Design & Engineering
The first place most homeowners look for qualified swimming pool contractors is the local phone book, and by word of mouth from others who have built a pool. After the initial interview process, you will have a good idea what your swimming pool will cost to have built. The contractor or consultant will provide a design and a complete bid for your acceptance. With a contract in hand, the contractor will obtain all necessary engineering from a qualified structural engineer. The contractor will then submit for permits from the local jurisdiction. At this point, it might also be necessary for the contractor to apply for a Home Owners Association(HOA) approval depending on your local community requirements. Once the building permit is obtained, the construction kicks off in high gear.
Layout & Excavation
This is one of the most exciting phases of swimming pool construction, excavation. Excavation is the digging and forming of the swimming pool. The very first thing the excavation crews do is the pregrade. Pregrade is the clearing of the pool site and the grading of the area for the swimming pool. This allows the crew to paint on the ground the final shape of your pool and at the same time the crew will stake the perimeter of the pool and add forms for the structure of the pool. The typical time needed to dig a pool depends on various factors. These factors include: access, soil conditions, and overall size and depth of the pool. Most pools these days are dug in 1 to 2 days.
Rough Plumbing & Electrical
Once the pool is dug, it's time to move on to the rough plumbing and electrical. This is where all of the trenches will be dug for all the pipes and conduits necessary to operate your pool. Sometimes, the rough plumbing & electrical will be broken down in a couple of parts, otherwise all trenching and installation of the pipes and conduits will be done at the same time. This includes installation of the suction and return lines, water-feature lines, vacuum cleaner lines, fill lines, solar inlet and returns, gas lines for swimming pool heater and future barbecues and firepits, and the electrical service line. In most cases this will take 2-3 days to complete, and may be done either before, during or after steel.
The steel phase is the addition of rebar formed in the ultimate shape of the pool. A rebar contractor will "tie" the steel using bailing wire in a grid pattern determined by the structural engineer. A good crew will normally take less than a day to tie the steel depending on the size, shape and any raised walls or bond beams.
Gunite or Shotcrete
Up until this time, your backyard will look like one big disaster area, with trenches running here and there and a big hole in your yard with a criss-cross pattern of rebar running through. Gunite or Shotcrete is the application of the concrete to the pool surface, it makes the shell of your pool. The crews will arrive and via a hose will apply the concrete in the end, the pool will have a close to finish look. The benches installed, and the pool walls and floor will have been completed. This will also be one of the first times you will be required to be actively involved in the construction of your pool. For the next 7 to 10 days, you will be required to hose down the swimming pool shell two and three times a day with water to help cure the gunite or shotcrete. You will be truly amazed at how much water the pool structure adsorbs.
Tile & Rock
After the installation of the gunite or shotcrete, the waterline tile and any rock or boulders will be installed on your pool. The tile is necessary to provide an easy surface to keep clean at the waterline. Rock or boulders are added to incorporate a natural "swimming hole" look and feel and for waterfalls and jump rocks. For pools with the contemporary look or classic style, tile is incorporated into the design and is applied not only to the water line, but also to any raise walls or water-features.
(Concrete, Pavers, Trex, Tile, Stone, etc.) With the tile installed, the next addition to your swimming pool project is the decking. Now where I grew up, decking was always associated with wood, and redwood was king. But when I got involved in the swimming pool industry, deck was the item that surrounded the pool. For the majority of swimming pool owners, the deck of choice is concrete. Concrete is durable and inexpensive when compared to the other options being, grass or landscaping, tile, stone, pavers and natural or synthetic wood products. The installation of decking takes a minimum of a couple of days for forming and finishing, or it can require multiple days and weeks depending on the surface. The deck crew will also be responsible for installing the equipment pad, where all the pumps, filters, heaters and other equipment necessary to operate your pool will be located.
The excitement builds, you're almost done and ready to swim. At equipment set, either your pool service company or the plumbing and electrical company will return to install all of the equipment. The lights will be installed, control panels will be hooked-up, all pumps, heater and filter will be mounted to the equipment pad and plumbed. This normally is routinely completed within one to two days. All ready for the filling of your pool with water. But wait, we're missing the all important pool surface.
Plaster provides the waterproofing surface for your pool. Plaster comes in many different forms from plain-old, to pebble and polished surfaces. Typically, this can be done in a day. And for those of you where money is no object, this can be an all tile pool surface complete with Grecian borders. After the swimming pool finish has been applied, now is the time to start filling your pool.
Construction Clean-Up and Start-Up
Once the bulk of the construction is complete, all excess and left over materials will be removed from the pool site. All empty boxes will be hauled to the dumps, and finally, your backyard will be ready to be enjoyed and not looking like a disaster zone. The last item left to do is to start up the pool. The start up process assures all equipment is operating and the swimming pool has all of the necessary chemicals to prevent algae and other problems. Now it's your turn to start reaping all of the benefits of swimming pool ownership.
This has been a brief article describing the inground swimming pool process for gunite or shotcrete pools. A swimming pool is the culmination of many individual persons, each an experienced veteran of his or her trade. For most homeowners, a licensed contractor can guide them through the process. For others, the option of building their own pool and acting as their own general contractor can save them thousands of dollars but requires a deeper level of understanding.