Building the Dream

When we bought our home eight years ago, the sellers mentioned that they had always thought of putting in a pool, but never got around to it. It’s a large lot, but has lots of trees and hills/slopes so there was no obvious place to put a pool, but the idea was stuck in our minds. As the years passed, we often debated getting a cottage or putting in a pool. We would look at the lot and assume that putting in a pool would be too difficult and expensive, especially considering the nature of our property.

A couple of years ago we decided it was time to make a decision on cottage vs. pool and we called a few pool companies to get some quotes. One company said it couldn’t be done, one said they could do it, and even provided a “rough estimate”, but we weren’t convinced they really understood what was involved and they wouldn’t provide any final details or pricing. Then we met with Derek Redden, owner of R&R Pools in Timberlea. We stood with him in our very sloped and very treed yard and listened to his great ideas. R&R was the only pool company we met with that we felt understood what was involved in the project and could create a beautiful pool in the area we had to work with.

The quote Derek brought us had a detailed breakdown of all the mandatory components we would need for a pool as well as the possible extras and we talked about what we could take out and what we should add. It was nice to see the breakdown so we could see what things cost and decide what we wanted. It was going to be expensive, but Derek worked with us on the pros and cons of various features so we could decide where we were willing to spend extra money and where we weren’t. He also talked to us about what decisions had to be made up front and what could be revised along the way. We decided on the features we wanted and had confidence from the beginning that

Derek and his team were going to build us a beautiful pool.

Before we built the pool we had to get a building permit from the city. Getting the permit was our responsibility, but Derek was helpful in describing the process and how to fi ll out the various forms that were required. He warned us about the associated fees and deposits we should expect as part of the application process as well as how long the process was likely to take.

Once we decided what we wanted and had our permit, we were ready to go. One potential challenge with the design/price of the pool was whether they were going to find bedrock when the digging started. Derek agreed that before we got to a point of no return, he would send a backhoe to where we were planning to build the pool to dig an exploratory hole, just to get a sense of whether there was bedrock just below the surface. If the whole area of the pool had bedrock a foot below the surface, we wanted the opportunity to reconsider the project since the cost of blasting the rock may have sent the project cost above our comfort level. While digging the fi ve-foot exploratory hole, they found big rocks, but no bedrock, so it was time to build a pool.

Not everything happened according to plan: the weather didn’t always cooperate; equipment wasn’t always available when we were ready for it; but the plan would just get revised to accommodate whatever obstacle presented itself. The team that built the pool was nice to have around, hard-working and friendly, very good at what they do and always willing to answer questions. It was a fun process to watch.

We have a very challenging lot to build on – every piece of equipment had to be brought down a steep hill (and often towed back up). All the garbage and excess supplies had to be brought back up the hill.

When construction started, Derek would often spend a few minutes with us at the end of the day to talk about what happened and what was going to happen next. He would make suggestions for modifications to the original plan (and any associated cost) and explain when we should expect delays.

The project took a little longer than expected, but it was a rainy summer that year and it was a huge project, but the result was well worth waiting for. It cost a bit more than the original quote, but any additional expenses were discussed in advance and we made the decision to make a change that we knew would result in additional cost.

Two days after the pool and landscaping were finished, we had a 12-hour thunderstorm overnight. We were awake all night imagining what the rain was doing to the fragile, hilly landscape with its fresh mulch and plant material and wondered what it would look like in the morning. The storm provided quite a stress test for a recently finished project. We had already paid the fi nal bill so part of me was wondering if we would be on our own to clean up whatever mess might be waiting for us in the morning. It was messy, and there was a portion of the retaining wall on one side of the pool that was washed out. I called Derek in the morning and by noon he had a team of people at the pool, fixing the retaining wall and cleaning up the dirt and debris. It was amazing.

We’re still learning about the pool and there’s a lot to learn. We don’t know what all the buttons and pieces of equipment do and sometimes the pool water gets cloudy or the chemicals get out of balance and it can be frustrating. However, the R&R team has been great at answering questions, solving problems and helping with issues as they come up (I think I’ve been taught how to backwash the filter three times).

We decided to build a pool because we weren’t ready to commit to using a cottage. The kids are involved in lots of activities, so it makes sense for us to be home during the summer and we like having their friends over to the pool. A pool is work (especially if you build it among trees!), absolutely, but we have not once regretted our decision.