Master Craftsman: Greg Darvin, Pristine Pools

Pristine Pools founder Greg Darvin
Pristine Pools founder Greg Darvin

The first recorded swimming pool, called the “Great Bath” at Mohenjo-daro in what is now Pakistan, was a place for religious ceremony in 2500 BC. It began a long tradition of artificial pools with a variety of uses in the ancient world—athletics, wellness, games, military exercises and even keeping fish—but thousands of years later, for devout Hamptonites, pools continue to be a religion of sorts.

If luxury real estate had 10 commandments on the East End, the fifth might be, “Thou shalt swim.”

Pristine Pools founder Greg Darvin has been a high priest of this religion for more than 25 years. Like any true expert, the Springs native started at the bottom and built his business to be a worthy competitor in a saturated local market.

Pristine Pools project, Amagansett
Pristine Pools project in Amagansett, Photo: Gordon M. Grant

“My original introduction to swimming pools was a summer job in high school,” Darvin says. Working as a young pool cleaner doing maintenance, he never imagined he was training for a future career. But the work was lucrative, especially after Darvin started his own company taking care of clients’ pools while home on summer break from SUNY Albany.

When college was done, he continued the summer pool business as a way to fund exciting world travels to places like Africa and Southeast Asia in the fall and winter. “I took some amazing trips,” Darvin says, noting that he’d return home broke each spring and begin the cycle again.

Pristine Pools pool at night
Photo: Matthew Carbone

He still didn’t consider Pristine Pools as anything more than a means to an end, a stop on the road to some undetermined future career. The years ticked by, and just as construction and real estate began booming in the late 1990s, Darvin had a life-changing realization: “Maybe instead of fighting this, I should just embrace it?”

Pristine Pools took off quickly from there.

“If I’m involved in something, I’m fully involved in it,” Darvin says, recalling the shift. Suddenly, he was a man building a business instead of a kid making money. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans,” he muses, quoting a well-known aphorism.

Newly focused, Darvin added pool construction to his offerings. “I was lucky enough to have some people around me with a lot more experience at the beginning,” he says, explaining how he learned to build custom gunite pools. Eventually Darvin added a third arm to Pristine Pools—masonry.

Pristine Pools project in progress, Sagaponack
Pristine Pools project in progress, Sagaponack

“It just sort of evolved,” he says. “The masonry became more a product of needing high quality, dependable work.”

When finding good outside contractors became too difficult, he cut out the middleman and offered the jobs in-house. Darvin says his company now builds patios, retaining walls and even stonework inside of homes. “It’s not all pool related.”

The amount of skill and resources under one roof at Pristine Pools is “special,” he continues. “We’re more or less handing the baton to people within the company.” Darvin says he can give homeowners the A to Z “total design and construction package”—including all manner of pool, spa and masonry—not to mention year round maintenance and chlorine alternatives.

Pristine Pools fountain pool
A unique fountain pool, Photo: Gordon M. Grant

Nothing is too specialized, be it a waterfall, underwater feature, pond, patio or garden. The company motto, “If you can dream it, we can build it,” holds true. And if they do hit a roadblock, Darvin is not afraid to call upon someone with the solution. “I know my strengths and my weaknesses,” he acknowledges.

Darvin still regularly works with architects and designers, collaborating or strictly following their vision, but he says the best results come from a dialogue between all parties—architect, designer, homeowner and pool contractor.

Pristine Pools project underway in Water Mill
Pristine Pools project underway in Water Mill

Nearly every pool, spa or masonry project Darvin and Pristine Pools build is unique. “They all to some degree have their challenges…that’s what keeps my work interesting for me,” he says. “I’m proud of it. It’s something that I’ve been able to grow over time with a lot of help and good people.”

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