How To: Build a Pool

If you are looking to add an in-ground pool to your backyard oasis, here are some essential steps to know about the excavation and construction process.

By Miranda Siwak | Updated Apr 6, 2022 3:56 PM

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How to Build a Pool


Wondering how to build a pool in your backyard but have no clue where to start? If you’ve never excavated or constructed an in-ground pool before, it can be a daunting task that takes several weeks and costs thousands of dollars. There’s a lot to keep in mind when learning how to build a pool, and if you’re ready to DIY, this guide will help you.

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Time required: 8 to 12 weeks
Difficulty: Expert
Estimated cost: $38,636 to $69,689

These are the primary supplies and materials you will need when building a pool. Hiring or consulting a professional can help narrow down which tools are necessary for the job.

Before You Begin…

How to Build a Pool Tips


There is a lot to consider for homeowners who are considering how to build an in-ground pool before even digging a hole. This is a big-time construction project, so make sure you know what you’re doing to avoid unexpected obstacles or additional costs. Whether it’s obtaining the proper permits, coordinating tools, or choosing a location with minimal barriers, particular expertise and knowledge help make sure everything gets done smoothly.

If your backyard has any challenging setups or conditions, those can drive up the final cost, too. If you’re DIY-ing this project, there’s the chance that the final product might not look as good as you’d expected.

Tips for How to Build a Pool

  • Concrete pools take longer to install than any other type.
  • Pool toys, pets, or sharp objects can puncture a vinyl lining.
  • Prices vary based on residential location, soil conditions, water circulation system, and the pool’s type and size.
  • Pools are subject to building and zoning regulations, and permits need to be approved before starting work.

Safety Considerations

  • Pool lights not only set the mood for nighttime swimming but also make a pool safer.
  • A safety fence, often included in basic contracting packages, ensures a secure area around the pool. Local construction departments often require fences to obtain permits.
  • A safety cover can help protect users from accidentally falling in the water.
  • Electrical safety is a significant concern, and faulty wiring can increase the risk of shock.
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Other Considerations

  • The right place in a yard for the pool is based on where the sun hits, an absence of trees, an area that blocks winds, a location away from electrical or telephone wires, and a high and dry place to prevent floods.
  • It’s recommended to build the pool within view of your house so you can keep an eye on swimmers from inside.
  • Consider filtration and sanitization types to keep the water clean and clear. Many homeowners opt for chlorine.
How to Build a Pool Choosing a Location


STEP 1: Choose your location, pool, and any accessories, features, or extras you want to include.

One of the first things to do is decide where the pool will go. The location depends on any trees or fencing. Yard size determines how big a pool can realistically fit in the space. Next, decide the type and shape. There are concrete, vinyl, and fiberglass pools, and each comes in round, square, or rectangular shapes. The different types have their pros and cons: Fiberglass is low maintenance but not as customizable, while concrete is higher maintenance and more expensive, but it’s fully customizable. Discuss decisions like depth, number of entrances, and lights or extra features with a contractor.

STEP 2: Plan your pool and obtain the building permits.

Most towns and cities require a residential building permit to construct a pool. The Department of Building and Safety lays out the exact requirements and specifications for homeowners to follow. After that, bringing your backyard vision to life can begin. When planning a pool, it’s advised to keep in mind that more complex designs cost more money to execute.

How to Build a Pool Excavation


STEP 3: Start the excavation.

Time to dig! Some contractors perform soil tests first to test the ground composition, ensuring that the soil is uniform and suitable to support a pool. Salts, organic matter, clay, sand, gravel, and silt can affect these conditions. Next, heavy-duty machinery (like a backhoe) is used to dig. This process can produce a lot of excess dirt. A professional removal company is equipped to haul it away.

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STEP 4: Establish the foundation and add plumbing and power connections.

Once the hole is dug, it’s time to install the power and water lines that make the pool function. Part of this stage includes building an equipment pad to hold the pump and filter systems. The plumbing can sit below ground in concrete to hide it or on top of a pad. This installation process can take longer if the pool has extra components like lights, water features, and spas.

STEP 5: Install the steelwork or molded fiberglass pool shell.

Now that all the necessities are installed, it’s time to focus on the shell. A gunite (sprayed concrete) pool requires a steel-reinforced rebar skeleton and takes longer to build. Concrete pools also need about a month to set fully. A vinyl or fiberglass pool is quicker to install since the shell is created off-site, shipped, and installed directly. As the shell is installed, ensure it is level with the ground and that the sides are straight. The leveling process may take several adjustments.

How to Build a Pool Adding the Finishing Touches


STEP 6: Add the finishing touches to your pool.

After the pool base is complete, a contractor will build a surface-level deck around it and apply the pool finish. At this point, landscaping can take place as well. Decorative finishing touches complete the look. The length of time for installation depends on the complexity of the design. Extra features do bump up the cost but give more customization options, including zero-entry points (like on a beach), waterfalls, hot tubs, lighting, and stones. Other extras include diving boards, slides, decks, and heaters.

STEP 7: Fill up the pool with water and treat it with chemicals.

Now that the interior is finished, the pool is ready to be filled. You may need to acid-wash it a day before, and then a pool technician will be able to fill it. After the water goes in, added chemicals keep the water clean and swimmable. The chemical sanitizer helps kill organic contaminants in the water, such as bacteria or algae. Three EPA-registered sanitizers are commonly used in pools: chlorine, bromine, and PHMB.

When looking into how to build a pool, there’s plenty to consider beyond digging a hole and filling it with water. It’s a relatively expensive project requiring heavy-duty equipment and specialists to handle electric and plumbing installations along with extra features per your desires. Once complete, the pool will need maintenance to keep it clean. While you may be able to DIY this project if you have the right tools, hiring a professional can ensure you have the correct permits and there’ll be no issues with digging, wiring, or installation. A professional can also alleviate the stress of planning how to build a pool and allow you to look forward to enjoying it.

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