Pool Excavation: The Process & Questions You Should Ask Your Pool Builder

Written by Michael Dean
August 16, 2023

swimming pool excavation

Digging the hole for your swimming pool, or excavation, is probably the most intrusive part of the swimming pool construction process. Your pool builder needs to work with heavy machinery around your home and move a lot of dirt to make room for your swimming pool.

I’ve seen this part of the pool installation process go horribly wrong with some inexperienced builders, so you must find the right pool builder who does a nice, clean job excavating for your pool.

Below are some key questions you should ask your pool builder before they start the excavation process so that you know what is going to happen.

Main Takeaways

  • The pool excavation process involves soil testing, digging, heavy machinery, and cleaning up.
  • A reputable contractor for pool excavation should be able to answer questions such as: what will happen to my yard, how much dirt will you dig out, and what will you do if you hit a rock or groundwater?
  • You could dig your own hole, but there are complications to consider, including hitting rocks and renting equipment.

The Pool Excavation Process

The pool excavation process is a messy and noisy one. It is not a part of the pool-building process that many enjoy, but it is necessary to build an inground pool. Although it is a daunting procedure, the entire excavation process can be narrowed down into four major steps.

Step one: Soil test

Before your pool contractor starts to build your inground pool, they will want to perform a soil test to check what they are building on. Your backyard could be composed of sand, organic matter, clay, or gravel that may impact the digging of the pool. Before they even start digging, they will want to ensure that your backyard is suitable for an inground pool.

Step two: Digging

With a professional contractor, the digging shouldn’t really take more than one day for a residential pool. Of course, with larger and more complicated pools, expect the digging to take longer. This part of the process is also where pool contractors may encounter underground obstacles such as soil instability or rocks. These challenges may extend the digging period.

Step three: Heavy machinery

Your contractor will also bring in heavy machinery, such as a backhoe, to help with the digging process. Be prepared for these giant machines to take over your backyard and possibly damage it during the construction process.

Step four: Cleaning up

After digging the hole, the professionals will also remove the vast amounts of soil and rock accumulated. They will heap it all onto a dump truck and put it away for you.

Questions to Ask Your Pool Excavation Contractor

What Is Going to Happen to My Yard?

This question will prepare you for the process of pool excavation. Excavation requires heavy machinery and a lot of traffic in and out of your yard. A professional pool builder will honestly let you know what side effects you may face.

The area around your pool site during the build and where they store supplies during the building process will affect the grass and ground in your backyard. Your entrance and exit, including the driveway or laneway, can suffer moderate damage if there is grass or soft gravel and dirt. It would help to prepare for some additional landscaping touch-ups after the build is complete.

You should also know the relative size of the hole they will dig. The contractor should mark it with wood frames, stakes, and string lines to give you a rough idea of the pool’s shape and size.

How Much Dirt Will You Need to Dig Out?

Not surprisingly, pool excavation will lead to a significant amount of dirt. After all, your contractor is digging a big hole in the ground.

Depending on the size and depth of the pool you plan to build, the amount of loose dirt you accumulate will vary.

A large amount of dirt can also lead to further questions about how your pool builder will remove the dirt around the pool and your yard. A reputable builder will handle all the removal and not leave you with a massive pile of dirt to deal with on your own.

What If You Hit a Rock or Water When You Are Excavating?

This vital question helps you determine what a builder will do if they encounter this issue during the pool construction process. You could be looking at extra costs if these situations happen during excavation, and you should prepare for any uncertainties like rocks or water. Also, check to ensure your builder has insurance and/or warranties.

Some companies have practices to help foresee any rock or water problems. Ask your pool builder if they have any methods to determine potential issues while excavating.

Hitting Rock

Your pool builder should have several options for you if they come across rock during the excavation process. Once the digging has begun, many companies can hammer or blast them out and continue building if they present a problem.

However, there can be significant costs associated with this method. There will be additional labor costs and extra equipment rental fees for specialty tools to break up and remove the rock.

Another solution to this issue is not to dig as deep as you originally planned and either opt for a shallower pool or build a hybrid inground pool with raised walls on all sides, allowing the pool to be deeper. This alternative will have extra costs with the wall formations and supplies to complete this pool style.

Your builder may also suggest moving the pool to a different location. For some homeowners, this is not an option. At this time, you may have to decide if you want to proceed with one of the previous solutions or abandon the idea of an inground swimming pool.

Hitting Water

Coming in contact with groundwater does not have to be a disastrous situation. High water tables can pose struggles for building inground pools, but they do not have to halt your dream of swimming in your backyard.

Dewatering systems are terrific ways to remove any water appearing when the excavation gets deeper. Keeping water away is relatively easy for homeowners who choose a fiberglass pool since installing this material is faster than other types of inground pools, like concrete. A professional pool contractor can install a fiberglass pool shell and fill it with water within hours of excavation.

Another solution when facing excessive groundwater is to modify your installation to accommodate elevation as you would with rock problems. This alternative will require additional materials and labor costs to adjust your pool specifications.

Can I Save Money by Digging My Own Hole?

The option of digging your hole for an inground pool is open for any homeowner. But is it worth it? Overall, you could save anywhere from $500 to $1,500 in costs by digging your own hole for the pool installation.

However, there are essential things to consider when choosing to go this route:

  • Equipment rental costs
  • Your time and effort
  • Relocation of the dirt
  • Facing unknown situations like rocks or groundwater

Pool builders need to bring large equipment into your yard to lift and set your pool during installation. Professionals are experienced in excavation and could complete this process faster than you might during a weekend or evening when you have time. They also have all the necessary trucks and equipment to relocate the dirt from your yard.

These experienced pool contractors are well-trained if they come across any rock or groundwater and know how to handle those situations. When comparing the possible outcomes of digging your own hole, it may be best to leave this part of the process to the professionals. It may save you a marginal amount of money, but the hassle and headache may not be worth the trouble.

Can Your Heavy Machinery Make It into My Yard Easily?

A pool contractor needs to be able to get the necessary heavy equipment into your backyard for digging the hole and building your pool. That type of heavy machinery could include equipment like a dump truck, backhoe, or excavator. Often, the space needed is not as large as you may think. There are several creative ways to move heavy machinery in residential areas for pool excavation.

You may have to temporarily remove a section of a fence or a gate for yards with narrow fence lines or laneways. This situation does not happen often, but it is possible if you have limited access to your yard. A standard opening of eight feet is usually enough to get the machinery into a yard for excavation and building.

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Final Thoughts

As a homeowner, you should feel comfortable with the company you select for pool excavation. Choosing a reputable contractor that welcomes inquiries and can provide the necessary information for your project will indicate their professionalism and authority in the process.

Asking the right questions and having open communication with your pool contractor are essential during the entire process. This way, the project will go smoothly, and you can avoid any costly surprises later.

Still have questions? Shoot me a note.

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