Project Pool – Above Ground Pool Start to Finish

So you have decided that you would like to install an above ground pool, Congratulations! This is for those that have no idea what to do after they buy the pool and the company does not do the installation for you.
When we bought our above ground pool this past summer, I had no idea where to start or how to proceed.

I thought I would write this to help any one that was or is in the same predicament that I was in. I have also included the worksheet I used to keep all the information in one place so that I could refer to it when needed. Since I’m not a professional installer this is only what I learned.

Here are the basics of our family pool; 18 foot round, 54 inch high wall, 8 inch top resin ledge, bottom ledge is all resin so it is corrosion proof, resin uprights, epoxy coated walls, with a 30 year warranty. This was the new model for the company to manufacture this year (2007).

Pools come in both round and oval shapes, along with different diameters. If you have an old garden hose available, take it into your yard and put it into a large circle or oval shape, measure across it to see if you have one of the different diameters, such as 12 or 18 feet across. If you do, step back, and take a good look at where this form is sitting in your yard versus how much yard you have left over. You will have a good visual on diameter and where you would like to place a pool. Adjustments can be made, to go closer or further from the side or middle. In our area we had to be at least 5 feet off of any property line.

If you can leave the hose on the ground for the day, do that, so you can see at various times during your day how much sun falls within the shape. You don’t want the pool sitting in shade all day otherwise it will never warm the water up.

I would suggest going to your local city or township construction office and asking about permits for a pool. They will advise you on what you need and what they look for. Ours gave us a written booklet that outlined everything from the electrician to the type of acceptable pool ladder and fencing. I won’t get into details in this area since each area has different rules and regulations. Personally, I would never have a pool installed without permits, that way should anything happen you have covered yourself in the fact that you did it all legal and legit with your city or township.

Next, I would suggest calling your homeowners insurance company and asking if they need anything prior to install and what it would be. You can also ask any questions that you might have regarding policies for your own safety and well being.

Now, comes the fun!! First you can look through the vast internet at all the different pools that are out there and their cost. Remember that the prices you are looking at more than likely are not for installation, which is separate. Write down specifics of what you like and what you do not like, wall height, upright material, liner thickness. Also, write down any questions you might have so that when you go pool shopping at stores you can take them with you and get them answered. We purchased a pool that has resin uprights, resin top rail, with resin bottom rail which the pool sidewalls slip in to. This is a brand new pool that was just manufactured.

When you think you have decided what type of pool you are looking for get out the yellow pages and look up pools. Write down the different pool companies in your area and go visit them. When you have found the pool you want you will know the one. Generally speaking, pool retailers do not install pools (at least not in our area) but will give you a list of installers that are willing to come to your area and do the job and what they charge. They usually have a list of electricians as well. Once you have decided what kind of pool you would like; now you need to decide who will install that pool. I took the list provided by the pool company and called each one, and asked what there charges were and when they could install the pool. I wrote the information down on my worksheet and went on to the next one. Then I called each one back after hours and left a message that I had a question and could they get back to me at their earliest convenience and waited to see who would call back the fastest. This gave me an idea of who checked their messages or services in case I have a problem with the pool when they are closed. I’m not saying the company I went with was the fastest to get back to me, nor was it the cheapest, but it was the only one that gave me a warranty on their workmanship in installation!

Installing yourself VS hiring an installer, is something to give some serious thought to. Unless you have done this before I really would not recommend setting up an above ground pool, it is hard work and when you have not done this before mistakes can be made and ones that could really cost you in the long run. Hiring someone else gives you peace of mind that there is a warranty on their workmanship, that it is done right the first time, it should only take a few hours to install so you will be enjoying that investment alot quicker. Our installation was approximately $400.00, paid to the installer and included the excavator cost. There is enough work to do afterwards so why start before you have to?

Once you have all the information compiled, get your calendar out, it’s time to plan the install. Coordinating all of this is not like choreographing a dance routine but it does take a little time and thought. You want to fill out your permit paperwork and check for that. Get the electrician in and completed. Next you want to arrange for the excavator, should you need one, to come in just prior to install. Then you want to plan for delivery of sand and pool, followed by the installers coming in to install your pool. I had the excavator come in 2 days before the pool installers and the day before the delivery of the sand and pool. It all coordinated wonderfully. The electrician came in the day before install. Just be sure to go through the entire delivery of the pool, so that should anything NOT be there you have a little time to get it delivered because you will need everything there for the installers.

When I did my searching on the internet I found pool coving and this pool padding for under the liner. It is made of a durable foam material that resists heel marks, grass growing up under it and many other things. There are a few different types out there but there is one that is done in one piece and does not have to be taped. I wanted to purchase this pad and put it under the liner but we just didn’t have enough extra funds to do this at the time. Now, I am sorry I didn’t find a way to do this. We have heel marks in the bottom of the pool and yes they do make it more difficult to clean the pool. We did have the pool coving installed and that really turned out nicely. It eliminates the worry of having sand wash out in the coving area. If you can afford to do these two things, do it! You won’t be sorry.

After the installers finish putting up your pool and water is slowly filling it, take a sample of the water to your local pool supply to be tested. They will tell you what chemicals you need and the amounts you need once the pool is completely filled. Be sure to check before the installers leave that the cord from the pump/filter will reach the electrical outlet with a little slack in it, if it is too tight it can damage the cord if you stretch it. Do not add any extension piece to this! The installer usually goes over how your pump and filter run and what to do. Take notes so you can refer to them later should you need to. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something if you do not understand.

Our installer and Pool Company would not touch the pool ladder system. It was against their policies and procedures. I put it together and learned the hard way that it takes more than one person to put it in the pool and finish. Always have a helping hand around the pool when tackling something bigger than a bucket.

Now came our big part of this project, filling around the pool base. After doing some research and talking with the installer, Pool Company, other pool owners and the stone company. We decided to put plastic around the base of the pool 2 feet wide and then cover the plastic with small, medium and some large round smooth stones. In our area they call this river rock in 1 inch to 4 inch size. It took many bucket loads to go around the pool but it looks fantastic! Plus we have the added bonus that you can walk on the rock and not cut your feet and you don’t have to trim right next to the pool. We ordered 3 tons of stone but we have quite a bit left over. So be sure to double check anyone’s figures on amounts.

There was one thing that I installed into the plumbing section of our pool to make life easier for chemicals and that was the pool Frog system. It was a 200 dollar investment but well worth it. Once you get it set for your pool, all you have to do is weekly shock treatments and change the chlorine pack when needed. Ours was every 2 �½ weeks, with shocking every 5 days unless we had a lot of kids or rain in the pool.

If you have any questions, leave them in a comment, and if you provide an email address I will try to answer you but please remember I am not an expert, I’m just flying by the seat of my pants and learning by experience.

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