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Thread: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

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    Nginerd's Avatar
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    Question Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Hello everyone, I found this site while doing some research for a new pool I intend to install in the spring next year. I'm in the early planning stages and this forum seems like a pretty good resource! I'm hoping to find some help from any Michiganders, specifically in the south eastern part of the state. I'm pretty much committed to going the OB route with as much DIY as possible.

    ***IF YOU'RE NOT INTERESTED IN MY HISTORY OR BACKGROUND, PLEASE SKIP TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH***

    I think its safe to say I'm pretty handy, I have some construction experience helping my parents build their own home which they GC'ed and did a lot of DIY. With help from some friends and family, we framed the house, roofed it, laid flooring, and did the finish carpentry work ourselves and subcontracted the rest. I also have a mechanical engineering degree which hopefully counts for something. Don't get me wrong, I know full well I haven't swallowed all the marbles and even with my experience, GC'ing a pool is definitely intimidating! So thats a little bit about my background.

    So two years ago, my wife and I decided we wanted a pool. We met with several pool builders and selected a pool shape and type (vinyl). We even hired a landscape designer to draw up a comprehensive plan for the entire property with the proposed pool so that we could make smart decisions during construction that would accommodate any future plans. We had all of the financing lined up when we made the wise but difficult decision to pay off some debt first, so we put the pool on hold. Cut to today, and I'm ready to start again but with a different perspective and realization that we could be saving a significant amount of money or at least getting better value by being my own GC.

    So at this point I'm starting to put together budgets, gathering information about pool kits and generally learning as much as possible. I've even purchased a copy of the Michigan building codes. Now, I mentioned I wanted to do as much DIY as possible, but I don't think excavation is one of them (nor is concrete finishing). Although I actually do have experience running bobcats, backhoes and excavators, that experience does not include the precision that I think is necessary for this project. And even though I'm actually pretty confident that I could do it, it wouldn't be as economical as hiring a pro...which leads me (finally I know, sorry for long post) to my first question. I have tried in vain to contact several excavators to meet with me, but NO ONE is returning my calls! I would love to hear form anyone in the SE Michigan area (specifically Livingston county) that has any experience building their own pool and/or could recommend an excavator. Of course I welcome any other help, guidance or tips that anyone is kind enough to offer. Thanks in advance, I look forward to sharing my journey with the community!

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    HI! It will be fun to watch you build your pool! Here are some of my thoughts:

    Right now is their busy season. Everyone is thinking "pool for the summer" so they have all of the work they can handle. They are not going to give up doing work for a person that hires them for many pools to work for a person that will only be doing one pool. You might to wait until mid summer to try calling them again.

    Sorry to not any better ideas We see it quite often.

    Kim
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Welcome! Kim is right....they are overloaded with work right now. I had planned an owner build, but the plans took almost 2 months and put us in the busy season. No one could help me....many didn't call me back either. If they did the response was that they were experiencing their busiest season ever. I heard it countless times. I ended up going with a family owned and operated pool builder who's estimate I probably couldn't beat going O/B.

    Since you're not putting it in until next Spring, I agree that waiting until later this Summer/Fall you'll get a better response. And better prices. I'd also get the build started as early in the season as possible. Until then keep researching and learning on this forum. You sound like you're on the right path!!
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    You might think about hiring a contractor for the items that you can't do and they will have the relationship with the workers. Otherwise, as you work on bids from one company, ask them if they know someone from another. You might want to be looking for the smaller companies / one man show type of company as they will have more flexibility to control their schedule.

    Not having the contacts for contractors that are not really list on Angies List or have a website is half the reason that I did not do a 100% Owner Build.
    Matt
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Kim and Sheree, thank you for the comments. I did anticipate that this would be a busy time for excavators, In fact that's exactly why I decided to start trying to meet with them now so that I could get into someones schedule for early next year. But I never imagined that I wouldn't even get a call back.

    mgmoore, interesting thought. I wonder what type of contractor would be willing to do this though. Are you suggesting a pool builder or someone else? I would think a pool builder would scoff at the idea, especially if they are busy. Who did you hire as the GC for the tasks that you didn't GC yourself?

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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    If you have ever had any kind of construction or work done on a house you know they can be hard to work with..........IF they call you back they might not show up. IF they show up them might not get back with a price. IF they get back with a price them might show up to do the work....

    You are going to be glad you started NOW so when you are ready you will have lined up your subs.

    Finding a GC..............Look around your area..........who has pools? See if you can ask them who built it and if they liked them......

    See if you can find ANY new pools being done in your area. Get out and talk to the subs........ask who they would have do ?? work and branch from there.

    It is going to be like having full time job there for a while..........you need to decide if it is worth it.........time/effort or money.........some things to think about.

    Please keep this thread going and tell us what you find and how you find it.........others can learn from you.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Quote Originally Posted by Nginerd View Post
    mgmoore, interesting thought. I wonder what type of contractor would be willing to do this though. Are you suggesting a pool builder or someone else? I would think a pool builder would scoff at the idea, especially if they are busy. Who did you hire as the GC for the tasks that you didn't GC yourself?
    I used a small pool builder that does a dozen or so pools a year and contracting work for other PBs. I spoke to at least 10 companies before I found what I wanted.

    I acted as the GC for the items that the PB did not do but these were things like screen enclosure, deck, coping, baby fence, landscaping. Keeping these things out of the PBs hand allowed me to get exactly what I wanted, control the process and not get charged a mark up or have to work through a middle man.
    Matt
    2016 Pool Build: 12k IG Blue Granite Pebblesheen, Travertine Coping & Pavers, Pentair IntelliFlo, Intellichlor, Easytouch, Clean & Clear 320, Heliocol Solar - TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Thanks for the comments, I will update this thread when I've made some progress.

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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Can anyone recommend a reputable company to purchase the pool from? So far I have found SPP, Pool warehouse, and poolkits.com.

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    What KIND of pool are you thinking of? In ground? Above ground? Plaster? Vinyl? Fiberglass?

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Quote Originally Posted by kimkats View Post
    What KIND of pool are you thinking of? In ground? Above ground? Plaster? Vinyl? Fiberglass?

    Kim
    See the original post in this thread (in ground, vinyl)

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Sorry about that but I forgot and I wanted to make sure. Maybe add it to your signature so it is always there at a glance. I have not worked with any of those companies but that does not mean anything LOL

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    I think it's still appropriate to post this in this thread as its part of the "planning" process. I'll start a new thread when I actually start building. Anyway, here is the landscaping overview plan with the pool that I mentioned in the original post. This was done a couple years ago and now I can't find the shape that we had selected offered anywhere (called Taormina), sooo this will probably be changing to a lagoon. Just thought I'd share. Btw, how can I attach this so that it's full resolution?
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Become a supporting member and that will get you more storage and you will get a discount of the test kits and you help us keep the lights on.

    CLICK HERE to Become a TroubleFreePool.com Supporter!!

    You can also link to photobucket or such and use the IMG code.

    Kim
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Ah, ok...I was wondering what the "supporter" badges were. I intend to make good use of this forum so I will definitely be donating! Say, what are the "lifetime TFP" badges?
    Coming Spring 2017
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    There was a previous set of badges for those who donated. The current program has some different designations.
    Please keep anything related to your build in this thread. The title is somewhat unimportant. It's nice and also helpful for folks (including you once you start referencing back here) to have the whole book under one cover. You'll see that some of the best tales here evolve and flow as the number of pages increase. Many people will just pull up the Construction section and will always see yours as having new posts to check out.
    I look forward to seeing the full size file of your diagram. Let us know if you need any additional assistance on the file side.
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    I've been researching the forum for plumbing recommendations and I don't think I could be more torn! The only thing that's certain is that I won't be using flex PVC. But I keep flip flopping between black poly and schedule 40. Keep in mind I live in Michigan where the winters can be pretty brutal. I think if not for that fact it, would be a no brainier (schedule 40), but I see some people mention black poly might be a better choice for cold climates because of its flexibility. I also like the fact that I can get a single continuous run without any joints from pool to pump with the poly. So I'm leaning poly but, I admit I'm not completely comfortable with a barbed mechnical fitting....ugh! How do I make this decision?!
    Coming Spring 2017
    IG Vinyl, 18 x 36 25k gal, spill over spa...rest is TBD

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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Hi Nginerd,
    I live in Milford, MI and am completing my own pool build. I started this time last year and did almost all the work myself. We were swimming just before Labor Day. PM me and I would LOVE to get together to talk and help answer any questions you have. You are welcome to come over and I'll share all of my experience, pictures and videos. Here is my intro.

    -Dave

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh yeah, I have a name of an excellent excavator. I hired him and he works really well with the do it yourselfer. I'm sure I can get him to work for you.
    29,000 gallon vinyl liner custom designed lagoon style in-ground pool (self-built 2015-2016), Hayward EcoStar VS pump, Hayward HP21404T Heat Pump (140K BTU), Hayward Pro Grid DE DE6020 Filter with Fiber Clear, Hayward Tiger Shark, 2 Hayward Color-Logic LED lights, Stenner 45MPHP10
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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Trying to decide what lights I want and discovered that they come in two varieties, niche and nicheless. I think I understand the basic difference, but given the option why would you want a niche? I don't think I completely understand the advantages or disadvantages of one over the other. I'm looking at Hayward color logic btw.
    Coming Spring 2017
    IG Vinyl, 18 x 36 25k gal, spill over spa...rest is TBD

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    Re: Owner Builder Planning and Excavation in Michigan

    Updating landscape plan with higher res image. As I said before, the pool is most likely changing to a lagoon. I'll update again after the landscaper updates the plan probably mid to late summer.
    Landscape Plan-2.jpg
    Coming Spring 2017
    IG Vinyl, 18 x 36 25k gal, spill over spa...rest is TBD

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