Unanticipated Expenses in Building new pool

SwimIn2012March 4, 2012

Hi all, I am in the process of getting estimates for a new pool in Rockland County NY. I am trying to estimate all the possible unanticipated expenses that may come up during the building of the pool once we sign a contract and they start building. I have a budget that I want to stick to. We have met with one builder so far, and plan on meeting two more. So far, these are the items that I have been told, or have read about that may increase cost/cause problems:

1. We are on a slope and will definitely need a retaining wall.

2. Drainage issues. We may be required to build some type of drain system to make sure the area taken up by the pool does not cause flooding issues to our neighbors (something like that). Will be determing by building dept, i think.

3. We may run into water issues when they start digging.

4. We may hit rocks, bolders or bedrock when they start digging.

5. The weight of the trucks coming in may damage: Sewer line, tree roots, dry well, old septic system.

6. We are unsure of the situation of old septic system - whether it is a tank or field. Field can cause problems with gravel, tank may collapse, have to be removed, etc...

I am in the process of trying to find out as much as I can about each of these issues, so I can make a reasonable estimate. I found a Soil survey of Rockland County from the USDA that shows my specific neighborhood. I am trying to understand what these two items mean:

1. Depth to Water Table 1.5 to 2.5 feet. (Feb-Apr)

2. Depth to Bedrock - more than 60 inches.

Does this mean once they dig past 1.5-2.5 feet they will hit water and it will cost me extra to pump it out? Does it mean when they try to dig the deep end of the pool they will hit bedrock, and it will cost me extra to do something to break it up?

Please let me know what other unanticipated costs you have run into. Thank you so much. We are trying to make a decision as soon as possible so we can get on the schedule soon in order to be able to swim this summer. Thank you very much for any help/advice you can provide.

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Our main over budget expense was #4. We are on sandstone and knew it would be a hard dig but still went over what we (not the builder - he was lower) estimated.

We also dug into a hill so have a 40 ft long retaining wall. Budget was for 30 ft. Also, was proposed as rock faced but now we're just going to stucco.

Another expense for us was steps. Our whole pool is raised to facilitate cutting into the hill. So we need steps into the baja shelf area and up to the spa. We ended up with more and larger steps which was more money.

Good luck with your build.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 4:06PM
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The old septic should be a combination of a tank for the solids and a field for the liquids. Old tanks are usually filled with sand to prevent implosions. The field may take some hits but will be easily fixed.

A water table that high is usually indicative of rock in the ground. A soils engineer can tell you in advance and I do suggest it. Knowing is half the battle.

The hill's needs are dependent on the slope. You may need two walls even.

It does cost more to dig into rock than sand. Rock of any type is more time consuming and requires some specialized tools be used to break it up as needed.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 6:36PM
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Hi Janine, Thank you so much for your reply. I had not really thought about the cost of the steps yet, although I know we will need them in lots of places due to different levels. I am mostly interested in a pool for swimming and diving, plus waterfall for beauty and relaxation (depending on $$), and had not even thought about a baja shelf, but after reading your post I have been looking at them, and I realize it would be a great area for my parents and other visitors to lounge in and for small children to play in, so I am going to try to work it into the design. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 6:57PM
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Hi Scott, Thanks for your reply. I have been spending a lot of time on this website, and I have gathered a lot of helpful information from your posts. Thank you very much for sharing! I think I will get a soil sample. Will the same engineer be able to find out about both the water level and the rocks? I am very uncomfortable with all the unknown potential costs on top of the already high known costs. Do you know how much extra it would add to the cost of a pool if you have to pump the water and/or cut into solid rock? (approx). Would you have to go back to the town to get permission to break up the rock? Will the noise drive the neighbors crazy? Regarding the septic system field, the pool company landscape architect told me that the problem will be if they are trying to dig a hole in a specific spot and they run into the septic field, there will be gravel falling out, thereby messing up the walls of the hole-something like that. They will have to do something to remedy this problem and that will cost more. I tried last year to find out where the septic tank and field are, but all I could get from the town was a permit from when the house was converted over to the town sewer (1963 I think). it only showed a drawing of where the pipe exited the house and the path to the sewer in the road. I had a roto-rooter guy here that showed me the path of the pipe with a camera and a metal detector, and we think we know where the septic tank is since it looks like they just rerouted the pipe from the septic tank to the town sewer - due to the way the pipe first goes to the backyard and then makes a u turn to go to the front where the town sewer is. But we really don't know for sure. Regarding the retaining walls, when you say we may need two walls, do you mean at the top and at the bottom? The pool landscaper said we could either fill in the bottom of the slope to raise to the level of the top and put retaining wall at bottom, or we could dig into the slope and put retaining wall at the top. Since the bottom of the slope is at the property line and already has a small retaining wall and since I wanted to do two levels, we will choose to put the retaining wall at the top. I was thinking we will need another small one at a 90 degree angle to the first one, with steps in between, due to the fact that the slope comes down on a diagonal line across the property, although he only mentioned we would need one. (Of course this was based on preliminary walk around property). Thanks very much for all your help.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 8:09PM
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The soils engineer's report should state the soils and water table information. There may be more than one water table if the rock forces it. The type of rock matters tool as it is easier to get through sandstone than bedrock.

I don't know the property so I can't say specifically if more than one retaining wall will be needed. It would be based on heights, slopes, and maybe additional needs. A check with the township engineer may be needed or maybe the soils engineer can tell you.

Each state, county, and town has it's own rules. There isn't a hard and steady MO for pool building in every type of terrain, though there are some commonalities once the hole is approved.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 6:52AM
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Hi swimi2012! I just joined this forum because I hope to swim in 2015! Lol. Im also in rockland and i was wondering who you used to build your pool and if you would recommend them and if you came across any companies you would stay away from. I'm just starting the process and would be grateful for any advice.

Hope you are happy with your pool and enjoying the summer!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:44PM
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