So you’re thinking about having a pool installed in Idaho, but what’s the first step?
The excavation and installation of an in-ground pool in Idaho requires doing a little homework, and that means choosing a contractor who’s experienced with building them. While there are lots of do-it-yourself videos and alternatives out there, doing it yourself can lead to costly failures and liabilities that can make it impossible to actually enjoy having a pool.
So, where do you even start, and how do you know what kind of quality you can expect by having one professionally and installed? We’ll walk you through the process of having a pool installed, including the excavation and explain some of the things you need to know in order to choose the right contractor for the job!
The Treasure Valley and surrounding communities in Idaho often enjoy nearly 206 sunny days a year on average, and July temperatures of around 92 degrees, with multiple periods of over 100 degrees. The area also experiences mild winters, with an average January low of almost 24 degrees. And while water recreation opportunities abound, nothing beats the joy and relaxation of stepping out of your back door and jumping into a crystal-clear blue swimming pool.
You might be surprised how many people already have a swimming pool in Idaho, due to the fact that you often can’t see them from their front yard. But with this many sunny days, and the importance that Idahoan’s place on family and outdoor fun, installing a pool is a hard thing not to look into if you are one of the people who have the option!
But before we go any further, there are a couple of things to consider. One is the size of your lot. If you install a pool, is there going to be enough yard space left over for other activities? Will excavators and other heavy-equipment be able to get back there? And if you have small children, the liability and safety of having a pool also needs to be carefully considered. A swimming pool will require maintenance in the form of labor, chemicals, repairs, fencing, landscaping and covering/draining, so keep this in mind to ensure that your dream-come-true doesn’t become a year-round nightmare.
It’s no wonder that having a pool is on many people’s top-ten lists, landing right up there with exotic vacations, sports cars, and private jets. But having a pool is oftentimes more attainable than people think, and won’t depreciate or cost nearly as much money in maintenance, as let’s say a G5 or Pilatus airplane! And while adding a swimming pool may not be a surefire way to add value to the price of your home, it can add value to the quality of your life, which is the only ‘right’ reason to get a pool in the first place.
Before making the leap, it’s important to speak to a professional installer in order to accurately assess the cost of excavating and installing your swimming pool. The cost will vary depending on the size of your pool, the shape, the volume, the materials used, the features, whether or not it will be heated, how it will be heated, lighting, landscaping, and other considerations. All of these variables can depend on your expectations, how you will be using your pool, where it will be placed, and how much maintenance you are willing to take on.
You will also need to ensure that there aren’t any zoning restrictions in place that might impact your ability to install a pool, and in many counties including Ada and Canyon County, you will need to obtain a permit not only for excavation, but the installation itself. The process can vary, but the right contractor can help you navigate the process and identify any issues that might give an inspector a cause for concern during the build.
You will also need to consider installing a fence around the pool, to prevent small children from wandering in and drowning. Depending on the location and dimensions of your pool, you may even be legally required to build a fence (only checking local building codes can answer this). There are many different pool fence options, including ones that are made of mesh and many other materials like glass that can even enhance the appearance of your pool area. Pool fences generally all have a few requirements in common, including height and distance from the ground. Generally, they need to be four feet high, have no more than 4 inches of space at the bottom, and have gates with self-closing and latching features to keep children from having unsupervised access.
So now that we have gotten some of the requirements and considerations out of the way, just how is a swimming pool installed here in Idaho?
One of the first steps to installing a pool is deciding which kind of material you’d like your pool to be constructed out of. There are several different types, including vinyl liner, fiberglass, gunite/concrete, and different subtypes within each category. What your swimming pool is made of will have the biggest impact on the overall price, and cost and frequency of replacement and maintenance. There are also a bunch of different features and add-ons that can be incorporated into each of these options, depending on your budget and how you will be using your pool.
So from most affordable to most expensive, let’s look at the different types of swimming pools.
Vinyl liner type pools can be framed out by steel, or concrete, and are the most affordable option for many people looking to enjoy a pool. But they do need to be replaced every seven to ten years or so, as the sun, chemicals, and other factors do age them faster than some other options. Replacement isn’t as expensive as the initial installation but still needs to be taken into account. Also, if you have pets and or other creatures that can puncture the vinyl (like children!) repair or replacement can come up very suddenly! Vinyl liner type pools also provide the owner with more options in terms of dimensions and colors, which is appealing to many home-owners.
Fiberglass pools are a little more expensive but more durable than the vinyl liner type we previously discussed. One of the disadvantages to fiberglass pools is that the size, dimensions, and colors are limited, as they are pre-cast and then shipped to your backyard. The idea is that you have hired a great contractor, and the hole that you have dug in the ground is very close to the size and shape of the fiberglass pool that they will be delivering! This is where hiring the right excavation crew can really pay off.
Some of the benefits of fiberglass pools include the fact that they are somewhat impervious to algae growth (it won’t stick to the walls) and they aren’t as sensitive to the sun and chemicals as other types of pools. They also can come in sections, so they may be easier to install in small spaces. Some fiberglass pools can even be “self-supporting,” so they can be installed above-ground, partially above ground, or even inside your house!
Gunite and concrete are the most expensive, yet most customizable and durable options. You can get very creative with this material (as you may have seen on TV or in movies and music videos). Most of these pools are constructed by excavating a hole, adding the plumbing, and laying down sand as a base, much like the other pool-construction options. Rebar is then laid out in a grid system and tied together with wire so that the gunite or shotcrete has something to adhere to. After the mix dries (in about a week or so) it will be textured (that rough, pumice-like feel that we are all familiar with) or can even be finished off with concrete paint.
Because of the process and the nature of the materials used in construction, this type of pool takes the longest to install and will require more ambition to maintain, as algae will be more likely to want to live in a pool made of gunite/concrete than fiberglass. The rough texture can also be hard on your skin and bathing suits, as we all remember from childhood!
In addition to these types, there still exists some poured-concrete pools or even some made from masonry blocks. But the most common types to consider will be the vinyl liner, fiberglass or gunite/concrete pools discussed here.
Now that we have covered the different kinds of swimming pools and their advantages/disadvantages, what do Idaho residents need to keep in mind when considering excavating and installing the stage for their summer-time dreams?
We already mentioned space; will you have enough space to enjoy the rest of your yard if you install a pool? Or will the pool be too small to enjoy if you do preserve a big enough yard space? A tape-measure and some honest conversations will reveal the right answers for you. Also, do you have a bunch of trees or other vegetation that will need to be moved by the excavation and landscaping crew? And leveling; is your property sloped, flat, or complicated? The level of the pool in relation to other surfaces or structures is important, and the right contractor who is experienced with proper grading, drainage and excavation techniques will be able to help you assess your options.
Also, keep in mind that most pool installations companies do not do the excavation work themselves. They will either hire a subcontractor, or you will have to hire your own excavation company to assess the job, prepare the site and excavate the ground for your pool. A professional excavation crew will also know how to locate gas lines, water mains, sprinkler lines, electrical lines and understand how to properly measure, stake and remove the soil.
After the placement of the pool has been determined, the perimeter will be staked out, and the soil will be removed by heavy equipment. The type of equipment used in the excavation phase may include a front-end loader, a skid steer, and a truck with a dump-body. And this is another reason why the placement of your pool is so important; those front-end loaders and dump-trucks will need access to the space where your swimming pool is going to be, and as a part of the installation, a base of sand may need to be trucked in, especially if you have chosen fiberglass or vinyl liner for your pool.
After the swimming pool has been excavated, the plumbing and the wiring will be and installed, along with the rebar frame for your gunite pool, or frame for the vinyl liner type. After this, the concrete will be shot or the vinyl hung, or fiberglass basin put in place and backfilled with heavy equipment and shovels. To finish off the edges of your pool, a coping will be created for the edges, tile installed, or the pool surface will be texturized. In addition, decking may be installed for other types. If you chose or are required to have a fence installed, it’s a heated pool, or you have lighting preferences, they will all be up and going in time for you to enjoy your new pool, and that’s what takes us to the very best phase of the installation process; filling it with water!
Your new Idaho swimming pool will be filled from your garden hose or some other source, and then after the chemical composition is just right and everything else has checked out, it will be time for you to invite your friends and family over for your very first pool party! Before you know it, your home will be the place to relax, splash, and entertain, just as you hoped it would be, because you took the time to properly prepare and choose the right option for you and your family.
If you have questions about the excavation process and want to chat, give Fitzgerald Mechanical, Septic and Excavation a call at (208)340-4691 or email Ryan at email@example.com!