Hi, my name's Brian and I'm a poolaholic!
Just kidding. Anyway, new the forum. I grew up with an IG pool as a kid. My wife and I decided last year to install our own IG pool. I wish I had thought to check on line for opinions and what not before hand, but that said I only have a couple of minor regrets. I live in Massachusetts (yes that's a regret but I'll save those issues for a different forum).
We installed an 18'x36' rectangular IG pool with steps in the low end and a swim out in the deep end. It's a vinyl pool...mostly because that's what I am familiar with and also due to cost, and some other practical reason as well. We opted for a SWG system and they installed the Hayward Salt and Swim 3C (this is one of my minor regrets), a Hayward 1HP Super Pump (not really a regret, but I'm wishing maybe I had chosen something different) and a Hayward DE3620 (again, not necessarily a regret, but I was leaning towards cartridge and I let myself get talked into DE...and I hate being talked into things).
Now, I don't know salt from shinola, but it seems on one hand there are certainly better systems out there than the S&S 3C. On the other hand, I figured I could go this route without spending a ton and get my feet wet on the whole SWG thing. The more I think about it, the more it gnaws at me that I didn't just make ask to upgrade the system. If I get two seasons out of a cell, and a new one is ~$200 (ish) then that won't be too bad and I may even stick with it. If not, I'll use it for a couple of years and upgrade. That's actually my thought process on the pump and filter as well. I grew up with Sand Filters, so DE and Cartridge are both new to me. I appreciate the "polishing" qualities of DE, but a reusable cartridge seems like the bees knees. I also know that there are pros and cons to each so it is what it is. As far as the pump goes, I do wish I had gotten something a little quieter, and maybe a VS. We'll see how it goes as well.
Overall my install went well and the Pool Company that got the job was pretty good. He was certainly the least 'shilly' of the six I had bid on the project. I never realized what a racket this business is. In any case, our guy wasn't terrible. His estimate was by far the lowest and they were all using basically the same gear with minor variations here and there. I'm a firm believer in you get what you pay for and I wasn't prepared to skimp on giant hole in my yard, so I came right out and asked him how he can be so much lower than everyone else. His price included the safety cover, the electrician, 1000 sq/ft of poured concrete for the patio and a bunch of other little things that other companies were charging for on top of the cost of the pool. He said his approach is that he'd rather have us use him for service (opening and closing), chemicals, and general questions and not make a ton on the install. As a further example, the going rate of the changing LED light for the deep end of the pool was between $1,250 and $1,400, my guy was half of that at $650 (same exact fixture as everyone else, I compared them all, and asked him if he was using 'Hot' components or something). He said he makes money on the install, but he's not looking to retire from my one pool. Fair enough, I can appreciate that, being that I take the same approach with my own job. So all in all I feel much less violated than after buying a car.
Unfortunately for him, I'm a DIY guy and I'm terribly obsessive, so he's likely going to miss out on my water testing and such, but I don't mind supporting the local guy when it comes to most of the consumables as long as his prices aren't way out of line. So far it seems like a good relationship. I bought some DE from him today and it was $5 for 25 pounds which seems to be the going rate.
We installed last September, and promptly closed in early October. We just opened yesterday and the water looks great; crystal clear. There's plenty of scum on the bottom, but it's vacuuming right up. My test kit should be here today from Amazon, so I'm looking forward to that as well. Kids are psyched, wife is psyched and I'm ready to start the season.