DIY start...planning stage...appreciate advice or suggestions..

lmhall2000January 2, 2010

After tackling fitting out 1200 sq. feet in unfinished attic space adding a bathroom, tiling all my wet areas (baths/laundry), staining/finishing wood floors, and completely gutting/replacing complete kitchen...I am ready to build a pool.

I actually went to 3 local pool builders and received quotes...when the first one came back with a $100,000 cost on a 20x40 vinyl pool..I choked. I priced out all the parts that he was giving us and came to a whopping 18k (and that's FULL retail, all the bells whistles)..his comment was he likes to quote high and come in lower so it pleases the customer..oh my goodness...that was the first sign I would need to look into doing it myself. The second has been watching my friends..they were assured their pool would start in August and be completed by October, it's now January, and all they have is a hole in their backyard and their 30k quote has not increased to over 40k...(no rocks or boulders, just being strung along)...

So, here is what I have concluded....

20x40 vinyl steel (higher gauge) or polymer (best quality I can find) design with rounded corners (looking at Kafko?) a 10 or 11 foot acrylic or thermo step (which one??) and a walkout step in the deep end. 48" walls

2 LED lights (Intellibrite or Colorlogic)

Pentair or Hayward equipment..I prefer Pentair but seems like the majority around here use Hayward so I worry about maintenance or repairs, but from what I've read Pentair has a solid product.

Salt-water pool most likely..not sure about the whole cartridge v. filter stuff...we live on a 6 acre farm and the pool will be right next to our horse pastures, I don't like the idea of flushing stuff out to the pastures?? Like I said, I'm not clear on this issue.

That's where I'm at right now, hope to start in about 10 I've got a lot of planning...and need to figure out the best place to order stuff..I do have a local guy who put in pools for 30 years that is now retired that has offered his help..but he hasn't used polymer walls and I want to make sure I know the most up to date stuff..guessing it hasn't changed much in 10 years??

Thanks for any suggestions..just looking for quality parts and don't mind paying a little more to have it be longer lasting...


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My general plan...I have a septic tank that will be 15 feet from the start of the I need to have a creative decking design to allow access to it...


A tight space to put it in..plan on putting the pool equipment in a cabana we'll put at the distal end of the one concern is that our HVAC units are butted up against the house..there will only be an 8 foot distance between them and the thinking I might need to move them to the side of the house, have already priced it out and it can be done, just not sure if it's worth it or just put a visual barrier to hid them?


    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 11:40AM
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Sorry, here are the pics....

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 11:46AM
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Not sure where you live however I would highly recommend getting several quotes and have a PB build your pool. Maybe we were lucky but we had our pool built for less than 30k with SWG, pool cage, 1200sf of pavers, bubbler, sheer descent and other water features, pebble finish and we were swimming in 21 days, (could have been 17days but the screen person was running behind) and the PB had 5 other pools being built. Look at out thread

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 8:17AM
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If you go with galvanized steel try to avoid scratching the panels and if you do, recoat the scratches.

Polymer walls were introduced in 1977.

Having the retired pool builder should be a big help.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 11:24AM
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lmhall2000's stories like yours that have killed my luck for finding a pool builder! Arizona/TX/Florida all have these amazing prices (supply and demand) there just aren't that many pool builders the price is much higher...I have not seen a quote under 50k for a vinyl pool! After contracting my own remodel and knowing real life prices...I just can't do that..and I certainly can't handle calling GC back constantly to fix something, I'd rather do it myself so repairs down the road I'll be confident what is needed..your pool sounds great! There is not a pool company here that even puts in Pebble finishes, they hire someone from a city 2 hours away! $$$ I was told I'd have to pay for the crews hotel costs...enough! :)

Thanks reno...I'm know if I go with steel I want the best set up..we have thick heavy clay here and we're constantly finding rusted items in our pastures that wash through...that's why I'm leaning towards a polymer panel as long as we set it adequately with the right back fill...I think it might work, but then many of the pool manufacturers have been bought out by the same company over the years so it is hard to distinguish one product from another...each pb I consulted all used a different vendor and said theirs was the best...several of them had different names but were owned by the same parent company, so who do you believe?? I appreciate all the help!


    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 12:30PM
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Pricing the parts is not pricing all the costs for the pool.

It appears to me you are missing at least the following:

Excavation, electrical, gas plumbing if needed, permits, inspections, decking, your time, and building plans.

I am sure there are things I missed but the thing I listed are very significant!


    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 12:45PM
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Sorry, I have priced out the following...

Excavation (a friend of mine, will do it for $800)
Electrical (also a friend of mine, will do it for $400)
No gas plumbing
Permits ($25) for my county,
Inspections (only after plumbing and electrical are done, included)
Decking ($1200)
Time (we homeschool and plan on making this project a family one...we did it before with the house)
Building plans, working on those..but first I need to know what system/equipment/pool kit I will be using...

I'm very fortunate to have good friends with great skills...they know we're doing this to help start our summer camp for foster kids so they're being backhoe guy owns all his own equipment and has done quite a bit of work for my neighbor, he's excellent and put in an underground tornado shelter with electrical/drains/etc...

I already have upgraded to a 400 panel on the last construction, so I have over 150 available to run everything off of...

Just need help with the parts really.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 2:01PM
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Check out It is a great resource for IG (In-Ground Gunite) pools, so slightly different than what you are planning.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 4:02PM
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since you're asking for advice... here's mine:

Do gunite.

I was planning a DIY vinyl pool. I had a Hydra designed and priced. I was doing the wedding cake steps, and a swim out - basically trying to make it look like gunite. Then I stumbled on this forum. A DIY can do gunite for maybe 5 or 6 thousand more than vinyl. And you can do a spa for 2 grand or less (assuming you have a heater for the pool).

Where are you?

I'm in NYC suburb. I found the gunite sub that many pool builders use. $185/yard. Unbelievable. You pay 110/yd for ready mix, and the guy doesn't get out of the truck. Gunite with 7 skilled laborers, $185/yd. I called on Monday to schedule, they came Tuesday. They are dead, they have NOTHING to do. (at least they were in November, now they are shut for winter)

So, dig your $800 hole, get about $1,500 worth of rebar, put in some pipes and light niches, and get the gunite guys.

Here's my project so far...

Here is a link that might be useful: NY DIY pool build

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 4:56PM
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lmhall2000 have me thinking about gunite again, I had really given up on the idea b/c at the time I really preferred the pebble sheen finish and I'd have to hire a crew from Atlanta to do it, when I got quotes they were saying 6k just for the finish (hotel extra)...I would be FINE with Diamondbrite or similar finish but unless my pool guy has some rec's I'm up a creek trying to find a crew...but things have a way of presenting themselves once you start asking around.

Do you have any updated pictures of your build? What finish are you going for and if you don't mind how much are they? I had already drawn a spec of my pool with gunite in mind, just quickly jotted down the pic above when I realized I'd probably have to go vinyl...if more pool owners did gunite around here I would go for it...I really think it's 80% or more vinyl and very few gunite, even on the 1 million properties and above..they're doing vinyl...mainly because the quotes for gunite are outrageous..finding good people to do them is tough here.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 7:21PM
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Update pictures? Well, it looks exactly the same but try to imagine it 1/2 full of water with a 4" layer of ice. and snow all over the yard!

Where are you?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 9:36PM
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Oh! Sorry! I'm from Alabama...bordering the TN state all must be FREEZING up there! I have to hand carry out water to my horses because the well spicket is frozen even with the heat lamp on it! Carrying 75 gallons of water a day is preparing me for laying those rebars hopefully! :) I hope this freeze will end in 10 days and we'll be back to our normal 50 degree winter.

Stay warm and if this winter stays cold up there I may have my pool finished before you! :) We're not doing a spa, so maybe it wouldn't be too hard to lay out a design...thanks!!


    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 9:45PM
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Great website!! Thank you so much for posting it, I had looked at another one a year or so ago (didn't expect it to take 30 months for our other home to sell!) and he wanted you to 'buy' his experience...this site you referred has some outstanding tips...without having to get that special code. I'm the type of person that will help anyone learn from my experiences...if someone is willing to take on the challenge..I hope my experience will save others some I so appreciate you posting your build...we've all been affected by the downturn in the economy, having 2 mortgages for 31 months was not easy..building a pool for 3 months sounds like a cake walk after what we've been through the past two years!


    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 11:13PM
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Here is the design I would like if I can manage gunite...3 stream jets and 2 LED lights or just bright white lights...3.5 feet-8 foot with seat ledges on 3 corners with steps on corner...


    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 12:39AM
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Did you get any pricing for Gunite in your area. Just curious as to what the price was.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 2:09PM
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Tara, I have a used Amerlite Pentair Pool Light. It was installed 2 mths ago and I upgraded to a more expensive Intellibrite light. It was hardly used and has Approx 80 ft of cord. Here is the description.

The world standard of reliability for pool lighting

Amerlite®, the world standard of reliability for underwater lights, features a stainless steel shell, 8-3/8 in. prismatic tempered glass lens, and stainless steel face ring with uni-tension clamp. Amerlites are UL listed to install in full-sized Pentair Pool Products, American, PacFab and Purex niches.


World standard of reliability

Stainless steel face ring with uni-tension clamp

Superior light diffusion

Prismatic tempered lens

Gold diffused low water cutoff

Medium blue lenses available

Plastic snap-on face rings available for s/s lights

model # 78928500, 120volts, 300w, 80ft, 15lbs shipping

I also have a pack of lenses made by Pentair, Part # 78900100 New in the box never used Red, Amber and Green, used Blue for about 2 weeks.

Amerlite Mood Setter

Kwik-Change Color lenses

- Light blue

- Red

- Amber

- Green

I bought the light for $275.00 and the lenses for $50.00.

I will let both go for $150.00 OBO. plus shipping
You can contact me at
I hope this is okay to post.....

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 2:30PM
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Yes, there are only 2 gunite installers in this area...the first quote was 72k, the second one gave me 100k on the vinyl option and said gunite would be more so I didn't even pursue it and neither offered pebble tec or sheen, only Diamond Brite...if I wanted pebble tec I'd have to pay about 6k extra...those prices just seem exorbitant to me compared to what pools are being built for in other've seen my design, it's the exact same one I showed them, no heaters, no spa, only the three water jets, no mountain of rocks...and that design called for formed concrete coping and poured concrete decking...I can do that and get limestone pavers for much less...much much less...


    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 2:30PM
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Thanks Vat..but I'm really leaning towards the Intellibrites myself, if I were going with the standard light like you have I would buy the one 500W...thanks for offering, I got a $700 faucet for $150 from another remodeler who had picked out two and chose the other one! :) It works great! Best feature of my kitchen! :)


    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 2:55PM
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Feel free to email me directly to see if I can help you out.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 3:05PM
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All the quotes in my area started in the 30's for a 20X40 vinyl liner, and 50's for the gunite (Utah).

I did it for about 18 and am very happy with it - being in Utah, I couldn't justify in my mind paying so much for something that is used 6 months out of the year.

Here is my blog about it...

Feel free to email questions. It was a great project, a lot of work, but our family loves it - we used it every day until October.

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY pool adventure...

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 2:20AM
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