So you think installing a fiberglass pool is easy? So did I. Part 3/3
Working with and around cantilever forms is very hard to master.
There are many options on concrete. Stamped, colored, skinned, broomed, acid wash, to name a few. What's important is that you have a concrete apron around the swimming pool to hold the fiberglass shell in place. It may be covered by pavers or stone, but you must have concrete connecting to the fiberglass pool and extending to virgin soil for structural reasons. In addition to having concrete you must also bond the concrete to the shell with rebar. There are a few ways to skin this cat depending on what type of decking your doing, but you must tie it to the fiberglass pool shell, and you must properly bond all your steel to the pool equipment and to even the pool water itself. This is called equipotential bonding and is part of your electric permit. The next consideration is the coping. Some of those options include pavers, flag stone, limestone, or the most common: cantilever concrete. A cantilever deck is a deck that is poured over the shell itself and cantilevers (hangs) over the water. It is not the kind of project for a normal concrete crew. If you don't have experience with cantilever forms, you will mess it up. It took us many pools to master it and frankly is still sometimes challenging. Knowing how to set them, dress them, when and how to pull them, how and when to face the coping, and how to keep and deal with air pockets are a few of the challenges. Even the most modest slab say 3" deep is the equivalent to pouring 100' of concrete counter top in a single shot, outside, while swimming. It's just hard.
Most building departments don't do a lot of inground swimming pools and probably do even fewer fiberglass pools. This puts them way out of their normal comfort zone and can make the permitting and inspections tough. The tough is a result of misinformation within the department and poor training of inspectors and plans examiners. During the inspection most inspectors are reluctant to approve things. As a homeowner you can find yourself between the inspector and what he doesn't know. Because we build so many inground fiberglass pools, most departments in our area know us and know how we build. The inspections are fast and easy. The departments and inspectors we don't know we can help put at ease by explaining each piece. We know the code inside and out and can walk an inspector through what they are looking at and why things are the way they are. We typically print excerpts from the National Electric Code for them to read over and keep for their file. Make sure you have made yourself very familiar with what YOUR department wants before you call for an inspection. An inspection is just that. Do NOT make it a Q&A session. You will fail and upset your inspector making life harder on yourself.
All in all installing an inground fiberglass pool may not be hard. BUT it's not hard to screw up either. The people that I have worked with on installing their own pools have survived but most have said they wouldn't do it again. Typically, the pool ends up not level, concrete isn't the best, and plumbing is hard to work on and not efficient. At the end of the day we are in the business of selling and building pools. If you would like us to set it for you or are planning on tackling it yourself please feel free to reach out to us. We would be happy to help.