My Start to Finish/ Lessons Learned - 27 ft Saltwater 8000 Semi Inground Pool Installation and Deck


Dec 30, 2019
Wilmington, NC
Researched the different pools and our backyard. We are already had a fenced in yard and have a small covered back deck that we used. Wanted to extend the deck out to the pool so it was even. Yard gently sloped. We are about 20 ft above sea level in NC. Knew we needed a semi-inground to try to get close to level.
Used a garden hose and measured out the size pool we wanted. Got the family in the circle, added some "floats", decided on 24ft.
Ordered in December for better pricing and on impulse, decided to spend the extra couple of hundred on a 27 ft round instead. It came days later, we paid extra for the lift gate (definitely need). It is heavy. Stored it in the garage.

Decided in February to see about lining up someone to dig for us. I am very handy and have driven forklifts, but never an excavator.
This is where the nightmare starts. First guy responded they would dig (29 ft round 24 inches to 11 inches for slope) for $200!! I was ready and amazed. Had decided it would probably cost me $1000 to rent and do it myself.
Guy never showed up after repeat callings. Next 4! guys never showed up.
I rented an excavator from Home Depot (sub $400) and dug. Very random depths, but had my spray painted circle dug and thought it would be able to level. Cold for NC rainy time. It is true that the dirt is more than you can ever imagine. Air gets caught, so it is higher and sinks if you walk on it.
We get rain and more rain. And more rain. Siphon out 7 inches of water.
Have someone coming out to level with laser level and remove dirt for $160!!!! Again, wow. Came out, got stuck. Told me it was going to rain again and had the guy start pushing dirt back in my hole before I could say anything. Proceeds to tell me his ideas and as I add them up, comes up to about $1500 in materials and rentals plus extra labor and weeks out. I was devasted.
Coronavirus hits (late March). Contact several others to see about digging/leveling. Finally get a few people to come out. They range but basically $1200-$2700 to dig me back to level.
Get someone who thinks he can get me dug out with a skid steer (wheeled, not tracked) for $200 in an hour. He comes out instead of when he was scheduled, the morning after rain. He gets stuck and we spend 1.5 hours getting him out. He digs out a little to get some dirt out, not enough.
I tell him I'll hand dig an area so he has an idea of where the level line is. At this point, no laser level and my laser is broken. I use pvc pipe hammed in, a string tied to my current deck and a level to get hopefully within the ballpark.
he can't come back for at least a week and we get more rain. I continue to dig.
I call him back and tell him not to come back and pay him a fair amount for the original. I end up digging around 16 hours by hand over several days and get it flat.

Ground Prep
I buy landscape cloth and crushed rock. Install myself. used my tiny 5x8 trailer to get about 1500 lbs at a time and hand shovel in to area. It sucks.
Get 5.5 yards of sand delivered. They only drop on driveway, so have to wheelbarrow back to area. Wife helps fill, 2 wheelbarrows, I transport and dump (possible mistake see during wall install).
Get it in, piles, not level. only need 4-5 yards, but wanted more, right?
Buy pavers and install 18 at footings. Level. Level around. Looks great. Tape measure out and not round. Dig more. Move pavers. Had stake at middle, assume string may have stretched at measurements. Original spray paint is long gone at this point. get it ready, worked part of Thursday on it, ready for the pool on Friday, no rain scheduled.

Pool Install - Take 1
Installed footers and track. Measured out, ready for the wall.
That wall is HEAVY!!!!!!!! Watched a video and on a hand cart, moved around the outside and spun. DO NOT GO THIS ROUTE. Heavy, heavy, heavy. Didn't know at the time. Plus, in dirt and avoiding sand piles that are in the middle area. Have been told the wall is 400 pounds. Not sure, but feels like it and grabbing a small thin area and pulling up is hard and trying to keep the roll from falling over at the same time. This starts as myself and wife only. Light afternoon breezes. 3 hours later, finally have it around and at this point have kids 8 and 10 standing to hold it.
We are now to the "door", the stainless steel section we kept calling the door. It bolts both sides. 2 HOURS later, we do not' have it connected on both sides and about in tears. Kids are gone at this point, but neighbors are interested, off work and checking in. Eventually, neighbor has idea to pull out of track, bolt both sides, move track to fit. At this time I would have tried anything. Do that. The three of us get it in with me using 2 flat head screw drivers to work it in to the groove.
It's in and exhausted. We grab the posts and the post caps and the top wall track. Put all on to help hold the wall (or so we thought). 8pm. Stop so we can start Saturday morning.
Saturday, start leveling sand, tamping, used lawn roller as well (having to empty by bucket to hand over wall). Noon.
Feeling tired but awesome. Level, circular, great. Only need to add foam to walls, ground matt and couping. Looking at an hour until liner time.
Afternoon breezes come.
One post gets blown over. Put back up and brace from the inside.
Gust of wind comes through (looked up and we ended up with gusts up to 40 mph that day, had only worried about rain) and down come about 1/3 of the wall. Time to cry. Check winds. Brace pool, decide at 6pm it will die down and can start back.
Other neighbors come over.
Pool doesn't look nearly as good, has dents, looks a little off. Determined to move forward (wrong decision).
Eventually we are trying to put the liner on at 11pm 50 degrees and have 12 stakes holding the walls that don't look right.
Liner doesn't fit.
Stop and plan to start in sunlight at 930 on Sunday.
Start and stretches to fit, but walls are almost bowed in and we are going to have afternoon storms with rain and high winds. No way we can get it filled in time.
We take it down! Good idea too.
We find 4 broken tracks and 2 broken top caps. Sand under legs everywhere.
During the unbolting of "the door" we end up having to break 8 bolts. Not sure why, but maybe force from pulling it.
Grab 2 pallets and put in the middle along with cardboard. roll up wall and band and cover with tarps.

Order replacement parts
Watch weather for weeks.
Siphon constantly.
Have to dig back out track from dirt slides.
Find a day with 11mph winds only. Best in weeks.

Pool Install Take 2 starts at 630 am on Saturday - wife and myself only.
I bring in another 1.5 yards of sand and add.
That wall. So heavy - we put it in the middle on 1 pallet (so elevated above sand and track) and cardboard. We are able to spin it out from there and get it in the track. FAR EASIER and the biggest tip (other than watch the winds).
Pool wall which is staked in 12 places at this point and level is about 1 inch from being able to bolt both sides of "the door". Frustration, act of God, or determination, I grab it and pull. Get it to it and attach. Check spacing, etc.
Lawn roller again, try to get to level, (pretty close). Put in mat. Add coping, ready for liner.
Liner is heavy. end up using furniture blankets over ladder and almost rolling it over ladder in to pool from having it sit in sun and having it rolled up from first try.
Get it in, looks good. remember to put wall seam opposite of skimmer aka "the door"
Start filling at 245pm after liner install, posts, caps. and tomorrow will have higher winds!!! During filling, wife tries to smoothe out wrinkles with push broom and I use shop vac through skimmer hole for liner. Not sure either make a true difference. Broom helped some. Shop vac wall wrinkles probably come out anyway as water rises.
Given problems don't want to fill after dark because of cold water, no sun, liner tightens and may curl tops.
By 630, only have 7 inches of water from 3 hoses from our house and well going in. Worried.
Next morning at 9, start again. Eventually get hoses from both neighbors as well and fill from 3 houses. Get to over half before winds really start. Feeling good, take off stakes and add top cap around.

Add roofing paper around pool where dirt will fill back in. Note. I did this all the way around. Don't do this. Go section at a time, loose and fill. If not, you will have gaps where the posts are. If you go section by section, you can push the dirt up against it that way. I thought it was loose enough , but wasn't. Mine has some triangles (paper, wall, post) in some areas and looks like might be tearing through in some places.

Wait until water is almost at areas for skimmer and returns to cut so it doesn't stretch and cause problems with the liner.
Bought copper wiring and a water bonding kit to install. The pump I have has a plug for water bonding that I find after not getting it to fit in the drains and having emptied out water. So, check that first and save yourself some money and time.

Deck Building
From my measurements, deck comes in almost perfect. I wanted the deck over the pool, but got nervous during the digging and being able to get to line/top. Very happy. Although I learned decks should slope away from house to keep rain from flooding house, so larger gap as it goes out.

I've typed too long at this point, so can answer questions as you have, but basically, check local codes, over order, have your plan in place, look at other decks up close and in person. For me, Lowe's was a week out on being able to deliver, so that sucked and added time to project. Additionally, due to coronavirus, everyone is at lowes and home depot. Kept having to go to different ones to collect things like bolts from where they were out everywhere. visited 5 total. Also, wood prices skyrocketed during this process as most boards went up a dollar a board and posts went up about $1.60 Bolts went up about a dollar a bolt also.
For me, the 2 worst parts of the process were keeping posts level and drilling my 5/8 holes though my posts to attach everything. I over did it and added more, but would rather not hear about a bouncy deck. That and trying to hold heavy long wood pieces when attaching beams.
One lesson learned during this. Make sure outlet and power cord are both strong enough for air compressor. had problems and switched to garage area and was fine after that.
Also, you will use a lot of tools. I can't believe everything I pulled out at some point.

Overall, digging started in March and deck was finished in early early June. Not working every day, but almost all and usually 3 hours a day. some longer, some not at all.

I'll see if I can add some pictures.

I did this to hopefully help out the next "me" doing this. I spent a lot as the deck is 32 ft wide, going anywhere from 11 to 26 ft out. Looking at estimates, quotes, etc. I think we have saved around $12-15,000 in this process. Almost have the numbers, but it looks like a total investment of around $8-9,000. I had almost all of the tools before. For instance, the pool now is $1,005 more than at the low point in December. A lot of work. A lot. I'm not a big guy and was going to the gym before the coronavirus shut down, but ended up losing about 8 extra pounds during all of this.

Would I do it all again? Maybe, but would be far faster now, know far more and also had to stay at home so had something to do since we couldn't go anywhere and no March Madness to watch.

Hope this helps and I'll try to check occasionally and answer what I can. Good luck.


Dec 30, 2019
Wilmington, NC
Hopefully these pictures post.


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Bronze Supporter
Feb 18, 2018
Northwest GA
Thanks for this! It turned out so nice, I'm sure you're proud of it! Are you glad you went with the 27' over the 24'? That's one thing I keep going back and forth on. I"m interested in the roofing paper you mentioned. I'm guessing that's to protect the wall? Was soil your only backfill material? Looks great! Now time to enjoy :paddle:
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Dec 30, 2019
Wilmington, NC
Now I am happy with the bigger size pool. During installation, definitely not. Up keep is basically the same, pump and filter are the same, so might as well get more room with not really any extra costs.
Yes, roofing paper was supposed to be to keep soil from the wall. Probably not a real problem, but was trying to keep it away at the suggestion if thepoolfactory. We are super salty down here due to being at the ocean. I have used the same soil to backfill. Keep having the pack in after rain, but trying not to force it and hurt the pool.
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Jul 16, 2012
Central MD
Pool Size
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Great job on the installation with determination and documenting with perspective. Thanks for sharing.
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