Don't Dive in Without Knowing the Risks

Diving InWhen most people hear "do-it-yourself project," they think of installing a shelf or maybe some backyard landscaping. The last thing that comes to mind is building an inground pool. That's only for professional pool companies, right?

Well, no. A lot of homeowners attempt do-it-yourself inground swimming pools because of the amazing cost savings they can achieve. Much of the cost of a swimming pool comes from the labor involved - do some of that work yourself, and you can cut the price significantly.

Of course, it's pretty obvious that such an epic home improvement project isn't for everyone. It's a high-risk/high-reward proposition that some will find impossible and others will find appealing. For those who are somewhere between the two extremes, here are some of the points for and against this idea.

The Many Advantages of DIY Inground Pools

Okay, the truth is that there aren't many advantages to building your own pool. There's really only one, but it's such a hugely compelling one that for many, it outweighs the downsides. That big advantage? Cost, of course.

An inground swimming pool fully installed by a pool company typically costs somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000, and after a brief interlude of price stability due to the poor housing market, those numbers are probably going up in coming years. Also, while that range is already really wide, it's pretty easy to go over and not so easy to go under. A pool can easily cost $75,000 or more, but if you want to go under $25,000, you probably have to do at least some of the work yourself.

As mentioned, labor is a big part of the cost of a swimming pool. But it's not just about the workers doing the digging. It's also the general contractor, who is paid to hire and oversee subcontractors to do the actual work. Even if you can just do the general contractor's job and manage the project yourself, you can save thousands of dollars.

The Downside - and Dangers - of Doing it Yourself

The main issue with building a pool on your own is fairly obvious: Do you have the time, energy, and ability to see the project through? There are a whole lot of details to consider when building a pool, some of which only come up after you've already begun the project. Here are some of pitfalls you might encounter:


Different states and localities have different regulations regarding residential pool safety, and some of them can be quite detailed. As the project manager, you'll have to do plenty of research to make sure all your permits and fees are submitted on time and any required inspections are scheduled.


It's one thing to build a pool, and quite another to build a quality pool. What separates the professionals from the amateurs is the ability to build a pool that lasts for years, runs efficiently, and above all, is safe to use.


It takes endurance to manage a huge project like this - not just physical endurance, but mental as well. You can bet that there will be delays and setbacks that test your resolve to finish the pool.

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Do-It-Yourself Inground Pools: Know the Issues

Obviously, before you dive in to a project like this, you need to know all the issues involved so you can understand the scope of the job. The more you:

  • have participated in projects like this in the past
  • are willing to devote your time and money (for quality materials)
  • have the temperament to deal with setbacks
  • enjoy the work

... the more likely you are to be successful in building the pool of your dreams. On the other hand, the less of those traits you have, the more likely the project is to end up being one big nightmare.