When we built my 18'x36' inground pool this summer, we had several people comment on facebook, "How much did the pool cost?" In this post, we total up the costs to me, a DIY homeowner, building his own pool. The costs include round figure dollars out of my pocket - as well as the cost of my personal time. How many man hours I put into the project, from start to finish.
Pool Plans & Permits
I looked up the address of my local building permit department, and took my lunch hour. Drove over to the Governmental center and picked up their "Pool Packet" of information regarding building an inground pool. It included several common requirements such as set-backs, and told me what plans I would need to submit. It also included the application for the pool permit.
Took the pool packet home and filled out the paperwork. I had to draw a simple drawing of my backyard showing pool location with measurements from house to pool and from pool to the rear and sides of yard. Drove the packet back, and met with a permit person, who rubber stamped it and sent me to the cashier. Paid my permit fees and then I was issued my pool permits.
One of the reasons the county has you fill out all of these forms and pay the fees, is so that they can properly inspect new construction in the area. If we didn't have these checks and balances, all sorts of unsafe structures (and pools) would be built. There were no additional fees for these inspections. When I was ready, I made a call to schedule the inspection, and met the inspector at the house.
In all, I had 4 separate inspections on the pool. The first inspection came after the concrete collar was poured, and before we backfilled around the walls. Then we had an electrical inspector come to check out the electric for the lights and pool pump, and the bonding and grounding.
A gas inspector came to have a look at the line that we ran from the house gas meter to the gas pool heater. Finally, after the pool was complete and filled with water, we had a final inspection on everything. The fence gates were checked for code compliance, and the doors from the house leading to the pool were equipped with door alarms.
Pool Excavating & Grading
We did the Rent-a–Randy install, which helped me to coordinate the entire construction. We located an experienced pool excavator, and had an appointment set, during the week that Randy and his team were on site.
The excavator showed up right on time, but Randy didn’t want to dig as there was a good chance of rain coming. I convinced him to go ahead with it anyway, and 30 minutes into the dig it started to pour. Randy was not happy - he threw his coffee cup into the hole and said "...this is why I wanted to hold off!" The digger kept on digging until a few moments later it started to lightning! He jumped out of the excavator and said "...that’s where I draw the line!" We refilled our coffee cups and took a break. 15 min. later the sun was out, the dig continued and we were all smiles again.
We had one big tree that would have needed to come out - but 9 months before we had a tornado that took care of that for us. We had good access to the backyard from the street, and the excavator made less damage to the grass than I was prepared for. After the dig, my backyard looked like a bomb went off - the pool and deck area was basically half of my backyard. We had a big hole, and next to it, a pile as tall as the hole was deep.
The excavator returned to the job after we had built the pool and had the concrete collar inspected, to backfill around the pool walls and level off the area around the pool. We had 7 truckloads of dirt to get rid of that we weren't going to need after backfilling. This was an unexpected expense, or one that I underestimated. After backfilling, the excavator filled his dump truck with 7 loads of dirt, and took it - somewhere.
Randy and his team essentially put together the pool walls, prepped the floor and installed the liner. I assisted where and how I could - but was in more of a "managerial" role at this stage. I've done it enough myself for other people - this time I let the young guys do the work. However, I did take off work, so in that regard, I should claim 8 hours for my "labor".
For the cost to wire up the pool equipment electrical, I contracted with a local electrical service company to bring power to the equipment pad and set up a subpanel. He also wired up the LED pool lights, the AquaRite salt chlorine generator, Eco-Star pump and the electronic ignition for my Lochinvar pool heater. In addition, he connected a bonding wire from the pool shell to the electrical equipment, and grounded his electrical box installation. My labor on this phase of construction was limited, about an hour to obtain a price from the electrician, and another hour assisting Randy's team in getting the equipment ready for power.
Even though plumbing was included in my pool kit, I wanted to upgrade to 2" plumbing, to handle the high flow of the variable speed pool pump. I also installed sweep elbows, instead of regular 90's, to reduce resistance. I didn't have to pay a plumber - Randy's team took care of connecting the pool equipment to the pool. I did contract separately with a plumber for the 40 ft of gas line that I had run from the meter to the heater.
I needed 9 yards of concrete for the concrete collar around the base of the pool wall. We had enough of the #2500 mix left over to pour a concrete pad for the equipment to sit on.
For the floor of the pool, we used a premix of vermiculite and portland cement. This is sometimes called Pool Base or Pool Mix. Randy's team did the heavy lifting, I mainly just took pictures.
The pool kits that we sell come with a sand filter and a nice pump. I wanted my pool to be nice to the environment, so I upgraded to a cartridge pool filter (saves water) and a variable speed pool pump (saves energy). I also added the AquaRite salt water chlorine generator and the most energy efficient gas pool heater they make. Finally, to be really green, I upgraded the lighting, adding two ColorLogic LED pool lights, saving even more electricity.
Being green isn't cheap! Adding all of this new technology really increased the cost of my pool kit - but at least the nice folks at SPP were able to give me a credit for the pump and filter and pool light that I didn't use.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an Inground Pool?
My pool took 4-1/2 days to build, from the first shovel in the ground to being fully operational. The cost below doesn't include my pool deck, which, in my case should add around $10K to the overall cost, as we are installing a nice tile coping and 900 sq ft. of pavers. My pool also is much more expensive due to the equipment upgrades I chose to install, which added about $7.5K to the final cost. I did receive a $750 credit for equipment that I upgraded, so that brings the cost down below $26K.
I recommend the Rent-a-Randy service wholeheartedly. Having his crew onsite for a week really made the project progress quickly. If I had done it myself, it would've taken 4-1/2 weeks, not 4-1/2 days!
SPP Pool Expert