You’ve imagined the perfect swimming pool in your backyard for a while now, and you’re ready to take the plunge. But deciding to build a swimming pool comes with a lot of questions. It can be hard to know where to start.
You might wonder what the construction process is like, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.
These are some of the most common swimming pool construction questions and all crucial parts of swimming pool planning – and you’re not alone in asking them! Below, I cover all of these questions and hope you feel more prepared for the construction process.
What’s the Pool Construction Process?
First things first, if you’re putting in a pool, you’re probably wondering what the process is like. Will it be months of backyard sacrifice while workers dig a hole and lay concrete? Or are there shortcuts to the process?
The answer is that it depends. There are multiple types of pools: fiberglass, concrete, and vinyl-lined. Each one requires a different construction process, and they all have their pros and cons.
No matter what type of inground pool you’re constructing, though, things will likely start with a design proposal from your contractor. Once you approve the proposal, there may be permits you have to apply for from your HOA or city.
From there, the construction process varies based on the type of pool. I outlined the general process for each below.
Fiberglass pools are pre-built using existing molds. That means most of their actual construction is off-site.
Once completed, the pool is shipped to your house in one giant piece! A hole is excavated in your yard and lined with a base material, usually gravel or sand. Then a crane lowers the fiberglass pool into place.
Workers will ensure the pool is level. Then they backfill material around the outer edges of the fiberglass frame and, at the same time, fill the pool with water.
Concrete pools are built on-site and are, therefore, completely customizable to your yard and preferences.
Next comes the concrete, which they’ll pour into place to form your pool’s shell. And from there, they’ll handle coping and tile work.
Coping, by the way, refers to the material that caps or edges your pool’s shell. It separates the shell from the surrounding area. It also prevents water from getting behind the pool shell, protecting the structure of your new, personal watering hole.
Finally, the construction crew will trowel a plaster finish onto the pool shell creating the pool’s final surface. Fill the whole thing with water, and you’re all set!
With vinyl pools, a team will come in and dig a giant hole in your backyard. Once the excavation is complete, they’ll set and install plastic or metal sidewalls.
Then, a team will pour a cement-based product to create the bottom of the pool. After that comes coping work. Finally, the team will install a vinyl liner to hold water within the pool. They’ll fill it with water and then it’s yours to enjoy!
How Long Will It Take To Build My Pool?
Now that you have an idea of the general process, you’re probably wondering how long it will take? After all, no one enjoys living with a giant hole in their backyard. Nor do most people like having construction crews around day-in and day-out.
How long it takes, though, is dependent on what type of pool you choose.
Fiberglass pools take 3-6 weeks because all you need to worry about is excavation and installation. They’re made using a mold, which means most of the work is completed off-site. That gives these pools the advantage of a short on-site construction time.
Concrete pools take far longer, anywhere from 2-5 months or more. That said, you’re getting a custom pool when you go the concrete route. You have more freedom to design exactly what you want, but constructing things from scratch on-site isn’t a short process.
Vinyl-lined pools take slightly longer than fiberglass pools, but not nearly as long as a concrete pool would take. Once workers excavate the pool site, installation can take as little as ten days.
Of course, excavation times will vary depending on the contractor and your yard. In total, most vinyl pools take 5-8 weeks to build and install.
What are Common Problems You Might Run Into During the Construction Process?
You’d be foolish to start a major construction project, like building a pool, without considering the possible pitfalls. There are two major areas where new pool owners run into problems: leaks and structural issues.
Leaks tend to occur near skimmers or return jets, but they can also develop in underground plumbing. All three types of swimming pools are susceptible to leaks but in different ways.
Vinyl pools can tear during installation, which causes leaks. Fiberglass and concrete pools can crack, which does the same.
Working with a professional pool builder will help you avoid any leak issues, at least any that have to do with building or installation.
All three pool types are also susceptible to structural failings.
In vinyl-lined pools, the construction crew needs to be careful installing the plastic or metal walls. They need to secure them with a concrete footing. If they fail to do this properly, the walls can shift or move, causing significant structural damage.
Concrete pools are notorious for cracking or shifting if the ground they’re built-in shifts or if the construction team does a poor job initially. Fiberglass pools can also crack, and when they do, it’s often a delicate, spider-web-like cracking that spreads very quickly.
An experienced contractor will be able to avoid most structural issues, though. And that leads me to the next question.
How Do I Find a Good Pool Contractor?
There are a few best practices for finding a good pool contractor in your area. You can start by asking around to friends or family that recently had a pool put in.
Of course, if you don’t have friends who recently installed a pool, you may not have access to first-hand information. In that case, look for a pool contractor that’s been in business for at least a few years.
Ask them to show you proof of any licenses your jurisdiction requires. You can also ask them if they are part of any professional organizations or if they’ve received any awards for their work. And, of course, it’s a good idea to ask them what sort of insurance and warranties they carry, should things go wrong.
Along with that, ask them to provide references. A good pool contractor should have a list of former, happy clients that you can talk to.
Checking with the Better Business Bureau isn’t a bad idea, either. They provide a directory of pool contractors with letter grades based on their commitment to customer satisfaction, privacy protection, truth in advertising, and other important factors.
For more, read my article on questions to ask your pool builder.
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How Much is it Going to Cost?
Now for the biggest of all the most common swimming pool construction questions, how much will this cost?
Everyone knows pools are expensive, but they might not be as price-prohibitive as you think. A fiberglass pool can technically be DIY’d, but I don’t recommend it. If you were to try and do it yourself, you could install one for $12,000 – $30,000.
Working with a contractor, a fiberglass pool will likely cost you between $45,000 and $85,000. That’s a lot, but when you consider fiberglass pools only cost around $500 per year to maintain, the upfront cost doesn’t feel as steep.
We should note, that you might not pay that $500 every year. But on average, over ten years, fiberglass pool owners spend $5,000 in maintenance, which works out to $500 per year. The same goes for the yearly averages for concrete and vinyl pools discussed below.
Concrete pools cost anywhere from $50,000 and $100,000 upfront, depending on how you customize them. And, they’ll cost you around $2,500 per year in maintenance.
That means the fiberglass pool is the most affordable option, but it’s also the least customizable. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons against your budget to determine which type of pool works best for you. I recommend talking to a professional contractor before you decide.
To Sum it Up
Building a new pool is a big commitment. You’ll have to deal with a messy yard, significant expenses, and all sorts of possible pitfalls. The result, though, is a personal oasis right in your backyard.
Once you’ve dreamt of that, it’s hard to take your mind off of it. When you want a swimming pool, the idea often doesn’t disappear until the pool is there. And in the meantime, there’s probably an endless stream of pool-related questions flowing through your head.
Hopefully, we’ve answered your most common swimming pool construction questions. That way, you can feel that much better about your pool-building adventure.
Reaching out to a professional contractor is the next step. They’ll be able to guide you further and speak to the specifics of your build. It might take some time, and it will have its costs. But the result is a new pool, which is pretty awesome!