Sometimes things just fall into your lap. This was the case for Michael Hall, who was looking for something new to boost sales for his Golden, Colo.-based Prestige Pools & Spas.
“I came across a gentleman from Portland, Ore., who had a pool design that was new to the United States,” Hall recalls. “He was looking for builders to do some high-end work with it.”
The design in question was a package pool with components that were being manufactured in Italy. It featured a stainless steel frame that came in 36-by-42-inch panels and a PVC liner that mechanically adhered to the walls.
Hall thought he found something great with this new type of vinyl-liner pool. But at first he had a hard time selling the product. Many affluent customers prefer a traditional gunite pool, he says.
Fate soon intervened again, though. “The customer saw another job [using the new package pool] and he became emotionally attached to the concept,” Hall says.
Completing the picture
The customer lived just outside Colorado Springs and was in the process of having an 18,000-square-foot mansion built. He wanted a pool to complement his home because, after all, Architectural Digest was going to feature the property in its pages as soon as construction was completed.
To set up the steel walls, Hall poured concrete footings. A screw jack was then used to attach the wall’s buttress system to the footings.
“The screw jacks are basically levelers,” Hall explains. “[Because of this], the pool is within 3/16 of an inch straight. Because this pool has a gutter system, it needs to be level. And this pool is dead level.”
The gutter, or overflow, system — traditionally found on a large commercial pool — helps create a vanishing edge-like effect. “We recommended the gutter system to the owner,” Hall says.
The floor also is atypical of most vinyl-liner pools. This one started with a slab of concrete and a warehouse finish that made it smooth. Then a 3/8-inch-thick foam pad was placed on top before the liner was put in place.
Italian ceramic tile was used for the trim around the pool and spa. The tile was placed vertically up the pool wall and horizontally along the gutter. It has a small groove for a finger grip, which lets swimmers pull themselves up onto the deck.
Hall used gunite to build the attached raised spa. “In Europe, they don’t achieve the temperatures [in their spas] that we do,” he says. “In the United States, we are used to hot spas of about 104 degrees, and we were concerned with the way the PVC might react on the panels at those temperatures.”
All decked out
For the deck, Hall decided that stamped concrete would be too busy for an installation that featured smooth, unencumbered lines. Instead, he chose colored concrete and then scored it to give the appearance of 5-by-5-foot slabs.
“Around the perimeter of the pool, we poured a 1-foot-wide bit of polymer plastic for the coping,” Hall says. “Then a 12-inch band of concrete that goes around it. The gutter is right below the polymer.”
The way the pool is set on the property was one of the most important design elements for Hall and his client. “We spent six months on this design,” he says. “We had many sessions with pieces of tracing paper. The pool’s steps have been in four different locations.”
Hall also tinkered with a few design extras such as a sun shelf. “The sun shelf is 9 inches below the top of the water,” he notes. “What I like is that you can sit in the water and have a drink, or you can play with toddler children in shallow water.”
The $125,000 pool has all the latest bells and whistles. It features a set of deck jets that can be set at different elevations. “[The customer] does different fund-raisers and entertains 500 to 600 people in the backyard,” Hall says. “He wanted to add something, so we went with the deck jets and a sheer descent [waterfall] on the spa. It adds ambiance.”
The entire package also features the latest in automated controls. The pump, heater and lights can be operated from the house or equipment room — and can be remotely accessed via a cell phone.
All in all, it was a 10-month project that took more than six months of design and nearly four months of construction. But for Hall, it was all worth it.
“This project was the first [of this type of pool] that we sold,” he says. “Now, as a result, we’ve had three other similar sales.”