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - 12:20pm
For Layout, I found
Mike, who worked as a superintendent for a bunch of the mid-tier pool companies in the
valley. Mike takes jobs on the side doing Layout for people like myself who
are doing pools themselves. Here he is at work looking over my
drawing. His tool set was pretty simple. For most of the
calculations, he used a simple green plastic template of semi-circles to match
up with the circular shapes on my pool. Once he found a match, he
determined the center of the circle and marked it on the drawing. This
mark would then be used to anchor a tape measure from which to draw circles on
the ground with. Pretty nifty.
Here's a tip: most subs hate it when people just draw stuff on a napkin. It can
be done and I know people who have done it but it makes their job harder. I've been noticing that a lot of subs really appreciate
a neat drawing, preferably done up on a computer. In the construction industry, 1/8" scale is standard. Its
not wise to get cute and use a different scale. After all, its your pool that's at stake.
On the left, you can see the rest of the tools used by Mike. I
thought to myself, "not a bad business - the overhead is minimal, startup
costs are almost nothing and you end up making close to $100 for an hour's worth
determined the locations of all the centers of the circles needed to trace
out my pool, he marked them on the ground by triangulating the position using
two tape measures together. From there, he pounded nails into the ground
at these locations and used it to draw out perfect curves. Eventually, after
repeating this step a few times, the outline of my pool began to slowly come
The neon orange spray paint was used to paint the actual pool edge lines on the dirt.
The nails with the orange plastic on the tips were used to mark off the area that
was spray painted on the ground. He spaced them out every few
feet or so, re-creating the shape of the pool with the nails. The purpose
for this was to mark the outline of the pool's edge with something a little more
substantial than spray paint. I noticed that the spray paint came off
the dirt pretty easily by just stepping on the paint. I could have only
imagined what would have happened if it rained ... Man, there goes my $85.
Again, the shape of the pool was drawn 6 inches larger than the pool
drawing. This was to take into account the pool shell's thickness. Here are some other shots of him at work.
After spray painting the shape of my pool on the ground, he went back and
started pounding nails into the ground along the perimeter of his spray painted
lines. Here are some additional pictures of him doing that.
During the layout process, as I began to actually SEE what the pool was
going to look like, it forced me to reconsider and change some
things on my original drawing:
- Got rid of planter on both sides of pool entry. I didn't realize just how narrow the walkways were on either side of the
pool's first entry step. In my pool drawing, they looked
sufficiently wide enough to allow foot traffic through very
comfortably. Uh-uh. Not even close. It may be hard to see
from these pictures, but as a result of this, I effectively had to abandon
both planters on either side of the first entry step. This also meant
that I had to chuck the accent boulders on both sides as well.
you look at the picture on the left, you can see that there is only about 4-5
feet of access space from the house edge to the pool's edge, even without
the planter there. Having
the planter there along with two accent boulders plus the +6" step for
the spa left the walkway about a foot and a half wide - way too narrow. The picture on the right
also shows how
narrow the walkway to the right is. I think without the planter there,
the width of the sidewalk is just wide enough. Abandoning the planter to the
right also meant having to get rid of the extra bond beam that I wanted in
the front of the pool. Oh well.
- Moved the skimmer location. Mike noticed that the skimmer in the original drawing was near the
bottom of the pool (near the wall of the house). Being that the equipment is on the left hand
side, he moved it over to the left. He said that it should be as
close to the equipment as possible to save on the plumbing runs. The
skimmer is usually placed somewhere where its not in line of eyesight
because it just sticks out like a sore thumb. I really didn't mind
it being moved, but now it will be placed right next the accent boulder
near the spa/pool junction. That would have prevented me from
putting the other boulder there, but since its gone anyway due to the
narrowness of the path, its a moot point. You can see where the
skimmer is going to go in the picture above (left). Its drawn in as
a rectangular box next just below the 3rd step.
shape of pool near setback lines to maximize pool width. It was difficult to shape the pool in an aesthetically pleasing way
without taking away too much from the width of the pool. The space
behind the TV niche (that's the part of the house that juts out a few feet
on the right side of the drawing) forced Mike to trade-off maximizing the
width of the pool to a reasonable length with carving out curves to make
the pool shape look good. If you look at the picture in item #1
above (to the right), you can kind of see the shape of the pool is not as
nice as it could have been. That was the compromise. The other
thing I had to keep in mind is that I have to stay 5ft away from any
window opening. If I encroached into that area, it would have forced
me to have to replace those
windows with a special tempered glass window (for safety reasons), which
meant a lot more $$$. Here is
what the area just behind the TV niche looks like. You see how
creating a more pronounced curve behind there really started to eat into the width
of the pool. Oh well, he did his best.
- Changed shallow end of pool from 3' to 3'6." I also decided
to go with a 3'6" depth at the shallow end
rather than 3". I did so for two reasons:
- Mike mentioned how shallow 3' really is. He said that it wasn't really
a practical depth to be of any recreational use. I measured
3 ft up from my feet and the water level was lower than my waist.
He was absolutely right.
- Notice I have three steps leading into the pool. I want the
first one to be 9" down because I wanted to put a chaise lounger
chair in there. 9" is deep enough so that I'm close to the
water (sitting in the lounge chair) but not deep enough so that I'll
be hit by the water. From that step, I would descend 12"
for each step below that. The next step would be 21", then
the last step would be 33". The next logical height would
be 45" - which is 3'9". And if you account for the
water level to be 3" below the surface of the pool, that puts it
at exactly 3'6" - this was really a no-brainer.
Anyways, that's it. The whole process took about an hour. It
probably would have been faster except I was asking a bunch of questions along
the way. Man! I had been staring at that dumb pool drawing for the
longest time. It was such a huge difference looking at it on the ground where it
was going to go as opposed to looking at it on paper. I couldn't believe
how cool the pool looked in real life ... even if it was just spray-painted on the
Incidentally, Mike is a GC-for-hire. He said that he's
done over 3000 pools in all his years in the industry (that includes the pools
that he's GC'ed and the ones he's just layed out). He said that he would
charge $400 to be the GC of a pool. That would include 10 visits
($40/visit) out to the house after each sub to inspect their work. I was
really tempted to take him up on the offer, but alas, I've already gotten
started. I respectfully declined. However, $400 is an amazing deal.
He also offered to come out right before the first inspection (pre-gunite) to
make sure all the sub's work up to that point is up to par. He said he
could do that for $40. That one I couldn't refuse. That would be a great
little insurance visit - for only $40? Anyways, I wouldn't hesitate to use
him again. He was quick, knowledgeable, very professional and very accurate/precise in
laying out my pool. I could tell he's done it thousands of times
before. He could have done it in his sleep.
Problems with Layout Phase / Things I would
have done differently:
- No problems at all, but then again, it was the shortest phase. I
changed around some things but that was really due to not being able to
visualize some things physically on the drawing. But not to take
anything away from the Layout sub, he was someone who was definitely on top of his game! He made
it look easy.
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