swimming pool construction

Read this before investing in swimming pool plans

Hard economic times seems to have spurred an upward trend of people wanting to build their own swimming pool.
It seems there are plenty of sites offering up information (for a fee of course) on how to build your own pool using cement block.
As a pool builder, I was interested in just how popular this method is becoming and have also tried to do some price comparisons based on what I know.

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Should I consider concrete block to build my pool?

Now it seems from what I'm reading on these sites offering plans for block wall pools the norm is to use the concrete block shell with a vinyl liner. To me that just seems like a huge waste of time and money. There is absolutely no way you can construct a block wall pool shell to be used with a liner cheaper than you can get a steel wall pool kit for. The time invested in pouring a footer and laying block for this type of setup would be ridiculous compared to the time it would take to build a steel wall vinyl liner pool.
With that being said the only viable reason for wanting to construct the pool walls using concrete block was if the builder intended to plaster the pool upon completion of the pool shell. This is the exact scenario I have tried to compare prices with and if you are interested in building your own swimming pool and have all intentions of it being a complete concrete pool without the use of a vinyl liner then you indeed should read the following.

Pool costs shotcrete vs block walls


I am at the present involved in helping a homeowner to build his own shotcrete pool. The date is 03/07/2010. So you have figures that are not outdated and can reasonably assume that you can duplicate the process. Please make sure you check with local sources as prices for materials and labor can vary greatly from state to state. I am located in central South Carolina and all the figures that I am presenting are based on today's costs.

Cost to build a shotcrete in ground pool:
(This is an 18 'x 36' kidney shaped pool 3' to 8' Deep)

    * Forming                                                                          $400.00
    * Digging                                                                             $750.00
    * Skimmer     2 @$90.00                                          $180.00
    * Drains            2@$20.00                                             $40.00
    * Misc. Plumbing  (just stubbed)                      $40.00
    * Rebar            190@$2.80                                          $532.00
    * Rebar (labor)  190@$3.00                                  $570.00
    * Shotcrete (material)  31yds @$118.00       $3658.00
    * Shotcrete (labor)   31yds @$75.00               $2325.00
    * Light Niche                                                                   $55.00
    * Ground wire (roll)                                                   $180.00

Total right now $8730.00

This is not the total finished price of the swimming pool. This is what he has invested as it stands which is a completed shotcrete pool shell ready for tile, coping and plaster.

To figure this same job using cement block instead of shotcrete, realistically the only thing I have to re figure is the shotcrete and labor as all the other items will still be required to build the pool using block.

If we were to dig a footer around the perimeter 12" x 12" to support the walls we would need 4 yards of concrete for this.
We will need about 12 yards of concrete for the floor, for a total of 16 yards @ $100.00= $1600.00  (no labor added for pouring and finishing the floor)
We will need about 600 block to construct the pool walls. Provided we can get this done for $4 per block (which by the way is a very conservative number) (materials and labor) our cost is going to be $2400.00 . Now the block will need to be filled which for all practical purposes will require hiring a pump @ $350.00 and approximately 6 yards of pump mix @ $115.00 = $690.00   (While the pump is there it would be an excellent opportunity to build the steps and benches).
No materials or labor added for benches or steps.

Substitute this for the shotcrete and labor from the previous pool cost.


  • Floor                                              $1600.00
  • Walls (block+ labor + filling)                     $3440.00
  • Total                                               $5040.00


If you will note from the other estimate, shotcrete and labor was $5983.00. But something to take into account here is I added no cost on the block version for finishing the concrete floor and I added no cost for benches or steps. As it stands you have saved about $900.00 and still have to build benches and steps and have to do your own pouring and finishing in the pool floor. I personally feel like anyone would be wasting valuable time and money to try to construct a pool using the concrete block method unless you are dead set on doing much of the labor yourself and even then it is really not cost effective to use block for the swimming pool walls.



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Comments 12 comments

Kenny  6 years ago

Good job at breaking down the cost, but don't forget to calculate for the resell investment. Also there are above ground options for people on a budget.


assettradex profile image

assettradex 6 years ago

Thanks for the info - what kind of excavator would you use for a job like this?


Tracy 6 years ago

Hi, thanks for putting this out here. It definitely helps me with my considerations. I, too, am wanting to cut my costs but not by sacrificing quality - just labor and some other stuff. I think the cost of insurance, property tax and utilities is enough of an expense without piling the cost of heartache and overspending. Thanks again!


Endless Pools Swimming Machines 5 years ago

Good article, the costs can definitely run the gambit though depending on the type of swimming pool.


Ray 5 years ago

This is good advise, but my cost for using concrete blocks as a wall versis the Metal kits was a lot lower. I am doing all of the labor myself. Between the cement within the block wall, rebar, and doing a shallow perlite floor that will all be covered with foam for liner protection and using a liner, I will save approximately $3500 from the steel walled kit. This will take more time, but I am doing the labor and not time constraints. Thanks for the insite.


Jon 5 years ago

I was thinking about building a block pool so I can add things like steps and custom tile design. What can I use to coat the block to "water proof" the shell before adding my tile? Does it have to be shotcrete, or can I apply something with a trowl?


Wingrider profile image

Wingrider 5 years ago from South Carolina Author

Ray , your labor is worth something, I really can't imagine the block costing less than a stell wall kit , especially when you figure in the amount of time involved. But if you say so.

Jon , no real reason to waterproof before installing the tile , I am guessing you are planning to plaster the pool where tile is not used as the water barrier,


hanwillingham profile image

hanwillingham 5 years ago

Great hub. Great tips for constructing pools.


bob 4 years ago

Do u have fun


G8rav8r 2 years ago

The reason people are opting to build their own pools is that the prices quoted by pool builders are jacked up. I was quotes $65000 by a builder to build a fairly large pool. I can build my self it over a period of six months for less than half that price.


Wingrider profile image

Wingrider 2 years ago from South Carolina Author

G8rav8r, I also have a hub pointing that out. It's not the subcontractors that are making all the money it's the builders. Most builders subcontract the shotcrete and plaster. Some builders subcontract the whole pool , all they do is sell and arrange the subs to be there when needed.


Wingrider profile image

Wingrider 20 months ago from South Carolina Author

Ray ,

From 3 years ago as I haven't done much with hubpages in some time. You say you saved $3500.00 from a steel walled vinyl pool kit by doing it yourself.. I find that impossible since I can buy a complete 16 X 32 steel walled in ground vinyl liner pool kit for just over $5000.00 that includes walls, liner, skimmer, drains, pump , filter, steps, filter sand, vermiculite , ladder, aluminum coping, etc. and free delivery. only thing you need is the hole dug, a little concrete, pvc for plumbing, and labor . How could you have possibly saved $3500 when just the steel walls wouldn't have even costed $3500?

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