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The Water's Edge

The Final Touches  –  From the May Property Guide:
We had six days left before the pool was to be used by some of the client’s guests. We had less than a week to lay the limestone, apply a pebble finish, and install multicolor LED lights and energy efficient Variable Frequency pumps. More on that next time…

And We’re Back…
A few days before installation, we had realized that a proposed change in the finish materials would require extra material, having only 10 days until the guests arrived, we’d have to execute quickly. Most of the exotic Balinese hand-hewn limestone was shipped to the BVI months before and had been in storage until the job required it. While we only needed 400 pieces of limestone, and the supplier had them available, the issue was that the supplier was in Bali. The time difference and the dealing with numerous agents, customs brokers and freight forwarders made this a full-time task, at the end of which we wrote a big check but had the tiles in our hands just days before the deadline. The crews worked into the night to complete the installation as we still needed to observe minimum curing times. After all, when the price of the materials had more than quadrupled due to freight, you might as well assure that the work is done properly.

The plumbers were now on the home stretch—the entire pump room was tiled, all electrical lines were run and tested, and the high-efficiency pumps had just arrived. This pool would be able to run on a third of the electrical load than before even though we had added a vanishing edge to it. Sensors on the water would detect the use of the pool, and the vanishing edge pump would come on at that time, then when more people were in the pool and made quite a splash, the pump would simply speed up. This technology has been around for some time but has really taken off now that the need to be green has intensified.

Photo courtesy of Poolworks.

The electricians were pretty close to finishing, and they had installed a total of 14 lights—6 in the trough and 8 in the pool. The pool’s interior finish was a dark emerald green, requiring more than twice the light of a white pool, yet the total electrical consumption was less than 200 watts. These small LED lights would make an impression with their programmable colours; however, they would cost less to run than a single incandescent pool light.

With all the mechanical issues completed, we geared up for the final day—the installation of the pebble finish. The materials would be mixed in a plaster rig placed on the access road and then pumped into the pool. A crew of about seven eager men finished off their last bites of breakfast and coffee. It was, after all, only 6:30 in the morning.

Once the materials started flowing from the hose, you could hear the sound of trowels scraping and smoothing the finish in every corner of the pool. The ugly grey-coloured hole in the ground was really starting to look like a pool now. The homeowner had been checking with us on what seemed to be an hourly basis over the past few days, and he could finally see that the end was in sight. By midday, the pebble material was applied and then the tedious task of exposing the finish lay ahead of the crew. Mixtures of acid and soapy liquids were carefully brushed on the fresh materials until just the right amount of pebble was exposed and a uniform finish was achieved.

The next morning, the pool was full, and the water was being sampled by one odd visitor—a flamingo from a nearby pond that had come down for an inspection. Luckily, we passed the test. A few minutes later, the pumps were running, and the water was balanced. A final three-hour landscaping issue would be resolved before the guests arrived. Later that evening, my phone rang. It was the homeowner marveling on how great the job had gone. His very happy guests were in the pool; they had selected the purple LED light which created a beautiful bright seam on the vanishing edge. That image alone, he said, was worth a thousand words. 

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