Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vanishing Edge Pool Expert Witness Consultant

Your dream pool has been completed... but it does not work properly.  Water is spilling down the hillside, not all of the edges are wet, or the pool gets cloudy each time the edge system turns on.  

It is turning into a nightmare.  The pool builder is unresponsive or unable to correct the problems. You are at your wits end.

Reality is setting in...

Lets face it, the reality is that you probably hired the wrong builder for your project.  They either lack the required knowledge, skill sets or ability to build a properly operating water in transit design.  

There are many possible things that can go wrong with infinity edge or overflow pools.  If being someones learning curve is not for you, then investigate their credentials.  Do not select your contractor based upon the lowest bid - that is the wrong mentality for these complex pools.

The lowest bidder is working on the lowest profit margins.  That means that there is little or no extra money to resolve errors in their construction practices or design.  You will be forced to finance any repairs yourself.  

This will oftentimes result in a lawsuit, lawyers and a financial drain (you'll have to finance the lawsuit out of your pocket).  Not to mention the stress and anguish.

Expert Witness

Don't be shocked by the fees charged by an expert to come out and inspect your project.  Experts are just that.  Persons with a significant level of expertise, experience, training and education.  Usually decades of experience designing and building complex aquatic facilities.

You are not an expert.  That's why you hired someone else to build your pool in the first place.  Though you may have identified the most serious defects, you most certainly have not located all of them.  You can be confident that if a property owner is aware of some mistakes, that an expert will locate many more violations.


Now is the time to put your shame and embarrassment aside.  It is time to bite the bullet and get to the heart of the mistakes.  Do not make the same mistake hiring a cheap or inexpensive "expert."

Remember the adage - "You get what you pay for."  ?

Paolo Benedetti, SWD
Aquatic Artist, Watershape Consultant, Expert Witness, International Construction Management
Contact the author at: or 408-776-8220
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa©
All rights reserved.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Swimming Pool Rebar Clips - Expert evaluates suitability for swimming pool reinforcment steel

Not all products are suitable for their intended purpose.  Take plastic clips used securing reinforcement steel for instance.

Plastic is non-conductive

Because the plastic is not electrically conductive, the clips isolate the pieces of rebar from each other.  Why is this bad?


Bonding grid

An equipotential bonding grid is required around all swimming pools and spas.  This includes ALL of the steel in the pool structure and surrounding concrete decks.
swimming pool expert witness
Non-compliant plastic rebar clips - cannot be used around swimming pools
Using plastic clips to secure the rebar, electrically isolates the bars from each other, defeating the continuity of the bonding grid.


Just because a salesman demonstrated their ease of use, and said that they were approved by the building codes, does not make it so.
If it cannot be proven that every bar is electrically bonded, then there exists a potential for electrocution.

This is exactly why epoxy coated rebar is not permitted for use in swimming pools - the epoxy (plastic) coating isolates each bar from the next.

Go ahead any use plastic rebar clips - if you want to pay to to remove and replace the entire pool someday.  It's your gamble...

Paolo Benedetti, SWD, Principal

Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa 
International Aquatic Consultant, Watershape Engineering, Expert Witness, Hydraulic Designer, Landscape Design, Owner's Rep
Office: 408-776-8220 
Major Markets Serviced: 
San Francisco, Palo Alto, Atherton, Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Clemente, Pacific Palisades, Escondido, Scottsdale, Seattle, Phoenix, Tempe, Portland, Aspen, Vail, Park City, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Madison, Detroit, East Hamptons, South Hamptons, Cape May, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cherry Hill, Toms River, Salt lake City, Boise, Denver, Santa Barbaara, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Oceanside, Big Sur, Napa, Sonoma, Sausalito, Danville, Belvedere, Montecito, Palm Springs, Midland, Manhattan, Greenwich Village, Osaka, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Seoul, Sydney, New York, Tokyo, Cairo, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Lisbon, Bonn.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Construction Defects - Failure to Notify

The duty to notify the owner or their representative, belongs to all contractors and sub-contractors on a project.

Duty to Notify

When a party observes a deficiency on a project and fails to make a notification, they become partially responsible for that mistake.

If a stucco plasterer observes inadequate flashing around a door, they have a responsibility to report it.
If a tile contractor realizes that the waterproof membrane in a shower is insufficient, they have a responsibility to notify the owner.
If a painter sees that the drywall in a bathroom is not the proper waterproof variety, they have a duty to make a notification.

If a trade covers up the inferior work of a previous trade without making notice, then they become responsible for the errors as well.

Bottom Line

When a tradesman observes errors in the preceding stages of construction, they have a duty to notify the of the deficiencies.  Most of the time this is the contractor who hired them.  

If the General Contractor then fails to take corrective action, then they share the joint responsibility for correcting the mistakes.
Paolo Benedetti, SWD Aquatic Artist, Watershape Consultant, Expert Witness, International Construction Management 
Contact the author at: or 408-776-8220 "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa© © All rights reserved.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Building Codes, Trade Standards and Common Sense trump manufacturers instructions

When ABT channel drain manufacturer installation instructions clearly violate the building codes and accepted trade practices, then common sense should prevail... that is if the contractor has any.

ABT Channel Drains

The installation instructions and components for the ABT Channel Drain system, instructs the installer to drive rebar directly into the soil.  Alternatively, the instructions state that a galvanized U bracket can be used directly against the earth as a brace.

Click on image to view a larger version
These instructions violate every tenant of concrete construction, building codes and accepted trade practices.  Just because a company came up with a "brilliant marketing idea" does not make it acceptable or correct. 

Click on the image to see a larger image of the rebar in direct contact with the earth.

What is a Contractor to do?

First and foremost, the building codes ALWAYS prevail.  The International Building Code (IBC) has adopted and incorporated the American Concrete Institute Standard ACI 318, directly into the building code.

ACI 318 states that reinforcing steel in concrete shall maintain minimum clearances to earth.  Driving reinforcing bars directly into the earth, clearly violates both the IBC and ACI 318.

Secondly, common sense should prevail.  Though it may be fast and easy, a manufacturer's instructions should not be followed when they clearly violate the law.

A Solution?

Had the manufacturer supplied or specified a non-corrosive plastic stake, then all would have been good.

Alternatively, smooth bar dowels could have been used as stakes and removed once the channels were secured with concrete.

The contractors reasoning, "That's what they sell.  Besides, it will be 20 years before the rebar rusts and the concrete cracks," is lame.  

Especially when he knows that he is violating the building code.

Paolo Benedetti, SWD 
Aquatic Artist, Watershape Consultant, Expert Witness, International Construction Management 
"Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa©
Contact the author at: or 408-776-8220 

© All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ANSI A108.5 Exterior Floor Tiles Require 95% Thinset Mortar Contact

Loose or hollow sounding floor tiles are usually a result of improper tile installation practices.

ANSI A108.5 (2005) 

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has established trade standards for the installation of Ceramic Tiles.  This standards also includes quarry pavers (natural stone tiles).  It has been in effect for decades, and was most recently reaffirmed in 2005.

ANSI A108.5, Section 3.3.2 states that in exterior or shower installations, the average uniform contact area shall not be less than 95% (upon the inspection of three tiles).


Let's face it, humans beings are like electricity and water - they will take the path of least resistance and effort.

Tile setters must be reminded that tiles installed in exterior floor and shower applications, must achieve 95% contact with the setting material.

This means that the tile setter must knock down the trowel gauge marks on ceramic tiles, quarry pavers and natural stone tiles.  Leaving the trowel marks in place will mean only 50% contact.  

Why do they do this?  It saves them 50% on their thinset costs.  They are lazy.  No one ever taught them how to do it correctly.  They have never been involved in a construction defect case.
Improperly Set Travertine Quarry Tiles - click on image to enlarge

Improperly Set Marble Quarry Tiles - click on image to enlarge

Additionally, it will leave voids behind the tiles where moisture will collect.  This moisture can lead to freeze damage, saturated or loosening thinset.  Loose thinset may result in cracked tiles.  

Porous tile or natural stones, such as terracotta or marble, may develop or exhibit efflorescence.  The efflorescence will bleed up through the tile from this moisture trapped underneath.  By ensuring a solid void free substrate, there will be little place for the water to collect, nor air pockets to foster efflorescence.  

Efflorescence requires calcium, water and air in order to form.  Since efflorescence crystals cannot push into the concrete deck, they will manifest themselves on the surface of the tiles or the grout.  The efflorescence will continue to form until all of the calcium has been activated.  That means that it may never actually cease.

Sound Practices equal Sound Tiles
If quarry tiles are not gauged (cut to a consistent thickness), it means that the masons may need to back buttered the tiles as well, to ensure complete contact.

Well cleaned and saturated tiles will also ensure a good tight bond with the substrate.  No thinset mortar will adhere to dust, dirt or dry tiles.

A little care and periodic inspection of tiles as they are set (lifting installed tiles to inspect the contact coverage), will verify and ensure that your clients enjoy a trouble free deck for years to come.

Paolo Benedetti, SWD 
 Artist, Watershape Consultant, Expert Witness, International Construction Management 
Contact the author at: or 408-776-8220 "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa© © 
All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

ANSI/APSP-12 Swimming Pool Plaster Workmanship Standards

ANSI/APSP-12 Swimming Pool Plaster Workmanship Standards 

The general public and pool industry at large need to know how and why, otherwise unacceptable workmanship finds it’s way into becoming “the minimally acceptable standard.”

In July 2014, the APSP (Association Pool & Spa Professionals) and the NPC (National Plaster's Counsel) announced a “joint” committee to write a new plaster workmanship standard, under the guise of APSP/ANSI-12.  

Because APSP is aligned with ANSI (American National Standards Institute), the resulting standards to would in effect become “statute” in many regions of the country.  Through ANSI's affiliation with the ICC (the International Code Counsel ironically publishes the International Building Code, which has been adopted across the US), this may just become law in your state. 

You can see where this is going.  It is a end around run on consumer rights and justifiable workmanship.  This forces consumers to settle for inferior workmanship, just because it meets the industry's own minimum acceptable level.  

Their proposals for this standard include defining acceptable "deviations" and explanations as to why pool plaster cannot achieve the levels of performance delivered by other plaster trades

These defined deviations will be governed by "accepted trade practices" and not by the BEST AVAILABLE PRACTICES.   

Again, locate and identify the lowest common level of performance and make that acceptable.  If a consumer has a project with poor workmanship, they will be forced to accept poorest quality job that the NPC can justify.

Fox in the Hen House

Trade associations writing their own workmanship standards is self-serving and against the general interest of the American public.  Even if a standard is written with the absolute lack of personal biases and interests, the end result will still be a self-serving document.   

This is what I take offense with… putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

In other words, "how bad can it get and still be defensible?"

Paolo Benedetti, SWD Aquatic Artist, Watershape Consultant, Expert Witness, International Construction Management 
Contact the author at: or 408-776-8220 "Creating water as art."™ 
Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa© © 
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

International Swimming Pool Codes and Standards

Miami Swimming Pool Design and Construction

The underlying problem in this country, is that trade associations write minimum performance standards for their own members.  Volunteers with egos, contractors and manufacturers sit on these committees, pushing personal agendas in order to validate their antiquated products, inferior trade practices or poor workmanship.  The resulting standards end up catering to the lowest common denominator.

These minimum workmanship standards then get absorbed into the building codes as law or adopted by state contractors licensing boards the performance standards.  This has happened with almost every association published code in this country.

Does this process really serve the American public?  It certainly serves the industry, manufacturers and contractors.


People need to realize that building codes and industry performance & workmanship standards are not the ceiling to strive for, but are the foundation upon which to build upon.  They are the minimum acceptable level of performance.

To date only 2 major standards have evolved beyond being self-serving – the ACI and NEC.  Every one of their standards is based upon science and the evaluation of practical field experiences and failures.

Swimming Pool Plaster Workmanship Standards

The National Plaster Counsel (NPC) needs to get scientific with their standards.  For example, maximum water-cement (W/C) ratios are not specified by the NPC.  Instead the NPC Techinical Manual (section 2.1) is ambiguous about water content, leaving it up to the on-site crews to determine. 

I have never seen concrete finishers, stucco applicators or venetian plasterers "re-temper" their work by splashing water on it.  They all know that this destroys the finish, causes discoloration, and that the localized addition of water invalidates the W/C ratios.  But the NPC continues to endorse this improper practice.

The technical bulletins for integral cement pigments from Davis, Scofield, Solomon and most others all state in BOLD TYPE "calcium chloride shall not be used."   What is so special about pool plaster that makes it exempt from the prohibition on the addition of calcium chloride?

Steel troweled stucco finishes and Venetian plaster are installed virtually free of trowel marks, waviness and unevenness.  I see these finishes almost daily.  These other trades deliver hand finished & troweled surfaces that are virtually flawless.  They are precariously perched on scaffolding or working overhead as they trowel.  Yet, the NPC workmanship standards promote surfaces with these flaws.  Their standards are subjective and not quantitative, thereby in effect validating bad installations.  Why not hold the industry to a standard that contains a defined +/- variance?

Precise batching, W/C ratios and basic cement chemistry are beyond the comprehension of a mere mortal plaster crew.  We're lucky to have high school graduates on the plaster crews, let alone someone who understands cement chemistry.

It's time for the NPC to set a new bar - HIGH.

If the tide rises, all of the boats will have to float with it.  If we drain the seas, they will all sit on the ocean floor and will go nowhere.

Paolo Benedetti, SWD Aquatic Artist, Watershape Consultant, Expert Witness, International Construction Management Contact the author at: or 408-776-8220 "Creating water as art."™ Aquatic Technology Pool and Spa© © All rights reserved.