Owner-built pool build

ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
19
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
My overhead electrical service is too close to the pool edge, so I've begun moving it underground. There are a number of standards by my energy provider on running the conduit up the pole. I have a lot of private utilities crossing where the new line will go - CW supply, an electrical branch to the shed, the public NG line, my private NG line, and a branch sanitary line. While digging, I also discovered (2) unknown direct-burial electrical lines that appear to go towards my rear fence line, but have no live circuits. Made digging very difficult.

Overall, I'm frustrated that it took 5x longer and 2x more money than-expected. This is the only MEP work I'm contracting-out, and feel that's for good-reason.

Timeline
  • Total = 35d
  • (6) days trenching to 21" (~15 lineal ft/day)
  • (12) days trenching deeper to 26"
  • (13) days waiting for electrician
  • (1) day disconnect and wire pull
  • (3) days pending re-inspection (no power)
Technical
Cost
  • Total = $3,311
  • Conduit, fittings, and strapping = $422
  • Mule tape (not used) = $39
  • Electrician = $2850
Lessons Learned/Concerns
  • Trench so that the highest point meets your below-grade requirement: I trenched 21" (which gave me 1" more than necessary to meet code), but when the rigid PVC was laid-in I discovered my grade was far from level. I had to pull the pipe, and re-trench 5" more - which was back-breaking. My trenching shovels weren't well-suited for this depth, and the ground got suddenly much harder. Much of these 5" were done w/ a post-hole digger and small garden shovel!
  • I could've never pulled the wire. Watching the two, bigger electricians pull the (3) 4/0 wires made me realize how I'd never of been able to do it. Although I was unexpectedly without power for (4) days (on a job that a more seasoned service-main installer could've done in 1d), it would've been worse had I attempted to pull the wire myself. This is causing me to put together a contingency plan for the 110ft of #2 wire I need to pull for the pool run - I'll share those details in a future post.
  • I was frustrated with the quality of work and materials the electrician used. I won't belabor the point, but there were some broken pieces I discovered later, and some lower-quality materials that I would've paid extra to have used better versions.

UPDATE 12/22/2021: updated with final figures and notes.
 

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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
19
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
My main CW line ran right through where the pool would be. I had Bloodhound approximately locate it, then I spent a week digging near a number of spots to exactly locate the depth and start/end of the new line - it took a week because I found some tee fittings that made me backtrack the located line, and I found out that Bloodhound was roughly approximate on location - often only finding a few points, then assuming a straight line between those points. Bloodhound was about $300 (for all my private utility location), and is excluded from the roll-up below.
Timeline
  • Total = 9d
  • (7) days line location
  • 1d trench
  • 1d install, test, then backfill
Technical
  • (E) 3/4" PVC cut-and-left
  • (N) 3/4" PEX-B, 130ft, 12" below-grade (min.)
  • Backfilled with sand until top of pipe, then soil backfill
Cost
  • Total = $667
  • 200ft pipe = $134
  • Pipe fittings and SS clamps = $34
  • 1d Trencher rental and delivery = $499
Lessons Learned/Concerns
  • Don't get the cheapest trencher rental at Sunbelt, it's a POS.
  • Proper stainless clamps should be used for direct-burial - e.g. 316, 410. SS304 isn't good enough for direct burial; however, I failed to find any material spec for the clamps I purchased. They were rated "appropriate for direct burial", but 304 SS is considered "good enough". It's a calculated risk I took, but would prefer spending more time sourcing appropriately.
 

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ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
19
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I've bought the IntelliCenter i5PS instead of the i8PS, because I got a great deal on a NIB part that someone needed to offload. I'd planned on the i8PS in case we ever wanted to add additional pumps or major features, but the i5PS deal ($950) was too good to pass up!

A note about prices over the last (2) months:
Hayward W3C4030 Swimclear filter has gone up 51% to $1814
Pentair IntelliCenter i8PS w/ IC40 has gone 5% to $3100
Pentair IntelliValve has gone up 9% to $226
Hayward W3H200FDN heater has gone up 8% to $2500
AirSupply Silencer 1.5HP has gone up 20% to $200
GFCI breakers have gone up about 13%
Pressure-treated lumber has gone up 20%
KD lumber has gone up 15%
Double-hung windows have gone up 12% (note: Jeld-wen picture windows steady!)

I use a separate app to track prices, which alerts me when items begin to drop. I'm purchasing items about a month in advance to keep materials ready; however, I buy PT lumber about (2) months advance to sticker and air-dry. I've been holding-off buying the PT lumber I need, and plan to pull from the (small) stock I already have dried. Let's all hope these prices are temporary!
 
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Reactions: TampaKathy

ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
19
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I've secured the majority of my supply chain for materials. Being new to Houston, it's been quite a bit of calling and driving around to see distributors. The only major roadblock I'm running in to is a local source for 2-1/2" diameter PVC pipe and fittings.
Right now, engineering is my bottleneck. Structural was supposed to have delivered drawings over a month ago, but I'm running into "get what you pay for".
By the end of this year, I'll mark the site layout for excavation. After that, I'll be waiting on engineering and permitting in order to break ground.
 
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pooler_all

New member
Dec 22, 2021
4
charlotte nc
I've secured the majority of my supply chain for materials. Being new to Houston, it's been quite a bit of calling and driving around to see distributors. The only major roadblock I'm running in to is a local source for 2-1/2" diameter PVC pipe and fittings.
Right now, engineering is my bottleneck. Structural was supposed to have delivered drawings over a month ago, but I'm running into "get what you pay for".
By the end of this year, I'll mark the site layout for excavation. After that, I'll be waiting on engineering and permitting in order to break ground.
Hi ShadyPool, thanks for sharing all your experiences. I am a new owner-builder of my home and I am planning to build a pool. I am new to pool construction. I want to build a 20x40 gunite pool and I am still researching on equipment.

What's a best place to get a pool design/schematics/engineering done? I really want to make sure everything is designed before I talk to any of the sub contractors
 

ShadyPool

Member
Sep 22, 2021
19
South Houston, TX
Pool Size
19000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
What's a best place to get a pool design/schematics/engineering done? I really want to make sure everything is designed before I talk to any of the sub contractors
I suggest searching for "Structural Engineering" in your local area, and look for people that list "pool" in their offered services. Typically, you can work w/ your SE to find the MEP engineering (or vice-versa). My experience is only a handful of SE will do pools.

All that said, I'm an engineer that's done MEP engineering before. I did my own MEP engineering, schematics, and did all the 3D modeling. I hired a SE to meet the permit requirements and to double-check my structural work. I'm paying $1900 for SE, $1150 for topographical & land survey.
 
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pooler_all

New member
Dec 22, 2021
4
charlotte nc
I suggest searching for "Structural Engineering" in your local area, and look for people that list "pool" in their offered services. Typically, you can work w/ your SE to find the MEP engineering (or vice-versa). My experience is only a handful of SE will do pools.

All that said, I'm an engineer that's done MEP engineering before. I did my own MEP engineering, schematics, and did all the 3D modeling. I hired a SE to meet the permit requirements and to double-check my structural work. I'm paying $1900 for SE, $1150 for topographical & land survey.
Thanks and I will search for SE and MEP in my area.