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    Do It Yourself In Ground Swimming Pool

    January 20, 2014

    inground-pool-kits-DIY When planning to build your own inground pool - some people just take longer than others. For some,  it might take them a year or two to decide to take the plunge. With others we see the exact opposite - taking only a week or two to plan and purchase their inground pool. Here's 3300 words about building your own inground pool.

    Permitting - Most cities and towns do require you to pull a residential building permit but what I would recommend is that you contact your local building inspector to find out exactly what's required. Some townships and cities also require an electrical permit but normally your electrician will take care of that for you. I recommend using a local electrician since he knows the building inspector and there is less hassle.

    You can go down to the town hall and see your building inspector in person, or you can probably find that information on their website. When obtaining your pool permits find out what documents they require in order obtaining your permit. Normally they want a plot plan, I needed to provide one when I received my permit. pool-permit-approvalsWhat a plot plan shows is a detailed diagram of your backyard, showing the location of where you plan on installing your inground pool. This will help your building inspector make sure you have enough room to install an inground pool. I would also recommend bringing a copy of the panel layout and dig specs for the pool you are going to build.  Some towns are stricter than others and require additional information on the pool - contact one of the SPP inground pool specialists for any additional information needed.

    call-811Once obtaining your residential building permit to install your own inground pool, it is very important that you call DigSafe, or Call 811 in most areas, to make sure you have no utility lines underground where you plan to build your pool.

    Pool Kit Purchase – When it comes time to buy an inground pool kit there are many different decisions that need to be made.  This might seem overwhelming to some customers with all of the options that are available to choose from and decisions you need to make when purchasing an inground pool. First, you will want to decide on what shape and size pool you are interested in building. Of all our pool styles, our most popular is the Bahama with 2ft radius corners but we have many different shapes and sizes to choose from.


    Next you need to decide on whether you want steel or polymer pool walls - we offer both.  The most popular style pool we sell is the steel wall because of its strength and durability, however in some cases, a polymer wall makes sense. Another decision you need to make is whether you want our Deluxe or Deluxe Plus pool kit. Our Deluxe Plus pool kit is more popular kit, probably because it's much more inclusive. These 2 pool kits include everything you need to build an inground pool. We can also customize the pool kit for your particular needs by adding or deleting any items from equipment packages.

    pool renovation ideas - new pool linersAfter deciding on what kit you want Deluxe, Deluxe Plus or Custom - now you need to choose a liner pattern. The liners that normally come with our pool kits are listed under the Equator liners on the inground liner section of our website. The Deluxe kit normally comes with a standard 20 mil inground liner and the Deluxe Plus kit includes a heavier liner 27 mil liner. You can also upgrade to a thicker liner, or choose on of our GLI liners - for a slight upcharge.

    standard hopper bottom

    Another decision that you must make when ordering your inground pool is what type of pool bottom you would like in your pool. The most popular is our standard hopper which means that you have a shallow end normally 40” deep and that would gradually slope to either 6 or 8 feet in the deep end. Some of the other pool bottom options you can choose from include a Sport Bottom, Flat bottom or Wedge. Give one of the SPP inground pool specialists a call or email to help decide which pool bottom is the best for your family.

    Also an important decision that's made before ordering your inground pool is what type of patio you are going to install around the pool once it is built. The reason we need to know that is so that we can provide you with the correct pool coping type.  If you are going to have a concrete or stamped concrete patio most customers use our aluminum bull nose CP2 coping. If you are going to have a brick paver patio, stone or tile then we would send you our cantilever coping.sit-and-step

    Another decision to make is what step type you want for your pool kit. On most pools you can choose from either a 6ft or 8ft step, the 8ft step being more popular. We also have many different step styles to choose from Roman, Corner Step, or a full width (under the liner) steel step system. You can also have steps on both ends or both sides, or add a deep end wall seat.

    PENTAIR-INTELLIBRITE-COLOR-LED-POOL-LIGHTINGSome of the other smaller decisions you need to make are what accessories or additional upgrades you would like to add to your pool kit. One of our most popular upgrades for our pool kits the salt water chlorine generators instead of using chlorine tablets or granular chlorine. Another popular upgrade would be our Hayward Color Logic LED light, this give you an LED light that changes many different colors in your pool.  Some of the other popular accessories that are available that require you to make a decision on whether you would like to add to your pool kit are: diving boards, slides, pool heater, solar blanket.

    Pool Layout - Choose a site for where you are going to install your pool.  The pool should be set 6” above the ground level if possible for natural ground water runoff.  When laying out the pool try to make sure the pool walls are going to be set on the undisturbed ground. If you have to build up the ground, it must be compacted in stages with no more than 1 ft. increments. To start, you want to square the pool to your house, or fence. Next follow our installation manual and Dig Specs (and this blog post) to stake out your pool area. Use bright spray paint to mark off the area, and then pin off the 4 corners, using string line to locate area for the pool panels to be assembled. With the string line in place start at your shallow end corner pin and start laying out the pool for the dig. Measure from the pin in the shallow end corner to the end of the shallow end ( break). Put your second pin on the string line.

    locating-the-deep-end-hopperNext measure down to the end of the slope and put your next pin and the last pin will be at the end of the bottom. Now you must pin out the width by measuring from both corners in the deep end. If this sounds confusing it really is not please see our installation manual pages 4& 5 and this will help explain it to you. When laying out and pinning the pool check your cross dimensions to make sure the pool is square.

    excavatorPool Excavation - Start by stripping off all the grass/ top soil that will need to be removed. When doing the excavation make sure you dig an extra 2 ½ feet all the way around the entire pool area. This will give you enough room to install the pool walls with braces. When digging the pool in the Rectangle Hopper area of the deep end make sure you dig an extra 2” deeper to accommodate for the 2” inches of finished material along the bottom of the pool. it is recommended to hire an experienced excavator if you don’t know how to do it yourself.  The more accurate the dig the less hand work with a shovel is required. Please follow the Dig Specs that are provided with your pool kit and also you can look at our installation manual on pages 5 & 6 to further explain the excavation specifications.  Also we are here to answer any questions you might have during the excavation process so just give us a call.

    wall-assemblyPool Wall Assembly - Try to assemble the wall panels on undisturbed earth if possible and make sure your adjustable A Frame braces are level. Lay the pool wall panels out around the pool area according to the panel layout that was provided to you. Make sure you have your skimmer panel, light panel and return panels in the proper location. If you have all of the panels and correct location and when you double check and add up the panels it equals the length of width of your pool than it is time to start assembling the pool wall panels. Bolt panels together with the adjustable A Frame braces, there is one brace at each panel joint. When bolting the panels together use a laser level or 4ft level with transit to make the panel heights are correct.

    Concrete collar, a foot thick, around the pool wallsMake sure all of the pool panels are plumb, level and square before tightening all of the bolts and pouring your concrete collar around the outside of the panels to lock them in place. When installing a pool step you will have to drill holes into the step so that you can bolt them to your pool wall panels. If installing a bullnose step put a small piece of coping on top of the pool wall so that you can line the step with the top of the coping. The top of the step will know be level with the top of the coping, also make sure the front of the step is flush to the panel on either side of the step. More on pool step installation.

    pool-floors-trowel-the-poolPool Floor Installation – Along the bottom of the pool you want to put 2” of finished material along the bottom of the pool floor such as a mix of Portland cement with masonry sand this is a 4 to 1 ratio (4 bags of sand mixed 1 92 lb. bag of Portland cement). Another pool floor option would be Vermiculite mixed with Portland cement which is a 2 to 1 ratio (2 bags of vermiculite to 1 bag of Portland cement ex ample : 16’x32’ pool would need approximately 32 bags of Vermiculite and 16 bags of Portland cement. When installing the pool floor, use a wooden trowel and rounded end trowel, to press the material along the bottom of pool floor. I would recommend starting in the deep end and working your way to the shallow end. Whichever floor material be careful and take your time as any imperfections will show through the pool liner. The finished material should cover the pool panels from the bottom of the panels to a point 2” up the panel. I would suggest measuring up 2” from the bottom of all panels and then snapping a chalk line to mark that location on the panels.

    flex-pipe-3Pool Plumbing - In regards to the plumbing a pool, you can typically do this yourself - it is not necessary to hire a plumber. Some of the items that are involved with the plumbing are the main drains, skimmer, returns and also step jets. Consult with your inground pool manual for a drawing to help explain how to plumb your inground pool kit or call one of the SPP inground pool kit specialists. We provide a 100 ft roll of flexible PVC pipe which is enough to get started but for most pools you will probably need more pipe. We include a box full of fittings, glue and primer, but your particular installation may require additional fittings, which you can find locally. I recommend using rigid PVC on the equipment pad, and for connecting to returns, skimmers and drains, and use flex pipe for the long flat runs deep underground. If your equipment is located far from the pool, you can purchase additional rolls of flex pipe from SPP or you buy rigid PVC pipe locally, in 10 or 20 ft lengths.

    electrcians-to-build-your-own-poolPool Electrical - To pass your electrical inspection, you will most likely need to hire an electrician installing your pool electrical panel, or breaker box. The electrician will bring power from your main house panel, to a new sub-panel at your pool equipment pad. You could assist them with laying the conduit and running the wires to the pool pump and pool light junction box, and to other loads like outdoor lighting or electrical outlets, or an automatic pool cover. The electrician will also ground the power supply.

    grounding-rod-for-poolsPool Bonding - Anything metal on the pool must be bonded. Check with your local electrical inspector to find out their exact requirements on pool bonding. In general, everything metal on the pool should have a continuous wire connection (bond) all the way around the entire pool. This will connect in several places to the wall of the pool, and also be lugged to the pool light, pool ladder sockets and pool deck mesh. The same wire runs to the equipment pad to be connected to the pump and heater or heat pump, in one continuous loop around the pool. Your electrician will be able to bond your pool, and you may be able to help, or even do it yourself, and have him approve your work, before the electrical inspection.

    cyclone-vacLiner Installation -  In order to properly install your inground liner for your new pool you will need to have a strong shop vacuum or use a liner vacuum like the Cyclone liner vac (can also be used for winterizing).

    Take the liner box and place in the shallow end (typically the liner is marked shallow or deep). Open the box (don’t use anything sharp), unfold the liner, find the deep end corners and then hand them to 2 people standing outside the pool area so that they can walk the corners down to the deep end of the pool. Take the 2 corners and hook the bead into your coping, making sure the liner is centered in each corner. Now work your way from the corners in the deep end and start clipping the liner into the coping about every few feet, all the way to the shallow end corners and then put the liner in the shallow end corners. Now that the liner is tucked into all 4 corners, have two people go back to the deep end wall, and work opposite each other, hooking the liner into the track, pulling out any slack as you both move towards the shallow end.

    liner-installationWhen the liner is hung in the track and centered, choose a point on the long wall to set up the vacuum. Pull a small area of liner out of the track, and run the hose behind the liner, or in between the liner and the wall. Use duct tape to seal up the vac hose, and also the skimmer lid, pool steps, or any other area that air is leaking. After the liner is suction to the walls and floors, and you've worked out any wrinkles, you can carefully walk down to the bottom and install the main drain rings and gaskets.

    Now you can fill the pool with water! After the pool is nearly full, install the faceplates and cut-in the pool light, returns and skimmer. Don’t cut-in until the water level is up to the area you are going to cut. If you have a walk in pool step you will also have to cut the liner around the step. Check with your inground pool manual for more detail on this process; there are several ways to cut-in a step.

    pool-pad-layoutEquipment Installation - On your equipment pad, design a good pool equipment layout for the pump, filter, valves, and other equipment like a heater, chlorinator or mineral system. The pipes coming into your pool pump are the main drain and skimmer pipes, and after the filter, a pipe runs back to the returns in your swimming pool. The equipment should be laid out for ease of access, for maintenance tasks, as well as repairs or service in the future. The pad should be 3'x5', or 4'x8' if you have a heater or heat pump. Make sure it's raised above the surrounding ground, to prevent possible flooding. Concrete is best, 4" thick, with reinforcement mesh. Lastly, before connecting and wiring the equipment, be sure to read each of the installation manuals thoroughly.

    Backfilling the Pool - Dirt on the outside, Water on the Inside. After installing your inground pool, backfill with a clean fill - something that is compactible. Most of the time you can use the same stuff you dug out the hole for your pool, or you can use ¾" pea stone or blue stone gravel to backfill. Backfill in 1ft increments and compact it down with a compactor. Be careful not to hit the walls with a compactor, or drive heavy equipment too close to the pool walls at the point. After you backfill the pool, use water to help compact. Run a sprinkler for several hours on each spot, moving the sprinkler around the pool until all areas have been very thoroughly saturated. Afterwards, you may find you need to add more dirt or gravel in some spots.

    pool-inspector - purchased thru istockInspections - When building an inground pool typically the local building inspector will require pool inspections during the build process. Most areas require a structural inspection which is done after the walls of the pools are assembled and the concrete collar is poured. Next, most cities and towns require an electrical inspection to make sure the pool is properly grounded or bonded, sometimes both depending on what is required in your area. Finally, once the pool is completed with water in the pool and your pool deck and fence is installed, they will come out again and give you there final inspection of approval stating everything was done properly according to the local code.

    test-kitsStart-Up – balancing, cleaning, backwashing the filter – In regards to start up our inground pool kits include a chemical kit. From this point forward, you'll need to test your water, and adjust pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness, in addition to your chlorine level. Follow the manufacturer’s installation manual in regards to your start-up of your pool equipment.

    SPP Pool Kits also provide all of the necessary maintenance items with your pool kit for cleaning and maintaining your pool (telescopic pole, leaf skimmer, vacuum hose, vac head, brush and automatic pool cleaner) to keep your pool clean. A good rule of thumb for backwashing your pool filter is to do so when you notice the pressure on your filter increase about 8-10 PSI, or when the flow rate has noticeably decreased.

    Safety Considerations - Use common sense when it comes to safety around your swimming pool. Make sure no one dives into the shallow end head first. Please read manufacturers installation manual in regards to safety tips in regards to your pool equipment. Plan for layers of protection around the pool, to protect your friends and family.

    Whew! That was a long blog post! However, there are still unanswered questions, and myself and the other SPP Pool Experts will keep taking questions, and also writing long blog posts!

    Give us a call when you are ready to take the plunge, and build your own inground pool!

    Chris Low
    SPP Pool Expert  

    Blog Author
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