Pool at Sterling on the Lake, a suburban Atlanta community developed by Newland Communities.
Newland Communities Pool at Sterling on the Lake, a suburban Atlanta community developed by Newland Communities.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister publication, Pool and Spa News.

The pool is the crown jewel of any master planned community, especially as developers place a premium on lifestyle perks.

When developers and pool builders collaborate, great things can happen. But being aware of how each side approaches such a project before diving in can help avoid issues from the get-go.

Long before breaking ground on that highly anticipated community amenity, the pool builder and developer should work out certain details.

Design as a Team


“We need to be part of the design team from the outset,” says Jack Crowder, president of NVblu, a pool design/build firm in Chantilly, Va. “Otherwise they make a lot of mistakes on the bathhouse construction or how they’re dealing with the chlorinated discharge … and the things that are going to be looked at by the health and building inspector.”

Early collaboration also will curtail architectural errors, such as pump rooms that are too small. Pool builders sometimes can stack the equipment to make the room manageable, but this is hardly ideal for the technician who will have to work within these tight confines. Most likely, the designer will have to go back to the drawing board, resulting in costly change-orders.

Ideally, the geometry and capacity (gallonage) of the pool and all water features would be planned first, and the pump room would be specified based on those figures. It’s also advised that the developer plan all details of the bathhouse, such as the number of toilet fixtures and showers, before going to bid. Not only will this help get an apples-to-apples comparison when assessing bids, but it also can help prevent health inspection snags. In some states you can’t break ground on a commercial pool unless you have a permit from the health department.

Communicate Clearly


Swimming pools require the involvement of multiple trades—plumbers, mechanics, electricians, etc.—and it falls to the pool builder to manage them all. They can designate an on-site point person who will interact directly with the general contractor’s site superintendent. Plus, it helps to have a project manager interface with the builder’s counterpart.

“If something comes up, I want to be able to call someone directly and work through it,” says Brent Mathews, project manager for Consolidated Contracting Services, an Orange County, Calif.-based firm that builds recreation centers for housing communities.

Meet and Document Often


Pool builders would be wise to keep copious records, including photos of each construction stage. If an issue arises, it’s good to have an archive for reference. They’re also handy during regularly scheduled meetings, which are highly recommended.

During these meetings, the team can list all the overlapping tasks and determine which contractors will manage them. For example, who is going to keep the concrete shell moist as it cures? Who will fill the pool, and where is the water going to come from? Who will take responsibility for monitoring it overnight to make sure it doesn’t overflow? There also are electrical responsibilities to consider, such as running the wiring and conduit to the pool area and equipment pad or pump room.

While pool-related, these are things that don’t always fall under the purview of the pool builder, so it’s best to get them cleared up, in writing, before it’s too late.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister publication, Pool and Spa News.