How We Built Our Swimming Pool
We have made the decision to build an inground swimming pool in our back yard. It was an easy decision to make because we have always been around water. While raising our children (5 in all) we had a pool installed and it was the best thing we could have done for the children (OK I loved it too). That pool got lots of use by our children, our family, our neighbors and our childrens friends. We had family gatherings and social events we even had my brothers 25th wedding anniversary party in our back yard! Once the children moved out of the family home my husband and I bought property on the backwaters of Croton Dam and built a home. We enjoyed our water frontage and spent time boating, fishing and swimming. When we moved into that house we had 1 grand-daughter, we now have 12 grand-children and a year ago decided to move closer to them. Our present home does not have water frontage or a creek running through the back yard. I miss the water! A swimming pool seems like the perfect answer.
Backyard Swimming Pool
Perfect for a Pool
Our backyard was like a big mowed field. No landscaping, no shrubs or flowers. It was BORING. Once we determined what size pool and where to put it, or the placement of it in the back yard, we were off and running. Things could not happen fast enough for me.
One of the important things about our backyard was the fact that we didn't have to move a well or septic tank or any underground wiring. In that respect we were truly blessed. If you have to work around any of those things or move something it can certainly add to the cost of your project.
Here is the first picture. Bye, bye green grass....hello, blue water...errr brown dirt!. The area was staked so let the digging begin!
Swimming Pool Equipment
Dig baby dig!
I would highly recommend that you have an experience contractor install your pool. He will have the equipment and experience needed to do a good job and make you happy! Which should be a big priority.
Leasing the equipment can be costly and most swimming pool contractors have their own equipment.
Before you bring this equipment in you will need to stake out the area of your swimming pool. Remember you can't change your mind on this decision so carefully look over the area, make decisions about conveniece to the house and privacy from your neighbors. Some people might like the swimming pool a distance from the house so the splashing and laughing doesn't bother anyone in the house. Others want the pool close to the house so it can be an addition to the house. Once this is done the back-hoe comes in and digs. Our pool is 20 x 40. We needed to add 2 feet to each end and 2 feet to each side so the total size of the hole when the digging was finished was 24 x 44.
More Swimming Pool Equipment
Tamping the dirt
Here is another piece of equipment that is needed when building a swimming pool. This is a tamper (I don't know what the real name is but to me it was a tamper) which packs the dirt down hard. After the basic outline of the swimming pool was done the shallow end area is tamped down so it is hard.
As you know, we selected a 20 x 40 swimming pool that is rectangle in shape and will have walk down steps to enter the pool in the shallow end with a ladder in the deep end. We want a diving board but elected not to get a slider. We will have cement around the pool with a patio area. I'll get pictures as it happens so you can see what we are doing. In this picture he is tamping the shallow end of the pool. Making it good and firm. The shape of the pool has been dug out and the shallow end is all set. They will bring in another excavator to dig out the deep end.
Swimming Pool Panels
The sides of the pool
Some decisions need to be made about what size pool? What style of pool, rectangle, oval, L-shape or a lazy L? Do you want a diving board? How about a slider? How much cement around the pool or are you going to use tile? Will you fence in the whole back yard or just around the pool.
Now some of these decisions will be based on the amount of money you wish to invest. As for our situation, we are retired and have a limited amount of finances so we will try to be as frugal as possible without being miserly.
Once the hole is dug these metal panels go up. They are bolted together to form the size swimming pool we chose. One worker did all the panels in a few short hours. Even though it was hot and humid our worker did a great job and never even took a break!
Swimming Pool Hole
Looking a little like a pool.
The digging has begun and the sides are going up. These are metal sides that are bolted together. You will notice some holes which is where the filter system and light will go. The excavator is just beginning to dig out the deep end and it has to measure 8 feet from the very bottom of the pool to the bottom of the metal panel. You need this depth for diving. That's our son-in-law operating the equipment and my husband making sure he does it right :) They have not installed the last few panels so that the equipment can get in and do its job. As soon as they have the hole as good as they can do with the excavator they will finish with the panels. The rest has to be dug by hand.
Swimming Pool Cement
Support for the sides
Now that all the sides are bolted together and the steps have been installed it was time to pour cement all around the perimeter. The cement truck came along with a pumper truck. I had to ask "What is a pumper truck?" You use a pumper truck when you don't want the big cement truck to run all over your yard. The cement truck backs up to the pumper truck and pours the cement in the pumper, the pumper is connected with "miles and miles" of 5" heavy duty tubing which pumps the cement all around the pool. Two men handled the hose and directed the cement exactly where it should go. You can't have construction without butt cleavage but I won't show you that picture! Now the cement is all poured around the pool and will set up today. I can't wait until tomorrow.
It was a slow day!
Patience is a virtue. I know this to be true but I am a very impatient person. I want to be swimming by tomorrow! Not much happening today (July 9th). 3 men working on the interior of the pool. The dirt needs to be shaped. A flat shallow end then slowly declining to the deep end. The deep end is 8 feet to the bottom of the panels. You need the depth for diving. Or CANNONBALL!!!! Tomorrow will be another day of shaping and then the week-end with nothing happening. Patience is a virtue. This is Joey. He has been patiently watching all the activity. If he only knew what he was going to have in his backyard!
Swimming Pool Shovel
A man's work is never done
It's July 10th and we knew it would be a very slow day. My husband went out and shaped the bottom and sides of the deep end so that Monday when the crew gets here all they will need to do is get the loose dirt out of the bottom. Here is a picture of my husband doing this tedious work. He says the first thing you have to learn is how to lean on a shovel and he was giving me some instruction. Nice socks Grandpa! To give you an idea of how deep this is my husband stands 6'5". Do you think it is deep enough?
Time to smell the roses...
This is Saturday the 11th of July...We all need days of rest after long hard days at work. Well, this project is no exception. It is a quiet day, a day to do other things. Maybe things that we love doing. As for myself, I love being in the flower garden pulling weeds and admiring the beauty. I have a grandson that would rather fish than eat or sleep and another grandson who needs to be on wheels going fast. As for the pool, it will get done and I WILL be happy with the progress made to date. And, grandpa needs a day of ibuprofen! This is a picture of the progress so far. It's starting to take shape, isn't it? Sorry, I was standing on the deck and so that it what you see in the lower right corner.
Six Months from now
I'd rather have summer than winter
It's Sunday, July 12th, a day of rest. So I thought I would let you know that I love the summer and for me it wouldn't be summer without being near a lake, a beach, a stream or a swimming pool. In six months this is what it is going to look like outside. So, let's enjoy each summer day whether it is 70 degrees or 100 degrees because our alternative is that white stuff. Of course, Joey loves the white stuff but what does a dog really know? This winter will be a little easier because under all that snow will be a swimming pool and another summer to look forward to.
What not to do in a pool
This is hilarious!
You will need a big towel
A big, super big beach towel is a must for swimming. Whether at the beach or a swimming pool.
In-laws working side by side
It is really busy around here today. Everyone has had 2 days off and now it is Monday July 13th and it's time to move forward on this swimming pool. The sides are up, the hole is dug and shaped but we need drains in the bottom of the pool and of course a light! A light is something that you don't use often because it attracts BUGS. But, there are those times when you want it on and it is so pretty to see the light reflecting through the water. So, in this picture you will see my husband and son-in-law starting to dig a trench in the dirt so they can lay some tubing for the electrical. You can really start to see the shape of the bottom of the swimming pool. What could be better than an in-ground swimming pool?
Swimming pool vermiculite
Bottom of the pool
It is still Monday the 13th of July and it is still very busy around here. The trench is all dug and the tubing is laid. Now a vermiculite substance is being laid on the bottom of the swimming pool. The pool liner will go over this. The vermiculite is like a safety net...it prevents rocks and sharp objects from working up through the dirt and damaging the liner. They mix this substance, which is granular, with water until the right consistency. It is mixed in a cement mixer. Once mixed it is poured into a wheel barrow and wheeled over to the pool where another wheel barrow is waiting and the vermiculite is unloaded where needed. Once down it is trawled smooth. You can see by this picture a part of this process. It took over 7 hours to complete the whole swimming pool. These guys are something else. Down in that hole with the sun reflecting off metal sides for 7 hours of tedious labor. There was also another worker who was mixing the vermiculite and wheeling it over to the pool.
In-Ground Swimming Pool
The finished look
Here is what the swimming pool looked like at the end of a very long, very hot day. I know it is hard to see but in the deep end of the pool are 2 drains (little white spots) which are used for circulating the water and for draining the pool in the fall. It was 83 degrees outside this day and the 3 men that worked inside this pool were down inside those metal panels for 7 hours and I am sure the temperature in there was another 10 degrees warmer. Those 3 men were my husband, son-in-law and a very hard working employee.
But now it really looks like a swimming pool and I can hardly wait for the liner to be installed. I am always looking ahead because I know what the end result is going to be. Splish, Splash I will be taking a swim!
Swimming Pool Liner
A pretty blue
This very big, very smelly, plastic is the pool liner. Isn't it beautiful? This is the liner that goes over the vermiculite. The edge of the liner is tucked under a railing that has been screwed onto the top of the metal walls. Once inserted into the railing there is a little lip that holds it in place.
As big as this swimming pool liner is it didn't take long at all to have this part of the swimming pool puzzle finished. It was such a pretty blue with a type of pebble pattern on it.
A shop Vac
We used Two!
I've never seen a shop vac used like this before. A shop vac was stationed on either side of the swimming pool and the hose from the vac was taped on the inside of the liner. Once turned on the vacs suctioned the air and pulled that liner nice a tight. No wrinkles, no not even one.
Here is a warning! I guess it is a good way to burn up the motor of a shop vac so don't use a good one. In fact if you can find them in garage sales it doesn't matter what they look like as long as they run.
Cutting the pool liner
Measure a 100 times and cut once!
What do you mean cut the liner? But once the liner was installed we needed to make cuts in it. Remember the two drains at the bottom of the pool? We needed to cut openings for them. Once cut a gasket is placed over the drain then a domed drain cover is screwed on. There are two drains at the bottom of the pool which are used for circulating the water and for emptying the pool when necessary. This is our son-in-law making all the critical cuts.
We still need to cut the liner where the light will go and we will also need to trim the liner around the steps that go into the pool in the shallow end.
Filling up the pool
Yes, the water is finally going in. We have 3 hoses running water into the pool. It took about 15 hours to completely fill the deep end and put about 2 inches in the shallow end. The picture I took of the water going into the pool doesn't really show the water so I will show you that when the pool is full.
Here is a photo of some of the sand that was hauled in....72 yards in total. This will be used to back fill around the metal panels and where the cement around the pool will be. Our yard wasn't in too bad of shape until that big heavy truck was in and out of here several times. Now it looks like we have even more landscaping to do. But that's ok, I love to garden.
Beautiful steps into the water!
It is Saturday, July 18th and it is time for more cutting. The water has now run for about 15 hours with 2 inches in the shallow end which means we can now make the cut so we can use the steps to get into the pool. Once the area is trimmed there are plastic trim pieces that get screwed into the metal panel behind the liner and then a trim piece goes over that. This is Scott doing the trimming and he is wearing waders. You see the water is about 2 inches deep but it is very, very cold! We have 3 hoses pumping water into the pool that is coming from our well. By the way, we saved that piece of liner just in case there is an accident and we need to repair a rip.
This just made me laugh. And I wondered if you could swim after pouring in the liquid nitrogen. Then someone jumped in the pool. It looks like he is ok but I wonder why he is wearing long pants? I don't know if this is something I would do to my pool. But it is very cool looking.
Keep it Clean
Using the shop vac again.
Part of the whole process to building this pool is keeping everything clean and neat. Every day all the debris was carefully taken care of and disposed of properly. My hubby "the neat freak" is using a broom and shop vac to sweep sand off the steps. Of course there were piles of sand all around the pool and the wind was continually blowing it in the pool, not to mention the dogs running around and through all the piles of lovely beach sand.
It was a good time for a break and bite.
Everyone needs a break. It's lunch time and the guys are eating at Le Pole Barn Cafe dining on equisite quarter pounders and fries. Who doesn't love a good hamburg?
Move that Sand!
Using the Bobcat and shovels
It is still Saturday, July 18th and we are now moving the dirt and sand. We have rented a Bobcat to do the job and Scott is using his driving skills to push all this dirt around. All of the loads of sand which were hauled in are now going around the pool and being packed down because cement is going to be poured right up to the edge of the pool. While Scott was pushing the sand up to the pool 3 others with shovels were getting the sand exactly where it needed to be and pushing it in all the nooks and grannies. Yes, I said nooks and grannies of which there were a few. Especially under the steps! It is a cool day and things are running smoothly. Now that there is sand right up to the edge of the pool we are having a hard time keeping our dogs out of the water. But this is a good thing.
Yes, we're tampin again. All of the sand that has been filled in around the pool needs to be compacted very tight. This is what the cement will sit on and we don't want any cracks in the cement. If this was a NASCAR race we would not have won. Dave went around this pool a good hundred times but very, very slowly. He was using muscles he never knew he had (I should call him tomorrow and see how he feels).
But only half way!
Yes, It's Scott again with his handy dandy cutting tool. He is now cutting out the liner where the light will go. Now I know it looks like he is getting a lot of help but no they were just checking out what was going on. Oh and by the way....they got to that light just in time because the water was 9 foot deep and rising. After cutting the liner you need to have another gasket in place and then the light cover is screwed on and it is much easier to do without the water.
It's all in the details....
It's July 20th and Spencer Concrete is here. They are doing the basic ground work for laying out and setting forms for the cement. The south side of the pool, where the diving board will be, is going to have 8 foot of cement. On the west and east sides of the pool, we will have 4 foot of cement and on the north side of the pool we will have 4 foot of cement flowing into a large cement patio area. I think in pictures to come you will see what I am talking about. Aaron Spencer has some great ideas about the layout taking special care to make sure when it rains the water will flow away from the house. Very Important!
No, it's the pumper
It's July 21st, the 19th day of this adventure, and the activity started at 6:00 am. The cement guys were finishing with the forms and the cement truck has arrived along with this strange looking pumper truck. Remember, we had a pumper truck here when we set the footings of the metal panels but it didn't look like this. The pumper is parked along side the garage and has an "arm" that reaches over the house and into the backyard. The cement truck pumps cement into the pumper and the pumper feeds the cement exactly where the cement guys want it to go.
It's a dirty job!
Think you could never put in a pool because the cement truck would not be able to get back to your yard to do the cement work? You need to re-think that. Do you see the hose that appears to be dangling from mid-air? Yup, that's the pumper hose pumping that cement and those 3 fella's are frantically working before the cement starts to set. That pumper truck can get cement up and over your house or garage. If there is a will therer is a way. There were 3 guys working and trawling the cement and one guy handling the pumper hose. It is hard to see but the man on the far right has an orange box hanging from his hip....this orange box is the controls for the pumper truck. He could raise and lower the far reaching arm and even control the flow of cement, all from that little orange box.
Did we lose somebody?
Although this is very hard work and the men had to work fast and furious we didn't bury anyone in the cement. It was about 75 degrees outside with the sun beating down and I am sure these boots were getting quite hot....so once all the cement was poured and they could work without walking through the cement these boots were discarded.
Hands & Knees
It took 5 hours to lay all this cement and these guys were on their hands and knees most of the time. It's hard work and it's hard on the body. Thank you Spencer Concrete for exceeding our expectations. This project is really starting to look great. The cement has to set and then they will be back to do some trim work but the hardest part of this cement job is over.
3 days to perfection!
July 22nd and Spencer Cement is back to do the cutting. They have marked all the cuts to the cement and with this piece of equipment they cut lines in the cement to avoid cracking in the future. So about every 5 to 6 feet a line was cut.
Are We Having Fun Yet??
Swimming is such great fun.
It is July 23rd and the pool is almost full but some of the grandchildren just couldn't wait to get in that water. We've asked them to limit the splashing and no running around the pool, no screaming and make sure your feet are clean etc, etc. You'd of thought that would have taken all the fun out of swimming but no, it did not. They had a blast and we had a hard time getting them out even when it was time to eat. And of course, they had to have every water toy they could fine in the water with them! Oh, and you remember the "old wives tale" about waiting an half hour after a meal before you go back in the water? Well, that didn't apply today!
Let the Landscaping begin.
Spreading Top soil
It is Saturday July 25th and we were able to capture Dave, another son-in-law, to help us spread some top soil all around the pool. Remember that once the hole is dug there is a mess around the pool and it all needs to get cleaned up and looking pretty. It tool all day Saturday and about 6 hours on Sunday afternoon to spread 19 yards of top soil. By the way, we were in church Sunday for the morning service and would normally have never done this kind of work on Sunday. Sunday is truly our day of rest. But we have some sod coming and needed to get everything prepared.
A fence needs to go around the pool
There are many choices of fencing
On Friday the 24th of July the fence people arrived. We have been expecting them any day and are thankful they are here. With the pool full we need that fence so that there are no accidents. Fencing is a very important part of your swimming pool project. There are many styles, colors and types. Since we also fenced in a small portion of our yard we selected the most frugal (cheapest) fencing. However, there are many vinyl fencing products that work well and are most attractive. I've seen some pools that have white picket fencing all around that looks so nice once the landscaping is done around the fence. Anyways, I think you get the idea....you will select what suits your particular situation.
Sod, sod and more sod
August 3rd and the sod people are here, right on schedule and not a minute too soon. That black dirt was getting tracked into the house by our two German Wirehaired Pointers to the point of not being able to put the vacuum away.
I was so totally amazed at how easy it was to put down. This is the machine they used and it just rolled out the sod. Now the hard work was seaming all the pieces together. There were two men who worked tirelessly for a full day rolling out that sod and then cutting it and fitting the pieces together. But by the end of the afternoon we had an instant lawn and it was beautiful. Thick, rich and green!
No more black dirt in the house and I can put away the vacuum for a few days.
Green is the Grass
Watering day and night
The sod is all laid and looking good. We need to water it very well for several weeks until the roots take hold into the top soil that was spread. But it is so green and so lush. It is just beautiful. I look out the window and it feels like this swimming pool has always been here. I've forgotten about the piles of sand and dirt and all the equipment that has been in our backyard. All I can see is a beautiful blue swimming pool which some of my grandchildren have already enjoyed not to mention my neighbors. I can't wait to have the first pool party. We still need some patio furniture but that is going on sale now so I hope we find something we like.
Fun in the Sun
Snorkeling can be fun
The pool is all finished and now the fun begins. This is my 6 year old grandaughter snorkeling in the pool. She doesn't have much to look at because the pool is spotless but none the less she is having a wonderful time. It has been a rather cool August but it doesn't seem to matter to the children....they have been swimming almost every day. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun they are having not to mention how much I am enjoying my daily swim. The exercise is great and the pool is right in my own back yard. To anyone considering installing a swimming pool I can highly recommend it. There is a little chaos during the installation but well worth the extra turmoil. Just go for it!
Pool Toys add some fun
Yuk! The winter cover
Getting Ready For Winter
Well, it's October 15th and winter is just around the corner. We haven't been in the pool since mid September and it is time to say good-bye to all of our summer fun in the pool.
Here is a photo of the winter cover. It is very heavy and thick canvas/nylon type material with lots of straps. Holes were drilled into the cement and then a metal piece (something like a molly) went into the hole and this piece holds a threaded screw. As you can see there are several straps all around the cover and you use a tool which attaches the strap to the molly and hold the cover down and in position. All of this is level with the cement so there are no metal pieces sticking up to trip you.
In the Spring, when you take the cover off, you will use this tool to unhook the straps.
As you can see the ladder, which was in the deep end, has been taken out and will be stored all winter but the diving board can stay on. It will manage the weather just fine but for those who question that this board could have been removed, yes it could have been be we opted not to.
Swimming Pool Cover straps
Close up of Straps
Here is a close up shot of the straps. As you can see everything is neat and clean. When the cover comes off in the Spring you will see metal pieces all around the pool but they will be flush with the cement so you will hardly notice that they are there.
This system beats what we had in our other pool cover. With that one we had to fill long plastic bags with water and you laid the cover over the pool and then laid these plastic bags all around the pool to keep the cover on. I can't tell you how these bags rolled around and lots of them never stayed in place. What a terrible mess and lots of hard work that was. Opening and closing the pool was something that I did not look forward to but this system will be a breeze.
Fish on the Cover???
Is this a joke??
So, I'm fixing a cup of coffee and my husband says "we have a fish on the pool cover". I have just woke up so I'm not fully awake but say "Huh"? He says again "we have a fish on the pool cover". Well of course this has my curiosity all fired up because we aren't even close to a pond, lake or creek and I'm thinking, how in the world did a fish get on our pool cover?
Well I've got to go take a look, right? I go out on the deck and sure enough there is a fish on our pool cover.
Swimming Pool Thank you's
Hard work well done!
We would not have been able to put this pool in without the help of our son-in-law, Scott. He did everything from A to Z when it came to putting this pool in. His workers, his equipment, his own time and skill. Thanks Scott for everything, we are sure to enjoy this in-ground swimming pool for many years to come.
Also, a thanks to another son-in-law, Dave. He was here helping whenever he wasn't at his own job. He used the tamper and a shovel and helped spread all that black dirt. Grandpa would still be out there moving dirt if Dave wouldn't have shown up.
Also, a thanks to Spencer Concrete who listened to what we were looking for and did just that. They were here when they said they would be, they did there job and didn't waste time. We couldn't have asked or more.
I would also like to thank Shaner Avenue Nursery. We got all of our black dirt from them and on Sunday afternoon, with the sod people coming early the next morning, we ran out of top soil. Shaner Avenue Nursery does not do delivery on Sunday but when I explained my situation they sent someone right over with the top soil we needed.
If you have ever considered putting in an in-ground pool I hope this helps convince you to "go for it".