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DIY In Ground Pools are really possible... If you have the guts.

Updated on August 19, 2017
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Leonard Does not recommend you take on this project, unless you are fairly capable of handling most, if not all aspects of Pool installation

Before the Project started
Before the Project started

Buying a pool Kit

Personally I was worried about the idea of spending 6000+ dollars on a pool over the internet. I did a lot or research into the various companies out there, and they generally seemed decent. There were some complaints about response time, and things of that nature, but they were all basically the same.

What I found out was, they mostly all are nothing more than distributors of pools, just a replacement for brick and mortars. There are a few pool manufacturers in the U.S, but the brand I ended up going with was Hydra Pools. Pool Warehouse sells them, and I went with them mostly because their website was the most user friendly for me. I liked it so I used them.

As a store, or distributor, I think they did a fine job. I have no complaints. But, this article is not a promotion for Pool Warehouse, it's just who I used, so I will not say anything more about them.

The hole has been dug
The hole has been dug

Don't forget the permits

I don't know about your area, but here, I had to pull a mechanical pool permit, which was excessively expensive, and a electrical permit, which was also expensive, but not nearly to the extent of the mechanical permit.

The process here in Michigan is to submit your plans, which would include drawings, set backs, detailed information about the pool, fencing, and other safety requirements, which they review and and approve or ask for changes then approve. The approval process is an extra fee, of course.

Electrical is way easier, I just went in and asked for an electrical permit for a pool, paid my money and was sent on my way.

The Kit has Arrived
The Kit has Arrived

To dig, or to have dug. That is the question.

I actually pondered this for a minute or two. I was going to dig my own hole. But common sense got the better of me, considering I have never in my life operated a back hoe, I really didn't think the first time should be on a project where accuracy is very important.

That is the key here, the closer the rough dig is, the less work you will have to do manually. And you don't really want to over dig the hole, because packing the dirt back in is not fun. And you don't really want the pool to sink.

Needless to say, I recommend that you pay someone to dig the hole. I am not sure if I got a deal, but it cost less than 1000 dollars. It probably would have cost nearly that much if I would have rented the equipment to do it myself. On top of that, I have now rented a Bobcat, and they are tricky, I think it would have taken me a week to dig the hole and it would have probably been all messed up.

The steel walls are up
The steel walls are up

Build the Pool

Building the pool is fairly straight forward. You erect the walls first, whether they are steel or polymer. You then will want to make sure it is as level as you can get it. After that I recommend squaring the pool and staking the corners. We then put the braces on, and staked them, and the walls completely, then adjusted the walls again for plumb and level.

After that you can have your concrete bond beam poured. It needs to be somewhere between 6-10 inches around the outside of the pool, up to the overdig wall. That's a hard day.

We next did the pool floor with a Portland cement/mason sand mix. We put the mix in dry, but you might want slightly moist sand, it gives the mix a little body, and workability. After you get it all in and smooth, you can mist it well. It will speed up the curing process.

After the floor is done we then put on the coping, put on the skimmers, the light housing and the input port. These all cannot be 100% complete until after the liner is in.

Cement floor is in
Cement floor is in


Seriously, if you are not comfortable with electrical work, hire this out. It isn't cheap to have someone do it, so you either should budget this early or be prepared to learn a lot in a very short time.

I am wiring my pool myself, but intend to have a electrician friend look at it before I let my kids swim in it. I really do not want a huge bug zapper in my back yard. And electricity is not something that should be taken lightly. I have done a bit of electrical work in the past and feel I have enough ability with it to do this project.

Stairs and Coping are done
Stairs and Coping are done

Let's Go Swimming!!!

The pool has a lot of work left to go, but getting the padding in and the liner in basically signified to the kids that it was time to go swimming. The padding was actually more difficult than the liner. I am glad I added the padding, at least so far I am, we used spray adhesive to stick it to the steel walls, and we used the same adhesive and duct tape to do the floors. You should not do the tapered parts of the floors because over time it will bunch up and cause issues.

I still have landscaping and all the area around the pool to finish, but it is a pool that can be swam in now.

It was a lot of work. I am only 41 years old, and I feel that this was about the biggest project I could handle at this age. My back hurts! But it was a very interesting experience, and I am happy that I was able to do it for my family.

Water is in the pool!
Water is in the pool!

© 2017 Leonard L Sampson


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