Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Pool (aka: The Thing Keeping Me From Blogging)

I've been holding off from writing this post. I wanted it all to be perfect before I sent it off into the world wide web. But in typical 'me' fashion, I couldn't wait. I had to share my excitement NOW!

We have finally put in a pool. Not a fancy, schmancy one, but one that will mean I can get wet in the summer, without having to battle my way through the martha guy fleas, and cats head burrs to get to the murky brown dam. *Shudder*. And more importantly, it will mean that my children can learn to swim in a fenced, clear water environment. YAY!

As a preface to this post, it's important that I mention I am still happily married. Anyone who has ever installed their own pool will understand why this is important.

The thing about getting a pool when you live out where we do, is that essentially it's not going to increase the value of your property. Sure, farmer's wives everywhere would be screaming "Ooooh, look honey! It's got a pool! PLLLEEEEEAAAAAASSSEEEEEEEE buy this sheep and cattle property so I can spend the forseeable future lazing by the pool on these 40 degree + days!" But farmers would be more like "How much actual potential grass space is this thing taking up? And is it worth keeping? And what are the maintenance and running costs?" At least that's how it is with us.

I've been ITCHING for a pool out here for 8 years now. And the only way it actually happened was through my (literal) hard work finally paying off. But that's only the start of it. It's well worth documenting the actual process. For posterity.

For about two years we have been 'hypothetically' discussing where we wanted my 'future pool' to go. I had three preferences, all of which were deemed by CP as being inappropriate because of a) trees that would drop too many leaves into the pool, creating more work than CP was happy to take on in the unlikely event of us actually owning a pool. b) the location of any underground wiring would be logistically impossible in the locations I had chosen, especially if we ever got around to renovating our house - hypothetically speaking. c) access to our water supply. And so it was that we settled on this site, chosen for it's potential views from our house, access to water, ease of wiring possibilities, and distance from trees, but probability of being covered in shade at certain times of day.
The site!
After the pool arrived on site, (in about 15 boxes - that's a challenge all on its own), a hole needed to be dug. As we had purchased an above ground pool to be put in the ground, even the measurements in regards to how big our hole had to be were tough. Having never built our own pool before, we decided that more was always going to be the better option. So we (and by we, I mean CP) set about digging the mother of all holes, which would ultimately house our new pool. Luckily we possess the machinery enabling us to do this.

Mother of all holes.
Luckily time wasn't an issue for us. We knew we wanted the pool finished by November, which is when the weather starts to seriously heat up. We started in late September. After the hole was done, we just sat back and admired Charlie's big hole. So did the sheep, who probably thought we had done an awesome thing, building a dam up the other end of the paddock for them. They came to check it out every now and then when they thought no one was looking.
Snooping sheep.
Repeat offenders.
After all our admiring of the hole, we figured We'd better do something about it. We had just returned from a trip to the big smoke, where we purchased all of the little bits and pieces the pool company DON'T send out in their boxes. (Black plastic, specific tools etc). CP likes a challenge as much as the next bloke, but after emptying the contents of the boxes, he was rapidly losing interest in the pool project. But because he loves me, and I was still showering him in compliments about how manly he was to be able to build his own pool etc. he picked up his pace again. This was all in between his usual work. So he was exhausted. Poor CP was burning the candle at both ends to get this done for me.
CP being all important and measuring stuff...
We spent so long 'levelling' the base of that pool. So many discussions in our house revolved around the absolute need for the base to be flawless in order to ensure the success of every step after this. We borrowed the neighbour's tennis court roller, CP used a proper leveller, and many other inventive stunts to achieve success at this point in the pool construction. We both deemed the pool was 'flat', and we couldn't have been more pleased. I couldn't have been more pleased. CP was getting well and truly over the pool by now. The frame you can see on either side was another 'critical' stage in the pool construction. Their exact placement needed to be ensured, and as their base was cemented into the ground, there was no room for error. Hmmm.... In retrospect, we could have done this better. But as we kept telling ourselves, 'this is a farm pool, we're not putting it in to add value to the place.' Close enough was most definitely good enough for us. Well not for me, but for CP. And the pool would go no further if I had to do it myself. Had we lived in the city, CP would have caved by now. He would have called the pool men and paid whatever sum of money would have secured their services until the pool was complete. Given where we live, this was not even open for discussion.

Friends had started asking about the state of our marriage. Friends who had installed their own pools in the past. Maybe we should have been worried, but we were still talking, and mostly, happy to plod along at our own pace.

One day when I was at work, CP went ahead and got to the stage where you put your sand base down. This would have been fantastic, except that it also rained for about 2 or 3 days straight. The pool went back on hold, and the sand became saturated. We should have paid the kids in silver coins to get down there and pull out ANY lumps they found at all in the sand. ANY. But we didn't. And it shouldn't really matter.

And here it is! The moment your hole starts looking like a pool!

In the instructions that come with the pool, this is the section that says you need 'at least one friend' to help you. CP had this nailed by the time I came back from work one day. I was so excited. The weather had warmed up significantly by now. Five of the six people in our house had either been affected by flu, or were recovering from the flu. You can't see it, but inside the pool the sand base was perfectly flat. Another critical stage in the pool's development.

It was at this time I decided to step in and help CP out. CP was clearly in need of a break, so I offered to do something, I was still ill, and really shouldn't have. The temperature was hovering around the mid to late 30's. It was awfully humid. I was helping with the base of the pool. After about 15 minutes in the pool, I was feeling extremely overheated. I shouted at Olivia to pass me the ladder, which was on the outside of the pool at the time. By the time she had it, I was sitting on the floor of the pool , with my head between my legs, struggling for breath. I felt like I was about to pass out, and was desperate to get outside the pool before I did. It was a slower process than I had hoped. I practically fell out of the pool off the ladder. CP had come to see what was going on by now, and he helped me get back up on the grass again. He had to carry me inside, and I collapsed onto the lounge. I couldn't breathe, and started to panic. With a cool cloth and iced water, I cooled off quickly. But it was an awful moment for me, and by far the worst thing that happened for me and the pool. I decided rest was the key, and avoided the pool construction area like the plague while I was sick. CP was on his own again. I felt pathetic.

We still hadn't really argued at all. I think I may have expressed some concern about the straps CP was using to hold the wall in place. My concerns were duly noted by CP, and then filed into his 'never think about ever again' compartment of his brain.

Once the wall of the pool is up, you put the edging back on again. It's supposed to hold everything in place. It's at this stage, you need everything perfectly in place, because the lining is the next step, and you can't screw that up. It was at this stage we realised the pool wasn't perfect. I was worried the side wasn't 'perfect' in one place. I was worried that the sand was too high in another place. I was worried. Whenever I told CP about my concerns he threatened to walk away from it. Epitome of a quandry. CP tried to assure me that it would all be okay, but I am a worrier by nature. Easier said than done.

Looks like a pool...
There is a big jump between the above picture and the next. One word - liner. Friends had mentioned to us that this would be the most difficult stage. We couldn't understand why. The base was flat. We had spent time ensuring the critical elements were all in place. CP managed to do the first attempt at installing the liner on his own. (Another job that was recommended you share with your 'friends').

For the first attempt at the liner, CP had done it himself. We weren't happy with it. CP was still whinging that it said in the 'installation video' that you could line up the edges with the 'clear markings on the liner'. He couldn't find it. I decided to help again. We fiddled with this damn liner for so long I can't even begin to tell you. Over the next day or so, the liner stretched and moved and we stretched and moved it again and again. The phrase 'close enough is good enough' was used on more than one occasion. CP set about putting the edging back on again. Things were looking up - finally. The end of the pool installation was in sight.

Once the pool edging is on, and the side support posts, the pool was ready for filling.
Close enough is good enough. This would have to do.
Once the pool filled, we needed to backfill the soil. This didn't take so long. We decided to keep
the backfill below the liner level in case, god forbid, there was an issue with the liner. At this point (after a discussion about installing the liner) a friend of ours casually dropped into the conversation 'Did you have any trouble locating the dots on the underside of the liner to help put it into place?' NO, WE DID NOT SEE THE DOTS! Never mind... pool had water in it and was still standing.

We (read CP) had to install the fence fairly quickly. I think he did a fantastic job! The last step was installing the filtration system. This was the step that caused us the SINGLE MOST grief of all the steps so far. In the installation video it clearly states that 'you only get one chance to do this section right'. I mean you are dealing with the liner. If you muck this up, you can throw it out and do it all again. We were both tired, and in desperate need of having this all said and done. Especially CP. CP wanted to pack it in, and I remember saying to him 'Seriously? We've come this far, and you'd rather bury it in the ground and leave it at that??' How bad could it be??

As it turns out, very bad. But obviously not the worst case scenario, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this, as we would have filled in the hole in the ground and pretended this was all a bad dream! Once we had cut the hole in the liner (at the appropriate stage) we realised we hadn't done something that absolutely needed to be done and had to realign the liner slightly. It was a nightmare and it still causes me to break out in a sweat thinking about that day. But thankfully the adustment was minor and any 'trouble spots' could be covered and were water tight. Phew.

Fenced pool - yay!

Finally, the pool was ready for use. Nothing like installing a pool to encourage friendly neighbourhood children to come for a visit! Note the colour of the water - we were still resolving how to fix that at that point, but we were all itching to get in for a swim. Please note the excellent 'paver replacement system' we have going. These crates and cardboard strips are all the latest rage in pool landscaping.

So here it is. It's not perfect. There are some things we notice about it that ultimately won't affect our swimming pleasure, but will be a constant reminder that this was a pool built by 'us'. But three weeks later there is still clear blue water in it, and it hasn't leaked! But there was that goanna that CP pulled out of the filtration system...

Now all we need are the pavers! And some pool chairs... and a cocktail, cheese and nibblies...
Bring on the summer I say!

PS: Before I went to post this, I showed it to CP. He insisted I wait until the pavers were done at least. So I did, sort of. And here is where the pool is at today. Almost done... but not quite done. Now we just need more pavers (CP is doing them today), grass and stuff. Mostly 'stuff'... but we'll get there. Feel the love!

PPS: Vote for me in the 'COM - Top 25 Mum Blogs'. Go to my facebook page and click the link there! Thanks!


  1. It did not occur to me that you would have to do the pool yourselves! I think you both did an amazing job!

  2. I have taken note, I don't think our marriage could survive the building of a pool! Lucky we live close enough for a pool man to come and do it!


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