Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good Questions!!

I found this pool builder while surfing the web and found the information on this site helpful GREAT QUESTIONS  Unsure about this company we selected California Pools and were very happy.  The link really has some good questions that I did not think of.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Estrella Mountain View


Before & After

 I work with a doctor so before and after pictures is our business.



Completed Project!!!!

We are visiting in a couple of weeks then I can take some professional pictures and upload them.  Stephen just sent these over so I thought I would post them.  We will do a walkthrough of the final project when we visit.  From the photo’s it appears that everything looks beautiful.  Can’t wait to use the pool it’s 72 and sunny in Phoenix today and 55 and rainy in Portland, OR. Although I’ve not done the final walk through my experience with California Pools was very professional and responsive.  As I mentioned in the beginning of this project I’m a hard to please client and my husband is all about the details.  I would strongly recommend this company to anyone but particularly to out of state individuals because they do not need to be micromanaged.  I noticed in our community Estrella Mountain that most of the homes do not have a backyard.  Most of our neighbors are waiting for the market to turn around.  I hope my blog has been helpful and I would be happy to answer any of your comments or questions.   

Illegal Immigrants

I have an employee who her husband is an illegal immigrant.  I sat down with her because they paid a lot of money to this guy that said he worked for immigrations.  He took the money and now they have a letter from immigrations and his license that he has been using is ready to expire.  Needless to say this is a sensitive issue with the news and everything that is going on with the boarder situation.  I had a strong opinion that people should go through the process but have softened after hearing her story. I guess at 16 his father said cross the border if you want to make some money.  He ran across and made it through without getting caught.  He came over found a job and has been working for many years in the US.  He married and has two children that are young.  He does not have a record and has had no problems with the authorities.  They’ve paid and been scammed and it appears that this is not uncommon because people are desperate. I had several thoughts after talking with her and trying to help.  How did they get married? I’m required by law to have everyone of my employees complete an I9 and verify identification.  The state of California married these two individuals?  Are they really married? If they are married does that make him legal?  The state of California recognizes him as a legal citizen.  He has two children that are US citizens.  They don’t make a lot of money so how do they go through this process?  The attorney says that he needs to go back to Mexico and file the proper paperwork.  If he goes back how does he get back where does he stay and what happens to his family here? He is afraid to go back because the process can take 3-10 years.  He needs to support his family what does he do?  He was an adolescent upon entering the states and now that he’s in his late 20’s early 30’s he only knows this life.  He has family but they are being invaded by the cartel.  I did not understand some of these details when I formed an opinion about illegal immigrants.  I would love to get your feedback regarding her situation and any advice would be appreciated.  Now that we have a home in AZ I know that this is a hot topic in my new home.   

Friday, December 23, 2011

California Pools

Today they are filling up the pool and wrapping up.  My father-in-law says the backyard looks beautiful.  We are in Oregon so we’ve been unable to see with our own eyes.  He has been monitoring the entire process and calling my husband about 10 times a day to give updates.  If my father-in-law says it looks beautiful then it does.  He has been on poor Steve and the workers daily.  I guess during the process his two little doggies Boggy and Zammy escaped out the side gate while Dad was on the phone.  The construction guys came around to the front door ringing the door bell to get his attention.  Then the other guys chased them down and brought them back home.  Thank you guys both Jeff and I appreciated that those dogs are everything to him.  As you know if you’ve been reading I sent my first email to Mike on 6/14/2011 and we went back and forth for months.  I gathered all of the bids at the end of July and covered up the contracting companies and sent it to Mike to give me comparables and the difference.  He sent me a detailed email explaining the difference between his bid and the others.  He broke it down to every detail and his emails were very lengthy.  We finally decided to go with California Pools in October.  The first day of construction was 10/10/2011 and today we are filling the pool wrapping up the project December 23, 2011.  We pretty much up graded everything.  My husband purchased a Lynx BBQ, burner, sink, fans, outdoor heater, and outdoor shower in Oregon.  When we moved dad out we placed everything on the truck.  My husband found a Lynx BBQ from a contractor in Oregon that was brand new.  I guess it was installed improperly and caught on fire burning only the wires to the BBQ.  He picked it up for $800 and worked with Lynx to replace the wiring harness which was nothing.  He installed that one here and cleaned up the older one that we have replacing all of the guts and polishing the stainless steel. My husband was a purchasing manager for 17 years and is not only thrifty but handy.  He knows how to pick up his electronics and high end appliances and picked up an outdoor hanging heater for a ridiculous amount to hang on the patio.  So none of that stuff was included in the bid just the installation.  Kami was our scheduler and Steve was our construction superintendent.  My husband Jeff pretty much took over the project once I selected the company that I felt was most competent to do the backyard.  We picked up all of the materials and he kept upgrading during the process.  We did have a few bumps in the road.  The hard dig was the first one but that was out of every ones control.  Then we came out over Thanksgiving for the week and noticed that the materials were on the sidewalk and partially on our neighbor’s yard which they did not mind.  The backyard was a complete construction site and a mess with mud and stuff.  During that week no work was done and we thought that we would be having a meeting.  They were painting the fences in Estrella and the contractors had stuff leaning up on the fencing which my husband had to move.  He was concerned that all of the soda cups and mud in the pool would clog the drains.  We both sent an email to Mike and Kami upon returning to Oregon.  I was none to happy.  Mike had no idea about the trash in the pool and I chalk the entire situation up to poor communication between all of us about the construction schedule.  We should of scheduled a meeting if that was expected.  Mike had a cleaning crew out to clean up.  We decided to add lighting in the front as well as the ones we purchased for the back.  The ones that were shown to my husband by the lighting guy from California Pools was gorgeous copper not a spot on them.  They came out and installed the lighting and they had spots on them oxidizing.  Dad said that only two lights were acceptable.  My husband received several calls from Dad angry about the lighting.  When Jeff went to the lighting guy he said polish them.  Now that is unacceptable.  We purchased new lights and we understand that copper does oxidize however not right out of the box.  Jeff sent the email to Mike and he said he would take care of it that this must be a manufacturing defect.  This was a very reasonable response and customer service.  Mike sent people out to polish the lighting and all was great because Dad was completely happy.  Overall I want to say that California Pools was wonderful.  I have not seen the finished product I go out in two weeks at that point I will take tons of pictures.  I would recommend California Pools to anyone who is considering installing a backyard.  They did not do the putting green we will have that installed when we visit in January.  Estrella has lots of vacation homes and if you live out of state you need a good company that you can count on.  I hope this helps.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What I did not know about Estrella Mountain

It took me a while to come to terms with rattle snakes, and scorpions and I’m still going to do everything possible to stay out of the rattlesnake habitat on the golf course. These were things that I looked up and researched on the internet prior to purchasing a vacation home.  We’ve been down to visit about five times and the only exciting animals that I’ve seen was a pack of coyotes early morning on the golf course. For some reason it was not disclosed during our purchasing process about the UFO sightings in Estrella Mountain.  I’ve found more information on the UFO sightings then useful resources in the area.  I started making a list and will update it on occasion.
Useful Estrella Mountain Information
The pool project is progressing nearly done.  I will provide pictures and the experience that we had with California Pools. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

California Pools and the Process

What a process and we are still not done:)  
  • Bid Process
  • Conceptual Drawing Final
  • Selecting Materials
  • HOA Approval  
  • Drawing Plots
  • Permits
  • Dig
  • Gas, Electric & Water Lines
  • Rebar
  • Shot Crete and Waterfall with Boulders
  • Block Fire Pit and Barbeque
  • Decking
  • Finishing Barbeque
  • Tiling Pool
  • Gravel on sides of the house
  • Installing outdoor lighting
The materials that we selected:)  





Friday, December 16, 2011

Hard Dig!!!!

We selected California Pools for our pool project.  David was Johnny on the spot with every question or change that we had.  His design was great and he educated us during the bid process. We are still under construction so I will start from the beginning.  After sending all of my attachments including a sketch that my husband did on 06/27/11 he had a conceptual back the same day. During the process we upgraded and changed things such as making the waterfall higher, adding a Baja pool entry, and enlarging the putting green for starters.  David upgraded the conceptual immediately with every change. We continued back and forth making changes until we closed on the house which was 07/22/11.  We continued changing and upgrading the design with all of the companies that participated.  Finally at the end of September we decided to go with California Pools.  Then we needed to figure out how to pay for it.  Refinancing on a home is Arizona we were required to wait 6 months before we could pull out equity.  We decided to just pay cash for the project and refinance after the 6 months.  We signed all of the contracts and excavation started 10/10/11 with the first payment of $24,705.30.  We were then called the next day letting us know that they had encountered a hard dig which would require additional money to dig the hole.  Just as you might of imagined we were not happy with the start.  David understood our frustration and sent pictures of the hole.  California Pools did bid out the hard dig for the best bid.  It was $2,523 and we were warned that it could run from $1,500 to $3,000.  We paid the check for the hard dig day one and not too happy.  David was assuring us that this was unusual and at the end we would be completely satisfied.  We apprehensively calmed down and moved forward with the project. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cameo Pools

Dale was a great guy and apparently lives in the same subdivision.  This company was very responsive to all of my questions.  We exchanged tons of emails back and forth.  It really came down to the conceptual drawings and my overall gut with this company and California Pools.  I liked that Dale lived in the community but I liked the California pool design much more. 

Rondo Pools

Rondo Pools

This was another short lived relationship.  I received an email from Bryan on 06/25/11 saying that he would be helping me.  On 7/3/11 I sent him an email asking about the status of conceptual drawing. On 7/19/11 I received an email back from him saying that he’s sorry he’s been in and out of town lately. He tried to contact me by phone and wanted to talk but it was really just too late for me.   I live in Oregon and trying to micromanage a major project was not going to work for me.  I never received a conceptual drawing so no pictures.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paddock Pools and Spas

On 6/16/11 I received an email back from Tammy apologizing for not responding sooner something with the phone system. On 6/20/11 I received an email from Russ saying that he received my email and will be answering my questions.  We sent emails back and forth.  I received Russ’s conceptual drawings. 

Several issues:
  1. No putting green
  2. I did not want a fire place I wanted a fire pit because of the golf course view.
  3. We wanted decking all the way up to the patio and on the patio
  4. We did not want any trees it obstructs the view.
I requested that Russ make all of these changes which were on my original email with a drawing that my husband did. Russ was accommodating and got back to me immediately however we have several revisions.  Then I noticed that he left out the BBQ. 

My thoughts about Paddock:

Very nice people and they respond immediately my main issue was that they were not getting what we wanted.  I thought that we communicated our needs in the original email so I could not understand why they were putting a spin on the plan.  The last thing I wanted was a fire place to obstruct the view.  The plan was just different and did not match our taste.  I know that they are one of the larger companies in AZ but I really wanted to work with a company that understood what we wanted.