Conspicuous Consumer THINK AND SWIM

The Bargain Pool

It was Braniff Airlines stewardess Sharon Daniels who talked her husband Jimmy into a swimming pool.

“We really weren’t in the market for a pool at all,” says Daniels, a handbag salesman at the Apparel Mart. “But then Sharon started checking them out just to see what one would cost. We stopped in The Pool Shoppe on Harry Hines one day and bought one on the spot.”

The Daniels’ pool is 12 feet wide by 28 feet long and goes from 3 to 5 feet deep. The fiberglass pool took only two weeks to install last November. It’s Roman design, rectangular with a half circle at each end. One semi-circle includes a whirlpool.

The Daniels put in their own deck lighting and a six-foot fence. As soon as possible they plan to build a brick barbecue and poolside bar. “Sharon designs her own plans for these things. She can build anything,” says Daniels. “We’re even trying to figure out some way to solar heat the pool ourselves.”

He figures they got “a good value for what we paid [approximately $4,500]. It’s a nice pool. We really don’t care that much about swimming. We’ll just lie on rafts and floats and soak up the sun. We love to entertain and cook outside. So the pool will really add to the atmosphere.”

The Mid-Range Pool

Garland First National Bank vice president Joe Daniel and his wife Sharon, a teacher, finally decided it wouldn’t be smart to wait.

“Our kids [David, 14, and Suzanne, 11] were old enough that we wouldn’t have to worry about their safety. We figured they’d be gone in four or five years. So to get the use and enjoyment out of a swimming pool we thought we better go ahead and build one.”

Construction began last July 1. By August 1, San Juan Pools had completed the project. The kidney-shaped pool is 37 feet long, 27 feet wide and goes from a depth of 3 feet to 8 1/2 feet. It takes 25,000 gallons of water to fill the $12,000 gunite pool which is trimmed with tile. It has an automatic chlorina-tor, vacuum and diving board.

Mrs. Daniel roughed out the design of the pool with its 1,400 square feet of decking herself. And the Daniels did their own landscaping.

“We really expect to get a lot more use out of our yard now,” says Daniel. “I’m sure the kids will be in the pool all summer.” Another nice thing about the pool is Daniel’s estimate it has increased his property value by 50 percent of what he paid for the pool.

The Ultimate Pool

For the ultimate in plush pools, try a $35,000-plus custom design package deal. Sportswear manufacturer H.R. “Red” Lefkowitz and his wife Yvonne did.

Mrs. Lefkowitz got to decorate their North Dallas home, so the pool was “his.” Working with architect Bill Dick-son, Lefkowitz came up with what actually is three separate pools of modern design. One is a 3-to-5-foot deep swimming pool, another a 9-foot deep diving pool. They are joined at one end. Together they are 40 feet long and 32 feet wide. It takes 35,000 gallons of water to fill them. The third is a separate 6-by-6-foot whirlpool. When the whirlpool is not in use, an attachment turns it into a fountain.

It took three months for Bill Price and Associates to complete the gunite pool, which is trimmed in unusual brown tile. Actual cost of the pools was approximately $25,000. But add to that such extras as automatic vacuum and chlorinator, diving board, extensive pebble finish deck and walkways, lavish lighting around the deck, fencing and landscaping and it’s $35,000-plus.

The Lefkowitzes will share the elaborate pool with her 14-year-old daughter Debbie and his sons Jack, 20, Kelly, 19, and Tracy, 18. Says Mrs. Lefkowitz, “We’re really going to have some fun here this summer. My husband and I are from California so we’re familiar with home swimming pools. But this is our first one.”

Pool Tools

In the past few years there has been little new in the pool accessory line, says Bill McKemie, past president of the National Swimming Pool Institute North Texas Chapter. But what new items there are appear determined to harness Mother Nature. For instance:

Solar heating units. Rick Harris of Malibu Swimming Pools in Richardson has installed six such units over the past two years. He uses the hypolon rubber variety solar panels, but there are others made of copper or plastic.

“The panels fit flat against a roof and face south or west to catch maximum sun. The installer plumbs from the filtered water so that 50 percent of the clean water is diverted by pipe up to the panels where it’s heated and then returned to the pool,” Harris explains.

He says the solar method can raise water temperature five to 15 degrees above outside temperature, adding two months extra swimming time each spring and fall. No extra pump is needed. You control the heat by turning off the pool pump. And if you lived in a very hot climate and wanted to cool your pool water the solar process cools water by running in reverse.

A regular gas pool heater would cost an average $600 to $750. A solar system costs approximately $1,600, depending on number of panels needed. “But in one and a half to two years the solar system has paid for itself,” Harris estimates. “A gas heater adds about $2 or so a day to your heating bill.”

Preventa-Freeze. In effect it’s an automatic timer. Rather than suffer the expense of running your pool filtering system all winter to prevent freeze damage, this unit attaches to the filter. It senses when the temperature hits 34 degrees and automatically turns on the filter to keep the water moving so the filter won’t freeze. Cost is $150.

“We answered 80 freeze calls in January to the tune of about $18,000,” says Harris. “Damages ran from $25 to $1,000 where a whole filter unit had been ruined. It happens when water in the filter freezes.”

The old standby adult pool accessories and what you can expect to pay include an automatic vacuum unit, a cute little item that propels itself along the pool floor to clean it – approximately $600 installed; automatic chlorine feeders, $50 average; chemical kits to test pH and chlorine balance, $4 to $12; winter pool covers, used to keep out debris – $50 to $100, depending on size; skimming nets to retrieve leaves – $5 to $12; slides, $175 to $300; diving boards, $150 to $500; whirlpool, varies from $600 to $800; astroturf for your deck-patio area, approximately $8 a square foot; gas grill so you can play chef, $135 up; inflatable mattresses, from $2 or $3 for a cheapie to $25 for the ultimate; floating chairs, approximately $45 – they even have special pockets to hold your beer or highball glass so you can get drunk and sunburned at the same time.

For fun, you can add these: goggles, approximately $3; diving mask, $3.50 to $12; fins, $8 average; heavy rubber inner tube, $12; baby pool seat, $6; inflatable toys such as a porpoise, hot dog, ball or penguin, $3 to $5; water basketball game, $10; water volleyball game, $20; porpoise ring game, $16; water tetherball, $24; Mark Spitz water polo, $10.

Pool Cues

Check performance reports with your Better Business Bureau. They can’t guarantee good work of a company, but it’s a place to start checking out pool builders.

Check with consumer and government agencies on pool company reputations. In Dallas you would call the Office of Consumer Affairs (744-1133) and the Texas Attorney General’s Office (742-8944). They might know more than the BBB.

Find out from the North Texas chapter of the Swimming Pool Institute if the company you’re considering is a member of that trade organization. The group also will furnish you with a free booklet on how to buy a pool. Write the Institute at 8350 North Central Expressway, Suite 120, Dallas 75206, or call 691-3011.

Ask builders for references. Talk to past clients about service and workmanship and ask to inspect their pools. If a builder won’t give references or references are negative, mark that builder off your list.

Talk to friends and business associates who have pools. What problems have they had? Would they recommend their pool builder?

Match your pool to your property. Don’t buy a $10,000 pool for a $20,000 house. The rule is you shouldn’t buy a pool that costs more than 20 percent of what your house is worth. In some cases you don’t need a down payment and can stretch out loan payments over 10 or even 15 years.

Be prepared to pay $75 to $125 a month for gunite pool maintenance service if you don’t have time to do it yourself. If you can’t afford that, you might want to invest in an automatic chlorinator, usually about $50, and a pool vacuum, $500 average. Along with a skimmer net you can keep your pool clean and safe with an hour or two of work each week. Chemicals will run you about $150 to $250 a year. A gas heater will add $1 or $2 a day to your gas bill. After you fill your pool the first time your water bill should not be much higher than usual.

Shop around for competitive bids. Prices may not seem to vary much depending on actual size of pools. But one company might throw in extras such as a whirlpool for close to a competitor’s price. Or one company might be able to build your pool quicker. There are many variables. It’s hard to get comparative prices on what you want because package deals do not offer the same equipment and accessories.

Remember that you can choose from gunite or fiberglass pools. Gunite is a process of shooting concrete onto steel reinforcing rods. Builders of this type consider them “real swimming pools.” The fiberglass pools are considered better in one respect because algae doesn’t cling readily to pool sides and they can be installed quicker. The disadvantage is that they come in only a limited variety of shapes. A gunite pool is a little more costly to maintain since algae does cling more easily to its sides. And you may eventually have to re-plaster the walls. But you can get one in any shape imaginable.

Get it in writing. Make sure everything you’re supposed to receive and everything the builder is supposed to do is listed in the sales contract. Specifics should include the brand name of the filter, size and grade of pipes, who is supposed to fill the pool the first time and who is supposed to remove your fence and replace it if necessary.

Remember that few companies will pay for damage they do to your yard, driveway, etc. unless you can prove them negligent. Beware of rocks. Most builders have rock clauses in their contracts, meaning you pay extra for each hour of digging. Sewer lines, buried utility and telephone cables also can cause extra headaches and expense. Also get starting and completion dates on paper. Such dates are required by Dallas’ home repair ordinance on any work costing more than $500; a pool is considered a home repair.

And don’t forget about the “cooling off period. The law allows you to cancel a pool contract within three business days of signing if the sale and agreement were made in your home. If you signed without considering what the payments on a pool would do to your budget it gives you time to regain your sanity.

Buy a performance bond. Your pool builder can get one from an insurance company for you. If the builder can’t finish the job for you (if, for instance, he goes bankrupt), the bond will pay for another company to do it. Garland residents are required by law to get one. But be prepared to pay for it, at one or one and a half percent of the cost of your pool.

Consider hiring an architect to design your pool if you want something unique. The big advantage is that an architect can supervise construction, and architects often have better leverage with builders because they might someday work together again. An architect also will get bids for you and design your pool to fit in with the total design of your property. His services will cost you an average 10 percent of what your pool costs.

Be prepared to buy extra homeowner’s insurance. Your payments won’t automatically increase. But your insurance man will probably recommend increased coverage. You can be liable if a child drowns in your pool even if you have the city-required fence around it. Thousands of home swimming pool accidents are recorded each year, most of them involving slides and diving boards. So set up rules for your children.

Don’t think you’re stuck with a lemon. You do have recourse if your pool isn’t up to par. Complain first to the owner or manager of the pool company. If you still have problems call the Swimming Pool Institute, Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs Office or the Attorney General’s office. Then a lawyer.

If you can prove the builder misrepresented his pool or warranty by Texas law you can collect three times as much as your actual damages plus court costs and attorney’s fees.

– Ellen Stone

Conspicuous Consumer

Toast of the Town: Dallas’ First-Class Loafers

If you’re not confident of your own baking skills or simply don’t have the time to prepare fresh bread, there are several bakers in the area who make bread that tastes as if it came from your own oven. For the best French bread in town, loyalties seem divided between the Superior Bakery at 4304 Lemmon and a new bakery called La Francaise on the southwest corner of Audelia and Kingsley. Superior’s French loaves sell for 50C and are denser than the loaves at La Francaise, although still not as dense as most French bread made in this country. Loaves at La Francaise sell for 55¢. Both are excellent.

Ed Richard, whose family has been in the bread business since 1922, says that the loaves he bakes at Superior require a minimum of 18 hours of preparation. “We absolutely guarantee our bread to mold every day. We bake our bread to eat, not to keep.” He sells an average of 2,500 loaves each week, either in the traditional tube shape, Louisiana style, or in round loaf form.

At La Francaise, owner Samuel A. Alves is equally proud of his product. By mid-afternoon, they have often sold out of the French loaves and on Friday and Saturday the demand is so great that mid-morning is often too late to buy the bread. The bakery opens at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and at 7 on Saturday. The croissants which La Fran-caise bakes also demand mention. They are rich – one pound of butter for every two pounds of flour. La Francaise bakes almost 1,000 daily and sells them for 25¢ each.

For rolls like grandmother used to make, go to the Upper Crust Restaurant at Olla Podrida (12215 Coit Road). Dovie Baker, owner of the restaurant, developed the recipe 3 1/2 years ago especially for the Upper Crust. “Baking bread is lots of fun and one of the greatest pleasures I’ve ever had,” she states. One bite of her famous dinner rolls (made with lots of butter and buttermilk), is enough to convince anyone that she loves her work. She sells the rolls to take home, but she encourages customers to buy the dough instead of cooked rolls. The dough can be made into sweet rolls, filled with fruit or baked plain. It freezes well, too. A dozen rolls or dough to make a dozen costs $1. If you have a large order in mind, it’s best to call a day ahead. Dovie can be reached at 661-5738.

Dark breads like rye and pumpernickel are particularly good at the Black Forest Bakeries. Each loaf is 60c and can be purchased fresh daily at any of their three locations: 5819 Black-well (behind Sterling’s), 757 NorthPark Center, and on the main floor of the Medical City Building at 7777 Forest Lane.

Bolillos, similar to French bread but cut into rolls rather than loaves, are of Mexican origin. The best in the area are made by El Nopal Bakery, in business for 22 years. Their bolillos have a softer crust than those made in Mexico and are great for sandwiches as well. The bakery, located at 5456 Denton Drive Cut-off, is open even on Sundays from 6 a.m. to noon. If you decide on a last-minute Sunday brunch and want your bread to be fresh instead of day old, you can find it here. The bolillos are 15¢ but if you’re planning a large party and place an order for more than 100, the price per roll drops to 10¢.

Ann King’s monkey bread is baked in Albany, Texas, and is delivered frozen to at least two locations in Dallas. When heated and browned, it tastes as fresh as if it were made in your own kitchen. The monkey bread comes plain, with cheese and garlic added, or in cinnamon loaves. Prices range from $1.29 to $1.69 depending on which type you buy. You can get it at the Sample House lunch room at Willow Creek Shopping Center (9825 North Central) or at Fisher’s Food Store (4260 Oak Lawn), where the selection is usually better. The Albany baker makes delicious whole wheat loaves as well and they are available at both of these locations. At Fisher’s, the whole wheat loaf costs $1.69. At the Sample House, $1.60.

A particularly good dessert or breakfast bread can be found at Northlake Bakery (308 Northlake Shopping Center). Robert Lundy, owner of the bakery, says that he sells out of his cinnamon-raisin-pecan bread every day. One customer comes in almost every Saturday and buys six or eight loaves to give to friends. Each loaf is 89¢.

The Lucas B&B Bake Shop at 3520Oak Lawn makes many varieties ofbread and rolls but their cinnamonbread is especially good and availablemost days. If the SMU area is a moreconvenient pick-up point for you, Garden Fresh Produce at 6617 Hillcrestalso carries this bread, as well as raisin,wholewheat and white breads. The cin- namon loaf is the most popular bread they sell and is almost always available on Fridays and Saturdays, but only in-termittently during the week. Youmight want to call them at 368-3769and check before making a trip. Thecinnamon bread sells for $.89 at eachlocation. |

– Judy Powell

Ruth Ann and Tony Lisotta Choose a Shaddock & Cook Home

Ruth Ann and Tony Lisotta are extraordinary people … interesting, vivacious and successful professionally. Tony is District Marketing Program Manager for IBM Office Products Division, and Ruth Ann is an interior designer.

When they came here from Houston last summer they had definite ideas in mind for the home they wanted to buy. One that met both their requirements for openness and light, and one that satisfied their critical demands for quality and attention to detail. They found it in a Shaddock & Cook home under construction. Already having searched for a Dallas home, they were familiar with Shaddock & Cook homes and their outstanding reputation for design and quality. This home would have all the intrinsic qualities they were seeking. So they bought it. And Ruth Ann went to work on the decoration.

“Both Peter Shaddock and Jerry Cook were unstint-ingly cooperative in finishing the home the way we wanted it,” enthused Ruth Ann, “even though we made a number of unusual changes because of my personal preferences as a decorator.

“As an interior designer. I am more sensitive to detail in a home than most people. Shaddock & Cook did things routinely that most builders don’ t even think about, or disregard completely.”

“The quality of materials, and particularly the craftsmanship, is outstanding,” added Tony. “As we completed the home we compared various aspects of our home with others, and found no equal.”


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