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

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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.









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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


We love what we do and we continually strive the build the best pools in Melbourne. This is our mission and our goal.
I  have been reflecting lately on why we love building pools so much. It is hard dirty work, hot in summer, wet in winter, dusty, muddy and dangerous. For me,  my answer is as follows.

Growing up with pools

Growing up we did not have a pool, but some of my best memories are of days and nights spent at friends pools.

As a child, it was the days playing around the pool,  pool games such as Marco Polo and handstands. Swimming underwater from end to end and holding your breath as long as you could while fetching sunken objects off the pool floor.

As a teen it moved to jumping push bikes into pools, launching of roofs into the deep end and eventually long nights sitting in the spa drinking beers with friends.   Very rarely did it involve laps, but it was always great fun.

Now an adult and homeowner I see the value of a swimming pool in a different light. When I jump in a newly finished pool now I get a feeling of complete luxury. What a joy and luxury it is to be able to have the space to dive into your own backyard pool and splash around. Your own oasis where you can relax and entertain without any interference from the outside world. The kids and their friends will never be far away on a hot day or balmy night because where else would they rather be.

The Pool as an idea

Building pools now I realise I have had a long love affair with the idea of pools. The Hollywood movie pools and movies about pools have always been a favourite for me. Although they were before my time I like to “The Swimmer” with Burt Lancaster is a real showpiece of American pools in the 60’s as he swims from the river to his house doing laps in every backyard pool he passes on the way.

Also “Don’t make waves” the 1967 Tony Curtis film where Tony plays Carlo Cofield a Malibu-based swimming pool salesman. The movie is based on California beach culture in the 60’s and showpieces some great pools and real estate from the era.

The idea of a pool is really what drives the demand for pools. The idea that you can own your own piece of paradise.

Your own oasis or holiday destination where you need only travel to your back door.

The idea of a design feature in your private landscape that could be seen in a magazine or on a movie set, or in a music video clip with bikini clad girls. if that’s the idea.

The idea is different for everyone and it is very emotional. The great thing with pools is that although the idea is one of extreme luxury it is attainable. There are many options to suit varied budgets. So the dream can become a reality.

Pushing design and innovation

My passion for pools has now moved to a new stage where I am literally addicted to them. I love the intricacies in design and the behind the scenes working of a pool. To the owner, it has to be simple to operate and clean and polished in design but to make this happen there is a lot of thought and construction knowledge required to ensure it is built well. Structurally and hydraulically there is a lot that can be done wrong when building pools and one mistake at the construction stage is one too many.

I now enjoy researching cutting edge pool designs from around the world. Following architects from today and the past in their design and integration of pools into landscapes and home designs. I enjoy watching trends in pool design come and go and keeping note of what seems to be timeless.

Famous Lautner edge pool @ Goldstein residence

At Minke pools we really enjoy the challenge of complex designs in pool and spa construction. I find the pool with even one small design feature that may be a point of a difference a joy to build, and I love watching an idea sketched out on paper becoming a full-scale construction and finished product of exceptional quality.

A lot of pool companies build pools as a soulless business concern.They focus on numbers and turnover and have a primary focus on costs. What it will cost them to build it ..and how can we cost in some additional variations.

We believe we are the best pool builders in Melbourne because we love what we do. We love the process and the result and most of all I love being able to provide a client with a pool that meets their Idea of what a pool is, and should be, to them and their family. To meet the need created by the idea.

Latest completed swimming pool renovation

The pool inside a pool renovation project is now complete.

1. This is what we were first greeted with. Massive old pool in good condition but far too big and very dated.


Originally a large pool the pool was shortened to become more of a courtyard feature.

Infloor cleaning, spa jets, solar heating was all incorporated into the new design.

2. This is at the concrete stage with the old pool still visible behind.

@ Concrete

The pool is fully tiled in an Italian 200 x200 ceramic tile with 200 x 50mm rectangular tiles used to tile the curved walls.

Entry steps are finished in travertine to match the coping and the pool surrounds and paved in a feature cobble style paver.
A water tank was put in the old part of the original pool shell as part of the water conservation plan.

3. Tiled about to lay travertine.


4. Complete… the dawn of a new pool. Photos were taken at daybreak this morning.

The pool is finished and ready to provide years of family fun and entertaining.

Landscape design by Paul Bangay and pool designed by Minke pools in conjunction with SJB architects.

The pool was built in conjunction with Krongold Constructions.

We are very happy with the result. Our hands-on approach to building pools ensures we maintain our uncompromising high standards on every project we do and the result, even on the closest inspection, will not disappoint.

Stay tuned more completed pools to come in the next few weeks.

The bigger picture.

When planning your new pool you have to picture the completed job, including landscape associated works, well before you break earth doing the pool dig.

Monday we start the plumbing on a new job working from the pool equipment area,  back to the pool. This is the reverse of how things are usually done but the house is nearing completion and the pool is not scheduled to be installed for approximately 18 months.

To ensure exposed aggregate concrete works can all be completed before the clients move in, we will be roughing in the pipe work at the pool plant area so this area can be concreted now. The pipes will be left penetrating the new slab ready for connection in 18 months time. the pool equipment will simply be sat in place and connected when the time is right

It’s the 5 Ps at work…Prior, Planning to Prevent Poor Performance. It also demonstrates the importance of being flexible with construction schedules and orders to work around specific needs of the client.