—Lavish inground designs equal complex, often-extended construction
Are you planning a luxury swimming pool and can hardly wait until your first dip into the cool water?
Upscale inground pool projects can and do finish as scheduled. You may experience on-time construction with only minor bumps along the road to your aquatic masterpiece.
However, if you’re dropping upwards of $100,000 on a beautiful, feature-rich backyard amenity, it’s key to understand the potentially ugly part of the equation: Complex pools often involve a protracted building process with unexpected challenges.
There are some good reasons why. Understanding them could make waiting for the Grande Finale a bit more bearable.
In certain cases, appreciating the causes could even help avoid delays that would otherwise extend an already long timeline.
Read on to learn more about elaborate pool designs—and the elaborate building process that comes with them.
The shape of pools to come…
Many attributes of your future liquid extravaganza are the ones you approve. Among them: overall configuration, dimensions, decorative and decorative features, and finishing materials.
Luxury swimming pools incorporate an array of high-end, intricate elements. Each one in the mix will increase the project’s complexity—and remember what we just said about complexity?
Let’s start with your pool’s shape. Instead of a familiar one, you ask for something out-of-the-ordinary.
Whether the pool is a curvy organic free-form that will flow around lush landscaping, a striking custom geometric silhouette that echoes the lines of your modern home, or other unique design with an intricate perimeter, it will demand greater attention during both the design and construction phases.
In addition, say your backyard contains a slope or backs up to a hillside. A common approach is to grade the earth so that it’s level for an inground pool. But you want your custom build to be anything but common.
Since you can afford to take full advantage of your property’s various elevations, you configure a pool with extra dimension and character: It will boast several levels, a mesmerizing mirror spa, extra-tall raised beam walls, and four tiers of decorative concrete decking and steps.
From where to position the pool skimmer to taking precise measurements that ensure proper drainage, your multi-level configuration presents an array of added detail; if your builder misses even one them, these details become vulnerabilities.
Let’s look at some of the ways your specially tailored shape and multi-level configuration could translate into a longer construction timeline.
Second thoughts and revisions
During the early planning stage of luxury swimming pools, developing a creative shape takes more time. If the project includes an elevated, multi-level configuration, expect more hours to measure and analyze the yard.
Your pool designer will present an initial concept. After receiving it, you wish to modify the shape and fine-tune other elements.
The revision is closer to what you imagined. But it’s still not across the finish line, so you send your designer away for additional refinements. After all, you’re spending big bucks for a major backyard amenity, so yes, you want it to capture your vision.
Hopefully, the third time will be the charm. But again, your design is full of clever, impressive details. You have finessing that requires another two or three iterations.
Until you sign off on the final concept, your builder cannot lock in a final contract price. So there is no way your project can embark on its journey.
Without an approved design, your builder will not begin other steps such as developing the construction plan arranging for engineering, and—if applicable—ordering a soil report or submitting the plan for HOA review.
Until these steps are completed, your luxury pool project will not be ready to submit to the planning department for permitting—let alone to start construction.
Once construction finally begins, we enter a whole new realm of potential hiccups. Some lie squarely in your hands.
These include change orders. During the course of construction, you change your mind about some element in your original plan.
For example, after seeing the wooden forms that outline your future travertine deck, you decide you want another 300 square feet of that gorgeous stone.
Or, you gaze at the 5-foot elevated gunite spa formed in steel rebar. You want to up the wow factor. You ask to increase the spa’s height two feet foot or change its traditional-style dam wall and spillway to a rim-flow spa configuration.
Perhaps your pair of copper-hammered fire bowls arrive; you like them so much, you want a second pair incorporated into the plan.
Any of these will require a signed addendum—aka a change order. In some cases, this will trigger a revised plan.
Your city building department may even require the revised plan to be resubmitted for approval; upon resubmittal, the plan may even go to the back of the line as if it was brand new. If you have an HOA, it too may require another round of review.
What’s outlined here represents a tiny sampling of possible change orders that will probably extend your overall work schedule.
More features often require more time
One of the most enjoyable parts of the pool-design process is picking out the amazing features for your new amenity.
Other pricy possibilities might be an extravagant spa, custom fire features, towering rain curtains, metal scuppers and spouts, and sleek, LED-lit water laminars.
The luxe list includes a beach entry, a lazy river, a vanishing edge, generous amounts of opulent glass tile, and even a miniature island with a footbridge.
Desirable additions also encompass natural stone waterfalls and grottos with attractive rock water slides, swim-up bars with full poolside kitchens, and conversation fire pits sunken into the pool structure.
As you choose options, keep in mind: Like the pool’s shape and configuration, feature choices raise the level of intricacy; likely, it will take more time before you have a design that meets your expectations.
When the day arrives to begin construction, the array of options may play an even larger role. Specialty features are significantly responsible for luxury projects requiring months to complete.
The more features you have, the more stunning and functional your pool will be. And the more complex it will be to build.
Now, some of these attractive features are bigger culprits than others for demanding build time. In some cases, a feature may not automatically chew through the work calendar, but it carries a higher propensity to do so.
That’s because intricate additions and those with multiple elements or components are more prone to produce installation or construction challenges. That could mean a delay.
Even seasoned professionals with expertise in lavish pool projects can face finicky details and logistical snags that slow construction.
Quality control takes time
To illustrate this point, consider a popular upscale choice: An infinity-edge pool.
Building this kind of structure requires an even, uniform flow over the infinity edge—creating the appearance of water disappearing” into the horizon.
Achieving this feat of illusion requires precise tolerances on the structure’s edge. If the ledge and the tile installed on it are not perfectly level, adjustments will be needed. That takes time.
Or, say your pool has no infinity edge, but it boasts a massive rock waterfall. The expert mason crafts a superlative creation you love.
However, a few stones have color variations you just don’t think blend the others. Or, the way a few stones are configured gives you pause.
At first, you think you can live with the waterfall as is. But after viewing the structure for a day or two, it’s a no-go: You want those three or four stones swapped out or rearranged.
Now the veteran mason—who is booked out a month—needs to be scheduled to return to your project. If you want perfection in your waterfall, a delay will likely come with it.
With this in mind, here is a tip. Once you have an initial pool plan and features selected, ask your designer which ones typically take more attention and time. Also, ask which ones carry more risk for triggering delays.
Armed with this information, you will have a better idea of what to expect.
Additionally, if minimizing the odds for delays is crucial to you, consider swapping out a particularly tricky, complicated feature for another one with a better track record.
Custom features to your specifications
You are investing in a high-ticket inground pool, so it’s understandable to want it with all the bells and whistles.
You may also want those bells and whistles in colors, textures, shapes, and materials that are your absolute favorites or that your neighbors don’t have.
For example, say your selection includes a chic custom glass fire feature that will integrate into a breathtaking, 8-foot tall niche with tiled walls. It is being made to order with specific dimensions.
During construction, the fire feature arrives from the supplier on time. But due to a hit during transport, one side is cracked.
Now, a replacement must be ordered, and the manufacturer has to start again. Congratulations, your project just landed a potential or actual delay.
Even if the fire feature arrived in perfect condition, what if it came late? Whether the culprit was a severe weather event, truck with a major breakdown, production snafu at the factory, or other unexpected obstacle, it still amounts to a lost time.
Depending on the fire feature’s design and how the pool structure will incorporate it, this single MIA item may hold up phases such as gunite, coping, or decking.
Similar kinds of glitches can occur with specialty features ranging from decorative Greek figurine statues to an in-floor mosaic with your family crest.
Fancy materials that require special sourcing
Custom materials are another element that contributes to a pool’s luxury quotient.
But even when builders order special materials well in advance, logistical hiccups can occur for the same reasons outlined for the bespoke fire feature.
Consider what could go wrong if your custom material selection is available only from outside your town.
For example, while vacationing abroad, you fell in love with your hotel lobby’s rare kind of marble. You want this stone for your pool coping, and you must procure it from the single U.S. supplier who imports it from Italy only twice a year.
When your precious material arrives, but one of the boxes comes from a box the supplier had left over from the last year, and the color lot and veining is different. Now you must wait for another shipment so that all of your stone matches.
Or, to achieve your favorite shade of teal with unique texture and sparkle, you order a custom blend of pebble and glass beads for your interior finish.
It comes right on time. But it’s the wrong color because your order was mistakenly shipped to another customer across the country.
As a result, the supplier must either re-ship your original order or start from zero to make and ship your custom blend.
When a material such as stone, tile, or interior finish gets delayed, its absence will likely disrupt the schedule.
Depending on the material, your project will stall before it can move on to the next phase, such as plastering, tile application, deck installation, or waterfall masonry.
Know this: The days lost waiting for the special-order material or feature are not limited to those days only. Even one missing day may force a scheduling reshuffle.
It cannot be overstated how delays during one construction phase frequently produce a ripple effect. Worse, these kinds of ripples are not the pretty, flowing ones you want to see in your pool.
They impede overall progress toward the next phase. In turn, the phase after that gets held up. And so on.
In some cases, pool builders find ways to compensate; they apply clever solutions to stem the bleeding schedule. But some issues simply don’t allow for a bandage or work-around.
You now appreciate how custom and specially sourced orders inherently carry a delay risk.
So once again, if the construction timetable is of utmost importance to you, choose wisely. You can help prevent certain kinds of unexpected delays from happening in the first place.
Before making the final pick of that custom upgrade, consider comparable alternatives that your builder or local stone yard have in stock.
For pool designs laden with complicated configurations, specially sourced materials, and distinctive
features, longer construction periods are almost always necessary. State-of-the-art technology options also up the ante on the schedule.
Even on carefully planned projects, one or several of those specialty options can throw a monkey wrench into the timetable.
Quite simply, more issues lurk for something to go awry. Greater attention to detail is needed to avoid project snags. All of this takes more time.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will the starring attraction in your backyard. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.