Cool As Concrete
The process of building a unique concrete pool shell doesn’t have to be an overwhelming ordeal. In this Q&A interview, Simi West
speaks in conversation with Chris Pettigrew, owner of Trade Pools for insight into the process of concrete pool construction. Pettigrew
explains how the team at Trade Pools get creative with concrete and provides a unique perspective on the building processes and
challenges to be mindful of when building concrete pool shell structures.
Could you introduce us to Trade Pools?
CP: Trade Pools service swimming pool companies, residential and commercial builders as well as landscape companies. The team offers the construction of basic pools right up to high-end, out of the ordinary and commercial pool structures.
Please outline the process of creating a concrete pool shell.
Offering an end-to-end service for the construction of concrete pool shells makes the process easy and cost effective for our clients. Whether we are engaged from the beginning or just for some aspects like formwork or reinforcing steel installation, we offer experience and reliability.
What are some specific examples of pool structures you have built that didn’t fit the usual, linear, rectangle shape?
One of the most interesting projects would probably be the enormous fan-shaped outdoor wave pool we completed at Funfields Theme Park in Whittlesea! It is more than 2200m2 in size and was a great project to be engaged in.
What are the biggest challenges to face when building concrete pool shells?
Weather and site logistics are usually the variables that catch people out. Being at the mercy of the elements can impact any type of building but when you are working in the ground most of the time it is important to be prepared and to be cognisant of how to deal with poor soil or site conditions if the weather is not ideal. Experience and preparation are the key to overcoming this. Site logistics, coordination of contractors, and trades required to be strung together with continuity to achieve the best result can also be tricky at times. This is why a lot of our clients prefer us to handle the whole process from the beginning – starting from the set-out of the pool, right through to overseeing the concreting of the pool.
[We want clients to] feel comfortable that it is in experienced hands so they can spend their time more efficiently working on their business or managing more projects. It is for this reason that our services offer greater value than just a job well done.
How many people in your team are involved in any given project?
This varies from project to project. When a job comes in, we start by assessing the resources that are required and planning accordingly. We have a great core team for the construction aspects, as well as many contractors who all work to achieve the result required. Aspects that need considerable attention may be time constraints, difficult site access or largescale projects. Most projects normally have a crew of between 3-5 tradespeople onsite throughout the construction of the pool structure and bigger projects can sometimes have teams of 8-12 people or more working through different stages
What would you like to see a lot more of?
Great question. I’ve seen a lot of things in my 27 years of building concrete pools! Innovative design. Even though the construction techniques used in building concrete swimming pools today have been around since the late ‘50s/early ‘60s in Australia, we are still using them to build more complex designed pools. The team at Trade Pools are always looking at ways to improve our processes.
What would you recommend to a homeowner who is looking to build a pool?
Engage a reputable, experienced and licensed pool builder or company to undertake your project. Building a pool these days is a considerable investment and should be handled correctly. Trade Pools works with many reputable pool companies through Melbourne and some regional areas. Experience is always the key to successful projects.
What’s your favourite part of the process?
Definitely seeing the pool concreted, not only because it is the culmination of all the preparation and work, but seeing the amazement of the owners when it is literally taking shape in front of them and to hear them say things like “I can really see the pool now, it looks amazing!”
What’s the best part of your job?
Making things easy for our clients, producing the outcome they need or better and seeing them realise the benefits of having Trade Pools involved in their projects.
What other services do Trade Pools provide?
Our focus is on doing what we do best – building concrete pool structures. We either provide a fixed upfront price or just help out with individual stages, like formwork or steel reinforcement installation. With this in mind, the team at Trade Pools offer cost effective solutions and convenience for our clients with experienced advice and on-site knowledge to provide a great service.
The process begins with the accurate set out of the desired pool design for excavation. We
either use our own machines or one of our experienced contractors who are familiar with the tight tolerances required for the exact structure thicknesses required by the engineers. We also work closely with some contractors that our builders prefer or request.
Depending on the soil type, location or finished level of the pool, formwork is used to create
the shape or essentially a mould of the pool to be built. On occasion, simply the top of the
pool is needed.
For sites where the pool is out of the ground or in loose soil or sand, the complete outside of the structure from top to bottom is needed. At Trade Pools, we have an experienced team when it comes to these aspects and often provide advice to clients prior to commencing some projects.
After this, the reinforcing steel is installed as per the engineers’ design and is then ready for inspection by a building surveyor, inspector or engineer. The amount of reinforcing steel can vary significantly depending on the design, site and features required.
Plumbing items that are required to be cast into the concrete pool structure are then installed before the concreting process.
Concreting the pool shell or structure is carried out by one of our experienced ‘concrete spraying’ contractors or by the clients preferred contractor as this is a critical component of the process that requires good preparation of the pool in order to be successful. Concrete is then pumped and pneumatically applied to the walls and floor using compressed air. This is an amazing process that sees the pool’s structure concreted in one piece, usually within only a few hours.
Images Courtesy Trade Pools