The process of building a fiberglass pool can be a fun and exciting event if you are prepared in advance for what all is going to take place. There are many steps that go into building a beautiful, professionally installed pool. Here, we’re going to give you an idea of how long each step takes, so you have a better sense of when your pool will be complete. Please keep in mind that jobsite conditions, weather, and the number of workers can have an impact on the timing for the various steps to a finished pool project.
Step 1: Site Prep and Digging
All site prep starts with obtaining the proper permits, if required, and identifying where utilities are located within the project area. Utilities can be buried or overhead. They might interfere with the project and will have to be marked for re-locating prior to any site work. Once you have permits and utilities out of the way, the site is prepared by first establishing the finish grade of the pool wall. Well before your application for a building permit, the excavation area is then prepared by outlining the pool dimensions with spray paint or using a pre-fabricated template that matches the pool design. This shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours at most, depending on the equipment. Once the elevation is set and the layout is marked, excavation can begin.
Step 2: Excavating and Setting
Most of the digging will be done by an excavator, which will remove the vast majority of the dirt. Care is taken to follow the outline of the pool by only slightly digging beyond the dimensions of the pool by 8” to 12” for a “tight” fit. The bottom of the excavated area is dug 4” deeper than necessary to allow for sand or gravel fill material to be added and a smooth area prepared for the pool bottom to rest. The pool is then set by the excavator or crane if needed using a spreader bar and lifting straps to meet APSP/ANSI codes for level application. This may take the builder several attempts to prepare the bottom of the hole and lift and set the pool level. This is normal procedure. Additionally, a sump line or a daylight drain is installed at the deep end of the pool to assist with balancing hydrostatic pressure. From the start of the excavation, you can expect up to 3 days until your fiberglass pool is nestled into the excavation site. Some builders can do this process in 1 day while others, with different equipment, may take longer.
Step 3: Adding Water and Backfill
Once the pool is set level, the process of adding water and backfill begins. First, 6” of washed sand or 6” of gravel is placed around the bottom radius of the pool. This is called “locking in” the pool. The pool is then filled with 6” of water. That process is then repeated creating equal pressure on the inside and outside of the pool wall. When the backfill and the water reach areas for plumbing fittings, the builder will attach PVC pipe to the fittings and pressure test the lines for leaks. This is also the time that the lights will be installed and other possible water features. If all is working, then the process of adding water and backfill continues until they are at the grade level for the deck placement. This entire process can take 1 to 4 days, excluding the deck, and depending on the builder.
Step 4: Plumbing and Electrical Installation
An equipment pad will be strategically located on the project site to hold the pump, filter, heater, electrical equipment and other options that may be part of the installation. As the plumbing lines and electrical lines have already been run in the previous steps, hooking up the pump, filter, heater, water features, and electrical lighting is a simple process. Depending on personnel and local inspection requirements, this part of the process averages 1 to 3 days.
Step 5: Pouring Concrete and Finishing the Pool
Once the conditions are right to start pouring concrete, the deck surrounding your pool will begin taking shape. Setting up the forms, pouring the concrete, bonding, and letting it settle can take anywhere from 2-3 days, depending on the weather. While the concrete is curing, the construction team will clean up the site and make sure that your in-ground fiberglass pool and all equipment is operating properly.
Bad Weather or Unforeseen Ground Conditions
Poor weather conditions and unforeseen ground conditions, like hitting rock or water issues, can occur anytime during the construction process, creating setbacks. No one can predict the weather accurately or see underground obstacles, so prepare yourself for the possibility that setbacks may occur beyond you or the builder’s control. In the best cases, weather is perfect, the excavation and install goes as planned, and the pool is finished within the timeframe the builder was targeting (please be sure to communicate with your independent Latham dealer about a timeline at the beginning of the process). In the event it is not, keep in mind that the pool will be there for a long time so a few extra days, compared to a lifetime of memories, is well worth the wait for a beautiful and professionally installed pool.