Babcock Custom Pools & Environments

Excellence from the Ground Up


Million-dollar swimming pools can push the limits of ingenuity and industry practices. Only the best and bravest rise to the challenge. 

For a recent project in the exclusive Lake Sherwood area, Babcock Custom Pools & Environments faced what looked like insurmountable odds in its goal to build a structural and design masterpiece.

The job was at a new home on a street where numerous high-end structures were going up. The only access the Babcock team had was via a side lot, whose groundbreaking was a few months off. The homeowners association required Babcock be finished well before that.

“That ratcheted up the pressure, of course. This was not a traditional pool, so the engineering was extremely intense,” said founder and owner Richard Babcock. “We love challenges —but they were just beginning.”

The creative minds behind the 10-caisson, 42’4” x 17’10” pool were Mauricio Salazar with Salto Architecture and David Peterson with Watershape Consulting. Another asset was Gerson Clara with D&D Construction Specialties, who handled the structural steel work. 


Overhanging an existing 30-foot HOA retainer wall was the biggest challenge to this build, Babcock said. He and his crew began drilling 35 feet below surface for the 10 caissons needed. They hit some of the hardest rock on Earth, called bluestone. On many occasions it broke the rig’s barrows, bites, and teeth.

Babcock and his crew often had to stop and re-engineer the pool’s floor, caissons, and grade beams to clear the HOA wall, which came back 60 inches into the slope and pool space.

Extra care concerning soil was also crucial. “We had the soils engineering people on site daily, the structural engineer on call, the HOA’s retaining wall company doing cross calculating with the structural, and the soils engineer for weeks at hand. This was all to insure there would ever be any damage or pressure to the existing retainer wall. 


The next obstacle was the sewer line. It went directly under the pool from the home to the sewer easement 22 feet below the pool and through the retaining wall footing. It was next to impossible to locate the precise location of the sewer line with 100% accuracy. 

“Everyone was thinking about how we would be able, if we hit the line, to repair it 22 feet below the pool floor,” said Babcock. “Luckily, we were able to get it plus-or-minus three to six inches from either direction of the center of the sewer line with a locator.”

Then there was the weather. Torrential rain would cause Lake Sherwood to overflow and swamp the boat docks that winter.

“We worked 10 to 12-hour days, six days a week to stay ahead of the rain. We literally had just installed our steel and cement in the caissons one day before the big flood came,” recalled Babcock, smiling.


It all paid off. The stunning pool has an infinity edge overlooking the valley, with a catch basin below, tanning ledge and integrated spa, as well as a built-in, motorized pool cover — another mechanical engineering wow factor called the Moses Feature. A custom BBQ island has facing and countertop cladding provided by Dekton of Cosentino, as well as the spa wall. The pergola with operable louvers for shade control.

Babcock enjoyed providing material options for the client and Salazar to choose from.

“One of my favorites was the exotic wood we choose for the coping and the decks,” said Babcock. “It’s a Brazilian hard wood called Itauba. We had the planks and coping milled to custom lengths, widths and depths to achieve the desire look and grain for our texture and imported five months in advance for milling and installation time allocated for our completion deadline.” 

“Richard and his entire team took the design vision and executed the project flawlessly,” said Salazar. “They really poured their heart and soul into this project.” 

Photographs by Jimi Smith Photography

Babcock Custom Pools & Environments Inc.

9171 Wilshire Blvd., Ste 500
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

In Business Since 2004
Designs and Builds 10 Pools per Year
Service Areas: Los Angeles-based Babcock Custom Pools & Environments also operates in Arizona.

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