Completed in August 2016, our “Sanctuary Floating Spa”, is to this day, one of our greatest accomplishments. Our engineers, contractors, vendors and especially our staff, worked tirelessly for 16 months to place a spa on top of a mountain. Our client asked us, “Can you float a spa out over that canyon…” Before he finished his sentence, I exclaimed, “Absolutely!” He then asked, “How?”, to which I replied, “Not sure yet!”
After 6 months of site visits with soils and structural engineers, town reviewers and hill side architectural committee members, we finally got our approvals to start the long building process. Typically, we would have built a project like this in 4-6 months. However, this neighborhood only allows workers on site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The driveway is 350’ long with an 80’ incline. Once you reach the top of the driveway there is a 50-step staircase to the front door. From that point, we had to rock climb to the spa area and to the pool area at the back of the house. Every piece of pipe, steel, concrete, paver, tile, etc. had to be hand carried or loaded in buckets and tied around guys as they rock-climbed around the property.
Now let’s get to the point of this write up, WATERPROOFING! The spa was constructed on top of four 14” I-beams that cantilevered 22’ out from the house allowing the spa to float 30” above grade. We utilized 5,000 psi pneumatically applied concrete with an integral water proof mix, and water-cured the shell for 14 days with soaker hoses with a tarp over the top. After allowing the shell to cure, we applied a topical, spray on waterproofing product. 48 hours prior to installing the interior finish we installed our hydraulic cement around all penetrations/fittings and any other areas that were suspect, followed by two complete end-to-end coats of cementitious waterproofing. That is FOUR layers of well known, high-end waterproofing products.
After start up, everything runs perfect and looks incredible! We were asked by our engineers to do 30 day checkups on everything for the first 6 months to ensure no movement or structural defects were occurring. The first 3 months were great but month 4 was different. A wet spot… It is only a ½”, so I decided to give it a few weeks and then we would investigate again. Thirteen days later I find myself walking up those 50 steps to the front door of the house, heart pounding while I am praying for a dry underside to my spa only to find that the wet spot is now 24” across. At this point all of the worst thoughts you can possibly think are running through my head.
We pressure tested the plumbing three times, no leaks! We used two different leak detection companies that each performed two of their own tests, no leaks! After 30 days of investigating no one could determine where the leak was coming from. At this point I am chalking it up to a microscopic pinhole that drew water into a void in the bench that slowly filled up and then took the path of least resistance out of the shell.
Vito Mariano and Basecrete to the rescue. Vito stepped in and sent us his product, Basecrete, on a next day shipment. We chipped the interior and installed two coats of Basecrete, per the directions. The next day we installed the new interior. We are going on 4 months since installing Basecrete and as of right now, no leaks. After using this product one time we fell in love. We use it anywhere and everywhere! It has endless uses and capabilities.
It is important to recall the information in the beginning of this story. Think about how much work had to be done to build this project and we still ended up with a failure. High end pool design and contracting isn’t for everyone and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The vessels we construct are often more detailed and take longer to build than a custom home does. You WILL have a failure, but how you handle that failure will determine whether or not you will get that opportunity again. And when you get that opportunity again, try not to repeat your mistakes. “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams