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When HGTV reached out to pool builder John Pack and asked if he’d like to submit any of his recent work for possible inclusion in an upcoming two-hour special about unforgettable residential pools, he knew just the project.
In December 2017, Georgetown, Texas-based John Pack Custom Pools completed a year-long, two-level project in Leander, Texas, involving two pools (one with an 80-foot vanishing edge) that are separated by a 14-foot drop-off, two large spas (one on each level), a spacious outdoor living area with a cabana and poolside bar, a 20-foot rain curtain, fire features, a grotto cave adjacent to the lower pool and a waterslide connecting both pools.
Natural stone steps provide easy exterior access to the lower pool, which has a maximum depth of nine feet and is referred to as a diving pool; pool users also can access the lower pool from the upper pool via either the waterslide or jumping from the platform roof of the grotto cave (which houses the second spa).
The challenging topography of the client’s backyard played a significant role in the appeal of this project — which spans a total height of 50 feet. Pack has only built one other project that high.
“I want the pool to compete with the house,” Pack says of his work. “I want the pool to say, ‘Come over here, come play with me.’ That’s my mindset. Working with patient clients allowed our company the time it needed to create a magnificent pool and outdoor lounge and kitchen area. The lot lent itself to what was to become a masterpiece pool with an exquisite view of the neighboring valley.”
A masterpiece pool requires masterful products, which is why this project is loaded with Pentair equipment — including 10 pumps (five each for the upper and lower levels), three filters and a universal controller.
On the upper pool, Pack opted for Pentair’s 3-horsepower high-volume variable speed pumps (which each deliver up to 225 gallons per minute) for the filter, vanishing-edge and rain curtain. Similarly, the lower pool uses 3-horsepower high-volume variable speed pumps for the filter, the grotto and the waterslide. Each level also boasts a 1.5-horsepower Pentair Sta-Rite cleaner pump and a 2-horsepower spa booster pump.
Additionally, the project employs Pentair sand filters and Pentair Sta-Rite heaters, plus an IntelliTouch i9 automation system with the i10x expansion system (more on that later).
“I can’t say enough good things about Pentair,” says Pack, who uses his own in-house team of builders to complete 12 to 15 jobs per year — all of which prominently feature Pentair products. “Pentair’s people are team players, so it’s not like I’m the Lone Ranger out there, trying to do everything on my own. If I ever have a question or a need, I know exactly who to call.”
Pack had to make such a call during the Leander project, when he encountered challenges regarding the remote programming of both pools and spas, and he was not disappointed with the response he received.
“Having a controller that will handle two pools and two spas — nobody has anything that does that standardly,” Pack explains. “I decided that I would use two Pentair EasyTouch 8 systems: one for the upper pool and one for the lower pool. They worked great; however, I could not get the two separate units to sync up to the client’s phone at the same time [using Pentair’s ScreenLogic interface]. Independently, they worked fabulously, but tying them together wasn’t happening.”
Pack called his Pentair sales representative in Houston and said he needed some assistance.
“That guy moved the world for me,” the pool builder says. “He sent out his head computer programmer and our Pentair service guy — at no charge to me — and they took out the EasyTouch 8, installed the i9 and the i10x, and programmed it all. They spent two solid days out there with me, fixing my mistake. This was a significant project, and at the end of the day, I wasn’t able to do what I thought I could do. But Pentair bailed me out.”
Given the complexity of this mind-boggling project and its stunning results, it’s no wonder HGTV is expected to feature the Leander pool in an upcoming special. The as-yet-untitled two-hour program will include about 15 pools from around the country, according to Pack, and it will air multiple times in June and July (including July 4).
“We were fortunate enough to be included, and the crew spent all day filming, so I’m thinking they liked what they saw,” Pack says.
As of mid-May, he had not seen the program (or even an edit of the Leander pool segment), but he says he talked on camera about the critical role Pentair representatives played in the project’s success. Doing so, Pack adds, was one way he could repay the company’s generosity for spending two days helping him work out the remote programming kinks.
“Pentair is there to help you look and be successful,” Pack says.
The Legend is calling on AQUA readers to share your craziest, funniest stories from the working world of pool and spa pros! Maybe you’ve got a customer that drinks from her own pool. Maybe you’ve got a route dog that can empty a skimmer basket. The best stories will be featured in the September issue of AQUA. If your story is chosen you will receive lifetime Legendary status, AQUA glory and some sweet swag.
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The second annual Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge is back, with entries due August 15. The contest, created by builders Mike Farley and Reid Schindler, challenges designers to take a real-life scenario and design a lavish poolscape with a $1 million budget. The winner will be named at the PSP Expo in November and take home a $5,000 cash prize.
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