Ideally, homeowners would stay far away from an aquascape under construction.
However, many contractors are willing to make an exception when it’s time to cure the gunite or shotcrete.
The shell typically must be watered two to four times daily. And it’s not uncommon to ask the homeowner to handle the task.
Still, some question whether there’s a safer alternative.
“There are all kinds of rebar, forming and construction debris, and backing board around the pool site,” says consultant and project manager Brian Kircher, owner of Cal-Oaks Management in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “It’s an extremely dangerous place to walk, let alone get next to a 6-foot concrete drop.”
Once you’ve highlighted the hazards, offer to perform the service yourself (for an additional fee, of course).In fact, some high-end builders assume this responsibility without even asking.
As a general contractor overseeing the construction of mostly upscale pools, Kirchner requires it of each builder he hires. “I definitely draw the line at asking the customer to go over to the brink of [the hole] and water it,” he says.
Often, however, it depends on the homeowner. Many clients will opt to assume curing duties rather than shoulder the extra cost. In that case, make sure they’re aware of the dangers of working in a construction zone. And clean up as much of the site as possible. It helps if the deck forms haven’t been set up yet because they can present another potential hazard.
Next, advise the client on how to water the shell safely.
“We tell them to just maintain a good distance from the pool for the first couple of days,” says Jeffrey Stachmus, scheduling manager at Pulliam Aquatech Pools, a Pool & Spa NewsTop Builderin Fort Worth, Texas.
Once the concrete has had a couple of days to set, homeowners may water the pool from the inside, Stachmus says. In addition, a Pulliam representative will warn the homeowner to use caution when moving in and out of the shell, and to avoid the weep holes.
Whether done by the builder or homeowner, there are a number of hands-free alternatives. For example, an oscillating sprinkler or two may be placed at the bottom of the shell, and set on timers; just make sure the sprinkler reaches every inch of surface area.
Michael Logsdon, president of Land Design in Boerne, Texas, places a soaker hose — or one with a row of pinholes stretching lengthwise — around the pool. Because it produces such low water volume, the hose can be left running for seven to 10 days.
A superintendent or other company representative then monitors the progress every few days, Logsdon says.