Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Aquatic Floors - Movable Hydraulic Pool Floors

Movable aquatic pool floors are becoming all the rage, namely because it increases the flexibility and value of the given space.  You can have a diving pool one moment, a lap pool the next, then an exercise pool or a children's wading pool.  The exact pool depth is yours for the choosing!


There are a number of different mechanical systems on the market.  However, there is only one system that if it ever fails, will fail in the safe position.

Once installed most systems do not allow access tot he underside of the floor.  The hydraulic piston, ram or lift will be totally inaccessible.  In order to service any below floor components, major demolition or cutting of the floor will be required.


Keep it simple.

The more complex any system is, the more prone to mechanical failure it will be.  Screws, plungers and scissors lifts all have pivot points and load bearing points that will wear.  Friction is unavoidable in these systems, as is eventual failure.

Pinch or Entrapment Points

Many systems have recessed cables, guide rails or screw jacks recessed into the pool's side walls.  These require open channels or slots for the system to move properly.  And these open gaps pose a hazard as pinch point hazards where people can lose a finger or toe.  

A safer system will not have any gaps wider than 1/2 and inch, and no open tracks or cable slots.

Manufacturer Experience

There are actually a couple of manufacturers of movable pool floors that have never built or installed a system.  Sure, their websites show moving pool floors, but those ARE NOT ACTUAL INSTALLATIONS - those are fancy computerized graphical representations, just fancy computer animation !

Ask for verifiable references or to visit an actual installation.  If the manufacturer gives you a "fishy story" about the number of installations or cannot provide actual client references, then you are smelling a rotten fish.

Ask for the location of their manufacturing facility, the address and to see pictures.  They should be proud of their computerized manufacturing and quality control facility.  

Most manufacturer's fabricate their systems in a trailer park or in someone's garage.  How much confidence will you have in a $200,000+ system made in such a manner and assembled with parts off of EBay? 

Who's system do we recommend? 

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.

hydrofloors, aquatic floors, movable pool floors, hydraulic pool floors, moving pool floors

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sloppy pool construction practices

Which of these sloppy construction practices is your pool builder guilty of using? 

No soils reports (even in differential soils)?
Undermining the foundation of a house by digging too close?

Using flexible PVC tubing (meant for portable above grade spas) because they were too lazy to heat bend pipe?

Only install 2-bar bond beams?
Install reinforcing steel or pins in contact with the forms or earth?

Place your pipes directly on the earth, because trenching to place them below grade is too difficult?

Use the same steel schedule for every single project or utilize generic / mail order engineering without regard to surcharges (soil conditions, building foundations, hydrostatic conditions, wind loads, etc) ?
Use flimsy forms that do not provide a solid surface to shoot against (as required by ACI & ASA) ?

If your pool builder does not know why these practices are forbidden or against industry practices, then they need some training and education. Unfortunately, this is an industry of "on the job training"... but if the people they learned from were doing it wrong... the tradition continues !

Did you know that the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Codes (IRC) REQUIRE soils reports, project specific structural engineering (structures must be designed to overcome the anticipated loads) and minimum shell thicknesses? Some states have adopted their own more restrictive building codes (but they are based upon the IBC & IRC - e.g. CA & FL).

Most building departments that do not enforce their adopted building codes, do so, out of ignorance. The liability in the event of a failure, falls on the contractor, as the government has immunity. It is your builders responsibility to know the codes and to follow them.

Just because they have done it that way for 35 years, does not make it RIGHT... SAFE or LEGAL.

You should be constantly learning, something new everyday - then putting that into practice.  If you think that you "know it all," then it is time to retire.

I cannot count the number of times that pool builders in various courses or lectures have come up to me after and said, "You know we've been doing it that way for XX years. I never knew that it was wrong," "That explains why we have that type of failure constantly occurring," "I wish someone would have taught me the correct way years ago. It would have saved me thousands of dollars in remedial repairs."

EDUCATION is cheaper that demolition and lost consumer confidence.

No, I'm not saying all of this because I've been sued or have a vested financial interest in any education programs. I am saying this because I want to elevate the practice of building pools and make this industry better. Anyone who knows me, knows that though there are various techniques, there is only one way of doing something - the RIGHT WAY ! 

How do you know that your pool is being built in compliance with the building codes, if the local building inspector does not know what he is looking at?  Hire an independent inspector or "owner's representative" to ensure that your project is built "per code."

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.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Oceanside Glass Tile lacking ANSI A137.2 Thermal Shock test results

No thermal shock test results available (ANSI A137.2 - 2013) for Oceanside Glass Tile (or some Ann Sacks & Walker Zanger glass tiles made by Oceanside) glass tile mosaics (as of 11/2015).


While there is no guarantee that glass tile mosaics will not crack once installed, the tile industry's own thermal shock standards are an indication of a tile's durability and resistance to environmental conditions.

Test Data Lacking
An interior designer that I am working with on a project was told by Oceanside Glass Tiles that their glass tile mosaics are "approved for use in swimming pools."  I asked the interior designer who "approved" the tiles for use in swimming pools, their marketing department?  I requested that she obtain their product test results to guarantee that their tiles have been tested to be in compliance with the tile industry's Standards - ANSI A137.2 Resistance to Thermal Shock.

Here are the specifications and test results that the interior designer received from Oceanside Glass Tile. 
  (Click on the image to enlarge and review)
The application matrix provided by the Oceanside Glass Tile marketing department recommends many product lines for use in swimming pools.

Scrolling Down to the Test Results

The tests results matrix is CONSPICUOUSLY MISSING a "thermal shock" column that would indicate compliance with ANSI A-137.2 - 2013.

Doesn't that pique your curiosity as to why it was not included ?

To ensure that they survive in swimming pool or spa conditions INSIST that your glass tiles AT LEAST meet the tile industry's very own ANSI A137.2 - 2013 Thermal Shock Standards !

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.

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.