A Pool in Progress Phase 2: Gunite

Over the past couple of months I have learned a LOT about pool construction.  As my pool is being built many things I thought to be true about pool construction are proving false, in a good way.  For instance, I thought that they could not dig our pool in the rain, but they did.  I also thought that our pool filling with rain water was going to cause a huge delay, but they got it drained in a matter of days.

Gunite has been another one of those things I thought I knew about, but was proved wrong. The day that they planned to install the Gunite it was very dreary, grey, damp and misty and I thought for sure that they would have to delay the install, but it didn’t delay them at all!



It took the crew 2 days to spray in all of the Gunite and it was pretty amazing to watch.  Our pool went from being a hole filled with shaped re-bar to actually looking like a real pool!  The crew formed the seats, stairs and cascade waterfalls as the gunite was being sprayed in and in a matter of 2 days, wha la!

Here it is after Day 1 of Gunite

The weather was a bit dryer on day two and in less than a second full day the Gunite on our pool was complete!

Day 2 of Gunite COMPLETE!

An interesting thing about Gunite is that is has to dry from the inside out, so it actually has to be kept damp so that it dries properly.  The benefit of having a pool constructed in the winter is that the weather did that job for us for several days!  Normally you have to spray down the pool surface for about 20 minutes a few times a day to keep it damp so it dries correctly, but since the weather was damp and misty, we didn’t have to wet it down at all the first few days.  After that we only had to spray it down once a day for a few days.

Another benefit of constructing a pool in winter is that you’re not tempted to want to swim in it!  LOL!

So it’s coming right along! Next step, cement decking around the pool, then plaster and tile, then swim!

Here are some shots to show you the pool progress along the way

You can follow the whole story by checking out my first post on the Pool:



CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!


A Pool in Progress

Three weeks ago I woke up to the most glorious sound. . . Tractors and an Excavator beginning work on our pool!  I honestly can’t tell you how excited it made me, though I’m sure my neighbors were not quite as ecstatic as I with digging and drilling so bright and early in the morning.

We have been dreaming of having a pool for years and honestly we didn’t know if that dream would ever be able to become a reality.  We bought our house because it had the potential for a pool, but turning potential into reality takes a lot of planning and a LOT of moola.  After meeting with our pool contractor back in September, we decided to go for it, but knew it would still be months before he could begin working on our pool depending on his schedule and the weather since we decided to begin the pool construction in winter.  Thanks to our uncommonly warm and dry winter they were able to begin on our pool in December!

Now when you’re planning to put a pool in, there are a lot of variables that add to the basic cost of having a pool construction.  There’s the basic size, shape and materials you choose to use, custom features like lights, waterfalls, ledges, and pool finishes.  Many, many tempting options to choose from and all of them cost money.  For us there were additional variables of unknown cost because our house is built on a lava cap.  For those of you with just soil under your homes, a pool estimate will include the dig for the pool which usually takes a day.  In our case, we had no idea how deep down the lava cap was, how thick it was or how many days it would take for them to drill through it.  What we did know is that each day beyond the 1 day of digging that had been worked into the estimate would cost us an additional $2000 roughly per day for the excavation.   Our pool contractor estimated 4 total days for excavation and no more than 7 days, so that’s a $6000-$12,000 variance depending on length of the dig. Yikes! So with fingers crossed and prayers lifted, they began the dig.

POOL DIG DAY 1:  The weather was lovely and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we had at least 2-3 feet of excellent soil before we hit any lava cap!  The pool guys were able to dig the entire shallow end of the pool without hitting any lava cap and started in with the giant Excavator to chip away at the lava cap on the deep end.  Unfortunately I worked all day so I didn’t get a picture at the end of Day 1 because it was too dark out.


POOL DIG DAY 2: Lots and lots of jack-hammering today.  I’m sure my neighbors loved it LOL.  The pool crew built a ramp out of the soil to get the Excavator down into the pool area to chip, chip, chip away at the solid lava cap and then they’d scrape it out with the Tractor (sorry, I’m sure there’s a proper name for the tractor but I have no idea what it is) and dump it directly into the Dump Truck that made many many runs to drop the lava and be refilled.  Below is the progress of day 2.


POOL DIG DAY 3:  In the middle of the night between day 2 and day 3 of the dig I woke up to the sound of pouring rain and freaked out.  The Excavator was in the pool hole and all I could think was this rain was going to costs us a fortune if it delayed the dig AND, how on earth were they going to get a million pound Excavator out of a giant muddy hole? I literally got up out of bed at 2am and went outside to see if our pool was filling with water, but I couldn’t tell.  We woke up to this:


Thankfully and amazingly the rain stopped by morning and didn’t slow down the dig at all!  In fact, they were able to FINISH the pool dig on DAY 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!  There aren’t enough exclamation points in the world to describe how excited we were by that.  I attribute the amazingly fast dig completely to our fantastic pool contractor and his crew.  The lava cap didn’t phase them AT ALL, they busted right on through and completed the dig in record time, so our added cost on top of the original bid was “only” $4000!  Here’s what day 3’s dig looked like, and please excuse my fingers in the photos, I obviously was more excited about my pool than taking quality photos LOL!


With the excavation of the pool done, the pool construction crew jumped right onto the next step, framing out the pool and installing the plumbing.

DAY 4 POOL PROGRESS: I came home to the shape of a pool in my yard!  The crew got the whole pool framed out, including the 2 lighted waterfall features we opted for (added cost of $3000) as well as our “Caribbean Ledge” which is a 12 ft. x 8 ft. ledge off of the shallow end that will be 12 inches or so deep and have 2 umbrella holes (an added cost of $750).  I call it the “Christina Ledge” because that’s where I plan to plant myself and snap my fingers until someone brings me something tasty to drink lol. You can see in the pictures below where the lava cap is all throughout the deep end of the pool! We had about 2-3 feet of good soil and then solid lava cap the rest of the way.


DAY 5 POOL PROGRESS: Day 5 brought even more drastic changes! Framing continued and the filters and skimmers were installed.  They also laid out all of the plumbing for the pool, and poured a concrete pad for the pool equipment!  It truly amazed me how much work they got done in one day.


DAY 6 POOL PROGRESS:  On day 6 they added re-bar which is how they shape the pool. The transformation today was amazing. You can see the seats in the deep end and the shape and depth of the “Christina Ledge” and the pool in general.  It’s really starting to look like a pool now!


The first step of the pool is complete!  Next step. . .Gunite.  We’re now waiting patiently for the Gunite to be able to be installed, but the weather has decided to act like actual winter weather now so things are at a bit of a standstill until the ground drys out.  However, you could most definitely swim in our pool if you decided you’d like a mud bath. This weeks rain brought a LOT of water and apparently we have a significant amount water runoff coming off of the lava cap that we didn’t know existed until we dug an 18ft x 38 ft hole in our yard.  We woke up to this lovely site on Tuesday morning after a steady rain all night on Monday.  That’s roughly 5 ft. of water in our unfinished pool!  Thankfully our awesome pool contractor had installed a Sump Pump in the bottom of the pool for drainage in case of rains, so the pool is now steadily draining while the the rain continues to fall.



So far is has been very interested and extremely exciting watching a pool, OUR POOL, being built!  It’s a fascinating process and moves in waves of a lot getting done and nothing getting done, but that’s mostly because of the weather at this point.

There are definitely some pros of having a pool installed over the winter though!  First of all, pool contractors aren’t as busy.  This past summer I know people were waiting 5-6 months for a pool contractor to be able to begin because there was such a high demand for pools.  Our hope and our goal with beginning pool construction in winter is that we’ll have a finished pool to swim in this summer!


CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!


The Dirt on Landscaping

So I’m sure some of you are wondering, “where are these renovations she was talking about”?  Well, they’re coming, just slllloooooooooowwwlly.  After getting our Preliminary drawings for the addition we will be doing to the house (eventually) and finding out that it is going to cost us over twice the amount we originally were bid (because well, we added a ton of stuff LOL!), we decided to shift our attention from the house and start outside first, with our backyard.  We decided to focus out attention (and money) in the backyard to start so that we can be enjoying an outdoor oasis (AND POOL!!!!) while our home is being torn apart and renovated next Summer.

A few weeks ago our landscaper who is also a friend of ours helped us draw out a vision for our backyard.  It was so exciting to see our ideas and his put into drawings on paper!  As I’ve mentioned before I’m a very visual person, so it helps me tremendously to see something with my own eyes instead of just trying to picture it in my mind.  Once he had the main idea on paper, we were able to talk through it with him and make changes based on the initial drawing.

Isn’t it PRETTY!!!  And look, he even pictured our 1,000,000 Key limes LOL!  And look at that beautiful blue thing, A POOL!


Drawing out EVERYTHING we’ll be planning for the backyard even though some of the items will be completed down the line is very important.  That way we can make decisions and do work now that will make steps 2, 3, 4. . . .15, easier when we get to them!  For instance, we are putting in a pool during phase one to be finished by this coming Spring/Summer, but the Pergola/poolside bathroom area most likely will not be completed this year.  However, we have to plan for the location of the Pergola so we can run tubes underground to that location for future electrical before the pool guys cement over that area.  We also have to plan the location of the future poolside bathroom so that we can run the lines to the Septic.  Planning it all out ahead of time makes for less work, or not having to redo work in the future!

Our landscaper started prepping our backyard a few weeks ago for the new sprinkler system, which I posted about here:  https://realestaterenovation.net/2017/09/27/time-to-get-dirty/.

A few weeks in and our yard is still dirt, even more dirty than before LOL, but actually quite a lot has been done.  The sprinker lines have been run for a good portion of the backyard and the front side yard is being done at the same time since it runs off of the same water lines. Up until a few days ago our backyard had a huge trench through it where they were laying the lines.  I teased my husband that was his “Lazy River” that he so desperately wants.  He never said it needed to be a clean water Lazy River!

Wouldn’t it make a lovely lazy river? Or maybe not 🙂

Each day there’s a bit more work done on the yard, but to me it just looks like a lot of dirt still LOL!  It’s truly amazing the work that goes on under the surface that you won’t know has been done when the yard is finished; sprinkler lines run, pipes laid for future electrical to be run, soil prepped for lawn, etc.  But it’s the unseen work that’s being done now that will allow my yard to stay beautiful once it’s done!


CalBRE # 01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

Time to Get Dirty

This week was another big starting point week for us on our renovation.  On Monday our backyard landscape overhaul began!  Bear (our furry person) is just as excited as we are, can you tell?!

When we first put an offer on our house the lawns were completely dead; like crunch under your feet dead.  The sprinklers had stopped working during one of the weeks that it as over 100 degrees and no one noticed that none of the plants were getting watered because the home was vacant, so all of the lawns and many of the other plants around the yards died or are very close to dying.  We had a landscaper friend of ours bid a new sprinkler system for the yards, front and back, as well as new lawns during the Inspection period portion of our escrow so we knew it was going to cost us a minimum of $10,000 going into it. We also knew that we wanted to add a pool.  That “simple” idea has now turned into a full blown yard renovation project that we jumped into with both feet this week.  Literally, with both feet because the yard is completely torn up and you can’t get around the dirt without walking through it, see?!


We also met with our Pool contractor for the first time on Monday!  That was super exciting and I can’t wait to see what he draws up for us (though I’m not looking forward to the price it’s gonna cost LOL!).  As with most of the projects we do, the original pool plan has already changed like 3 times and we haven’t even had the plans drawn up yet.  The planning and designing process of renovation often goes through a LOT of changes from first thought to final product and for me that’s the fun of it!  There’s usually a ton of different ways to do something, and figuring out what’s best for the space is like a big puzzle and coloring book smashed into one.  Our landscaper helped us get a better feel for his suggestion of the pool placement by spray painting an outline of the pool onto the ground.  That helped a ton to be able to visualize how the pool would fit into the space.  Sometimes talking through design isn’t enough to help you make a decision. If you’re a visual person like me, you have to measure it out and actually see how it will all fit before making a decision.

(You can’t see the whole pool outline but those painted lines are the edge of the pool closest to the house.  Yup, we’ll be cutting into the concrete to make it the size we want and to have a better fit and shape for the yard.  More work but it will be a much better result.)

Whoever designed our yards originally put a lot of thought and care (and money) into the yard.  Cement planter beds line the backyard and are full of excellent soil.  There’s also a cement mow strip under 90% of the fence which keeps the wood from touching the dirt and allows less critters to get into our yard.  They also put a lot of irrigation in, but unfortunately time has run it’s course on the irrigation system, so we’re replacing all of it.  The good part about replacing all of the irrigation is that the new system will be much more efficient for the plants and grass that our landscaper will be installing.  So this week, that’s what our landscaper has been working on so far.  He’s ripped out all of the old sick and dead plants that were around the edge of the backyard, as well as saving those that could be saved to use elsewhere.   He’s been removing the old irrigation lines making room for brand new irrigation.  He’s also spent a good amount of time helping us to plan out the new design for the yard, listening to our ideas, (vetoing some of my husbands overly creative ideas lol) and helping us come up with the best design for our space.

(This crazy jumble of pipes will be a lovely new irrigation system someday soon.)

At the beginning of the week our backyard looked like this, prior to any work being done:

You can see all of the plants around the edges of the yard, those are now gone.  The “grass” is still there, or at least it was when I left the house this morning, but I expect it will soon just be dirt as well.

As of this afternoon the backyard looked like this:

Less plants, more dirt, dirt, dirt.  But eventually there will be new planters, beautiful healthy plants, a huge sprawling lawn and a pool!  We decided to dig into (ha ha, I’m punny) the potential this yard holds since it was the potential of this yard that drew us to this home I am so excited to watch it become what it will be.  It’s a big dirty job and someone’s got to do it, so I’m glad we hired a landscaper!


CalBRE # 01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!