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See our work at the Melbourne Zoo

See our work at the Melbourne Zoo

As its school holidays and we are having some nice sunny winter days, why not plan a trip to the zoo and check out some of our handy work from last year.

Last year we had the opportunity to work with JMAC constructions and the LLOYD group on the newly finished Predator precinct, which is the new home to the lions and African wild dogs. This was the second job we did at the zoo after working on the Lemur Island the year before.

The works at the predator precinct involved us building a serious of interconnected ponds and pools which flow through the new exhibit.

It was a challenging site as works were completed during winter and the sheer size of the excavation, combined with the relentless mud presented some real issues.

After the excavation was completed a layer of sprayed concrete was applied to the earth to shore up the excavation and ensure the 4meter high walls didn’t cave in on us.

stabilised pool excavation
stabilised excavation ready for steel work

It was then safe for us to begin the intricate steel work required for a pool of this size. The steel was hand bent and custom shaped to suit the unique freeform look of the pool.

minke pools steel fixing

The Large pool on the project was over 4 meters deep and as such the steel fixing needed to be completed on builders scaffold. The image below shows the large wet wall where the water from the upper ponds flowed over into the main pool. The pool as well as being a visual element to the exhibit also worked as a barrier to prevent the wild dogs from escaping their enclosure.

concrete freeform pool

At the completion of the steel works the steel was inspected by the engineers and then concrete was applied to the steel frame as per a standard swimming pool build. MASTERSHOTCRETE were the specialist pool spray contractors used on the build and concrete works were completed in 3 stages due to the volume of concrete required.

large swimming pool
Stage 1/3 concrete pour

At the completion of the concrete structural shell works, we concluded on site and JMAC landscape constructions took over the job for the final landscape and finish works on the build. It is great to go back and have a look at the finished product after a job of this size and JMAC did a fantastic job on the completion works.

completed pool shot
looking back at the large pool and cascading ponds
feature pool
looking over the pond which spills into the large pool

There are additional works planned for the Zoo and we look forward to working on these projects in the future. We love building pools for people… but there is something special about building pools at the zoo for our furry friends.

The Outdoor Co.operative interview Melbourne Pool Builders

The Outdoor Co.operative interview Melbourne Pool Builders

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We were excited to be approached by The Outdoor Co.operative to discuss the pool construction process , pitfalls and considerations in an article for this fantastic online outdoor design and construction resource.

See the link attached to our article and Browse the page for some other inspiration and behind the scenes news from the world of all things outdoor.

http://www.theoutdoorcooperative.com/construct/contractors/pools-now-is-the-time/

Choosing a pool builder for a difficult or challenging concrete swimming pool design in Melbourne

Choosing a pool builder for a  difficult or challenging concrete swimming pool design in Melbourne

Last time we looked there were in excess of 150 companies in Melbourne building concrete pools.

The Swimming pool and spa Association (SPASA)  has 70 listed in Victoria.

So that’s 70 Companies who all are run by licensed pool builders who know how to build pools.

So the question is;

How do you choose a pool builder for a difficult or challenging concrete pool design in Melbourne?

Some builders will look confused or disinterested from the get go and never get back to you. Some will say they “can do it” but will severely under or over quote cost of the project and some will start the job and pull out half way through.

It is important you choose a builder who is experienced in complicated and challenging pool design and construction- so you get a great result, delivered on budget and a structurally sound investment.

In this post, we will look at what constitutes a difficult or challenging pool build, and what experience is required to ensure a build is successfully designed and executed taking into account environmental and construction variables to minimise client risk and ensure a process, and the result focused outcome.

DESIGN:  “If you can dream it, It can be done.”

The design of a pool these days is limited only by one’s imagination. With current construction materials and technologies there is very little which can not be done and if you need proof of this, you only need to look to Dubai.

*It may be a pool built very close to an existing structure.

*It may be a pool built into the side of a cliff or partially suspended.

*It could be a rooftop pool or a pool built significantly out of the ground.

*the pool may be canter-levered over another structure.

The options are endless.

The critical point comes when selecting a builder. It is important  that they understand the associated construction challenges presented by these specific design constraints,  and that they are experienced in the implementation of  the complex construction techniques and technologies required to achieve the result.

This will ensure the client is provided with realistic costing on the build so as to firstly understand the feasibility of the project and secondly to minimise the risk of potential variations during the build.

Infinity edge pool
Infinity edge pool design on the sloping site and out of the ground on sub floor footings.

ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES:   I would like the pool here…but??

Specific site variables can throw up a number of challenges which may need to be overcome to allow for a pool design to come to life. A pool is generally a large-scale construction requiring earth moving machinery and soil removal, heavy raw materials and large amounts of labour.

-Limited access

A Pool location with tight or limited access presents some real challenges… It may be that an excavator will need to be craned into a back yard, the soil may need to be moved by hand out of the site, or sent out on a conveyor belt system through a house.. There is a number of challenges but in general if we have a doorway to the back yard.. we can built a pool.

-Sloping sites

Sloping sites are a common occurrence with the increased popularity of infinity edge pools. A pool needs to be founded deep into natural ground to prevent it slipping down a hill. There is also the challenges assocaited to access and OH&S concerns when working on a steep environment.

-Challenging ground conditions

A soil report is always a good place to start but whats underground is never fully understood until ground is actually broken.

Melbourne has it all. Sandy unstable wet areas, hard shale rock moving through to solid basalt rock veins  and there is even areas with a significant amount of buried rubbish. We have dug up car bodies,  and  old septic tanks are a common discovery.

Experienced pool builders will have a general understanding of the typical soil conditions around melbourne and as such expected challenges can be understood and managed prior to construction begining. Hitting rock on excavation can easily add 10k to a built and if a client has not been informed of this,  there additional costs may blow out budgets to a level where the pool may have never began if the client had fully understood the risks associated to the build.

9 ton jack hammer breaking up bluestone in northcote
9 ton jack hammer breaking up bluestone in Northcote.

EXECUTION:  So thats how you do it!!

A Shotcreted pool structural shell  may need to work in conjunction with a number of other construction technologies, such as bored or solider piers, screw piles, strip footings , bond beams and underpinning to allow for a construction in a complicated environment.

Excavations may required, numatic rock splitting or blasting, sandbagging or backforming and shoreing up of wet and unstable soils.

A roof top pool may require subfloor structural  strengtheneing as well as commecricial quality waterproofing techniques.

An understanding of which combination of the above listed construction techniques is required to completed the project, always considering the project budget , only comes with experience.

A  project costing  needs to be understood by the client prior to the builder receiving complete structural engineered drawings and for this reason realistic assumptions need to be made regarding the structural build. These assumptions can only be made by people experience in building pools of a similar standard.

25m lap pool built above ground on strip footings
25m lap pool built above ground on strip footings.

At Minke Pools we are highly experience at building pools of a complex nature.

We believe it is important that a client fully understands the costs associated to their dream pool before breaking ground.

And the crazy part is …. We actually love the challenge presented by a project where we get to build a structure in an environment where many others may have said it cant be done or its simply too hard.

If you’ve got a challenge for us.. We would be excited to look at it..

freeform pool with 4meter high wet feature wall during construction
freeform pool with 4meter high wet feature wall during construction

2015 Swimming pool design trends

2015 Swimming pool design trends

As the new year takes off and we are busy quoting pools,  I have decided to take a look at the current design trends we are noticing in the concrete swimming pool construction industry and the pool design ideas that we feel take a pool from being just a well built beautifully detailed project,  to a jaw-droppingly, send you guests into shock, amazing pool.

In this blog, I intend to look at 4 details which I think will become more popular in the coming few years.

Those features are the sunken lounge, the bridge, the acrylic window details and the moveable pool floor.

The sunken pool lounge

The conversation pit or sunken lounge was an idea first explored in design during the 1960’s -1970’s. Now the idea has developed and is beginning to be incorporated into pool design. The sunken pool lounge,  built as part of the pool structure and within the pool waterline,  adds a new dimension to the pool area.

Traditional pool decks are great for sun-baking on or relaxing on next to the pool,  but the sunken lounge actually puts the pool user in a dry lounge area, below the pool waterline and surrounded by water.

sunken pool lounge

 The lounge could be used as a dining area, a conversation zone or a  fire pit location and often some stepping stones or small bridge could be used as an entry to the area.
Being surrounded by water adds a certain ambience to the lounge and at night when surrounded by water lit with LED lighting the experience is truely unique.
pool sunken lounge

With current pool fencing requirements, it is important that pool users have areas inside the pool zone to relax, supervise children and ensure the pool is an integrated and used part of the outdoor landscape. The sunken lounge is the perfect spot for a quiet drink while watching the kids as it’s out of the wind and within jumping distance to the pool.

A well designed sunken lounge is a design trend that’s blowing our mind at the moment. We are currently working with a client to incorporate a sunken lounge into their pool design and we excited by the opportunities sunken lounges can add to the pool experience.

The Bridge

That’s right… I’m still on about bridges….

They were popular in pool design in the 50/s and 60,s and now they seem to be making a resurgence. With the improved construction fabrication and building technologies available today slimline bridges can be incorporated into modern pool designs to successfully link two pool areas and further integrate the pool into the pool owners daily life.

pool bridge

The bridge as a connection between spaces ensures that the pool is experienced as a daily used part of the landscape,  not only when swimming in the pool. It has the ability to break the pool into zones and provides a fun element that can be enjoyed by kids as a jumping platform.

lagoon pool bridge

Acrylic pool windows

The acrylic pool window will continue to grow in popularity as it is a unique feature which merges the line between pool and landscape or often pools with a living zone.

When the pool is built as part of the house structure acrylic windows can provide a unique feel to an underwater room. Once strictly the domain of the aquarium and high-end hotel this design detail is getting more common as acrylic prices become more affordable,  and architects and builders better understand the reliability of the acrylic technology and waterproofing products available today.

acrylic pool window

When the acrylic faces the landscape a similar effect is achieved merging the pool into the landscape environment. Amazing effects can be achieved at night with pool light floods out of the windows,  and bubblers can also be used further enhance the trickery of the design.

acrylic pool window

Quality acrylic panels are still not cheap but the technology is UV stable and guaranteed so it has come a long way in the last 5 years. Panels also need not be huge to get a good effect. Small windows or portholes provide a cheeky view of the pool and still provide a stunning feature to a slightly elevated pool.

The moveable pool floor 

Don’t be confused. We think a pool should look great all year round, but as our weather and competing use for outdoor space varies I can see a growing need for the moveable pool floor.

moveable pool floor

Big in Europe and the US the moveable pool floor provides the pool owner with a pool which can be a traditional pool or a solid cover concealed into the build can cover the pool to make it a large deck or outdoor space for the kids to play.

Floors can be built into the concrete pool shell and be activated hydraulicly to come up and cover to pool.

Alternatively, the solid base can be built into the landscape design and conceal under a deck. The design is only limited by the creativity of the builder and engineers.

My current favourite is by AGOR engineering and it’s a folding pool floor which becomes a lovely timber feature wall.

check out the vid below.

We are currently working on a concealed pool floor which will retract under a deck next to the pool for a lap pool currently under design. We work with some excellent steel fabricators and engineers and are excited by the possibilities solid covers can provide as far as a landscape and space maximising solution.

The solid cover also means minimal chemical use, heat loss, evaporation and increased safety for your family when the pool is not in use.

Give us a call to discuss your pool design. We love developing ideas.

Photo credit: images are sourced from Instagram and youtube and are not pools by Minke pools. Rather they provide design inspiration and provide examples of discussed topics. Pool builders not known as images freely available online.

A FULLY TILED POOL … The premier pool finish

There is a lot of internal finish options available to the new pool owner. The main finish options can be broken down into 2 categories. It is either a fully tiled finish,  or a render based hand applied finish.

It is accepted in the industry, and by people in the know, that a fully tiled finish is the premier concrete swimming pool finish option. Well applied tiles are a life long finish not prone to staining or discolouration and the feel of a tile underfoot is superior to often rough render based finishes.

The key to getting a quality tiled pool is knowing that the pool builder or tiler is experienced in building fully tiled pools, and understands the large range of variables that come into play when working in the at most time challenging pool tiling environment.

Being in the game we see a lot of tiled pools and it is fair to say some of the tilings we see are not up to scratch. Standards have improved dramatically over the past few years with clients being more astute as to what will be excepted on a job, however, the tilers still get away with dishing up poor quality work.

At Minke Pools 90% of our pools are fully tiled. It is not an easy process , and it takes a lot longer than applying render based finishes but the results are worth the heart ache. We constantly strive to lift the bar in regards to internal finish standards and we believe our tiling is as good as anyone in the industries.

MATERIALS:
We use only MAPEI ™ glues and grouts which are specifically designed for pool applications. They have standard glues which we use  for our ceramic projects and special liquid additives which we use when laying glass mosaics. Grouts are color fixed and once again designed for pool use.

ENVIRONMENT:
Most of our pools will be covered when tiling the pool. This involves building a Dome style structure over the pool which remains in place during the tiling period. The dome protects the tiles and tilers from weather and creates a more stable temperature controlled environment.

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Once the dome or cover is erected we can work in almost any weather conditions,  and as most of the work to have a pool ready for summer goes on during the winter months in means no lost days.

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STANDARDS:
We have very high standards as we believe when choosing a fully tiled pool the standard of finished tiling should reflect the premium nature of the finish. Pools are set out so as to minimise the need for unnecessary tile cuts. Tiles must be level and grout lines must line up. Tile modules must be calculated and laid in a considered manner. This, however, is not easy. Sites must be clean and as the work is a finished product tiles should be protected accordingly by others working in the area after the tiling has been completed. The complicated pool radius should be tiled neatly and all cuts must be accurate  allowing for uniform grout lines. There should be no sharp edges which could cause injury to a bather.

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The “you wont see it under water” line has traditional been used by tilers delivering inferior work and it is one of our most disliked sayings in the pool industry. The detail must stand up to scrutiny when the pool is empty and the result will be a pool which looks fantastic when filled with water.

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So the question remains how do you know when buying a fully tiled pool that the tiling will be of a standard which reflects the cost and quality of the investment.

I would be cautious of the pool builder who does not recommend a fully tiled pool. Usually, it would mean that they are not able to easily offer a fully tiled pool,  as they may not have the highly experience staff or trade partners suitably qualified to produce such a finish.The rendered finish and waterline tile is the easy way to go as any tiler can do a waterline and the render is a quick 1 day application.

I would recommend looking at prior work and having a close look at the fine details. All pools look good from a distance but look up close at radius details , skimmer box tiling details, grout lines, step areas and tiling around infoor cleaning heads and pipe penetrations.

We focus on building fully tiled pools and it is our preferred pool finish. Be it glass or ceramic mosaic we can provide a fully tiled concrete pool which will stand the test of time.

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My POOL BUILDER is about to finish our pool.. NOW WHAT?

It may have been an exhausting process taking upwards of a year depending on the landscape and other works,  but finally, your pool is nearly finished.

If it’s a Minke Pool it will obviously look awesome, and the process will have been a pain-free delight. It will also have been built to be low maintenance and easy to use.

park orchards

 

The purpose of this post is to explain the responsibilities of the pool owner after we finish the job.

When our baby becomes your baby.

We hope you put as much love and effort into looking after your pool as we have during the construction process.

In the last 5 Years we have monitored all of our completed projects and the pools that look as awesome today, as the day they were finished, are the pools where the client has taken an active interest in their pools operation.

If you are not inclined to look after the pool yourself it is advisable to engage a service company to perform routine maintenance on your pool. BUT, keep in mind the service company may come only once a fortnight for an hour or two. You live with your pool every day, and are therefore the best person to keep an eye on its operation.

HANDOVER:

As a rule, when we finish a pool we maintain it for a minimum of 2 weeks, usually more, whilst we tweak the equipment and ensure optimal pool efficiency. At the completion of this period, we will give you a formal “Handover” where you will receive a folder containing all as-built documentation, equipment warranties, user manuals and an official SPASA handover certificate and booklet. During the initial maintenance period, we will begin to familiarise you with your pool equipment and operation and usually, at this stage, the education process is a question and answer dialogue with the client.

During the “Official” handover we like to go over the complete swimming pool equipment set up as well as showing the client how to vacuum the pool, conduct a water chemistry test and use any specific unique pool equipment functions.

Every pool we build is unique and as a result, the maintenance requirements of each pool is also unique. For this reason, we encourage clients to take notes during the handover that they can understand, in a language that makes sense to them. We like to spend a significant amount of time with the client during the handover. As a guide, 2 hrs would be a minimum period to spend with a fist time pool owner. After the completion of the handover, we are always available to assist with further queries. Often it will involve a second site catch up to run over the finer points of equipment function after a few weeks of living with the pool.

DON’T BE SCARED:

Initially, the pool equipment may seem overwhelming but don’t be scared. Pool equipment is generally very easy to operate and maintain but the best way to fully understand your gear it to become familiar with it. Ask questions, read user manuals and understand the basic purpose of each piece of your pool equipment. The Pool owner who does this will be confident in their pool operation and more importantly, they will know instantly when something may not be right and requires some expert diagnosis or potential warranty related service claim.

Typical pool and spa equipment set up example
Typical pool and spa equipment setup example

FOLLOW UP:

We provide a free 6-month major pool service to all our completed pools. This service is designed to give the client another opportunity to run through pool equipment maintenance, and it also allows us to check up on our Baby.

SEASONAL ADJUSTMENTS:

Every pool runs a bit differently and has to be seasonally adjusted. The run times and chlorine or sanitizer production will also need to be monitored and adjusted over the course of the year. To run your pool cost effectively you want to minimise equipment run times and hence power usage. so you won’t really fully understand your pools needs until you have lived with if for a year.

BE ON THE LOOK OUT:

As you live with your pool and get to know it keeps a watchful eye on her.
Keep and eye on water colour and clarity. It should be crystal clear so any change in water clarity or colour will more than likely be an indicator that something is not right.

Pool water

Have a keen ear for any change in noise levels. If pumps become noisy or your pool begins to make strange slurping sound something is not right. It may be related to flow rates or water operating levels but a keen ear will often identify a potential problem in its early days.

FINALLY:

After all that it has to be said that modern pools are very easy to maintain. The inclusion of in-floor cleaning systems, robotic cleaners, modern salt chlorinators, automatic water levellers, L.E.D lighting and numerous other hardware items makes pool ownership a relatively easy, low commitment and high reward investment in you home and your lifestyle.

The idea of this post has been to simply emphasise that the more effort you put into understanding your pools operation, the more that investment will be protected for a lifetime to come.

Happy swimming and enjoy your pool.

NEW POOL AND SPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building a pool in melbourne. A visual diary

The latest pool we are due to complete was built for a client who was away during the construction. The photos below were sent to inform the client off on the jobs.
Progress and they provide a good visual diary of the process involved when building a new courtyard style pool.

Site cleared ready for construction to begin.
Excavation begins.
Excavation completed and soil removed from the site.
The steel cage is constructed to engineered specifications.
After internal plumbing has been completed we begin the concrete spray.

 

Completed concrete sprayed pool shell.
Once the concrete has cured we build a structure over the shell to begin tiling works.
The pool is fully tiled in a weather proof environment. Attention to detail is key
After tiling, the pool surrounding hard landscape is completed. In this case, large format bluestone paving.
Then for safety and compliance, the frameless glass pool fence is installed.
Then we install the pool equipment.
Add some solar heating to extend the swimming season.
Add some spring water, relay some artificial turf, balance the water l and were nearly done.
See you poolside.

 

Stay tuned for some completed images of the finished job.