Narrow / Limited Access for Excavation - How Much Extra?

Dan_March 28, 2012

Hi everyone. Longtime lurker, first-time poster here. I live in Peoria AZ (outside of Phoenix), and my wife & I will begin soliciting estimates from up to 3 pool builders over the next couple weeks.

One thing that we will certainly have to contend with is limited access to our property for excavation. I know we will have to pay extra for this, but I'm hoping someone can give me an idea of approximately how much more we should expect, so we aren't A) blindsided, and B) taken advantage of.

Pardon the length of what follows, but I figured I�d give some supporting details in case they are helpful:

>>> We�d be looking to install a "standard" 3 -> 5ft play pool, probably no more than 80� perimeter. For simplicity�s sake, let�s assume about 1800 cubic feet (600 yd^3) of excavation.

>>> Our property is fenced in by concrete block, save for the south which is an wrought-iron "view fence." The only open access is through a small (46") gate on the West side of the house that leads down a similarly narrow (54") pathway that stretches about 50' from the driveway in the front to the back yard where our pool will be built

>>> On the opposite (East) side of the front of the house, there is a 10-ft block fence that could potentially be removed, though we�d likely have to also remove some landscaping. However, the effective pathway to the back of the yard from this entry would only be about 72", as we have a couple AC units back there that take up decent chunk of space.

>>> Our HOA is pretty strict. Even though we have no neighbors to the West and to the South (both are open "desert wash" areas where potentially a dump truck or excavator could access our yard rather easily via an existing maintence pathway, and by removing a portion of the fence, by rule, we are only allowed to have access through the front of our yard, so the above two options are basically it, as far as I gather.

>>> Our back yard itself is about 28x60, entirely empty and ready for digging I�m not expecting tons in terms of caliche (a "hard dig" situation) or especially large boulders since our rear lot is sitting on about 4 ft of crappy fill dirt. Our neighbors who�ve put in pools haven�t had issues with the dig itself, but they haven�t had "narrow access" to contend with either� so, right now, I�m mostly concerned about the those specific fees.

>>> Finally, dirt removal *might* be expedited somewhat if we can convince the HOA to allow only the dump truck in the wash where he could easily back up to the property, and the micro-backhoe could fill it over the rear wrought-iron "view fence" is about 5ft high. (Since our lot is raised some from the wash, the top of the fence is about 8 ft from the ground behind the yard.) I'm only throwing in this variable incase it might potentially impact (lessen) the cost. Otherwise, I�m assuming we�ll need to use the standard method of employing a conveyor to get the dirt to a dump truck waiting on the driveway in the front.

Anyway, how much do you think the narrow access will tack on to the cost? Hoping to hear from someone who�s been involved with a similar narrow access situation.



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We just finished our second pool. We are lucky to have an RV gate for our new house, but our previous house had a similar sized access to what you're facing. We also had to contend with a spiggot on the side of the house which decreased our access. This was 6 years ago, and we paid about $1000. Even with our huge access this time, we still paid $450. Good luck with your pool quotes. We had 7 quotes this time and ended up choosing the same company that did our first pool (Presidential). :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Forgot to mention... I am also in the Phoenix area.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 5:30PM
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Thanks for the reply, CopaMom! Our neighbors went with Presidental too, but about 5 years ago. I'll definitely check them out. What sold you on them?

Also, I'm just curious: did you deal with Dolphin Pools at all? They seem like pretty straight-shooters on their website and seems like they don't skimp on quality, so I was going to include them in our bidding process, but curious of any feedback. Is there anyone else you were impressed with during your latest bid process and would recommend?

And, everyone: please pardon my haphazard conversion of cubic ft to cubic yards in my OP! Meant ~67 cubic yards, not 600. Geesh... and I work with numbers all day long! :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 5:46PM
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We got quotes from Dolphin Pools, CA Pools, Shasta, Presidential, Rondo, Cameo, and Paddock. Dolphin Pools' quote was a few thousand dollars more than Presidential... CA Pools was in the running for a while, but it was like pulling teeth to get an accurate quote from them (they kept omitting items we asked for, so their quote looked less). We had the same sales guy at Presidential with both pools, and he was willing to negotiate prices more than the others. Plus, we were very happy with our first pool. I am very pleased with our end result. :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:01AM
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I know a guy! no soliciting they say though.

I build pools in Peoria and can almost picture exactly what you are talking about.
Loading the dirt over the fence would save you money if you can arrange it with the HOA, but not as much as you'd think. Regardless, I'd definitely be pursuing that as soon as you can to keep your bids all accurate and at least know if it's even an option.

You're looking at $2,100- $1,100 add'l costs for the 46" access if that was absolute max.
Additonal costs for the 72" access option is about $700-$800.

These figures do not include taking down/putting up the fence(s)....just round numbers to help you out. A good pool designer/salesman will see more than just the wide opening...he'll look at appropriate turning spots/loading/staging etc. There's a lot of little things to look for that can drive access availability.

Hope this helps! We swam yesterday...hard to imagine AZ's swim season has already landed! Hurry up :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 5:08AM
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Thanks again for the follow-ups. We're going to have to go with a "triple mini" for our narrow access. Got quotes on that from 3 builders, and Presidential is definitely the one who was seems most able "help us out" without sticking it to us elsewhere. I'm definitely impressed with them so far, and I think we are leaning toward using them. We're meeting with Dolphin this thursday and then we'll decide.

In the meantime, in case anyone else around Phoenix was wondering the same question, these are the narrow access surcharges we've been given so far. I'm sure they're subject to change, and until we sign our names to a contract nothing's final, so FYI only:

Dolphin Pools: $2,400
California Pools: $2,200
Presidential Pools: $3,350 - 1/2 off excavation fees promotion = $1,675.

(Plus our salesperson @ Presidential gave us an additonal $950 "Additional Discount - Sales" which is supposed to cover a credit toward the excavation and a water feature). It seems like a pretty legit discount on the itemized quote, and I don't suspect he's trying to pull the wool over my eyes with it.

I'll post my 1st impressions of the PBs I've dealt with so far on a seperate thread, if anyone is interested.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:59PM
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Who is your sales guy at Presidential? We saw Jim Sherlock (for both our pools) :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:46PM
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@ Copa: been working with a Guy named James MacDougall. He had been pretty responsive, though I submitted a change to him for an updated quote a couple days back and haven't received a reply yet. All and all, seems like a decent guy & has been pretty straight forward with pricing & other details.

Also just a quick update on the excavation, Dolphin was out at our house last night & said we wouldn't need to do the triple mini dig. Said they could fit a "single-mini" by removing the block wall on the other side of the property, that would save us about 1/2 the cost (including block removal & re-set up). Still not sure who we'll go with though. Probably will make a decision in the next week or so.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 12:54PM
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funny how that half off starts so high at $3350.... seems to be about 25% off what it should be. But "half off" sure sounds better.

Curious if Presidential is pushing their Q360 infloor cleaner and what your opinion is on it based on their sales pitch of it? I'd love to hear if you have time. thanks!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 2:27PM
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I don't know if Presidential is "pushing" their infloor cleanining system... but we did get it this time (had only a roaming vac last pool). I can't say I am thrilled with it so far. Our PebbleTec is very light, so there is already some dirt stains. Presidenital will acid wash our pool this fall. There are a couple "dead zones" where dirt accummulates. I guess we need to be more diligent with brushing (which I thought we would avoid with PebbleTec compared to the plaster we had last time). We also have a connection for a roaming vac, so during monsoon season we will have both running.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 6:13PM
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Presidential's new infloor system is far inferior to the infloor systems that have been around for years...hence, the cheap price.

They know it too, which is why they don't offer any cleaning guarentee or a lifetime warranty on the heads. I believe it's just a one year warranty valve and maybe 3 on the heads.

Also, the way the Q360 valve works, their is only very split moment that 100% of the water pressure is dedicated to one zone. The valve rotates non stop, therefore always bleeding into multiple zones and sending water to 2 zones and too many heads. Just another presidential ploy to be cheap cheap cheap, and the customer suffers. With infloor, you should not have to brush your pool but maybe one or two very small dirty spots that accumulate over a couple weeks time.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 12:31PM
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