Building your own inground vinyl pool almost always goes off without too many surprises. Difficulties will be encountered yes, but nothing insurmountable. At SPP, we believe in laying out all the possible surprises and difficulties on the table, even those rare situations that occur in less than 1 out of 100 pools.
Here then are 5 surprises to be aware of when building your own pool, so you're not taken by surprise!
Hitting Water during Pool Excavation
Low lying coastal lands are the most susceptible to high water tables, but they also occur far inland as well. Water coming into the pool while you are trying to shape it definitely makes things difficult. If it occurs immediately after a heavy rainstorm, you just wait a few days for it to dry up, while pumping out any water that pools in the deep end. In those rare instances where the water doesn't stop on it's own, there are several simple dewatering methods that are used to pump the water out continuously, until the floor is laid and the pool is filled with water. In extreme cases, or in areas where the water table never recedes, a permanent dewatering method can be developed with gravel and a pump at the lowest point. And in such cases, the ground surrounding the pool can also be raised, high enough to avoid water table problems. Most problems with water during
Hitting Solid Rock during Pool Excavation
Big boulders are not uncommon, but are usually no match for a skillful bucket operator. However, very large boulders may require larger excavators, to be able to lift it without tipping over. I've only seen that on one job of mine, but if you live in a rocky area, your local excavators know how to manage them. It's rare that you hit solid bedrock, or at least not in most areas. If you were to hit a solid expanse of granite for example, the easiest work-around is to raise the ground up around the pool, and build the pool on top of the bedrock sheet, assuming it's at least 4 feet below grade. You won't need to break out the dynamite, which is probably illegal anyway in your neighborhood. When faced with boulders or bedrock, a jackhammer attachment is used on an excavator to break it up into smaller boulders or to shave off a few feet of solid rock.
Leftover Dirt after Backfilling and Grading
When Larry built his own inground pool, he was surprised to have 7 truckloads of dirt leftover. Fortunately, they found a place nearby that would accept the dirt, as they needed fill dirt for their home project. Many people are surprised at the mountain of dirt created when digging an inground pool. If you have acres of land, you could spread it around, but for most people, you'll need to plan with the excavator to remove the leftover dirt. You will use about 25% of the dirt to backfill around the pool walls, but that's about it. And, if you have to cut into a small hillside, to create more room for the pool and deck, you'll have to get rid of that dirt too. Check around your local neighborhood, or check Craigslist for people that want free fill dirt. Then you only have to pay the driver, usually by the truckload, to deliver and dump the dirt, which can cost $100-$250 per load, depending on truck size, distance traveled and local market pricing.
When you build your own pool, you will schedule your own pool inspections with the local building department for your city or county. Your particular county has their own requirements, but may require structural inspections, electrical and bonding inspections, and a final inspection when your pool fence is in place. So that there's no surprises, be sure to obtain, read and understand the inspection requirements, and if you have questions, pick up the phone and call your friendly local pool inspector. They are out in the field most of the day, but have a few hours each day of office time where they can help. Pool inspectors are typically a 'by the book' bunch, but where there is some room for interpretation, inspectors can call the shots. Reach out to them if you have any questions about the finer details of the inspection process, don't let it be a surprise.
Pool Landscape Repair
Finally, after months of planning and weeks of construction, you can landscape around the pool. As Larry stated when he finished building his own inground vinyl pool, "it looked like a bomb went off in the backyard!". Building an inground pool is a major upset to your backyard, side yard and parts of the front yard. When heavy cement trucks, dump trucks and excavators have to cross a grassy yard, they can leave deep ruts in the ground. They can also damage side driveways or existing patios that they cross over during the work. Sometimes trees and bushes are damaged, or need to be trimmed or removed, to allow for access. After the ground is leveled and graded, you can begin to put it back together over several seasons, or hire some help to lay sod, and add planter beds, or otherwise cover up the dirt. And there will be dirt, let me tell you! Gravel is often used during construction to keep the dirt from turning into mud, and astroturf runners can be used where needed, to keep (most of) the dirt out of the house. Pool landscape pricing will vary of course, most people should plan on spending at least $1000, but some pool owners will spend much more on their 'backyard recovery'.