Installing a Swimming Pool
A swimming pool is many a homeowner’s dream. It provides respite from the summer heat, it makes for a great setting for social gatherings, and it gives children a safe place to play at home. It’s also regarded as one of the most reliable ways to increase the value of a home. So what should one consider when going the pool route? Is there more to it than getting a shovel and a hose?
What can I do myself?
While the task of creating a swimming pool may seem daunting, there are a few things a homeowner can do before the installation on his or her own. Primarily, they involve preparation of the site and planning the build area. Guidelines can be found online and the blueprints can be mapped out solo, but be aware that any pool company hired for installation should advise on the plans. A homeowner will also need to call the city and state to have any utilities, gas and sewer lines and buried power lines flagged and marked.
In theory, a homeowner could dig the hole for a swimming pool solo. But let’s be honest, most homeowners do not own the backhoe digging equipment to do the job efficiently, or have the experience to rent one and operate it safely. And a shovel? Well… that just sounds like punishment. Turn to a professional to build the pool.
However, once the pool is built, regular maintenance is possible for the homeowner to do, but there are time and cost considerations — see the Maintenance section below for more detail.
When should I hire a professional?
As soon as you’ve decided to build an in-ground pool and know where on your property you’d like to build it, it’s time to bring in a professional team. Once all the plans have been created and the permits acquired from the appropriate government agencies, the following steps are involved in actually creating the in-ground pool:
- Excavation: the removal of the actual soil, dirt, roots and more
- Reinforcement: steel reinforcement is the most common
- Plumbing Installation: the hydraulic system that cleans and filters the pool is built
- Structural creation: most inground pools are actually made of something known as “shotcrete” or “gunite,” depending on whether the concrete is a wet-mix or dry-mix compound — your contractor may prefer one over the other, though both are applied pneumatically through a spray system
- Electrical: the system that powers the filters and any light fixtures or water features must be installed
- Tiling: whether decorative or functional, the tiles will be applied over the concrete base
- Deck forming: contractors will use guides and molds to map out the placement of the concrete deck surrounding the pool
- Deck pouring: concrete will be poured into the forms and dried
- Cleanup: the process of creating a pool is involved and can require significant cleanup afterwards
Some aspects of pool maintenance can be performed by a homeowner, but as with most jobs, the professionals will be more efficient. Done on its own, pool maintenance can require 5–7 hours of work per month, while a professional can perform the equivalent amount of work in about half the time.
Regular maintenance of a pool will require anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour of work per week for a full clean — skimming the surface, vacuuming the floor and inspecting the structure for cracks. Applying chemicals for water balancing can take another two hours per month, because most homeowners do not own the chemical testing tools for the job, and must take water samples to a swimming pool retailer for proper testing. Even running these errands takes time.
Hiring a pool professional to maintain a pool is not a particularly expensive job, with the cost of the job broken up into labor and chemicals used to maintain water balance. Depending on the size of the pool, a homeowner can expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $150 per month for maintenance, though many pool companies will offer a discount for a longer-term contract. Consider whether this amount of money is worth 5–7 hours of intermittent work throughout a month, and whether you’d rather have the free time to spend with family and work on other projects.
One final consideration: if you do decide to take the DIY route and purchase cleaning tools and chemicals, you’ll have to find a place to properly store them. Many pool cleaning tools can be cumbersome, while chemicals come with a safety risk and must be stored safely and securely, particularly if children are present in the home.
While maintenance can be handled by a homeowner to a certain degree, repairs to pool structures and working components are best handled by professionals. Contact a pool company for any of the following needs:
- Deck Resurfacing
- Equipment (filters, pumps) repairs or replacement
- Electrical (filters, lights) repair or replacement
- Valve repairs
- Plumbing repairs
All of the above applies to most pool circumstance, but there are even more considerations depending on how extensive and complex your pool is. If it features a hot tub, the heating elements, pumps, jets and filters will require regular maintenance. If your pool sports a water feature, like a waterfall or fountain, those pumps and water flow devices will also make the job more complex.
Finding the right pro
A pool professional should be fully insured according to your city and state’s regulations. In fact, it’s recommended to exceed local regulations, as many states haven’t required pool companies to obtain as much coverage as they have contractors in other fields. Insurance covers any potential injuries to the professional and anyone on the crew for personal injuries — while most pool maintenance work is not dangerous, there can be with slips, and pool building and installation should be treated like any other construction job. Liability coverage protects your home and possessions. And of course, find someone with great ratings and reviews.