Should You Build Your Own Pool or Hire a Pool Builder?

If you are spending more time in your home these days, and want to enhance your enjoyment of outdoor living opportunities, one of the best home features is a backyard pool. Your own pool adds value to your property and provides years of entertainment for your family.

Building your own pool can save you a lot of money on labor and materials, however, the work is extensive and requires some skill. Professionals have the necessary experience to help you with planning, permits, and inspections. Working with a contractor is best to avoid mistakes. If cost is a factor, a DIY pool may be the better option. 

Types of pools

If you are looking for in-ground pools, the top three choices are concrete, vinyl-lined, and fiberglass. The lesser-known types are steel or aluminum walled pools. If you are like most people, the cost of the pool may be the most important feature in making up your mind about which to buy. 

Concrete Pool
Concrete Pool

The most expensive pool is, generally speaking, the most expensive, at least for a basic pool package. A close second in terms of cost is a vinyl-lined pool, followed by fiberglass. However, a fiberglass pool that has a lot of extra features can cost more than a basic concrete design. 

Vinyl-lined Pool
Vinyl-lined Pool

Some of the extras which may raise the basic cost include pumps, filters, heaters, pool surrounds, and lighting. You may also want to think about the depth, whether or not you want privacy fencing and other features. The shape and size of the pool will affect the price. 

 Fiberglass Pool
Fiberglass Pool

Pros and Cons

Do-it-yourself projects are a popular option these days, but tackling a project such as a swimming pool can be daunting. There are some elements that remain the same whether they are done by a contractor or if you DIY it.

You will need a correctly sized hole, you will need materials delivered, and you will need the appropriate licenses and permits. You will also need to know how to operate a lot of different machinery and equipment if you do the work yourself. 

Some of the factors to consider when choosing the material which will become your in-ground pool include the cost, installation time, design options, add-ons, saltwater systems, maintenance, and durability. 

Fiberglass pools are less expensive than concrete and can be pre-engineered to fit almost any available space. They resist corrosion and do not require as much maintenance. Because the material is durable, fiberglass may last much longer than concrete which needs work regularly. 

Vinyl liner pools are also less costly than concrete and are durable. They are easier to clean than concrete, so maintenance is lower. The design options are virtually unlimited, and installation can be handled quickly.

Concrete or gunite pools can be highly customized but require more time to install. Concrete pools are made-to-order, and the entire process is handled on-site. Fiberglass pools are prefabricated off-site and delivered and installed more quickly. 

Concrete + Plaster/Aggregate Finish

Pros of Concrete + Plaster Finish

  • Used commonly for custom-designed pools.    
  • More suitable for higher-end pools.  
  • More durable and become even stronger with time (with proper maintenance)     
  • No corrosion or oxidation   
  • Can be customized at any time to further enhance aesthetic appeal

Cons of Concrete + Plaster Finish

  • Takes longer to cure and therefore increases overall installation time.   
  • Can be quite costly to make and maintain   
  • May develop cracks over time if not maintained properly.

Concrete + Tile/Stone/Marble

The Pros

  • More decorative finish.·     
  • Aesthetically pleasing, especially with appropriate lighting.     
  • Long-lasting and more weather-resistant.·     
  • Can withstand chemical treatments.·     
  • Relatively easier to maintain compared to plaster/aggregate finishes.

The Cons

  • Can be difficult to repair or change designs.    
  • Requires extensive experience and professional tools for installation and repairs.     
  • May not be as resistant to strong chemicals in the beginning.


The Pros

  • Least expensive option.     
  • A large variety of shapes and sizes are available.   
  • Can be molded according to specific needs.  
  • Does not require as extensive installation procedures.

The Cons

  • Easier to maintain, but naturally deteriorates over time.    
  • Chemicals need to be very precise to ensure the vinyl does not get damaged.     
  • The liner can be costly to repair.



  • Easiest installation process.    
  • Low-cost option.   
  • Does not require as much maintenance.    
  • No refinishing required, unlike with vinyl pools.·     
  • No risk of algae growth.


  • Limited options in terms of sizes and shapes.
  • May deteriorate over time.  
  • May not be as robust as other options, especially when used above-ground.     
  • May need recoating in case of excessive UV exposure.

Cost Savings

If you do it yourself, you may save on labor. Unfortunately, unskilled labor may result in costly errors. These errors could be everything from cracks in the concrete to tears in the vinyl to on-the-job injuries to people who are not used to physical labor and don’t know how to operate heavy equipment. This type of job requires a great deal of precision.

Licenses and permits

Ignoring or forgetting about the need for approval from inspectors has resulted in a homeowner having to pay to have an improperly installed pool removed. 

Safety issues

The professional contractor will carry various types of insurance, both for workers and for damage to the customer’s premises. 


Outdoor living is a growing trend in many parts of the country. Rather than traveling for vacations, a home with a pool can plan a weekend entertaining friends and family around a tastefully appointed pool. A pool can provide health benefits and, in many parts of the country, will increase the market value of a home. 

Hiring a professional contractor provides some additional benefits. Some of the advantages of a contractor include achieving your custom-designed pool with features that fit your lifestyle; and shaving some valuable costs off the project without sacrificing quality.

The professional has knowledge that can only be gained by experience. The contractor may also be able to help in acquiring the services which will be needed for the maintenance and operation of the pool going forward. A contractor who has been in the business for a time has built a good reputation over the years. You can check out the reputation to pick the right builder to install the perfect pool for your backyard space. 

How much does it cost to build a pool? 

Depending upon the area, the type of soil and topography, and the style of the pool, there can be a great deal of variance in cost. Here are some of the typical expenses that are found in the United States. 

An inground Vinyl Pool kit (20’ by 40’) runs from $2,800 to $4,500. A backyard pool is an ultimate upgrade, with costs ranging from $38,719 to $69,599, with a national average of $51,833. 

Some typical expenses which may be part of building a pool include :

  • Excavation and Dirt Hauling $  1,000–$1,500
  • Necessary Plans & Permits (varies)
  • Labor and Electrician Average Hourly $ 1,500-$3,000
  • Materials (varies by locale)
  • Concrete Delivery $800-$1,200
  • Floor Material $400-$1,800
  • Pool Deck $500-$5,000
  • Pool Equipment (varies by options)
  • Pool Inspections (no cost)
  • Insurance (depends on coverage)
  • Overall Construction Costs $25,000-$50,000

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Pool Builder?

Contractors may charge from $10,000 to over $50,000 per project, depending on the size and style of your pool. Contractors only charge labor fees and a small cut for themselves.

Do you know those glass pools on high-rises? These may cost even more, considering the effort that the pool builder needs to put in.

How Long Does It Take To Build A Pool?

It usually takes professionals about 6-8 days to build a medium-sized pool, but complicated ones may take longer. The larger your pool is, the longer it will take to finish, of course. Concrete pools also need curing time, which can add to the time it takes for the pool to finish.

It usually takes about one day to remove the dirt. Then, it takes another to prepare the site, another to pour the material, and let it set. 

After it has cured, the designing phase begins, which may take another day. Finally, you need one or two more days to add the finishing touches and lights, install the kit, and get it ready.

A DIY pool may take a bit longer, especially if this is your first time building a pool.

DIY vs. Pool Builders – A Quick Comparison

Now that you know the general costs and efforts you need to put in, it is time to consider the differences you can expect in a DIY and professional job.

Costs: As mentioned above, contractors often charge you for the labor and keep a small portion for themselves. The rest includes material costs only. With professionals, you can expect the material costs to be lower as they buy in bulk. As a DIY-er, you may end up paying more for the materials and therefore, the pool may eventually be more expensive as well.

Permits: Think of getting these permits like getting your driver’s license renewed at the DMV. You will need to queue up and schedule inspections, pay for the permits, and fix any issues they highlight. This will take up a lot of your time. Professional builders often have long-standing relations with concerned authorities, hence saving time and effort in the process.

Inspections: As a DIY-er, you may not be as familiar with the safety standards and regulations as professionals may be. Pool builders have experience on their side, giving them insights into what inspectors may look for. They build the pools accordingly, hence saving time and money throughout the project.

Customizations: When building your own pool, you have the ultimate freedom to do as you please and make the pool as you envisioned it. With pool builders, you may be constricted, and the end result may not always be what you want. Of course, with a reliable pool builder, you can avoid this issue.

Murphy’s Law: Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. There is always a possibility for things to go wrong, especially if you don’t have experience backing you up. Pool builders can spot problems quite easily and tackle them before they become major issues.

This shows that both building your own and hiring a pool builder have their own pros and cons. Ultimately, the experience a pool builder has is what plays in their favor.

Important Things To Know Before Building Your Own Pool

If you are still interested in building your own pool, here are some things to know and mistakes to avoid:

Things to Know

Get Professional Help When Needed

There is no shame in admitting that you need help and asking for it when needed. If a task seems too complicated or risky, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help to avoid any accidents – even if you need help with just a small part of the job.

Save Up Beforehand

Building a pool is not a cheap investment by any means. You will need to have enough saved up to cover any unexpected costs that may arise. We recommend saving at least $55,000 to cover contingencies, even if you are building a basic pool.

Start The Permit Process Earlier

It is generally a good idea to start the permit process long before you start working on the pool itself. It may take up to 2 months for you to get the permits, so start the process accordingly.

Build A Strong Foundation

The foundation is what will support the entire weight of the pool, so it needs to be strong enough. If not, you may end up with a cracked pool or worse.

Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t Underestimate The Project

You will need to factor in the costs of materials, time, and effort to get an estimate of how much this project may cost you. Most people only consider the material costs and underestimate the project by a long shot, leading to frustration later on.

Be Careful Of the Chemicals

Chlorine and other chemicals are used to keep pools clean, but they can be dangerous if not used properly. Be careful when handling them, and make sure to follow the instructions on the labels.

Test The Waters BEFORE Finalizing The Project

Once the pool is built, you will need to fill it up with water and test it out before using it. This will help you catch any leaks or other problems that may need to be fixed. This is a very common mistake that DIY-ers make and realize only once it is too late.

Choose The Right Location

The location of your pool will have a big impact on its long-term maintenance and how well it holds up. Choose a spot that gets enough sun, is away from trees, and has good drainage. Avoid choosing a location too close to your foundation or too close to doors.

Don’t Forget About the Children, Elderly, & Disabled Individuals

Make sure you are building a pool that has room for a safety net or railing to avoid accidents. Leave room for retrofits.


Building your own pool can be a very rewarding experience, to say the least. While it may require a lot of elbow grease, and you may want to give up from time to time, the results are well worth it in the end. You always have the option of hiring professionals mid-way, though.

So, if you think you are ready to work on such a major project, go for it! If you need any sort of help along the way, get in touch with a professional contractor in your area. 

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