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Construction
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Analysis
· Introduction
· What is a Basic Pool?
· Pool Builder Ads

Financials
· My Pool Costs vs Builders Bids
· Basic Pool Costs vs Builders Bids
· Itemized Cost Breakdown

Lists
· My Subcontractors
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  · AZ (148 listings)
  · CA (59 listings)
  · FL (16 listings)
  · TX (11 listings)
· My Bids, FAX, Invoices

Reviews
· Introduction
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City Information
· Plans/Permits/Fees
· Zoning Regulations
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Others
· KF from Gilbert, AZ
· LY from Phoenix, AZ
· JZ from Tempe, AZ
· MM from Riverside, CA
· MB from Chandler, AZ

Miscellaneous
· Old Update Log
· Pool Design
· Pool Design (Visio file)
· Construction Summary
· FAQ
· Water Testing
· Pool Diary
· Valve Schematic
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· Plot Plan
· Approved Drawing
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· Gas Pipe Layout
· Gas Permit & Site Plan
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What is the "How I Built My Own Swimming Pool" Website?


The "How I Built My Own Swimming Pool" website is a comprehensive site that is dedicated to people who are interested in learning more about the owner/builder route of building an In-ground Gunite Swimming Pool. There is a ton of information on this website and probably more than you will ever need to know unless you are thinking about becoming an owner/builder.

As a result, I've divided the website up into two parts - one that casual visitors and curiosity seekers will enjoy going through and the other that hard-core information seeker's need to have in order to do it right.

In order to gain access to these pages, you must register as amember.  You can do so here.

Access Level Content Intended Audience
Basic Access
  • Most of the Step-by-Step Construction Pages (does not include the "Process" or "Pool Design Drawing" pages. The links that are colored in LIGHT BLUE are for Premium Access members.

  • Financial breakdown of my pool costs comparing it with 4 other pool builders

  • People who have a casual curiosity into the into the owner/ builder pool construction process.

  • People who are having an In-ground Gunite pool built by a professional pool builder and want a step-by-step construction reference to compare their subs work against.

  • People who have already made the decision to go the owner/builder route or have even started already and want a construction reference point to compare their subs work against.

Premium Access
  • All Basic Access content plus the rest of the construction pages.

  • Owner/Builder Process area that describes in detail how to go about constructing an IG pool as an owner/builder.

  • Analysis of Pool Features and in-depth look at 15 professional pool builder ads and breakdown of each one.

  • Detailed financial breakdown of my pool costs by trade and also by a line item-by-line item breakdown of each of the parts and features

  • Financial breakdown of a Basic entry-level In-ground Gunite pool and comparison with 5 other professional pool builders

  • Pool Design concepts and analysis of each major pool feature.  Practical tips for getting a Pool Design drawing ready for submittal for permits and subcontractor bids.

  • Approved Arizona Subcontractor's List which includes the outstanding subs that built my pool and other subs that have a solid reputation in the industry.

  • A complete list of other subcontractors in Arizona that you can do additional research with.

  • Complete city information for the pool permit application process. You will find out about permit fees, plan reviews, zoning setback requirements, engineering drawings, plot plans, and everything else your city needs from you before they will issue you a pool construction permit.

  • City Inspection checklist so that you can find out what the city inspector's will be looking for prior to coming in for the officent pre-gunite and pre-interior inspections.

  • The entire collection of bids, quotes, FAXes, and invoices compiled from my own pool project. This serves as a useful guide in giving you a glimpse of how an owner/builder goes about communicating with their subs. It also serves as a reference as to the kinds of ballpark prices you can expect to pay for each phase of your pool construction.

  • A project construction schedule (requires a Microsoft Project license) so that you can plan out your project like a pro.

  • People who are seriously considering being the owner/builder of their In-ground Gunite swimming pool project, but might be lacking in confidence or unsure about the time committment. People who want to get more in-depth information about the process and the financials involved before committing to it.

  • People in ARIZONA (metro Phoenix area) who have decided they are going to take the plunge and are ready to go for it as an owner/builder.

  • People in ARIZONA who need traction getting started on their owner/builder pool project with a list of high-quality subcontractors to start the bidding process with.

You can register here.

Here is a sampling of the pages from each of the different access levels that you can start to enjoy today:

Basic Access

Construction Step-by-Step Area:

  • These are the pages from the original website that you have come to know and love.  All of these pages have been updated and corrected, with lots of new additional information added.  They show you step-by-step, in sequential order, how each of the subs performed a particular task towards the goal of a completed pool.

   

  • Each page is loaded with pictures and drawings from my own pool project that explains the process of each of the trades, the tools they used, any special equipment they brought in, and a detailed explanation of the work that they performed.

  • Each section comes with a "Prerequisite" section (discusses all the necessary work and the subs that are required before that phase of the pool construction can commence.  And each section ends with a "Problems Encountered / What I Would Do Differently Next Time" section to discuss the issues that came up during that phase and the lessons learned during that time. This is a fascinating in-depth look at how an actual pool was constructed and all the takeaways from the experience.  Seeing the pool construction process unfold phase-by-phase in these pages often gives the undecided owner/builder the confidence they need to get off the fence and go for it!

   

Premium Access

Analysis Area:

  • These pages will break down a professional pool builder's ad and will explain what each of the advertised features are, and what they really mean to you as the homeowner.  You will find out the significance of each of these features, and along with the financial pages, you'll find out how much of the overall price you pay goes into that particular feature.

  • In this section, a very important concept will be introduced as we come up with a definition for a standard Basic Pool (as the pool industry in Arizona defines it).  This Basic Pool definition along with its set of features and specifications will be discussed in detail and it will serve as our measuring stick / baseline to compare with other pools.  This will help us gain a better perspective when we start analyze other pool builder ads.  In addition to this, an Upgraded Basic Pool, which has some additional features that are very popular here in Arizona, will be defined and discussed as well.

     

  • Over 15 different Arizona pool builder ads will be analyzed and compared in detail to our baseline Basic Pool.  Detailed cost comparisons will also be made across the different builder ads and "good" values will be highlighted along with the not-so-good values.

   

Financial Area:

  • You will find a detailed cost comparison of how much it cost me to do my pool as an owner/builder versus going through a professional pool builder.  My pool will be compared with 4 other pool builders, including one from one of the largest do-it-yourself pool builder in the valley.  In addition to the detailed line item analysis, a drawing from each of the pool builders will be included so that you can get a glimpse of what I was getting for my money.  The cost comparison includes price adjustments for feature differences to insure an apples-to-apples comparison.

  • In addition to the cost comparison of my pool, you will get a detailed cost comparison of an owner-built Basic Pool we defined in an earlier section compared with 5 representative professional pool builders (picked out of the 15 builders analyzed in the Analysis section) doing the same pool.   By looking at the cost of the Basic Pool and comparing it with my mid-level pool, you can get an idea of what it would cost to do a pool somewhere in between or maybe something really extravagant.

   

Pool Design Area:

  • One of the most frequently asked questions I get is "How do I go about designing a pool?"  This process of putting a design down on paper is one of the most intimidating aspects of an owner/builder project.  This section will break down all the necessary and vital elements of a good pool design and what each subcontractor needs to know before they can bid out your project.  Each feature from the Basic Pool and the Upgraded Basic Pool will be highlighted and explained in detail.

  • A special "Pool Design Tips" section will be included at the end of each section (written in red) that gives practical tips and hints on your pool design features.  This includes things like consideration of equipment location to save on plumbing, electrical, and gas runs, pool depth selection, lighting ideas and options, and much, much more.  Each of these practical hints come from extensive input from some of the most skill subcontractors in the industry along with other owners/builders that I have spoken to.

   

  • A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes.  In the Pool Design Drawing section, tons of photos and drawings are included to illustrate pool concepts, pool options, and other pool tips to help you understand what each feature is and how they work.  This will allow you to determine how important each of these features are to you and how much you are willing to spend for them.  These diagrams also show you how sub-contractors implement certain key features of a pool.  This under-the-cover look at the pool construction process provides a fascinating look into the functional purpose behind these key features and how they affect the pool's operation.

   

Subcontractors List (For AZ folks!):

  • The most important part of building a quality IG pool is using skilled, licensed, and experienced subcontractors with good reputations. To effectively help you get started on your own sub research and selection process, I provide a list of the subcontractors that I used for my project. The list provides you what trade each of the subs are in, company names, phone information, addresses, and contact names.

  • In addition, I provide a comprehensive list of other subcontractors that I collected from many other sources including references and word-of-mouth. These two lists will provide you enough leads to get you started on your quest to find the best subs out there.

   

  • To further assist you in the sub research process, I provide handy links from the "License #" for each of the subcontractors to the database at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (AZROC). Clicking on any of these links will pull up a wealth of information for each of the subcontractors you are doing research on.

  • The information from the AZROC's database includes their full contact information, license type (what kinds of services they are allowed to provide), and performance/complaint history. The Complaint Information section will tell you things like: whether their license is currently suspended or in good standing, how many current complaints are open with them, how many have been closed, how many have been dismissed, how many have been resolved/settled. Also, you can view their Bond Information (how much money they have put up and is currently available to pay for legitimate homeowner complaints) and Building Confidence rating (this is recorded as how many site visits were requested by homeowners to inspect workmanship issues).

   

City Information (Permits, Fees, Zoning, Plan Reviews, ...)

  • For all you folks who are in Arizona, you will find invaluable information about how the pool/spa permit application process works in your city. This was one of the most frustrating parts of my pool project. Not knowing what was expected of me by the city made it the most horrible part of the whole experience. This section will de-mystify the process of working with the city folks and tell you what you need before heading to the department of developmental services to get your permit.

  • You'll find out about permit requirements, site plans, engineering drawings, plan reviews, fee schedules and a whole lot more. I've done the leg work and called up just about every city in the state of Arizona to find out what their specific requirements are for applying for a permit. In this section, you'll find a bit table/matrix that shows what each city in Arizona requires. Its helpful to be able to compare this information from city to city to see what the differences are and why certain things are needed. All the pertinent phone numbers are also included so that you can get up-to-date information from your city before embarking on your project.

   

  • In addition to the permit, you'll also find out what each city's requirements are as far as zoning setbacks, glazed window requirements, and heater vent placement. Again, each city's requirements are listed in a big table/matrix so you can see what the differences are from city to city. All the phone numbers for every city's planning department are listed to get more specifics for your own project.

  • Also included in this section is a handy inspection checklist to serve as a rough guide prior to your city's inspector coming through for the pre-gunite (inspection #1) and pre-interior (inspection #2) inspections. This allows you as the owner/builder to perform a pre-inspection inspection of your project to insure that everything is in order before the city comes through for the official inspection. This will help you save valuable time in having to re-schedule your subs to come through again to fix problems due to failed inspections.

   

Entire collection of Bids/Quotes, FAXes, and Invoices:

  • I've scanned in my entire list of documentation from my pool project.  This includes all the request-for-bids I FAXed out to all the subs, and their return bids/quotes for each of the job phases.  You'll be able to see a detailed listing of the entire bidding process for my pool project from sub-to-sub, including the final price I paid for each phase.  This serves as a useful guide in helping you get started on your own bidding process.

  • From the detailed invoices, you'll be able to get a better idea of the right ballpark prices you can expect to get when your own bids start coming back.  Many of the invoices are broken down line item-by-line item so you'll be able to see how much each sub charges and why.  This provides a fascinating glimpse into their pricing structures.

   


We hope that this overview has shown some of the key benefits of this website in helping you on your owner/builder swimming pool project.  To start enjoying access to these areas and much, much more, proceed onto the Registration Area now!

 

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