In a letter to the editor, South Shore Gunite Pool & Spa President Robert Guarino questions a photo that appeared on PSN's Oct. 11, 2013 issue cover. Read what he has to say. In order to follow along, scroll down and "click" on the image below to see the corresponding numbers. 

I would like to offer an opinion of the cover picture on this issue. It has the headline “Change orders.” This picture is a textbook [example of] how not to do shotcrete. This picture illustrates all the reasons why we have so many problems in this industry with poor workmanship. A few items are glaringly incorrect and are listed below.

1. This area was shot and left unfinished, then trampled to the point where it has become dead and the surface is flaking.

2. This area should have been shot first (always shoot coves first). By not shooting the coves first, the rebound — material that flies off the surface of properly applied shotcrete, it is a higher concentrate of sand because the concrete sticks to the surface and therefore is weaker in strength — piles up under and over one of the most structurally crucial parts of the pool. All rebound should be removed from the pool and never worked back into the shell.

3. Wall trimmings and rebound being worked into the shell. Wall trimmings should never be removed from the pool and never worked into the shell.

4. Wall trimmings and rebound placed under the steel reinforcement, to be flashed over later to provide the final finish.

5. Shooting over rebound that has accumulated on the previous pass. This should have been scraped clean and a blow pipe should have been used to decrease unnecessary rebound buildup.

6. Walking in and compacting rebound and shavings, to be shot over later.

There are two reasons to do work like this, and the first is usually money. By using shavings and rebound in the shell and in all steps and benches, it saves about 10 yards of shotcrete at about $125 per yard (actual price will be determined by location), or $1,250 on one pool alone. There is also a savings on labor: If you shoot less material, there is less time on the job.

The second reason is neglect or, more likely, inexperience. If this is the way they were taught by people who were taught by others who, in turn, were taught the wrong way, there is a constant downward spiral of talent. With no qualifications or certification needed, there are no means of stopping this. There are no substitutes for education. Just because you have done it a specific way doesn’t make it right.

In closing, just think how many pools these people shoot each year and how many they have shoot over the years — and how many they will shoot in the coming years. That translates into a whole lot of not just poorly constructed pools, but pools constructed so badly it is as if they are stealing the customers’ money.

I’ve been in the shotcrete business since the early ’70s. I was in the first nozzleman certification course more than 15 years ago, and have renewed my training and certification every five years. I am on the technical committee for the American Shotcrete Association, along with my son, Mason, who is on of the board of directors.

I have more than $2 million invested in wet and dry shotcrete equipment, employ over 150 people, and we are rated No. 19 in the PSN Top Builders in the country.

Robert E. Guarino President
South Shore Gunite Pool & Spa Inc.
Greater Boston area