Diving Into the Details: Storm Recovery Update
At California Pools & Landscape, we’ve been building dream backyards in the valley of the sun for more than 34 years. Over that time, we’ve continued to refine our quality building practices and maintain relationships with our stellar trade partners and vendors. Our commitment to delivering a high-quality project as quickly and efficiently as possible has always been a driving force at CPL.
As material shortages continue to plague the construction industry and the demand for swimming pools continues to rise, building times are longer than we’ve seen in our history. Due to these delays and our consistent commitment to transparency to our valued customers, we strive to communicate project details more than ever before. Our ‘Diving Into The Details’ series will take you behind the curtain at CPL to get an inside look at how we are navigating these unchartered waters.
In this installment of Diving Into The Details, our President, Jeremy Smith, explains how storm damage affects pool construction timelines.
We All Wanted It To Rain, Right?
July’s record rainfall in Phoenix was a welcome relief from our long drought. But in many parts of the valley, the storms were just plain way too much as we witnessed high winds, flash floods, property damage, and dangerous traffic conditions.
CPL wants to assure our clients that we cover storm damage during construction as part of our service to you, meaning that all repair costs to the pool under construction are our responsibility. However, if your project is complete, storm damages are not covered by our warranty and should be turned into your homeowners’ insurance to help you with those costs.
We feel fortunate that we have had few reports of damage to completed projects; in fact, we are pretty proud that our engineering and standards withstood the pressures. But, unfortunately, our pools that were under construction have experienced a lot of damage.
If your pool looked anything like these on the video, we hope you are comforted by knowing this will not impact you financially. However, we know that the resulting delays as we repair the damage will require your patience and understanding. We want you to know how much we appreciate you. Most of you have waited through many delays in this post-pandemic world of shipping issues, product shortages, labor problems, and demand surge. Our thoughts were not with the financial cost of these storms but with the added time your project will take as we repair some 200+ pools that experienced storm damage while still under construction.
What Is The Process?
Excessive rain often washes in dirt from the sides of an excavated pool, requiring what we call a muck out. A muck out happens after we wait until the soil dries. We are actively visiting pools and pumping to assist this process. Next, we will have crews get in the pool and hand shovel the dirt out to achieve the proper dimensions.
Muck outs are further complicated if steel reinforcing has been installed. In addition to mucking out the pool, each bar of steel must be free of debris. Yes, we clean every bar.
Finally, it is essential to wait until the pool is completely dry before shooting in the concrete (shotcrete shell). Many parts of the valley have expansive soil, meaning it expands when wet. We want to avoid soils drying underneath the concrete, creating voids under the pool shell.
What About The Dirt That Came Off The Walls?
We fill in all voids in the wall and floor with shot in concrete (shotcrete). Excess concrete for the pool is called overbreak. Again, unlike many pool companies, we do not bill our clients for overbreak so there is no financial or structural concern. The other good news is that this does not delay the pool further, overbreak is shot in at the same time as the pool shell.
Are There More Extreme Cases?
There are situations where we need to pull the steel reinforcing out of the pool, re-excavate, and virtually start over. There are also some soil conditions and yards that produce cave-ins to the degree that we hard form the pool with lumber or “flash” the pool, which is to spray concrete a few inches thick to hold the dirt walls in place. These are rare, and we will advise you if this is necessary for your situation.
When Will This Muck Out Happen?
These storms often line up, and we might see continued monsoons. The drying out process may take a few days or a few weeks in extreme cases. A lot depends on mother nature, but smaller yards where the roof runoff adds to the rainfall are more likely to experience repeated delays. Areas of the valley with expansive soil will soak up water and hold it much longer than rocky or sandy areas. We will not muck out your pool and prepare it for the next stage until the soil is ready and we are staged to move on to the next phase of construction. As you know, we have quite a wait at some construction phases, and it does no good to muck out a pool until we are staged to proceed with the next construction phase.
What Can You Do To Help?
Our people have likely already been by and checked your job site. But as your yard dries, you can send pictures of the condition through the MYCPL app or directly to your CM or SM. Knowing which projects are drying quicker helps focus our efforts. You can also check your project, and if you see washouts coming from a gutter downspout, you can help by diverting water away from the pool using plastic or other means. The best thing that you can do is to continue to give us your grace and patience. We have asked a lot of you this year, and we understand the frustration and appreciate your recognition that the entire CPL team is doing the best we can for you every single day. Getting our customer and their families swimming is our favorite thing!