We’re digging again! And adding in an in-ground pool. We started this process a few weeks ago and things are cruising. A project we thought we’d be starting next spring.
This has been a dream of mine, my entire life. I’ve always wanted an in-ground pool since I was young. That or to live on a lake. But Jamie likes his land, as do I, so living on a lake will never be in our future – so a pool it is.
Although the full pool is not done, the water is in, and we’ve been diving in and enjoying it!
We initially thought this project would “maybe” happen some time in 2023 or 2024. We had just wrapped up our sports court and after calling around to different companies and not receiving many calls back – we thought it was going to take a while.
We started contacting pool companies in the fall of 2020, hoping to get on someone’s calendar for spring of 2022. Then this past year we had a client that hired Sparkle and said they had a great experience – so we gave them a ring. And they were out to our home within a week and gave us a bid.
After we got pricing back, they mentioned they might even be able to squeeze us in this same year, and of course, we said we’d be ready when they were.
Then not even a month ago they called one day and said they could start digging the following week, so we jumped at the chance!
Digging an in-ground pool is a whole new process for us and we’ve been learning as we go. So today, we wanted to give an update as far as what we’ve learned when it comes to the process, designs, costs, and where we’re at right now if you’re thinking about digging too.
We wanted the pool right out back from the sports court. We also have a septic and low land in areas so the options for pool placement were limited. They came out and did some water table testing and luckily, it was going to work, right where we wanted it.
The only sad part was that our beautiful tree had to go.
Here is now where the pool is, overlooking from our deck.
First, let’s talk timeline. It’s never too early to plan, especially when it comes to the interior residential remodeling world. As we mentioned we were calling around in 2020 and hoping we’d have a pool in 2022. Lucky for us, by the time we landed a contractor and our pool got installed – it ended up being around 6 months from start to finish. However, if you like to date around – the sooner, the better.
I couldn’t believe how quickly things came together once they started digging. I thought this would be a 3-month process but from the time they started digging to when we were swimming was one week. ONE WEEK!
They also mentioned it took two days longer than usual because we put in a 6′ pool deck and then one day it poured rain. Adding a pool deck adds more concrete + drying days. And of course, rain never helps anything.
Then when things slow down … and by slow I mean two weeks maybe (depending on who you hire) … is when the landscaping kicks in.
Once the pool is in, you need to get your landscaping in order and then concrete is poured.
I’d say one thing we should have done, but also, don’t regret is that we didn’t hire an architect or engineer, so we didn’t have any sort of plans.
Again depending on the pool company you hire and how much you want to be hands-on or not, this is all subject to change. But Sparkle just does the actual pool. However, they have contacts for landscaping, plumbing, electrical, and concrete. And they are happy to manage it all. We decided to get a few other bids for these, being we have the contacts and work in the industry.
Every contractor you hire more than likely has a different detailed process. But here’s the overarching process we went through when designing our pool.
Get your Finances in Order
There are always lots of options when undergoing construction and loans. We worked with our financial advisor, who also happens to be my brother, Jesse, and his team at Northwestern Mutual as well as our guy Joe at Flagship Bank. Both of which we highly recommend.
First, you need to get on someone’s calendar. I’d suggest not worrying about the costs at this point and just find someone who is a good fit for you and that will work within your timeline. At the end of the project, most contractors fall within the same price ranges – it just all comes down to your design. So if you’re just price shopping, you’ll be losing time. And as we’ve come to find out most contractors are booked out for 1 + years. So the sooner you get on their calendar the better. Contractors are also getting pickier and pickier about who they work with. So they’re dating you just as much as you are dating them.
When Sparkle came over, I told them we’d make decisions within a day’s notice. And because of that, I’m pretty sure that’s why we got moved up. They knew it’d be a pretty quick process with us and we wouldn’t be overthinking any decision and will be easy to work with.
Layout and Design
Once you’ve found a contractor you want to work with, it’s time to figure out the layout and designs. Since we knew we wanted a sun deck and diving board, we knew the pool had to be a certain size to accommodate both. For our pool, we went with 20 x 40. This is something that Sparkle also walked us through and helped lay out for us.
Excavation is not our specialty, so we left that to the pros. However, we did decide to take care of the tree removal ourselves. And yes, we were incredibly sad to see it go.
What do you usually do when you are not an expert at something? Exactly! You Google it! And that’s how we determined the first steps of our process!
Google told us what we needed to know to safely excavate a tree, call 811 before you dig. So that is precisely what we did.
After we called 811, about 2-3 days later USIC, the largest underground utility locator, came out planted flags, and colored our yard with different colors of spraypaint to identify each utility.
And then, once that was completed, Sparkle came in and started digging! The boys were home, and oh, how they love those big trucks! It was an exciting morning before school in our home that day.
Concrete, vinyl, or fiberglass? Many options for pools.
We did a steel wall – which is because MN has ground movement.
The advantage of steel over fiberglass when it comes to in-ground pools in Minnesota is obvious. Maintaining the chemical property of the water can be difficult due to calcium hardness, and steel offers a less expensive way to do that. Fiberglass pools have to keep a calcium pool under 200 and most people, especially on wells, have to be under 300 – and we’re on a well.
We have a better size – for steel. If trucked in – we’re limited.
Fiberglass pools cost more – by the time you get a crane to get out and pay for shipping. So it depends on where you live.
Plumbing & Electrical & Gas
Once the pool liner was framed in, it was time for all of the plumbing, electrical, and gas rough-ins. We worked with all their contacts within these, but this is a separate price outside of your actual pool costs.
Interior Concrete + Liner
Once everything was roughed in, it was time for the concrete! Another fun thing to watch. Followed by the liner. Again, due to us putting in a 6′ sun deck this did add on another day for dry time for those steps.
Water + Filtration
And once the liner got in, it was time to fill the pool and learn all about the filtration systems and how to work everything. We debated a long time on doing salt or chlorine but in the end, we decided on chlorine. We were convinced to go this route because we were informed that the salt will eat away at the hardcover we’re putting on, and we’ll be replacing it sooner than later. We have friends that went with salt though and love it and haven’t had that issue. But after spending what we have on this, we thought – we can always swop it later if we want to.
And once the pool is in, it’s landscaping time! We hired G & M Outdoor Services to come in for this portion. Back in this area where the pool is, our land slopes down. So we had to bring it boulders along the back to bring it all up.
One fun thing I learned throughout all of this is that you don’t want any rainwater flowing down into your pool. So we had to ensure wherever we put the pool things were brought up and not down and ensure it was at the highest point on our property.
Decking + Concrete
Landscaping just wrapped up yesterday so now it’s time to get the concrete poured around, which we’re hoping will happen this week. We’ll also be doing some additional decking or pavers for a patio area but Jamie and I will be trying to tackle that probably next spring and on our own to save on some costs.
Once the concrete is in, it’s time to put it on the cover! We’re doing a hard surface cover, one where the kids can walk on. We wanted this for extra safety.
And lastly, the fence. Another thing we’ll be waiting on till next spring. Every city is different and some cities don’t require for you to have a fence. We technically do not need to add one, in the city of Elk River, but again, we probably will for extra safety with these crazy kids of ours.
When designing out the pool, there were a couple of must-haves we knew we wanted. I wanted a sun deck and Jamie wanted a diving board.
Things to think about when designing out your pool:
- Liner design
- Cover design
- Sun deck
- Diving Board
- Water Slide
We went with Island Granite which is made by Merlin. Our size was 20 x 40, due to the demand from the needs of a diving board and a 6′ pool deck. Our liner will be a hardcover, that kids can walk on. And we decided to go with a diving board and no water slide. A water slide added another $5K ish to the cost and we decided we can add in later. Our boys are all divers so that was a non-negotiable with this family.
How Much Does an In-Ground Pool Cost?
On average you can spend anywhere from $60 – $150K for an in-ground pool. When we started on this journey we budgeted $100K. And here’s broken down what we ended up paying exactly in the end. Total coming in at $104,780.00
Overall, on average you can spend anywhere from $60K – 80K just for the pool depending on size, shape, and all the bells and whistles that you put into it. As we mentioned we went with a 6′ sun deck which adds costs as well as a diving board.
- Pool and Deck Patio | $12,200
- Stone Steps | $4,600
- Pump Truck Fees
As I mentioned, we also have septic so we had to do some adjustments to this. In order to grade the land out, we had to raise it. Jamie will eventually be cutting that black plastic thing down.
Although we don’t have the concrete done yet – we’re diving in! Cannot wait to enjoy this next spring again.
And it’ll be forever impossible for us to get a good family photo! But we’ll keep trying. Here are the first family photos we got swimming together in our pool, as a family.