Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So your thinking about a new swimming pool.....

Beautiful Outdoor Living Created by Shaping Water...

Backyard Swimming Pools have been bringing together friends, neighbors and families for thousands of years. Most of you have wonderful childhood memories of cannon ball contests, water volleyball and diving for pennies but since that time swimming pools have come a long way.

The days of “Kidney Bean Shaped” swimming pools with three feet of concrete apron, inefficient loud pumps and chlorine pucks have been replaced with custom waterscapes incorporating natural stone patios & landscaping, Variable Frequency Drive Pumps, web based automation, in-floor cleaning systems and architectural details that boggle the mind. In fact, todays pools can be completely run from from your computer or iPhone.

Let’s start with the design process...You are not looking for a “Pool” design, you are looking for an “Outdoor Living” design. A proper design details every item that you want to incorporate into your yard. These items should include the swimming pool, patio, walkways, steps, landscaping, lighting, outdoor kitchen & fireplace, drainage, equipment location utility routing, fencing, etc. The plan should be drawn to scale including elevations and all the architectural details should be specified. Remember, you get what you pay for, you should plan on paying for a quality outdoor living design. “Free Designs” are a waste of time unless you are looking for a very basic pool. These designs are rarely creative, lack a cohesive vision between all aspects of the outdoor living environment and many times are the same design your neighbor was just presented with.

Now it’s time to accessorize...Your options are almost limitless when it comes to swimming pool features so lets talk about some of todays trends. Swimming pools are getting a little smaller but are incorporating more technology and architectural features. Some of the most popular items now are:

  • Shallow lounging areas that allow you to lay in a lounge chair in 8 inches of water.
  • Hot Tubs cascading into the pool
  • Speciality pool interior surfaces including Pebble and Glass Bead Finishes.
  • Saltwater Swimming Pool Chlorination
  • In-Floor Cleaning Systems
  • Variable Frequency Drive Pumps (60% more efficient than std. pool pumps)
  • Full Automation Integration - Push button control of your entire swimming pool
  • Beach Entries, Perimeter Overflow and Infinity Edge Details
  • Natural Stone & Boulder Waterfalls

While this is not a comprehensive list of all features, we find that these elements are integrated into almost every pool we design & build.

How do I know if I’m on the right track?...Looking back, our happiest clients all have a few things in common. The first is that the clients decided not to skimp on the pool and go with the upgraded energy efficient equipment, a maintenance free pool interior (Like PebbleTec), integrated full chemical automation and any other features that save on maintenance time and cost. And Secondly, they had a well balanced project. We suggest that the pool account for 1/3 of the budget, the hardscaping including patio, walls, outdoor kitchen & fireplace, etc. 1/3 of the budget and landscaping, fencing, electrical, gas and all other items should be the final 1/3 of the budget. The goal of any outdoor living environment including swimming pools is that one element should not stand out more than any other element.

How to pick the right contractor...Choosing a Raleigh pool builder is much like choosing a husband or wife. Remember that once you make your decision you will be "married" to your builder not only during the installation period but for as long as you own your pool. We're all grown-ups here and all know to check references, tour completed projects, verify insurance, blah...blah...blah... you know the deal but what I suggest is a little more. Every reputable builder should be able to meet these basic requirements, so all things being equal think about what could make the pool building process as enjoyable as possible. Look for a company that you are socially compatible with and pick the company that you "feel" good about. After all isn't your "gut" feeling usually the right choice? Don't go into the process with an adversarial attitude toward your contractor, trying to beat every penny out of them. Instead create a team environment with the common goal of creating the backyard swimming pool of your dreams.

Getting it Done...There’s no clean way to excavate 100 tons of soil, bring in 50 tons of concrete, dig plumbing & electrical trenches,install retaining walls, pour 30 yards of concrete sub-deck and then install 20 tons of flagstone decking. Your yard will be a construction site and you will be tired of having workers at your house from morning to night but it will all be worth it. Once the pool is filled and the final flower is planted, it’s time to grab a bottle of wine, tell the kids to jump-on-in, have your husband cook a great dinner in the new outdoor kitchen and let new memories of your family replace the old memories of your childhood.

Frank Bowman - Frank Bowman is the principal and founder of Frank Bowman Designs, Inc. a progressive swimming pool and outdoor living contractor based in Raleigh, NC. For more swimming pool information visit www.FrankBowman.com or contact Frank directly at Frank@FrankBowman.com

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Raleigh Swimming Pool Renovation - Frank Bowman Designs

We will be following this project over the next few weeks as the work progresses. This Raleigh swimming pool was installed just two years ago and is already in need of a full renovation due to poor design, engineering, construction techniques and workmanship. Almost every homeowner has never seen a swimming pool being built and at a minimum has stumbled in on a neighbors project during construction so I wanted to catalogue the issues that can arise from improper construction and "shotty" work. This pool contractor won the contract because of his low price and his ability to dismiss the homeowners concerns with construction techniques.

So take a look at this project (in all it's glory) and follow us on a journey to provide the Client with a pool that far exceeds the Clients original expectations.

"The Bitterness of Poor Quality is Remembered Long After the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten"

Submitted by: Frank Bowman Designs - Find us Here on Facebook

Frank Bowman Designs installs custom concrete swimming pools, spas and outdoor living environments including outdoor kitchens & fireplaces, natural stone & paver patios, landscaping, fencing, pool houses, cabanas and more... We provide these services in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, Lake Gaston, Greensboro and the surrounding areas of North Carolina & Virginia.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Energy Conservation Pool Tips

Heating & Heat Loss

Reduce heat loss by using a pool cover. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, savings of 50% - 70% are possible.

Fencing, hedges, landscaping, and cabanas that shelter your pool from prevailing winds will further reduce heat loss.

If your pool heater is more than five years old, chances are a new high efficiency gas heater could quickly pay for itself in utility bill savings.

A pool heat pump can save up to 80% in energy usage compared to a gas heater. Check with your pool professional to see if a heat pump is appropriate for your region.

If you use your pool only on weekends, reduce your heater or heat pump thermostats settings by eight to ten degrees during the week.

When leaving for vacation for more than a week, turn off the pool heater or heat pump, including the pilot light. Please use caution in freezing conditions.

According to the National Swimming Pool Institute and the American Red Cross, the most healthful swimming temperature is 78 degrees. Reducing your heater or heat pump thermostat to maintain a 78 degree or lower temperature will also help conserve energy.

Install a timer or a control system to automate the hours of operation.

When reopening your pool, make sure your heater or heat pump is working properly.


Replace your pool pump with a more energy-efficient model.

New variable speed pumps with permanent magnet motors and digital controls can save as much as 90% in utility costs compared to one- or two-speed pumps with induction motors.

If using an energy-efficient one- or two-speed pump, make sure your pump is sized to your pool’s requirements.

Reduce run time or speed to reduce energy use.

If using a one-speed pump, reduce filtration run time. In general, water needs to be circulated through the filter once every 24 hours.

If using a two-speed or variable speed pump, use the lowest speed to appropriately circulate the water. Reducing speed saves more energy than reducing run time.

Run your pool's filtration system during off-peak hours when electricity demand is lower, generally between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Install a timer or a control system to automate the hours of operation.

Keep intake grates clear of debris. Clogged drains require the pump to work harder.

To obtain maximum filtration and energy efficiency, backwash or clean your filter regularly, as required.

Submitted By: Frank Bowman Designs - Raleigh Swimming Pool Company

Frank Bowman Designs is a progressive custom swimming pool & outdoor living design / build company. We specialize in unique and unusual projects consisting of custom concrete swimming pools, spas, landscaping, natural stone patios, outdoor kitchens & fireplaces, pool houses, cabanas and more. Feel free to contact or follow us for more information about our products and services.