A Pool in Progress

Three weeks ago I woke up to the most glorious sound. . . Tractors and an Excavator beginning work on our pool!  I honestly can’t tell you how excited it made me, though I’m sure my neighbors were not quite as ecstatic as I with digging and drilling so bright and early in the morning.

We have been dreaming of having a pool for years and honestly we didn’t know if that dream would ever be able to become a reality.  We bought our house because it had the potential for a pool, but turning potential into reality takes a lot of planning and a LOT of moola.  After meeting with our pool contractor back in September, we decided to go for it, but knew it would still be months before he could begin working on our pool depending on his schedule and the weather since we decided to begin the pool construction in winter.  Thanks to our uncommonly warm and dry winter they were able to begin on our pool in December!

Now when you’re planning to put a pool in, there are a lot of variables that add to the basic cost of having a pool construction.  There’s the basic size, shape and materials you choose to use, custom features like lights, waterfalls, ledges, and pool finishes.  Many, many tempting options to choose from and all of them cost money.  For us there were additional variables of unknown cost because our house is built on a lava cap.  For those of you with just soil under your homes, a pool estimate will include the dig for the pool which usually takes a day.  In our case, we had no idea how deep down the lava cap was, how thick it was or how many days it would take for them to drill through it.  What we did know is that each day beyond the 1 day of digging that had been worked into the estimate would cost us an additional $2000 roughly per day for the excavation.   Our pool contractor estimated 4 total days for excavation and no more than 7 days, so that’s a $6000-$12,000 variance depending on length of the dig. Yikes! So with fingers crossed and prayers lifted, they began the dig.

POOL DIG DAY 1:  The weather was lovely and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we had at least 2-3 feet of excellent soil before we hit any lava cap!  The pool guys were able to dig the entire shallow end of the pool without hitting any lava cap and started in with the giant Excavator to chip away at the lava cap on the deep end.  Unfortunately I worked all day so I didn’t get a picture at the end of Day 1 because it was too dark out.


POOL DIG DAY 2: Lots and lots of jack-hammering today.  I’m sure my neighbors loved it LOL.  The pool crew built a ramp out of the soil to get the Excavator down into the pool area to chip, chip, chip away at the solid lava cap and then they’d scrape it out with the Tractor (sorry, I’m sure there’s a proper name for the tractor but I have no idea what it is) and dump it directly into the Dump Truck that made many many runs to drop the lava and be refilled.  Below is the progress of day 2.


POOL DIG DAY 3:  In the middle of the night between day 2 and day 3 of the dig I woke up to the sound of pouring rain and freaked out.  The Excavator was in the pool hole and all I could think was this rain was going to costs us a fortune if it delayed the dig AND, how on earth were they going to get a million pound Excavator out of a giant muddy hole? I literally got up out of bed at 2am and went outside to see if our pool was filling with water, but I couldn’t tell.  We woke up to this:


Thankfully and amazingly the rain stopped by morning and didn’t slow down the dig at all!  In fact, they were able to FINISH the pool dig on DAY 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!  There aren’t enough exclamation points in the world to describe how excited we were by that.  I attribute the amazingly fast dig completely to our fantastic pool contractor and his crew.  The lava cap didn’t phase them AT ALL, they busted right on through and completed the dig in record time, so our added cost on top of the original bid was “only” $4000!  Here’s what day 3’s dig looked like, and please excuse my fingers in the photos, I obviously was more excited about my pool than taking quality photos LOL!


With the excavation of the pool done, the pool construction crew jumped right onto the next step, framing out the pool and installing the plumbing.

DAY 4 POOL PROGRESS: I came home to the shape of a pool in my yard!  The crew got the whole pool framed out, including the 2 lighted waterfall features we opted for (added cost of $3000) as well as our “Caribbean Ledge” which is a 12 ft. x 8 ft. ledge off of the shallow end that will be 12 inches or so deep and have 2 umbrella holes (an added cost of $750).  I call it the “Christina Ledge” because that’s where I plan to plant myself and snap my fingers until someone brings me something tasty to drink lol. You can see in the pictures below where the lava cap is all throughout the deep end of the pool! We had about 2-3 feet of good soil and then solid lava cap the rest of the way.


DAY 5 POOL PROGRESS: Day 5 brought even more drastic changes! Framing continued and the filters and skimmers were installed.  They also laid out all of the plumbing for the pool, and poured a concrete pad for the pool equipment!  It truly amazed me how much work they got done in one day.


DAY 6 POOL PROGRESS:  On day 6 they added re-bar which is how they shape the pool. The transformation today was amazing. You can see the seats in the deep end and the shape and depth of the “Christina Ledge” and the pool in general.  It’s really starting to look like a pool now!


The first step of the pool is complete!  Next step. . .Gunite.  We’re now waiting patiently for the Gunite to be able to be installed, but the weather has decided to act like actual winter weather now so things are at a bit of a standstill until the ground drys out.  However, you could most definitely swim in our pool if you decided you’d like a mud bath. This weeks rain brought a LOT of water and apparently we have a significant amount water runoff coming off of the lava cap that we didn’t know existed until we dug an 18ft x 38 ft hole in our yard.  We woke up to this lovely site on Tuesday morning after a steady rain all night on Monday.  That’s roughly 5 ft. of water in our unfinished pool!  Thankfully our awesome pool contractor had installed a Sump Pump in the bottom of the pool for drainage in case of rains, so the pool is now steadily draining while the the rain continues to fall.



So far is has been very interested and extremely exciting watching a pool, OUR POOL, being built!  It’s a fascinating process and moves in waves of a lot getting done and nothing getting done, but that’s mostly because of the weather at this point.

There are definitely some pros of having a pool installed over the winter though!  First of all, pool contractors aren’t as busy.  This past summer I know people were waiting 5-6 months for a pool contractor to be able to begin because there was such a high demand for pools.  Our hope and our goal with beginning pool construction in winter is that we’ll have a finished pool to swim in this summer!


CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!