Pool man can help you make a splash in your neighborhood

July 6, 2014 

At the end of a hot day, you'd think he would go home and jump in his.

"After I get done, I want to be inside," said Jack, 61, who lives in Belleville and works for Leisure Time Pools, of Swansea. "For a couple years, I hadn't used it. My 4-year-old granddaughter (Ava) got me back in the pool."

"Papa, look at me," said Ava, climbing down the ladder into the 3-foot deep above-ground pool. He waited mid-pool for her to paddle over.

"I did it. I did it," she said, splashing and giggling.

"Yes, you did," said Jack. "You can do it all the time."

The former car service department writer who also has a plumbing background got into pools by way of his wife Cathy.

"My wife is the store manager," he said. "When I started working there, it was the first time in 30 years I got paid for taking orders."

He was a service tech and manager who took over the construction side as well.

Jack is well versed in what's available. He tells people, "I can build you anything."

What's the story on your pool? "At the time we put our pool in, above-ground pools were popular. We have an 18- by 32-foot. It's as large as an in-ground. We have a great deal of deck around it. ... My wife is a pool person. I'm a tournament bass fisherman. For years, my wife never complained when I got ready to get a new boat. We were living on a 110-acre lake in Missouri. I promised her if we moved away from the lake, we'd get a pool immediately. We moved in April of '94. By the Fourth of July, we had a pool and were swimming."

How much does an inground pool cost? "Inground pools start at $24,000 or $25,000. The sky is the limit ... A 12-by-24 foot pool is the tiniest I would consider building. The biggest I've done is 25-by-45 feet. Nothing ever surprises me. Wants exceed needs. We find them something in between to make them happy."

How do most people pay for pools? "Either they set aside money in some shape, form or fashion, or use the equity they have in their home. Financing prior to the recession was fancy-free. I would go out to a client and they'd want a $75,000 project. It was easy to get. When the crackdown came, it became a $50,000 project. Some went away altogether. They didn't have collateral. ... We're starting to see an upturn in construction and demand for them again. For the average guy, a pool is a luxury. We're just starting to get back into it."

What are some pool options? "It seems like options are in threes. There are three types, a liner-type, fiberglas (shell) or dunite (concrete) pool.

With lights inside pools, you can choose incandescent round lights, fiber optic or LED. The same thing with safety covers. There's a tarp type, a mesh type and solid safety type. The same goes with filtration systems ...

"I give you options. All have advantages and disadvantages. What you and the client have to determine is what will be the best decision for them.

"Now, a lot of pools use LED lights. What's great is they have a long life. There are multiple colors we can do, and patterns. As an example, the USA pattern starts as white light, fades, comes up as blue, fades and comes up as red. That's become very, very popular. It's an upgrade. People are glad it's done. It adds a lot of personality."

What else is new? "A lot more pools have what are referred to as sunning benches or tanning benches. It's almost like a platform with 3 or 4 inches of water. They can lay in the pool and still enjoy the sun."

"There are new styles of hand rails and ladders, artistic forms rather than the traditional look.

How does a saltwater pool compare to a chlorine pool? "Salt water is still a chlorine pool. The difference is where you get the chlorine from. Traditionally, you used tablets or powder to provide the main source. With a chlorine-generating pool, you derive chlorine that you use for a sanitizer from the salt you put into the pool ... It's more expensive up front to pay for the equipment, but as time goes on, it reaches a break even point and then. more in favor of salt."

What do people want to know? "The first two questions I get are 'When can you start?' and 'When will it be done?' Talk to God about that one. Rain is decimating. I'm going to come into your backyard and dig a big hole, then it's a race between me and God who will fill it first. Some projects I win. Sometimes, He does."

What's the average? "We can accomplish it in 10 to 12 working days for most average-size pools."

Do most pools go in during the spring? "I prefer summer. It's dryer. There's less variation in the weather. Sometimes, people have the misconception they don't want to build in July or August because you can only swim for a little while longer. With the rain in the spring, it may be past Memorial Day when the pool is finished."

Diving board or slide? "There are specific code requirements for a diving board. The basic rule is the deep end must be at least 8 feet. The longer the pool and slope, the bigger the envelope safety for that diving board. When you stand on the end of the diving board, the (imaginary) box has to be so far out and so wide on both sides. Realistically, you need a 16-foot by 32-foot minimum. A slide's safety envelope is easier to achieve. With a slide, you're not springing off the end. You don't go as deep."

What kind of slide do you recommend? "If you're going to put one around a salt-generating pool, it's better to use polymer (a fancy world for plastic) rather than a metal-type slide. The other thing that's fun about polymer is different shapes and curves are much easier to get."

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