What are the Preliminary Questions you Need to Answer Before Installing an Inground Swimming Pool?

What Building Codes/Permits, Utilities Required you need is just the beginning. You also need to decide the Best Pool Site, Excavation Contractor, and know the Basic Minimum Tools Recommended


Advance knowledge concerning State and Local Swimming Pool Codes will prevent fines and work stoppage orders.  Most ordinances vary considerably from one county to another and nothing should be assumed or implied.  It may be necessary for the homeowner/pool builder to present dig specs and engineering specs to the local building department.  You should also obtain a copy of the local swimming pool code for your area.  Be sure that you understand all code requirements that are both directly and indirectly associated with your swimming pool. Take special note of sewer, drainage, fencing, lot line, power lines, fire, and electrical requirements.


  1. Water- for construction and filling of pool
  2. Electrical- temporary supply during construction and a permanent supply for the pump and pool lighting
  3. Sewage- for adequate drainage
  4. Fuel for heater- Natural Gas or Propane


Obtain the required permits before starting your pool installation


  1. Obstructions must be considered before selecting the final pool site. Obstructions could include underground wires, gas lines, septic tanks, dry-well systems, plumbing, trees, and overhead power lines. Underground obstruction and utilities should be located before excavation begins. Utility companies will usually locate underground pipes and cables that are located on your property at no charge to you. If various obstructions are unavoidable, a compromise must be reached. However, keep in mind the labor and material costs of moving or replacing obstructions. We’ve found that most pool owners choose the path of least resistance for the sake of practicality and budget.
  2. Sun and Shade can be an important factors when determining the pool site as well.  Excessive shaded areas from trees and other buildings could result in uncomfortable swimming conditions during cooler weather months which could increase your heating costs considerably.  Likewise, the excessive sun can be unbearable for some during the summer months. You must determine the placement of your pool based on your personal preferences and ideal usage.  
  3. Proper pool orientation will take advantage of sunny days for comfortable swimming conditions, decrease heating costs, and in some states, meet requirements set forth by the public health department referring to diving board placement.
  4. Existing Landscape Removal is dependent on individual preference. A certain amount of removal might be possible without disturbing the natural atmosphere of the backyard.  This can be done by careful use of planters, shrubs, and flowers. Of course, you will want to remove any trees/shrubs located directly inside the pool layout of your final chosen pool site. When it becomes necessary to remove trees, the entire root system needs to be excavated in order to avoid new trees sprouting through your pool and/or surrounding areas in the future. An effective method of preventing continued root growth is to apply copper sulfate to the root system.
  5. Ease of Excavation to provide the best access and most ideal working conditions.  Placing the pool a few feet one way or the other may permit improved excavation conditions, easier dirt removal, and concrete placement.
  6. Convenient Access to changing facilities and house exits also requires some thought. Available site lines for supervision of the swimming area from inside the house via windows and/or glass doors should also be considered. As you select your pool site, make a rough layout of where you think the pool should be located.  Then consider decking and walkways by staking out their approximate positions.
  7. The Location of the Pool in Relation to Other Buildings should be both an aesthetic and practical consideration.  Some considerations are whether the pool should be laid out parallel, perpendicular, or at a 45-degree angle to an existing house, building, building line, hedgerow, fence, and/or another dominant object.
  8. Advanced Knowledge of Subsoil Conditions can be helpful in determining the placement of the pool. It is advisable under certain circumstances (areas that have excavation issues) to probe the subgrade by boring a series of test holes. The results would suggest the best position and grade of the pool. Problems such as a rocky substrate, high water table, or excessive clay, should be located before construction. They can be eliminated simply by moving the pool, thus keeping the construction process as smooth and economical as possible.
  9. Check the Selected Location for Grade or Elevation of the Pool as the pool walls must rest on undisturbed soil.  Keep the top surface of the pool (pool deck) at least three to four inches above the highest ground elevation in the area.  This will avoid any surface drainage back into the pool.  
  10. The Equipment Location should be included in your considerations:
  • You’ll want to place your filter on a concrete slab.  Be sure to make the slab large enough for all equipment, usually 3' X 4' or 3' X 7' with a heater.  Also, consider at this time whether an enclosure will be built over the equipment in order to plan the slab size accordingly.
  • Keep the filter within 20' of the pool to maintain optimum pump performance.
  • Never locate the filter and pump more than six inches above or six inches below pool grade. Otherwise, pump priming or overflow problems are likely to occur.
  • Never locate the filter and pump in a basement as it is possible that a malfunction in plumbing could cause flooding.
  • Consider where the backwash water will drain.  Is there adequate drainage?  Check for local codes requiring special methods to dispose backwash water.
  • The filter location is also important from an aesthetic point of view. When making the rough layout of the pool, visualize placement of the filter and plan for future landscaping or enclosures. Out of sight of the immediate pool area is usually preferred.

TIP: Other terms used to describe the top of the pool coping are pool grade, final elevation, or "top surface."


One of the most important phases that make for a smooth installation is excavation. If the excavation is incorrect, each subsequent step becomes costlier as well as more difficult.  For instance, if the bottom grade of the pool is too shallow and rough, you will have to resort to hours or even days of hand trimming.  A skilled excavation contractor should be chosen for this critical part of the installation process. Search for a local “excavating contractor" in your area or online at www.realpages.com.

When selecting an excavation contractor be sure to confirm their experience through referrals, building contractors, or local officials.  Also note that the job can be finished most efficiently if the contractor has a rubber-tire backhoe with a bucket capacity of at least one-half cubic yard and adequate mobility to enable loading excess dirt directly into the vessel which will be removing it from the property. For this, a dump truck will speed the job along as well.  

The excavator, regardless of his experience level, should be sure to study the pool drawings in detail before starting the excavation.


TIP: Set the exact requirements of the job you are requesting. You will want to communicate with your contractor the exact route for access to the excavation site and where the excess dirt is to be disposed of.  You may wish to incorporate performance requirements and pool construction plans into a contract to avoid any misunderstandings later.




Phillips & Large Slot Screwdriver

Carpenter's level, Shot stick, and Water Level or Transit Level

Shovels (2 minimum)

Commercial Shop Vac with hose or Liner Vacuum

Socket set, adjustable wrench, open-end wrench, & 18" Pipe Wrench Channellock Pliers

Drills and assorted bits

Spray Paint

Duct Tape

Tape Measure

Extension Cords

Trowels; steel and magnesium

Hacksaw, Hole Saw Set, & Jig Saw

Utility Knife

Mason's String/Line, and C-Clamps

Water source with garden hose and nozzle

Pick, Mattock, and Sledgehammers; 3 lb. and 10 lb.


Continue to the next installation step: How to Set Up Your Pool Layout



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