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    Contacting & Contracting a Qualified Excavator to Dig a Pool

    April 1, 2013


    One of the most exciting days when building your own inground pool is when "Dig Day" arrives. Now you know that your dream of building your own pool is really coming true, and you can watch it take shape all day. Trenches are also dug from the pool to where the filter equipment will sit, so you can begin plumbing your pool.

    Finding a good, qualified excavation company make take a little work. You definitely just do not want to choose anyone. Price is always a concern but pricing shouldn’t be your only factor, sometimes the cheapest price is the cheapest for a reason. You want someone who understands how to dig a pool so when he leaves your yard you are not left with a lot of hand digging and shaping to do. A qualified digger can look at the dig sheet you have for the pool and understand exactly what needs to be done. So, experience counts.

    Where to Find Excavators

    I would recommend asking friends who have a pool who they may have used for digging. Check small local newspapers for excavation work. A local Yellow Pages book should have listings under Excavators, or you can do a Google search for "Excavation Contractors, " followed by your city and state. You'll find local listings and directory pages, contractor referral services or rating services, like Angie's List.

    What to Ask For

    Tell them that you are looking for an "Experienced Pool Digger", and that you can send them a "Spec Sheet" - and/or they can meet you on the job site, "for Pricing Purposes". Their next question for you may be "What do you want done with the Dirt?" Meaning, are they just going to pile it up next to the pool, or do you want them to spread the dirt or grade it, over an adjacent area, or do you also need a dump truck to haul off extra fill dirt?

    You may be surprised at the amount of dirt that will come out of the hole dug for your pool, so it's important to plan ahead. When we built my pool, I thought I had a large enough yard to sort of "absorb" the dirt into other areas, but ended up having to haul off several dump trucks full of dirt.

    You'll need about 20% of the dirt, for use backfilling the pool walls and pipe trenches. But the rest of it - could you make a small hillside, or add it to steep areas on the property? Use it for raised bed garden planters? If you can't use it on the property, you can ask for a price to haul off extra dirt.

    What Type of Excavation Equipment?

    excavator-3An experienced pool excavation company won't ask you which type of equipment you want them to use, they'll know. Most pools are dug using an excavator or track hoe. Bobcat type skid steer loaders can do some early work, but their low bucket is less effective on shaping the hopper bottom floor of vinyl inground pools. A backhoe can be used, anything with an extension bucket, really. The larger the machine, the faster and easier the job will be.

    Backfilling the Pool: After the pool is dug, the walls can be connected, floor work completed, pool liner installed and the pool can be filled with water. Once the plumbing is seen to be free of leaks, the pipe trenches are filled, and the space behind the pool walls is filled in. In my case, I had the same excavators return, a few days after they dug the pool, to backfill around the pool, and then I had them remove the extra dirt.

    Free Fill Dirt: After looking at your yard the excavator can tell you if they are going to need fill removed from the site or not and if so should be able to tell youfill-dirt-sign about how many loads will need to be removed. You will also need to find a place to bring it to. I asked neighbors and actually got rid of 3 loads on my street. I found a construction site a few miles away; they couldn’t use it but told me of another location that would be willing to accept all I could bring them.

    What's it Cost to Dig a Pool?

    I just had my pool built and I found a very experienced excavator at $85 per hour and it worked out to be $865 to dig the pool. That was for an 18 x 38 double roman shape pool This was a very good price as this contractor dug pools for a living, and knew that I was in the business. Generally, if you find a price for a 16 x 32 from $800 to $1,200 - that’s a pretty good price. For your pool site and size, take into consideration how much they have to do for your particular situation.

    But realize that once they start digging your pool, the price could change. When unforeseen things occur like underground water or huge boulders, a flat rate price usually goes up to take care of those problems. At that point when these things arise he should be able to let you know the approximate cost to handle the problem.

    By showing them your dig sheet and looking at your yard they should be able to give you an idea of the cost. Some price it out by the hourly rate, some will give you a price for the complete dig.

    Payment to Excavators


    In my situation the digger wanted to be paid in full at the end of the day after the dig was complete. Some may want a deposit to secure a dig date. Most will take checks or credit cards, although for my "special deal" - I had to pay in cash.

    Dig your Own Pool?


    You can always rent the equipment and dig it yourself - but I really would only do this if you are very familiar with digging and using the machinery. do not rent the machine and practice on your pool, it could become very costly. What you could do, if you really want to play in the dirt - is rent a bobcat, and use it to spread the extra dirt in areas of your property, or use it to fill a dump truck if needed. These tasks, which will be needed - are less precise operations than the task of digging the pool shape to the spec sheet.

    Access: You are going to need at a bare minimum, 12 ft wide open space, to get an excavator into the back yard. More than 12 would be extremely helpful, but less than that could be tight. You'll need an equal amount of clear vertical space too, without hanging tree branches or wires in the way. The excavator will also need to move around the pool while working, and needs at least 12 ft of room on two sides of the pool to operate easily, and move the dirt around.

    It's not uncommon to have to remove a tree or two that may be in the way of the excavator accessing the site or moving around while digging, or filling a dump truck, so plan the entire route with your contractor beforehand.

    Weather: One of the main things that can put a damper on your pool dig is weather, rain being the hardest to deal with, it is awful tough to dig a good pool in mud so I would check the forecast first and if you have to postpone a day or so it will be well worth it. Cold weather - where you already have frost in the ground is not very conducive to digging a pool either. It's best to have average daily temperatures above 45 degrees, so the ground is not so hard to work with.

    If all goes well, you'll have just a small amount of hand shaping to do, to sharpen up some corners, or patch up any cave-ins, a result of soft or wet soils. Here's some related posts that could be helpful for planning the excavation of your own inground pool kit.

    Digging your own Inground Pool – Dig It!

    How To Dig an Inground Swimming Pool

    Heavy Equipment Operators – How to Contact & Contract

    Shaping the Bottom Contours of your Inground Pool Kit

    Have Fun!  

    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert  

    Blog Author
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