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

TOC_11-1000x147

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In-floor Cleaning systems. What , When, Why, What can go wrong, and How much?

A pool is a big investment and often when looking at the price of a new pool package the costs can seem very daunting.

The Extras that can be added to a pool will quickly add up and before you know it your $45,000 pool could be fast approaching $70,000. The question with infloor cleaning, which is often the single largest extra you may add to your pool is, “Is it worth it?”

We have been installing infloor cleaning systems with Minke Pools, directional and before that with many other pool companies, since their introduction into Australia more than 15 years ago. The general idea with the system is to have a separate pump and water circulation system that will return water to directional jets on the floor of the pool. These jets will blow all floor debris to a collection point where it is removed from the pool. The introduction of in-floor cleaning at the construction stage will remove any need to Vacuum the pool and the pool should be crystal clear all year round.

Infloor cleaning has been proven to not only be benifical to the pool cleanliness, but the increased water circulation has be proven to reduce chemical consumption and heating costs.

WHAT:

We use the Paramount infloor cleaning system as they are the industry leaders and innovators for continued development in regards to Infloor Cleaning world wide. They are an american based company and an individually designed infloor cleaning system plan is prepared for each individual pool. This design will take into account the individual pool size, floor depths, floor to wall transition profiles, entry steps and or swim out ledge etc. The result will be a unique infloor cleaning system designed to clean the specific pool.

Infloor cleaning plan

The heads located in the floor of the pool fire at different intervals, controlled by a mechanical watervale and gear head. The system pictured is a “9 port” system so there will be 9 different cleaning zones in the pool. They fire in such a sequence so as to push all the floor waste to the safety suction shown at the deepest point of the pool.

To get a more complete picture of WHAT the system is and how it works please watch the video from Paramount.

WHEN:

As the infloor cleaning system in built into the concrete structure it is imperative that the system be installed at the construction stage. The system can be added to a pool renovation, or retro fitted, but the cost associated  with demolishing large sections of the existing structure, and subsequent repairs may make the system cost prohibitive. If, as a client,  i could not afford the complete infloor cleaning system i would still look at installing the components into the concrete shell for a subsequent installation of  the remaining equipment at a later stage.

WHY:

Discussed in the “What” section and clearly explained in the paramount video…There is a lot of reasons to install the system.

First and formost is the convenience and luxury of not having to do time consuming pool maintanance. The pool will look good and be swim ready at all times by cleaning itself.

The pool will use less chemical as the improved water circulation will aid in more efficient sanitation.

The pool will heat more evenly heated reducing heating costs.

Evaporation cause by temperature differences within the body of water will be reduced.

WHAT CAN GO WRONG:

The infloor cleaning system is designed in America and all hardware is supplied as part of the system. The key area where there could be issues is in regards to POOR INSTALLATION, and unfortunately it happens.

The flow
The flow that comes out of each nozzle is controlled by the water pressure delivered to each head. It is critical that the below shell plumbing design and installation is completed by an experienced pool plumber. The  Plumbing has to be installed in such a way as to ensure even flow through each nozzle or some nozzels may return large amounts of water , and some very little or even none. It is important that the infloor cleaning is installed prior to any steel works so that the best under floor plumbing design can be set up to ensure even flow to all nozzles.

The equipment:
It is important that the right sized pump is used to mazimise the efectiveness of the infloor cleaning system. A pump that is too small will not deliver the required water pressure to each nozzel and there may also be insufficient suction to remove the debris at the main drain collection point.

Safety compliant plumbing:
It is important that the system is installed as per manufacturer recommendations as poorly installed main-drains and safety suction breakers can pose a very real risk of entrapment and even death by drowning.. This may sound serious..and it is…

Plumbing depth:
It is important that all pipe work is buried deep enough under the pool shell to ensure the nozzles can recess back into the pool floor. We have seen pools where the elbows are too close to the surface and the nozzle remain proud of the internal finish, unable to fully with draw back into its body. Not a good look.

In general
It is important that the infloor cleaning system is installed with great care by an experience and licensed installer. As it is installed below the concrete pool floor the plumbing has to last as long as the pool so every join and glued fitting must be of the highest integrity.
Often a pool builder may be licensed to install the product, but they may then subcontract out the critical installation to an unlicensed sub contract pool plumber. Check with your pool builder to ensure they are licensed to install the product and that they are installing the below ground plumbing works in house.

HOW MUCH:

The addition of an infloor cleaning system can add anywhere from $7000 to $20,000 to the cost of the swimming pool. The price is dependent on the pool design and the requirements of the system. A complex pool and spa with balance tanks, weirs and spa that all require cleaning will cost a lot more that a simple 6 x 3 meter rectangular pool.

An infloor cleaning system is fast  becoming a standard inclusion in most high end concrete swimming pools . As it is an item that cant be added later it is important to consider the inclusion very carefully during the pool design and quotation stage.

I would compare it to air conditioning in cars , where as air conditioning use to be an extra or option when buying a new car , it is now a standard inclusion as the value of the systems far outways the inconvenience of not having it. In my opinion unless you really enjoy pool maintenance, which most people don’t, and if you want your pool to be seen as a value adding item to you property i would install an infloor cleaning system over any other pool option.

Minke Pool pv3 Licensed installer

From Concept to Concrete

We have just sprayed our latest pool shell and i though it would be a good time to demonstrate the evolution of a project from concept to concrete stage…

This is where the bulk of the impact takes place as a site progresses from a blank canvas to a raw structure.

The latest project is sure to become a showpiece pool .The planning and design work that takes place before breaking ground, combined with quality workmanship during the build and integrated quality control procedures ensure the shell is built to last a life time.

The initial conceptual design is drawn up and finalized. This plan becomes the blue print for the entire project.

Landscape design

After engineering and all  plans are completed the project begins. Excavation is completed and formwork begins.

Steel-fixing and plumbing installed and passed by building surveyor.

Then after three weeks of intensive works the concrete shell is poured.

As you can see its a great relief when a concrete shell is poured… Especially in melbourne ….in winter where there is the constant risk of catastrophic cave ins.

This pool will be:

Approx 11 x 6 with 3 full length entry steps

Fully tiled in a white Bisazza tile.

Mineral sanitation/infloor cleaning/gas and solar heating.

The surrounding coping will be white large format marble pavers..

There are 2 waterfeatures on the boundry wall that will spill into narrow aquaducts before returning to the pool.

There are 5 new generation “em”series spa electric led lights in the step side of the pool.

There will be fiber optic lighting running under the steps and coping on the entry side of the pool as well as on each side of the aqua ducts.

Now the concrete shell is complete the works around the pool can begin. The pool company is usually the first to start on a site, as all the other hard landscaping elements usually tie into the pool.

We are also usually the last to finish on site. When a pool is being fully tiled it is important to protect the tiles once the works have been completed so for this reason we like to tile the pool once all other works are almost complete. We like to hand over the pool as the clients take possession of the the project as a whole.

We’ll keep you posted on the project as it develops so stay tuned…