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6 things I wish I knew before building a pool

Building a pool in your backyard can be an interesting and exciting transformation for your outdoor living space, but it doesn’t come without unavoidable frustrations. Here are the six things I wish someone had told me before we began our project:

No matter how long the pool company promises it will take to complete, it will take longer

You need to be prepared for this upfront. We deduced pretty early on that there was a significant disconnect between the salesman and the construction manager in terms of our completion date. It’s no wonder, sales’ motivation is to get you to sign on the line. The construction manager is in charge of scheduling. If you are with a large pool company, chances are these two departments don’t discuss timetables prior to your signature and deposit. Also, there will be factors that are beyond their control – and within their control – that will impact your completion date. Things like:

  • weather,
  • HOA approval
  • City approval
  • how many jobs are in their pipeline
  • design time
  • whether there is a Y in the day…

Any and all of these can impact how quickly you go from grass to having a blast in your own pool.

building pool


Building a pool WILL inconvenience your neighbors

Even if you aren’t tearing down a shared fence, you’re still going to aggravate your neighbors when you build a pool. It’s wise to get their blessing — or at the very least warn them — before you begin a construction project of this magnitude.

Between the noise, the various contractor crews that will park on the street in front of their house and mailbox, the dirt that will go into their yard and all over their cars and anything in their yard, the broken sprinkler heads and drains from the construction equipment driving over it, and the trampled grass… it’s sure to test the patience of even the nicest, most accommodating neighbors in some manner, I guarantee.

Everyone has an opinion on what’s right for your pool

I liken building a pool to having a baby. Lots of people who have built a pool already are going to tell you what to do and what they did or wished they did, before you even ask for advice. When they inquire about your choices, and your answer differs than theirs, they will likely justify why they chose what they did – with conviction.

For example: Are you getting a chlorine pool or a salt water pool? Seems innocuous enough. But if you say, “salt” and they chose chlorine, they’re likely going to spend the next couple of minutes telling you that they chose chlorine because “salt would destroy the coping tiles,” among whatever else went into their decision process or what their salesman told them.

Research for YOUR family

This is so important. If you want a saltwater pool, get a saltwater pool. If you want poured concrete, get poured concrete, if you want a dark bottom pool, get a dark bottom pool. No one else has your exact budget, or backyard space, or personal style preference, and all of those factor into your choices. Don’t let other people second-guess you.

Do your research, talk with a few pool companies, and decide as a family what your priorities are, what you want to splurge on, and make a decision within your house, not based on what others tell you. By all means, take their advice into consideration, but DO NOT take it personally or be shamed into doing what they did. 

The pool company doesn’t care that you have a professional life

They will expect you to be available at their discretion for meetings or garage access. The daily job of construction crews and their general contractors is only to get your project done so they can move onto the next one. That’s their priority – and delays cost them money. They don’t care that you have to be downtown at a certain time, or that maybe you can’t back your car out of your garage for school pickup because the trucks are blocking you. They just know they have to get two pools poured that day or unload a truck bed full of pavers and don’t want to walk the extra 10 feet with that heavy load. Surprise phone calls that they have crews on the way that need access to your garage are not uncommon, so be as flexible as you can, and be willing to have on-site meetings at their convenience, not yours.

Life-altering “stuff” will happen

For example, the utilities company likely stuck miniature flags in your yard to alert the construction crews as to where your utility lines are laid. You need to assume that the crews will perceive these to be actual targets. Cutting your cable and internet line is perhaps an every day thing for the crew, but for you, who works from home mostly online– it can actually impact your billing ability and productivity (especially when it takes 4 days to schedule your service to be restored). Or perhaps even worse, when they blow out your hot water pilot light and you’re out of hot water for 48 hours because it won’t light again. Those are the things that make people crazy and yell at their contractor. Assume the worst, hope for the best, and take a deep breath.

You have to inspect, inspect, inspect

Likely you will have a general contractor overseeing your project (for us, outdoor kitchen WITH pool project) but don’t let them fool you into thinking they are there supervising the crews all day long. There may be (will be) several days that they don’t actually show up on-site at all. You’ll need to alert the GC to the fact that the paver crews found a random brick to put into your patio that doesn’t match, or they didn’t fill sand into your steps, or the wall caved in, or that the electricians broke the bulb on your ceiling fan but hung it anyway hoping you wouldn’t notice, or that the grill wasn’t installed correctly, or – worst of all — that they helped themselves to a few things out of your garage, etc., etc., etc. Yes, all those happened to us and more. Just use your common sense. If it doesn’t look right, take note, take a photo, and keep a running list of items that need to be addressed with your contractor.

finished outdoor pool

Don’t get me wrong, having a pool FINISHED is great. The process of building it is a beast so manage your expectations, be patient, and keep the end in sight.

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