This is a practical guide to what you should expect when building a pool. My hope is to provide details and ideas so you can be better prepared for your build. This article is based off of personal experience and information from outside sources. Each builder has their own processes and procedures and every build is unique, so your experience will vary.
Part 1 – Location, Size, and Design
- You will need a survey of your property
- Existing structures or trees may require a permit for removal
- Design possibilities are limited only by your physical space and budget
- Some additions to your pool may come with a substantial cost
- One size does not fit all
If you have a survey of your property, that is the best place to start. The Title Company that completed the transaction when you purchased your home may have provided you with a copy, or they may have a copy that they can share with you. You want to ensure there are no easements that would prevent you from building your pool in the desired location. The survey will also show the amount of room you have on the sides of your home for construction access and your pool equipment. Once you have identified that you have enough space, your next step is to visually inspect the area where you plan to build the pool. Identify any existing structures or trees in the area. If there are any trees inside the desired location, or very close by, you may need to get a permit from the city or county to have them removed before you can start your project. Use a measuring tape and some small flags or stakes from the hardware store to help you visualize the size and shape.
Pool companies can build just about anything you can think of, so your imagination and budget are the only limitations to creating the design. Some people will love the freedom to express themselves while others will prefer a design provided by the builder. If you are the type of person that prefers to design your own pool, I would suggest discussing safety and building requirements with your builder beforehand. There are certain elements that all pools must have and limitations on depth and proximity to existing structures. Once you are aware of the requirements, get a pad of graph paper, a ruler, and a sharp pencil. The graph paper will help you draw to scale and give the builder a more accurate picture to create their CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawings. Some companies have software that can produce 3D images to show you exactly how your new pool will look, complete with lighting and water features.
As you design your pool and add custom elements, be aware that there will be an additional cost. Adding a spa will not only increase the cost of the pool, it will also require you to add a heat source and possibly an automation system to control everything. The other variable is that each pool company has a different way they price their pools. Some may charge by linear foot (the distance around the edge) and some may charge by the area of the surface of the pool. There may also be a difference in the cost based on the water depth. Pricing differences will also extend to water features, stairs and benches, sundecks, automation systems, etc… My point is, depending on the design of your pool you can get significantly different prices from different pool builders. Get estimates from multiple companies and ask for ways to adjust your design to reduce the cost.
Outside of physical and budget limitations, this is a completely personal decision. If you want to do laps or plan on having many people in your pool at the same time, a larger pool will work the best for you. If you prefer more patio area, or choose to add a spa, you may consider a slightly smaller pool. This is where the measuring tape and markers will come in handy. Mark out your design on the ground and “get in” your pool. Walk around the area. Place furniture in the area around your pool. You will also want to keep in mind that there may be up to 6 inches or so of variance when the pool is built.