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    Small Inground Pools: Ken & Mel's Story

    May 14, 2015


    Today's Story is about a young couple that lives in a charming cape cod in New York. The house sits on a small lot, and although most of the yard is in front - a backyard pool has always been their dream.

    dudley-doright-smOUR PROTAGONIST : Ken is a former collegiate swimmer who really wants a pool for exercise. His local indoor pool is a 35 minute drive, and a small inground pool would make it easier to get regular exercise, at least during the summer. Melonie, Ken's significant other - also wants a pool, but more for relaxation and cooling off on a hot summer day. She wants more of a plunge pool.

    snidely-whiplash-OUR ANTAGONIST : Leo is a local vinyl pool builder that came to Ken & Melonie's house after a call was made to their office. When he arrived on site, he looked puzzled. "Where's this pool going? In the basement?" he asked. As he was led through the house to the backyard, and shown the postage stamp 20'x40' lot, he told Ken, "This lot's too small for much of a pool, and there's no access for heavy equipment". He also complained about the oak trees and overhead wires, and the limited amount of sun. A real wet blanket.

    THE CONFLICT: Ken was crushed being told his backyard was not suitable for an inground pool, however the pool builder took some measurements and pictures, and said that he'd "see what he could come up with", with a slight wince. They shook hands and Leo departed. A week later, he came over in the evening with some plans for building a 12'x24' vinyl inground pool.

    contract_pressure_sign_text_10626-smLeo began his sales presentation with a tablet, to show some designs created by an auto-cad program. The pool was a rectangular pool, with a Badu Jet pump on one end, to swim against the current, walk-in steps, a pool cleaner and gas pool heater.

    As the images scrolled by, Ken and Melonie were elated and could really see the plan taking shape. Leo promised that construction could begin in 2 weeks, and be completed in 6 weeks. *Sign Here*

    That's when Ken and Melonie saw the price; $39,500! For a 12'x24' pool - that's $130 per square foot, or quite expensive, even for New York - and way beyond the budget that they had planned to spend. Leo could see their reaction, and went down his laundry list of difficulties, urging them to sign before all of their "slots" are taken. Ken smartly declined, and said that they had to "re-evaluate" their pool budget, and would get back to him.

    OUR HERO: Seeing her forlorn husband drag himself into bed, Melonie made some tea and sat down at the computer. She hit upon a search term "12x24' inground pool" that displayed a link to SPP Pool Styles and Prices. Was she shocked to see our complete inground pool kits, with everything needed to build your own inground pool - for less than $5,000!bahamas-rectangle-pool-12x24

    As she looked at the inground pool styles & prices and what's included in the pool kits she wondered, "why would a $5000 pool cost $35000 to install?!?" Further research led her to this fine inground pool blog, where she discovered hundreds of posts about how to build your own pool.

    The next day, Melonie rang through on my phone line, asking me to make sense of the $40K bid for building on her lot. What was she missing? Access restrictions, setbacks and tight working space aside, the Badu Jet pump, installed to provide swim resistance, likely added $5-7,000 to the job. I suggested using two 2 hp pumps instead, which would bring the cost down to under $1500 for the "Swim-Spa" effect that Ken wanted.

    roman-pool-14x28Other than that, the additional costs in this project were primarily profit - for the pool builder. I stayed on the phone with Mel for close to an hour, breaking down all the cost of building an inground pool in her backyard. With every imaginable detail included, we covered every expense for building an inground vinyl pool kit; including permits, labor, concrete, electrician, tools and supplies.

    THE CONFLICT RESOLUTION: That evening, Mel sat down with Ken and presented her findings. She showed Ken how they could, working together, build the small inground pool they wanted, for less than $20,000! And they do not have to skimp on equipment or pool decking or anything!

    Ken and Mel began making plans and diagrams, and visited their local permit office the following day. With permit in hand, they start making plans to build the pool over four weekends, one stage at a time.

    excavatorThe first weekend, Ken rents a small excavator and a 5 cu. yd. dump truck. With Melonie and a helpful neighbor, they dig out the pool and pipe trenches and grade the surrounding earth in one long day, carting off excess dirt to the local landfill. Ken hired some local workers to fill the dump truck by wheelbarrow, but they get it done, and haul off two full dump truck loads!

    The next weekend they set up the pool walls, using a transit to make sure all of the wall panels are perfectly plumb and level. As they begin working on the plumbing, the concrete truck arrives and they pour the concrete collar around the pool. On Sunday the plumbing is completed to and from the pool, and for the pump and filter, and a pool heat pump, which they decided to install instead of a gas heater.

    On the third weekend, an electrician comes on Saturday to wire up the pool breaker box and pool light, and bond the pool shell and equipment. Meanwhile, Mel and Ken and their very helpful neighbor install a vermiculite pool floor of a 2" depth. On the next day, they reconvene and install the pool liner. After replacing the fence sections, they begin to fill the pool.

    On the fourth weekend, with the pool full of water, a Bobcat was rented (Ken always wanted to operate one of those), and the pool was backfilled around the outer edges of the pool walls, and tamped in place, and covered with 4" of gravel. Remaining dirt was spread over the access route, to fill in wheel ruts and restore good drainage, away from the pool.

    THE MORAL OF THE STORY: You CAN build your own pool, and do it for half the cost of a local pool builder. Even if you've never done a project like this, you can take it step by step, and in your spare time, build a beautiful inground pool.

    ken-and-mels-poolI spoke with Ken and Mel twice every week during their project, to discuss the weekend progress on Mondays and to set things in motion for the upcoming weekend on each Friday. And now, in Mid-May, Ken is happily enjoying his small inground pool, swimming laps every morning, and Mel - who hasn't yet been in her new pool, but is waiting for warmer summer breezes, is enjoying the blue view out the back.

    You Can build your own inground pool - and We Can show you how!  

    Matt Spencer
    SPP Pool Expert  

    Blog Author
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