We’re Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool 1

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're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

We initially thought this project would “maybe” happen in 2023 or 2024. Being we had just wrapped up our sports court and after calling around to different companies and being no one was calling us back – we thought it was going to take a while.

We started contacting pool companies 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 the beautiful tree had to go. 

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

Here is now where the pool is, overlooking from our deck.

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool


First, let’s talk timeline. It’s never too early to plan, even as we tell our clients 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 it – 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 maybe 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. 2


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. 

Call Around 

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 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. Being we knew we wanted a sun deck and also a 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 layout for us.


After we figured out the placement of the pool, sadly, one of our favorite trees had to come down. We took care of that ourselves. 

And then once that was gone, 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. 

Steel Installation 

Concrete, vinyl, or fiberglass? Many options for pools. 

We did a steel wall – and that is because in MN with ground movement. The advantage to steel over fiberglass in MN is available to maintain a chemical proper is very difficult is because or our calcium hardness. 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. 

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

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.

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

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. 

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

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. 

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool


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. 

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool 2

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool 3

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.

Cover Installation 

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 for next spring. Every city is different and some cities don’t require that you have 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. Due to both of these, we 

Things to think about when designing out your pool: 

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Liner design
  • Cover design
  • Sun deck
  • Diving Board
  • Water Slide 
  • Lights 

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

Septic Situations

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. 

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

Dive in! 

Although we don’t have the concrete done yet – we’re diving in! Cannot wait to enjoy this next spring again.

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool


We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool

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. 

We're Digging! | Adding in an In-ground Swimming Pool







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[…] ours! If you saw we took down a very large maple tree in our yard when we went under construction to dig our pool so this thing has been in full use for the last couple of months as we cut up that beautiful tree […]


[…] shopping has officially begun for us and our pool is opening this week! Last fall, we shared that we were digging and adding in an in-ground pool. We got the pool finished just in time to […]