Tulsa Pool Information and Construction Blog

How to buy an in-ground swimming pool.

Posted by John Oliver on Thu, Dec 08, 2016 @ 10:04 AM

After 35 years in business I have learned a few things about what my customers do and don't do right when it comes to buying a pool. I thought it was way past time to share what I have learned about this, the most important part of the process. So let's take a look at what I believe are the most common mistakes and the most common correct decisions.

1. What do I want to budget for my pool? One of the most common mistakes is not having a budget for the project. This is one of the most important things you need to know at the start. If you were going to purchase a new home you would have an idea of what you could afford or want to spend. Otherwise your realtor would be showing you $50,000.00 homes and $900,000.00 homes. It would be a total waste of time for both of you. It is the same with purchasing a new car. When I want to buy a car I don't go look at Ferrari's and Yugo's. That would be a waste of my time and any sales person I would be dealing with too. I decide what I want to spend or can afford then I go look at vehicles within that budget. So land on a number that you want to allocate for the pool project.

2. As a continuation of the first question this is also important. How much can I afford vs. how much do I want to spend? There is a huge difference in each. What you can afford is the limit of what you can purchase. So if you have saved up $60,000.00 and don't have access to any more money (borrowed) then you can afford a $60,000.00 project. Versus the budget set by what you want to spend. This is usually a number arrived at by talking to other people about what they have spent on their pool. Meaning you may have hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank but have decided that you are going to spend $60,000.00 on you pool project. Either is fine as long as you understand what that amount of money will buy.

3. Bidding a pool project vs. estimating a pool project. Why are my "bids" all over the place? The first thing to understand about a "bid" is that it in order for it to be a "bid" you must have a design of what you want with specifications of how it is to be built in hand. This design with specifications would be given to the pool companies that you have decided you may want to build your pool. This way you will get back numbers on the project that you can compare with each other. The most common way it is done in my market area is to get "estimates". You end up with different pool designs, materials, equipment, decking quantities and so on. This is really a huge mistake and can lead to choosing a pool builder based on false equivalencies. This is the method of choosing a builder by price. Unfortunately it has nothing to do with the actual value of the project and can lead to a misunderstanding with your builder. Which leads to my next question.

4. Who is my pool builder? This is something you need to know before you call any pool builder to come out to your home. The very best resource for much of this information is their website. Many pool builders websites are lacking basic information that you should be on their site. Because this is actually going to be many questions for you to get answered. I will make a list for you to use.

  • 1. How many years have they been in business? We have competitors that have been in business more years doing other things (arbors, plants, yard work, fencing) than they have been building pools. This is a huge lack of information you need.
  • 2. How many years have they been building pools? It is misleading to claim, for example, 17 years in business when they have been building pools for 2 or 3 years.
  • 3. Where is their office located? Many pool companies do not have an office, warehouse, equipment or employees. Be sure you visit their office before they come to your home. No office equals (NIMBY) Not In My Back Yard! You can find a reputable pool builder with an office I assure you.
  • 4. Who is the owner of the company? I have looked at many of the pool builders websites in my area and many don't mention an owners name. This should be a huge red flag.
  • 5. Who is going to oversee the building of my pool? Do they have a project manager or are they the project manager? You need to know up front who you will be dealing with during construction.
  • 6. What can I expect the time to be to complete my pool? With out a set schedule you may end up having your project drag out way past the promised completion date. So get it in writing on the contract.
  • 7. What cost may arise that I am not aware of? Unfortunately many pool builders come back after they start working in your yard and ask for more money. They will say something is not included that you thought was. Find out up front what is not included.
  • 8. Does your company have workers compensation insurance? This is very important and most people don't bother to ask or just don't know to ask. If a worker get injured on your property and the pool company does not have workers compensation insurance, you may be liable for any medical costs that could arise. Trust me on this one, you can't afford it!
  • 9. Does your company have liability insurance? What happens if the pool company destroys some part of your home or neighbors? If they have liability insurance you are covered. If not - Once again you can't afford it. Make sure they show you their liability insurance certificate.
  • 10. Is your company financially sound? Does there company have the financial strength to withstand any potential problems that may arise? If not you could end up with a partially finished project. This is a very expensive mistake to correct. Get a list of vendors or sub-contractors and call them. Ask if they are being paid on time. If this offends your pool builder, tough! Protect yourself.

I hope this information is helpful in your quest to find a pool builder. Thanks for reading!

John Oliver, Atlantis Pools & Spas Inc., Tulsa, Oklahoma. www.atlantispoolsandspasinc.com

Swimming Pool Skimmers. What are they? How do they work.

Posted by John Oliver on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 07:57 AM
skimmer2 copy resized 600
As pictured above (in this construction photo) skimmers are located at the water line of the swimming pool. The water level is usually in the middle of the skimmer. Floating debris goes through the opening into the skimmer. Inside the throat of the skimmer is a weir door. It is sort of a flapper that lets leaves and debris go into the skimmer but doesn't let it get back out.
Inside the skimmer is a basket that catches the debris.
baskets venturi comp1This basket needs to be cleaned when it gets full. Depending on the location of the swimming pool and the location of trees, landscaping, etc. and the time of year. It may need to be emptied once a week or once or twice a day. 
Many pools have only one skimmer. It is usually determined by the size of the pools surface area. If a pool has a surface area of 600 sq. ft. then one skimmer may be suficent. Over that you may want to have two skimmers installed. We have built huge pools that have had five skimmers. So your pool builder should be able to guide you on quantity. 
The location of the skimmer(s) is really more important than the quantity. In our area the prevailing winds blow normaly from the Southwest to the Northeast. So we install our skimmer in the Northeast area of the swimming pool. If we use a second skimmer it is installed in the Southwest end of the pool. 
The best skimmer to use is a Venturi Skimmer. renegadeventuri1 640x233
Picture courtesy of Waterway Plastics.
As it says under the picture. "The skimmer pulls as much water as the pump. It does this by sending water from the return side of the filtration through the skimmer creating a venturi. This means as the water flows through the skimmer it creates a vacuum. It literally sucks more water through by forcing the water over the suction port.

Topics: Pool Skimmers, Skimmer, Skimmers, Skimmer location

How much should I budget for a new pool?

Posted by John Oliver on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 @ 10:23 AM

012 resized 600

When deciding to have a pool constructed in your backyard. You must first decide how much do you want to spend? Often times people don't have any idea what the actual costs are associated with installing an in ground pool. But there is a formula you can use that will help you determine what to spend. The total backyard project including the pool, fence, utilities, decking, landscaping and sod should not be over 25% of the value of your home. So if you home costs $300,000.00 then your budget should be around $75,000.00. 

This is only a guide line for future resale of your property. In other words to get the most money back on your investment. It is not always heeded though. I have had clients spend a lot less and I have had clients spend a lot more. Sometime clients have no intention of ever moving. Therefore they don't care about ratios but rather care about getting exactly what they want no matter what the cost is.

So don't be afraid to tell your pool designer what your budget is. At least give them a range of where you would like to be. It may save you and them a lot of wasted time on your overall design. I look at it like when you call a Realtor. You don't call and tell them to "find me a house". Usually the first words out of their mouth is "What price range do you want to look at ?" It's kind of the same way of buying a car. When I go out to buy a car I don't go look at Volkswagens, Cadillac and Lamborghini's. That would be a waste of my time and the dealerships time as well. So save yourself and your pool designer some time by having a budget in mind.

John Oliver is a CBP, President of Atlantis Pools & Spas Inc., In Tulsa, Oklahoma. www.atlantispoolsandspasinc.com 

Topics: budget for a pool, Pool costs, Swimming Pool Budget

Gunite spas. What's the difference?

Posted by John Oliver on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 @ 08:37 AM

When we are designing a new pool we are often asked to incorporate a gunite spa into the plan. Just like in swimming pool construction there are as many ways to build a spa as there are ways to make an omelet. You can add or subtract as many ingredients as you want. I like eggs, cheese and sausage in my omelet. But I like everything in the spas I build. In the picture below (spa not built by Atlantis!) you can see what I mean by subtracting ingredients.

other builders spa resized 600

In this example you will notice first that all the spa jets are at one level. Why would you do that? If my lower back is sore. What do I do stick the entire top of my torso out of the water and lean on the jet? On top of that there are only 5 jets in the entire spa! Also the four pipes in the floor are for main drains (suction for the spa). This means there are no floor injectors for air. If you look at the next photo you will see that the spa loop is plumbed in flex pipe. This pipe is not designated to be installed in an in ground permanent structure, such as a gunite spa. One thing that termites love is flex pipe. If this is used in your spa you better spray for termites! Often!

competitors plumbing resized 600

Notice the ridges in the pipe? This is what flex pipe looks like. If your builder installs it in your spa then have it replaced before the gunite is shot in place. 

In the next couple of photos we will look at examples of how a spa should be plumbed.

Atlantis Pools Spa Plumbing

First lets count the spa jets. I count eight! The other four pipes sticking out are return water for the overflow. Then lets look at the floor. The four small pipes in the floor are for air injectors. Then there are two large pipes in the floor and two large pipes in the side. These are the four suction pipes as in the other example. We split ours so they are not on the same level. In other words two are on the floor and two are on the side of the foot well. This just an added level of safety. Another thing did you notice the jets are all over the place as far as level? This is done so no matter what part of your back you want spa jet therapy on you can have it just by moving to another area in the spa. We do not use flex pipe. We heat ridged pipe with a torch and bend it to fit as we plumb. This takes a lot more time but it is the best way to do it. In the next photo you can see the pipes at different levels after the gunite is installed.

Atlantis Spa

Notice that the jets are at different levels? Wouldn't this make it easier to get spa jet therapy to all different levels of your back? So hopefully you will be more informed when incorporating a spa into your pool design.

Visit our website; www.atlantispoolsandspasinc.com 

Click on the link below to receive your free pool buyers guide. http://atlantispoolsandspasinc.com/freedvd.html
If you would like to have a designer contact you click on this link.
If you require service on your pool click this link.

Topics: tulsa spas, spa jets, hot tubs, Gunite spas, spas

To dive or not to dive? Or how are you going to use your pool?

Posted by John Oliver on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 @ 07:50 PM

To build a pool with a diving end or not is something each family needs to decide. The reason to ask this question is usually because of budget restraints. It can be very expensive to build a pool with a diving end that also accommodates playing games such as volleyball. With an average diving pool that is 36' long you will only have 12' to 15' of shallow end due to the location of the break and the location of the steps in the shallow end. Lets look at this a little closer.

First the diving pool. The reason the shallow end is so small is mainly due to safety factors. The transition where the shallow end of the pool goes into the deep end is called the "break". In our typical diving pool we finish our shallow end at 3.5' and the break usually around 5'. So the shallow end is already getting deep before you get to the slope. The "slope" is the point beyond the "break" that goes down to the diving depth. Our standard diving depth is 8.5'. This is the deepest part of the pool. The break is normally about 21' from the deep end wall. This is so that when a person dives off the diving board they will not hit the slope and injure themselves. So you literally have less than 40% of the pool that is not over your head. Look at the example below that is diving depth. Then look at the other one that will finish 6' deep.

midtowntwo 3 resized 600

Another pool to consider for your family would be a shallow pool or play pool. Some of these pools are shallow on both ends and deeper in the middle. Some are just deep on one end. The difference is they are not as deep as the diving pool. If you built a pool with a maximum depth of 5' you would have a pool that would be almost 100% not over your head. This type of pool is a great pool for a family with children that like to play games in the water. The other plus is shallow pools cost less to build and there is less water to sanitize. So you will save money on the front end and the back end.

stone canyon 8 resized 600

So decide how you and your family will use your future pool. Before you build it. 

Visit our website; www.atlantispoolsandspasinc.com

Click on the link below to receive your free pool buyers guide. http://atlantispoolsandspasinc.com/freedvd.html
If you would like to have a designer contact you click on this link.
If you require service on your pool click this link.

Topics: play pool, pool depth, Diving pool, shallow pool, sport pool

Pool buyers checklist, 10 things to think about.

Posted by John Oliver on Wed, Feb 06, 2013 @ 10:42 AM

Here is a check list of things to consider when purchasing a swimming pool.stone canyon 8 resized 600



  1. How do you see you and your family using the pool?  Are you wanting to play volleyball or dive off a board into 9' of water. It often happens that our customers want to do both. But when they see the size of the pool needed vs. the cost they usually land on one. This is because it is very difficult to play volleyball in a diving pool. Unless you are in fantastic shape and can tread water for extended periods of time. Of course you can not dive into a volleyball pool, at least not very safely.
  2. What length of time do you want to use your pool during the year?  Do you want to swim year around? Or just during the summer or extend your swimming a few months? If you want to swim more than just the summer months you may need to consider buying a heater, depending on where you live. In my area (Tulsa) there are many months where the weather is fine but the water is to cold to swim. With a heater we can add April and May in the spring and September and October in the fall. So think about how you will see your family using your pool in your area.
  3. How big of a pool do you actually need?  This is a very important question because like most things the bigger the pool the higher the costs to build it. So if you are empty nester's you may want a smaller pool. Or if your children have kids and you want to see more of them you may want a little large pool. So they have room to play. 
  4. How much decking do you need or want?  That goes along with the previous question. Do you plan on entertaining large groups of people? Or will it be just you and a couple of friends around the pool. What many people do not realize until they have their pool for a while is that you spend 90% of the time out around the pool vs. 10% in the pool! So think about designing different areas to gather around the pool.
  5. Do you want a spa? Will you use it?  I would estimate that we have built spas on 50% of the pools we have built over the years. If you think that you would use a spa then incorporate it into your plan. You may use your spa more than you use your pool. Or if you are like me my family uses the spa more than I do.
  6. Who is going to take care of the pool? Do you have time to clean it and check the chemicals?  If not then are you going to hire a service company to take care of it. Be sure and budget that in for operating costs.
  7. That leads to my next question. How much is going to cost to run your pool. That is a broad question because each pool is different. The cost factors are. How large is the pool? The larger the pool the greater the cost to operate. How much direct sun light is my pool in during the day. The more sun light the more chemicals you will need. What is the bather load? Of course the more people swimming the more chemicals you will use also. So consider these factors when buying a pool.
  8. What style of pool do you want? Do you like curves or free form shapes? Do you like straight lines and a more formal look?  You and your pool designer can look at your home and yard to see what style fits best. It may be you are thinking formal and your yard may lead to a more natural style pool.
  9. Who is going to fix your yard after construction? Make sure what you are responsible for and what your builder is. Construction of a pool makes a huge mess. As I always say "you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs". So find out who is going to sod, landscape, repair irrigation etc.
  10. What type of warranty is included? Who is the warranty service center? This is of course important if a problem arises. Has the company you are considering been in business a long time. Your warranty is only as good as the company that is offering it. I actually had a lady call me a few years ago that had one of my competitors install her pool. They had went out of business several years ago. She stated when she called me that they told her she had a lifetime warranty on her pool structure. Well it had cracked and I had to inform her that the warranty was not in effect because her builder was no longer in business. So be sure of the builder you select.

Hopefully this information will help you decide what pool you want and who you want to build it.

Visit our website; www.atlantispoolsandspasinc.com

Click on the link below to receive your free pool buyers guide. http://atlantispoolsandspasinc.com/freedvd.html
If you would like to have a designer contact you click on this link.
If you require service on your pool click this link.

Topics: Pool check list, Pool buyers check list

Helping your pool designer will help you!

Posted by John Oliver on Tue, Feb 05, 2013 @ 01:57 PM

John Oliver Certified Building Professional

As a pool designer, builder and pool company owner. I have been designing pools for well over 30 years. The one thing clients almost always say when they call in for an appointment is "they are getting bids for a pool". This is hardly ever the case. Usually they are calling 3 or 4 different pool builders and getting back 3 or 4 different pool designs with numbers all over the place. When this happens they are actually hurting their chance of getting a fair quote. Or quotes that can actually be compared.

The best way to get competitive "bids" on a pool is to have a set of plans with specifications spelling out what is included and excluded. People often think that spending one or two thousand dollars for a plan is a waste of money. It actually has the exact opposite effect. By having a pool plan with specifications all the pool builders you are considering are "bidding" the exact same project. It will save you way more money than the plans cost. You will end up with very competitive "bids" and then be able to make an educated decision.

Another thing you need to consider is how much are you wanting to spend. Often our clients have a budget but think if they disclose it their bid will come back right at that number. It actually will not, unless they are very good at figuring project costs. The thing is when we meet with a potential client and gather the information for their design. We don't know if they are just talking to us of five other builders. Plus a reputable builder will have a detailed spread sheet with job costs. So it doesn't matter if you talk to one builder or five builders. Your quotes should be competitive. 

Lastly if you are going to get "bids" without a plan and specifications. Then at least be sure and tell all of them the exact same things. Such as what size of pool, not just length and width. But also perimeter feet. How deep of a pool you want? Do you want a spa? What type of heater and size do you want? Anyway you get the idea. Have a detailed list of what you want and expect to be included in your bid. That may help you avoid a few surprises after you pool builder starts your pool. 

 Visit our website; www.atlantispoolsandspasinc.com

Click on the link below to receive your free pool buyers guide. http://atlantispoolsandspasinc.com/freedvd.html
If you would like to have a designer contact you click on this link.
If you require service on your pool click this link.

Topics: pool estimate, Pool bid, pool quote, swimming pool bid, swimming pool quote

Where to place your pool equipment.

Posted by John Oliver on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 @ 10:54 AM

Atlantis EquipmentThe location of your swimming pool equipment is very important in regard to the pool location. The first thing to keep in mind is that the closer the pool equipment is to the pool the more efficient it will be. This is due to the fact that the less distance the water has to travel the better. Especially if you are running your pool heater in the winter months. The further the heated water travels the greater the loss of heat retuning back to your pool or spa. 

Another factor to consider is the relative height of the equipment vs. the height of the pool. You will always want the pool equipment to be the same level as the pool or lower. The same elevation is best. Then the equipment lower than the pool would be the second choice. Placing the equipment higher than the pool is never a good idea.

Placing it higher than the pool. The pumps will be hard to prime (create suction) and also will tend to cavitate. Cavitation happens when bubbles form and then implode in water. It occurs when water is subjected to rapid changes in pressure. This can cause excessive wear on pump parts. 

If your pool project requires the pool equipment to be lower than your pool. Then you will need to install a freeze pit. Of couse I am talking about climates such as mine (Oklahoma). If you live in Southern regions of the country where freezing is not an issue. Then you will not need a freeze pit.

A freeze pit is in effect a vault built in front of the equipment that has an extra set of valves with pit cocks. These vales are shut off to winterize the equipment and the pit cocks are opened to drain the water from above these lower valves. This allows the pool equipment to be drained without the pool water flooding back down through the equipment. 

So remember if possible your best and easiest pool equipment placement is at the same level as your swimming pool.

Good luck on your pool project.

 Visit our website; www.atlantispoolsandspasinc.com

Click on the link below to receive your free pool buyers guide. http://atlantispoolsandspasinc.com/freedvd.html
If you would like to have a designer contact you click on this link.
If you require service on your pool click this link.


Topics: equipment location, equipment elevation, Pool equipment

Ordinary circulation vs. In-Floor circulation

Posted by John Oliver on Wed, Jun 06, 2012 @ 02:18 PM


Ordinary circulation vs. In-Floor circulation

What we are addressing today is ordinary circulation of pool water, which is what most standard pools use. The body of water in the vessel is drawn to the equipment via suction pipes that draw water from the surface through surface skimmers, and from the bottom via the main drain(s). The water runs through the filter and is returned to the pool by returns in the side wall of the pool. These returns are usually 18" below the surface, and a pool will normally have 3-6 returns. By filtering water.......
using this method the surface water is kept near the top so it creates what is called a layering effect. The surface of the pool is warm, the middle is cool, and the bottom is cold. The other disadvantage is that the sanitizer used is dispersed less effectively with a high percentage of chemicals accumulating at the surface. This is why test kits advise you to dip down 18" or lower for a water sample to test the chemicals. Another downside to this method of circulation is the heating aspect. A swimming pool is basically a large solar collector. The sun heats the surface of the pool and the water returns near the surface. This is what causes the layering effect I mentioned earlier. Now we will examine the difference of an In-floor circulation system.
With an In-floor system the pool water is drawn to the equipment in a similar way as a standard pool. The big difference is in how the water is returned to the pool. The in-floor system uses a water driven valve that runs through a cycle. This cycle pops heads up in the floor of the pool. It is designed to clean the entire pool, steps, benches, tanning ledges and spas. What happens is the returned water to the pool is now coming out in the floor vs. the side. There are many more in-floor heads in such a pool than there are returns in a standard pool. These heads pop up and shoot out a jet of water that reaches about 6'. These heads are on different banks, and usually a normal set-up will have 6 banks with 3-6 heads per bank. So as one bank goes down another one comes up. As these heads retract they ratchet to another position. That way when they come up again they are cleaning a different area. This approach to circulation has a three fold effect.
Firstly, the water is now being dispersed out of 20 to 30 different areas. Also remember that these are not stationary but also move in a circular pattern. Now your sanitizer is being dispersed over a broader area much more effectively. This reduces the amount of sanitizer you need to keep your pool sparkling clean. Thereby saving you money on sanitizers.
Secondly is the solar collector effect I mentioned earlier. This surface water is now being returned from the floor of the pool thus making the pool a more uniform temperture. This helps eliminate the layering effect. Also when the time comes that you need to use the pool heater, this method heats from the bottom, up. A more effective way and a true money saver. You will spend less on gas or electric, whichever you are using.
Lastly, this method of circulation is much more efficient. In order for a pool to be clean and sanitized it is recommended that the entire body of water be turned over 2-4 times in a 24 hr. period. This means that all the water has ran through the filter at least twice in a 24 hr. period. With this more effective way of circulating the body of water, your pool water is turned over more effectively. Which will run your pool circulation pump for less hours per day. The cost savings in electricity is one aspect, the other is wear and tear on the pool pump. Here is a link to Paramount pool products web site. http://www.paramountpoolproducts.com/ It contains a lot more information you should find helpful.
Click on the link below to receive your free pool buyers guide. http://atlantispoolsandspasinc.com/freedvd.html
If you would like to have a designer contact you click on this link.
If you require service on your pool click this link.

Topics: In-floor cleaner, In-floor pool cleaner, In-floor system

What is a perimeter over flow pool?

Posted by John Oliver on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 @ 10:36 AM

Fifteen years ago the new rage was Infinity edge pools. The newest type of pools now are perimeter overflow pools. This type of pool has the look of overflowing on all four sides of the pool as opposed to most infinity pools that over flow on side only. So in effect the water is level with the decking. Although perimeter overflow pools are really cool to look at they are by far the most difficult to build. Here is an example of one.

perimeter overflow pool(Pool renovation by Atlantis Pools & Spas Inc. Tulsa, Ok.)

The biggest problem pool builders that are unfamiliar with constructing these types of pools run into are the hydraulics. These pools require underground tanks and special electronic water levelers.

tank pic resized 600 (Current project by Atlantis Pools & Spas Inc.)

In the picture below the above under ground tank is marked.

Perimeter pool Atlantis

 So if you are wanting one of these types of pools don't let just any pool builder attempt it. Make sure they either have training or experience installing one.

Here is a link to construction pictures of the above pool. 



Visit our website; www.atlantispoolsandspasinc.com   

Click on the link below to receive your free pool buyers guide. http://atlantispoolsandspasinc.com/freedvd.html
If you would like to have a designer contact you click on this link.
If you require service on your pool click this link.


Topics: Tulsa perimeter overflow pool, Perimeter overflow pool, infinity pool Tulsa