A Guide to DIY Pool Building

Our March 2018 blog gave a brief outline of what to expect when building a DIY pool. This article goes one step further in assessing some of the detailed questions you should ask yourself and subcontractors if you are choosing to be your own general contractor. There are many details that go into creating your own DIY backyard paradise, but with a little guidance, the process can be straightforward.

The first question to ask yourself is if you are really capable of overseeing a project this large. You will have to take care of paperwork, manage permits, choose subcontractors, and keep up with quite a few different pay schedules along the way. If you decide that a DIY pool is something you can handle, the next question to ask is what you can afford. What is your budget? We recommend taking at least a few weeks to seriously consider what you are willing and able to pay when it comes to installing a pool. Things to keep in mind include any upcoming family vacations, medical bills, children starting college, etc. Once you have a budget on hand, you can start looking at what kind of designs you like. Some important questions to consider when designing are: where will the pool be placed in the yard? What is the pool’s primary purpose (family play pool, lap pool, etc.)? How large do you want the pool? After you have those figured out, you can focus on the desired shape and any features you want to add to the pool. Once you know exactly what you want, you can use your budget to interview subcontractors and ask for bids.

One thing to consider before you reach out to subcontractors is using a professional pool software to design the pool. That way, subcontractors can have the exact measurements of your backyard and desired pool to work with instead of any sketches you may have done. The structural engineering of the pool and backyard are important too, and they are things you will need to consider. Structural engineering drawings are important for showing the proximity to property lines and the pool depth. If you don’t have access or aren’t sure how to generate a professional design and structural engineering, there are companies (like Medallion Construction Services!) that can help with this.

There are many subcontractors that are needed for a gunite pool, such as excavation, plumbing, gas (if needed), electrical, steel, gunite crew, decking, tile, fencing, startup companies, and any landscaping you might need. So, how do you go about finding the perfect subcontractors to fit your needs? Start with Google. Look up companies in your area that do the specific job you are looking for. Ask friends with pools who they used. Look at reviews, complaints, and years in business. Once you have a company you are interested in, it is a good idea to make sure they are licensed and insured. If everything checks out, you can contact the company and make sure they will work with homeowner builders, scan them a copy of your project, and get a bid. Remember to ask for details like when they can start, what exactly they will be responsible for (which part of the pool building process), any materials you are responsible for supplying, how they get paid/pay schedule, and any advice they have for your particular pool project. Make sure you also get approval that you can have inspectors come to check out their work once complete. Most cities have inspections that occur after each major pool building phase, so it is imperative that the subcontractors are aware of this. It is also a good idea to have the subcontractor sign a form with the agreed upon terms and pricing. When you get a bid from a subcontractor, be sure that the pricing is by line item so you can see exactly what they are charging for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, like if there is a discount if you will be paying cash.

Once you have one subcontractor that you trust, you can ask them for their recommendations on other subcontractors. This will help you get a better idea of who already works together, and possibly who to stay away from. Remember to not rely too heavily on one subcontractor’s recommendations. Be extra cautious as a homeowner in charge of a DIY pool project, as it is possible that the trades can view you as easily manipulated. It’s always best to do background research on every company and get references from past jobs they have done before committing to a subcontractor.

Once you have all of your subcontractors, it’s time to begin! Basically, you are the general contractor and you just make sure everything runs smoothly and the subcontractors show up and do their jobs. Make sure you don’t start without your permit and approval from HOA and electrical companies, and that you are keeping up with any inspections that are needed. Remember, if you are considering a DIY pool project, Medallion Construction Services can help! Pools are our specialty, and we are always here to help.