Overseeing my own pool build (some questions)


Nov 4, 2021
riverside ca
Hi guys,

I’m located in Southern California. I’m building a 37’x16’x4’ deep rectangle pool with a 5’x7’ hot tub on the inside corner. I’ve subbed out the work and will begin excavating Monday.

Here are my estimated costs so far:
Excavation: $2900
Rebar: $4600
Plumbing (includes light and electrical run): $7000
Shotcrete: $5500
Pebble sheen: $8500

I’m planning on doing coping and decking myself.

Here are my questions:
How much deeper should I dig my pool than what my final water height will be (4’)? I assume the water level is about 4” lower than coping, and the shotcrete is 6” thick, so should I aim for a 4’10” deep excavation?

Is it ideal to have pool and hot tub on same pump? Although I’m in a warm climate I worry that the filtered water will come in significantly cooler and require a lot more heating.

Is pool tile required? I’ve never liked the look of pool tile and have heard of people omitting the tile and liking the results.

Is coping something I should diy? I’m very handy and have done all of my brick decking, bathroom floor/shower tiling etc. this is something I feel I should be comfortable with, but what are your guys’ thoughts? Quotes seem very high at 6-9k for just coping. I should be able to spend only around 1k and a weekend if I diy.

Lastly, thoughts on main drain for this size pool and my climate? My plumber says it’s necessary and there doesn’t seem to be a general consensus online.

Thanks!! Tim


In The Industry
Jul 19, 2021
Southern California
Question #1: 9” over excavation from wanted depth from top of bender board.

Question #2: typically the pool and spa are using the same pump during filtration mode and when the equipment is in spa mode, an auxiliary pump is used also when the spa has more jets than 1 pump can supply enough pressure for. The second part of your question is not clear, are the pool and spa sharing the same water? This is the most typical set up and if so when in spa mode it will be using the same temperature water as the pool.

Question#3: pool tile is not required, most plaster finishes are not designed to be exposed to air. One reason for tile was to make it easier to clean the oil/dirt line at the water line.

Question#4: NO! pool coping is something that should be installed by a professional in this field. I advise my customers that not all concrete flat work installers do coping, so first find a coping company that does both, but first does coping.

Question #4: check with riverside city building department and ask, I have yet to build a pool in SoCal without one.

Your excavation price is questionably low.
What PSI is the Shotcrete?
The only price that seems inline is the rebar.
Prices like that at this time just seem a little too low, just my two cents, Ray.
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Nov 4, 2021
riverside ca
Thanks for your comments. Why do you feel coping must be installed by a professional (I hope this doesn’t come across as offensive)? The excavation doesn’t include soil removal. I have a hillside and a retaining wall I built that I will be backfilling with it. The installer told me that the shotcrete psi is 4500 psi.

The pebble sheen quote wasn’t just one low bid, I received an 8500, 8500, 8800 and 14000 bid for pebble sheen. The 14k bid said he would match the 8.5k, so all four came in at the same price essentially.

Several different plumbers came at the 7k mark. I chose someone with a good reputation, good communication and a good contract. They’ll also be doing the rebar.
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