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Thread: My cost savings by going owner builder route

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    My cost savings by going owner builder route

    I've seen several owner builders going on and several questions about how much savings can be had by doing that. Thought I'd share my savings for those looking at it. Disclaimer: my savings are not necessarily what you'll see and pricing is very regional.

    I'm not yet done with my build (a week away), but there are enough known costs that I think it's pretty representative. I'm sure I'll get surprised again by an extra cost I didn't foresee but hopefully not too big of a swing.

    First of all, the guy on howibuiltmyownpool.com also has his cost breakdown and his savings seems to reflect mine.

    Secondly, the builder that I'm comparing to is a national builders price quote in Austin for a very basic pool. Every other builder was more expensive, but this builder was reputable (by some accounts cuts some corners, but a decent one).

    And my savings was... Roughly 30%. I've heard that builders shoot for at least 25% margins and that seems to be the case. My entire cost breakdown can be seen in my spreadsheet here: Pool - Google Sheets

    I had to take out some of my upgrades that I did to compare apples to apples (like adding a heat pump), but I think it's a pretty fair comparison.

    I have to qualify this 30% savings however. You will NOT actually save 30%. That is, I would not have spent $64k on my pool. You WILL upgrade things that you wouldn't have otherwise because "hey. I'm getting it a lot cheaper than I would with a builder". I could have built my pool for a lot cheaper, but I couldn't resist. And Im glad I didn't cheap out in my usual fashion (though I might be saying a different story if a go broke ).

    The things I liked about the OB process:
    • I liked having control. I'm the type of person that even with a PB I would have been overseeing everything, annoying the contractors.
    • I liked saving money
    • I liked the sense of ownership I took in doing it myself

    I don't like:
    • If something goes wrong, I have some blame in that and my costs might go up
    • i don't have a great warranty. Each sub stands by their work but for a short amount of time (though sometimes with PBs their warranty is not worth much because they either go out of business or play the fine print game)
    • I've felt like I had to obsess over this process (that's just sort of what I do), which has taken away from work and family


    Anyway, that's my experience and those are my numbers (unless I get surprised). Let me know if you have any questions.
    Construction underway.

    33x23 freeform 16k gallon IG pool, pebblesheen, SWG in Austin, TX
    Pentair 3HP VS pump, Hayward 30" sand filter
    Build thread: New Austin, TX Owner Build

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Very inspiring!

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Check here is the link you refer to:
    Build Your Own Pool | How I Built My Own Swimming Pool | How To Build Your Own Swimming Pool

    its a couple of years old now, but a lot of the costs are fairly accurate. You might have to register to see the comparison, but I encourage you to if you are going O/B, it has a lot of great info.

    Im coming up with 25-30% as well, but as you point out - i seem to pow the savings back into the pool with upgrades!

    .
    O/B Woodland Hills, CA : O/B12x30 inground with 6x6 10-jet spa, 10,500gal, 6' Baja deck, 42" spillway, All Jandy: 400k heater, 2.7 HP VS pump, 1.5HP booster spa pump, SWG, Intellelink controls, (4) LED lights, cartridge filter and BlueSquareQ360 infloor cleaning system, Eclipse drain, glass tiles, Zanzibar white pebble finish. Broke ground 2/18/2016, completed 8/16/2016. TFT 100 kit.

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    You listed the pros and cons perfectly. Couldn't agree more.

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    And5555 ... Very interesting post. Im doing OB myself and can reflect similar pros/cons (personality style). The flexibility to make decisions right on the fly because you know all variables including the 'real' budget (which is what we are willing to spend if we think the value is there). Just made a 'right turn' decision this week ... Original plan was brushed concrete decking w/ stain.. However, due to size of decking / masonry project I got what I believe to be a great labor rate on natural stone decking labor per foot. Now I will go all stone on top of concrete. Had I gone with PB this decision (decking surface) would have been locked in (since pricing would have been pre-determined) and 'missed out' on these types of upgrades you referred to.

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    I love the way you show what you can save and then caution that the person will spend it/some on upgrades.

    It's funny but soooooo true
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiss4aFrog View Post
    I love the way you show what you can save and then caution that the person will spend it/some on upgrades.

    It's funny but soooooo true
    We can vouch for the truth of that!
    28,000 gallon freeform, Stonescapes Tropics Blue Minipebble with abalone, 3.5' to 8.5' depth. 2 skimmers, 5 returns, dedicated vacuum port, Dolphin Z5 robot. All Pentair equip: EasyTouch 8, IC60 SWG, VS pump, 520 Cartridge Filter, 3 Intellibrites, 2 Color Cascade Bubblers. TurboTwister Slide and 8' Salt System Jump Board. TF-100. My Jan-Mar 2016 build:
    Waxahachie, TX Owner Build - A race to beat the baby!!

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Quote Originally Posted by Formulasun View Post
    And5555 ... Very interesting post. Im doing OB myself and can reflect similar pros/cons (personality style). The flexibility to make decisions right on the fly because you know all variables including the 'real' budget (which is what we are willing to spend if we think the value is there). Just made a 'right turn' decision this week ... Original plan was brushed concrete decking w/ stain.. However, due to size of decking / masonry project I got what I believe to be a great labor rate on natural stone decking labor per foot. Now I will go all stone on top of concrete. Had I gone with PB this decision (decking surface) would have been locked in (since pricing would have been pre-determined) and 'missed out' on these types of upgrades you referred to.
    Thanks! I know that when I was trying to get a rough idea of cost savings, I didn't see a lot out there - thought I'd contribute that for future me.

    Thats awesome and totally was true in my case. I wouldn't even be planning out the next part until I was well into the preceding part (I'm not much of a planner). A lot of people wonder about quality, but I really feel like I got a higher quality product by being so involved and being able to interview several different subs. For example, on my patio, I talked to like 4 guys that were recommended. I ultimately went with someone that was awesome and had some really good unique ideas for mine (embedding stones within the patio to help blend the stone wall in). With the best builders you'll be fine, but many builders will cut corners or just go with the cheapest guy. It's definitely the case that no pool builder cares nearly as much as I do about getting everything perfect.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiss4aFrog View Post
    I love the way you show what you can save and then caution that the person will spend it/some on upgrades.

    It's funny but soooooo true
    Our quoted price: $51k, what would have been out price for that pool: $36k, we ended up at $45k due to upgrades even though I am a very very cheap person.
    Construction underway.

    33x23 freeform 16k gallon IG pool, pebblesheen, SWG in Austin, TX
    Pentair 3HP VS pump, Hayward 30" sand filter
    Build thread: New Austin, TX Owner Build

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    sheree202's Avatar
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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Thank you so much for such a helpful thread! I've already added a slide built into my hill with my projected savings!!

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Great thread, thanks for sharing. I'm getting bids to build a pool and considering being my own GC. I'll PM you as I'm interested in who you used as subs.

    -Foos

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    My biggest struggle with 'owner build' was getting quality contractors,, and quality contractors to show up on time. I think the biggest benefit of having a professional pool builder do it for you, is his contractors will be working for him for years - so they do a good job,, show up on time., and if there is an issue he has the power with them to get it fixed.
    As a owner build, the contractors know you are one and done,, not saying you can't get good contractors but your sort of at their mercy even if you have a contract with them.
    Just my two cents.
    In-ground block / vinyl liner 33' x 22' x 5',, approx 25k gals
    Cartridge Filter
    Floor drains, 2 skimmers, 3 return lines (2" plumbing ultra-flex PVC)

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    All,
    Thank you for posting on this thread. My wife and I are contemplating OB, but will likely hire a PB due to current circumstances. This thread helped to solidify this decision. A 25% to 30% premium is quite a tough nut to swallow, but for our situation, its worth it. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing so candidly!!!
    JManteca
    Looking to buy this season.
    Central CA
    Current Plan:
    Free form 36'x20' gunite, 24K gallon, Heated (???), Raised spa, Possible slide, Raised deck around spa, Tanning shelf

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    I agree with the pros/cons listed by others, the 2 biggest things for me was getting a timely completions, many builders in our area seem to really struggle with that and having my vision come to life not their interpretation of my vision.
    18x36 Vinyl, sports depth, 8' Roman steps at each end. Hayward 1.5hp 2speed pump, catridge filter, 2 skimmers, no main drain, 3 SR Smith Treo LED lights

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Quote Originally Posted by dw9000 View Post
    My biggest struggle with 'owner build' was getting quality contractors,, and quality contractors to show up on time. I think the biggest benefit of having a professional pool builder do it for you, is his contractors will be working for him for years - so they do a good job,, show up on time., and if there is an issue he has the power with them to get it fixed.
    As a owner build, the contractors know you are one and done,, not saying you can't get good contractors but your sort of at their mercy even if you have a contract with them.
    Just my two cents.
    I will agree with this. Disclaimer; my wife is in the custom home business. We have seen many people build their own homes and it turns into a very, very long "project". I have read enough OBs on here to see a lot of strong similarities between OB homes and pools. I think its safe to say; you can save A LOT of money as an OB, BUT - I think the amount you save is directly related to how busy the subs are in your area and what you think your time is worth.

    Around here for both pools and homes, it is very, very busy. Most of the time you cannot find a sub. And when you do you find one they are many, many weeks out. We get some good deals from subs on jobs for our personal projects because of the working relationship with my wife. But we see them markup up jobs A BUNCH for individuals.

    The other hidden cost in the OB is your time. As the OB you are spending a lot of your time doing what the PB would do. No matter what you think that is not free time; you have an "hourly rate." (Nor is all that markup pure profit for the PB either; he has an hourly rate as well other expenses).

    I applaud those who can do it and do it well!

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    I was very lucky to find a sub that I hired as my GC and he has kept everything running very smoothly. Early on I received a bid from a PB before deciding to go the O/B route. By going O/B i did not spend any less money however I got much more pool.
    Almost completed. 35x16 3.5/5.5/4. 7x10 Wet deck with one color cascade bubbler. Three 24" sheer descents. JR Smith typhoon water slide. 420 SF filter, Intelliflo VS pump and whisperflow feature pump. IC 40 SWG. ScreenLogic automation. 80% solar heating coverage. Noche travertine coping with ivory pavers. Outdoor kitchen with Bull appliances. Doheny Discovery robot.

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Quote Originally Posted by slpybeartx View Post
    I will agree with this. Disclaimer; my wife is in the custom home business. We have seen many people build their own homes and it turns into a very, very long "project". I have read enough OBs on here to see a lot of strong similarities between OB homes and pools. I think its safe to say; you can save A LOT of money as an OB, BUT - I think the amount you save is directly related to how busy the subs are in your area and what you think your time is worth.

    Around here for both pools and homes, it is very, very busy. Most of the time you cannot find a sub. And when you do you find one they are many, many weeks out. We get some good deals from subs on jobs for our personal projects because of the working relationship with my wife. But we see them markup up jobs A BUNCH for individuals.

    The other hidden cost in the OB is your time. As the OB you are spending a lot of your time doing what the PB would do. No matter what you think that is not free time; you have an "hourly rate." (Nor is all that markup pure profit for the PB either; he has an hourly rate as well other expenses).

    I applaud those who can do it and do it well!
    As someone in the middle of an OB, I completely agree with your comments and agree that there is definitely a cost of my time and it has been more than I expected. I also agree that if you want good subs, then you will be waiting and my 6 week pool build has turned into a 6 month pool build. I'm okay with the trade off in time, especially since we started in winter...but, there is a trade off in total build time and I am definitely being de-prioritized versus pool builders. There is definitely a quality vs. cost vs. completion time trade-off to consider. You can find a budget builder and take a "close the blinds approach" who can build your pool in 4-6 weeks. You will likely regret it down the road. I decided I wanted the highest quality pool and was okay with it taking 6 months, but simply couldn't justify the extra $15K-$20K the top pool guys charge as it was entering "horrible investment" range for my house. I am a project guy, but nearly 6-months into this and I'm re-thinking my decision. The pool is turning out great, but with this lengthy of a project and with a busy work schedule and an office 40 minutes away...I am definitely earning my savings
    Build thread - 15'x30' rectangular gunite pool; 17,400 gal; 5'x8' spa raised 12" w/ 8' spillover; 10'x6' Baja shelf; Two 18" tall columns w/ 27" water bowls; Light travertine coping w/ Light 2x4' split travertine ledgestone; Jules Rustic Blue tile; Pentair IC60 SWG; Pentair IntelliFlo 2 VST; Pentair SuperFlo 1HP; Pentair CC520 Cartridge filter; Pentair Easy Touch 8 w/ ScreenLogic2; Four Pentair GloBrite; Raypak 406 heater.

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    Hang in there Foosman... I've been following your thread and the build will be worth it. And when you sip some Blanton's on the rocks sitting by the pool you won't even remember it. Well, most of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foosman View Post
    As someone in the middle of an OB, I completely agree with your comments and agree that there is definitely a cost of my time and it has been more than I expected. I also agree that if you want good subs, then you will be waiting and my 6 week pool build has turned into a 6 month pool build. I'm okay with the trade off in time, especially since we started in winter...but, there is a trade off in total build time and I am definitely being de-prioritized versus pool builders. There is definitely a quality vs. cost vs. completion time trade-off to consider. You can find a budget builder and take a "close the blinds approach" who can build your pool in 4-6 weeks. You will likely regret it down the road. I decided I wanted the highest quality pool and was okay with it taking 6 months, but simply couldn't justify the extra $15K-$20K the top pool guys charge as it was entering "horrible investment" range for my house. I am a project guy, but nearly 6-months into this and I'm re-thinking my decision. The pool is turning out great, but with this lengthy of a project and with a busy work schedule and an office 40 minutes away...I am definitely earning my savings

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    I think the busy contractor issue has a lot to do with when you build. If you're in a hot market and getting into late spring/summer, you do run the risk of having contractors prioritizing builders over you. One mitigation for that is a company like "Build Your Own Pool", where you're effectively pooling together with owner builders (no pun intended).

    When I did my pool in winter (beginning December through beginning Feb), I had the opposite experience. Contractors were hungry, coming out right away. One contractor even offered me a big discount if I had him do the patio asap because his crew was sitting idle.

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    Re: My cost savings by going owner builder route

    JManteca - if you are in Manteca CA - I can give you the same of a VERY solid builder. He is building mine right now. I have multiple references on his build quality and can vouch for the fact that he is a totally stand up guy (thus far in my dealings). Shoot me a PM if you are interested.
    In Ground Gunite Pool - UNDER CONSTRUCTION. 40x15 rectangle 3.5/5/4 sport, plus 20x5 shelf.
    Pentair TR-140 Sand Filter, Intelliflow VS Pump, Easy Touch 4, 6 GloBright LED's, Rebel Cleaner with Autofill

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