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  • Writer's pictureJessica Doberneck

Pool Reveal + 3 Mistakes That Are Killing Me

We packed our bags for a week-long family trip, and the day we left town was the same day we got the green light to begin filling our pool! We left town with a garden hose on full blast and about 4 inches of water excited to return home from vacation and dive into our brand-new pool (a vacation in and of itself!). While on our trip, we got a sneak peek picture from our pool builder and were beyond happy and excited to get home to see it in person!

Mistake #1:

We got home (after a long red-eye with 2 children under the age of 4), dropped our things, and bee-lined it straight to the pool. Before we even stepped foot outside, I could see from the window that something was wrong.

Something I would have never considered or even factored into the project.


Our white plaster creates aqua-blue colored water (which wasn't my first choice), and because the pool is in direct sunlight all day, the aqua water reflects onto my creamy, warm, aged, BEAUTIFUL, stone and turns it a cool-toned bright white with hints of blue/grey.

Notice how the far edges are cream and the large middle section is not? That’s the drastic change in color that reflection can cause.

The plaster selection literally changed the whole feel of what I was going for.

This was not at all what I imagined.

Here’s what the stone looks like without a reflection:

(That innocent face has no idea what’s coming her way haha! I was so happy when I saw the stonework finished Tyson said, “You need a picture to document your hard work!”)

Initially, I was so disappointed. I felt like the pool was the thesis statement to our backyard and it was setting the stage for a different story than I had been writing in my head for years.

Does it look bad? No. It's just different.

Do I hate it? No, not really. I just hate that I didn't foresee this so I could have course-corrected accordingly.

Mistake #2


Why did I go the plaster route over pebble tech?

Major regrets about this one... Here's the story:

We had a specific price point we did not want to go over. We sized the pool down to get the project within that budget. Then, my pool builder informed me that he forgot to include the $5,000 pool heater in the quote bringing us back over budget.

To reduce the project's price back within our budget we could 1 of 4 options:

  1. Size down the pool again - No, thank you! I'm already at my minimum size.

  2. Remove the spa - Absolutely not! This was a packaged deal plan; pool AND spa. I want to use the spa during the winter months when our electric heater can't get the pool warm enough to swim. Also, warm night swims are my favorite!!

  3. Remove the pool heat pump - I don't swim in cold pools and we wanted to extend our pool usage before/after the summer months. We also have solar to support the electric pool heater so we can heat the pool guilt-free and for free! (Remember this! Foreshadowing...)

  4. Switch from pebble tech to plaster.

All of these were non-negotiables except for plaster. I had a grey plaster pool growing up and I loved the color and texture. Easy! Let's switch to plaster!


At the time, I didn't know our pool builder only offered white plaster. I assumed he had a few color options that would give me the moody, darker pool color I wanted. When I eventually learned this, I had to swallow my design plans and come to terms with aqua-colored pool water (not taking reflection into account - facepalm).

I also totally forgot that a year prior (yes we've been planning this pool build for a year!), the builder advised against plaster because it doesn't hold up as well as it did 10 years ago (like my parent's pool) since it no longer has asbestos in it. Asbestos is an incredible bonding agent, and without it, plaster can last 2-10 years depending on how well you maintain your pool.

Lesson Learned - Spend the extra 5k. If I had gotten pebble tech I would have had the darker pool water color I preferred, I wouldn't have the reflection issue, and most importantly it would have held up longer.

Heinsite is 20/20. It's not the worst thing! We have a functioning pool - so we are happy! On the bright side is, you don't have a reflection on cloudy days or after sunset:

Mistake #3

A few days after we got home from our trip, our builder met us at the house for a walk-through of all our equipment and how to use it.

Pool Builder: "Since you have a gas-heated pool and gas-heated spa -"

Me: You mean a gas-heated spa and an ELECTRIC heated pool?

Pool Builder: No, they are for sure both gas.

I went silent. I could not process anything after that. Tyson gave me eyes and I gave him eyes. This mistake takes the cake. At the end of the walk-through, we are standing next to our equipment and I say with a prayer in my heart that he misspoke, "So, you're looking at this equipment and you're telling me this is for sure a gas-heated pool, correct?"

Builder: "Correct." My heart sank again.

By this point, I had re-grounded myself and explained that we recently got solar and wanted an electric pool heater so we could heat our pool for free and guilt-free. Also, to heat our whole pool with gas could easily cost $400 for 2 days of warm water. There's no way we would pay that, especially when it could have been free through our solar.

I know deep down, I would never in my right mind agreed to a gas-heated pool. No chance. That was never in our cards.

I took some time to sleep on this mistake, I went through all our correspondence and concluded the builder had made a mistake. We could chalk it up as miscommunication. It happens, and I totally get it. With how many changes we have made to this pool plan over the last year, there was bound to be a mistake. Especially with a one-man show operation.

We are still working through this hurdle - update TBA.

Lesson Learned

And at the end of the day, we have a pool and we stayed within our budget! It's big, it's beautiful, and we've been in that pool EVERY SINGLE DAY! It's still too cold for me to swim comfortably haha, but I have bravely fully submerged at least 5 times now! The things we do for our kids... haha! We are BEYOND grateful and humbled that we have this pool.

Looking back, there's no way I would have known the plaster would change the color of my stone. The heater situation was a mistake - it happens. And going the cheaper route with plaster... we chalked that up as a lesson learned haha.

However, if I had selected a pool builder that had design personnel (a bigger company), they probably would have advised better on our plaster decision and foreseen the reflection issue. They also may have had better communication channels to avoid mistakes such as installing the wrong type of heater for the pool.

However, the pool builder I selected is a one-man show with his wife and sub-contractors. This is how I was able to get the price within our budget. When you pay less, you get less! And I am fully aware and understanding of this. I did the math and even if we had to pay out of pocket to switch to pebble tech AND install a new electric heater, I would STILL be at a lower price point than what other big-box pool builders quoted me.

So, I may have some regrets, but mostly this was all lessons learned! With my career being heavily involved in the home interior side of construction, it was a great experience to learn how the exterior side of construction goes. I've learned a ton and feel more equipt educating my real estate clients moving forward! You all can learn from my mistakes haha!

On that note...

Did you know we are currently installing artificial turf in our backyard at this very moment?? 3,600 sqft of turf!! Stay tuned for a full backyard reveal coming soon on the blog!

It's looking so good and our yard feels even BIGGER! I can walk in areas of our backyard where I've never stood before haha! And we are thrilled beyond measure to walk on turf instead of trudging through rocks and dirt in our war zone of a backyard to get to our pool.


As a full-time Realtor, I must advise my readers to buy a home with a pool! Avoid building a pool at all costs - literally! The cost of installing a pool is greater than your return on investment. If your pool costs 80k to build, it will only raise the value of your home by 20k give or take. From a financial perspective, it's smarter to buy a home with a pool. (Read more on this debate HERE)

Please reach out if you have any questions about pools, backyards, home renovation ROI, etc. I'm here for all things Real Estate!


Jessica Doberneck of

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4 commentaires

01 juin

We did our pool 3-4 years ago. Fortunately, we had a builder with a designer who was very good at bringing up things like this. I can’t remember the specifics, but I know she strongly advised against the electric heater. We opted to skip the heater for now, but we have it all plumbed to be added. We did do an auto cover though and that helps heat it too.

-Sabrina Hall

Jessica Doberneck
Jessica Doberneck
05 juin
En réponse à

That would have been so nice to have a soundboard! Google and local FB groups were my soundboards haha. A lot of pool builders advocate for gas heaters because they are more efficient, they heat up much faster, and they can heat up to higher temps despite how cold it is outside. But since we had solar, it only made sense to go the electric route for the pool to help extend our summer usage for free. And then we would just jump in the gas heated spa on the 2-ish months of the year that our pool wasn't warm enough. That was smart to have it plumed for a future heater! That part is messy! I wanted an auto…


31 mai


Jessica Doberneck
Jessica Doberneck
31 mai
En réponse à

Thank you!!!! Despite the mistakes, we are very happy!

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