How to Build a DIY Pool in Your Backyard (with some creative options!)


For many, installing a pool means using a contractor.  However, a growing number are turning to building a DIY pool!

Hiring a pool contractor has its perks.  You do not have to worry about the project, and will just enjoy the finished product.

However, hiring a pool contractor is expensive and the cost of installing a pool adds up quickly!  You may have the time, knowledge and skill to handle much of the project on its own.

Of course, you do not have to choose between completely DIY and hiring a contractor.  You can do parts of the project yourself and subcontract other parts.

There are limitless options to DIY pools and there are many things to consider.  In this article, we will cover good reasons to build a DIY pool, points to consider, DIY pool options and how to build a DIY pool.

Of course, you will want to speak to your county to know exactly what building and zoning permits are needed and what other requirements they have.  For example, many municipalities require that a safety fence be built around your pool.

Building a DIY Pool

There are many reasons that people are turning to DIY pool.  They are:

  • You are looking for a home improvement project.  What better project than a beautiful pool for your family to enjoy!
  • You want to be in control and involved with your pool installation.
  • It will cost considerably less than hiring a contractor.
  • You will have bragging rights – you built your own pool!

How long does it take to build a pool?

On average, hiring a professional pool builder will take around 4 weeks.  If you want to build your own DIY swimming pool, it will take, on average, two to three months.

When should I build a pool?

If you want to have your pool up and running by summer, the earlier the better.  You want to give time for any delays or issues.

Start work as soon as weather will permit and you can begin digging.

How much does building your own pool cost?

The short answer is that it depends.  There are various factors that affect the cost, like the size and design.

Depending on what kind of DIY pool you choose to build, it can be around $3,000.  You can build an elaborate pool that can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Before You Begin…

Before you begin your DIY pool project, you should take a step back and consider the following:

  • The pool site.  You want a site that has enough sunlight and is blocked from the wind.  Also, ask yourself these questions:
    • How much do I need to excavate?
    • How much will it cost to get rid of the backfill?
    • How big would I like my pool to be?
    • Is the area level?
    • Are there utility lines in the way?
  • Your budget.  You may have budgeted for your pool kit or your materials, but have you budgeted for:
    • Safety fencing around your pool
    • Maintenance tools and other maintenance costs
    • The cost of permits, inspections and warranties
    • Lighting, decor and landscaping around your pool
    • Any extras you want to have
  • Design What kind of design do you want to use?
    • A simple design is your best bet.  Most DIY pool builders will go for a rectangular shape.
    • A flat bottomed pool is better.  With a flat bottom, you have a simpler dig, a one level foundation for your walls and it is easier to clean.


Depending on your skill level, your pool project may not be completed 100% by yourself.  There are a couple of areas that people will generally subcontract:


Unless you have access to an excavator and other equipment, and know how to use it safely, it makes sense to have someone else dig out the site for your pool.  As well, an excavating contractor will be able to dispose of the dirt that is dug up.


Again, unless you have a lot of experience in this area, it is best to hire an electrician.  This way you can be sure that the electrical parts of your pool are up to your local code.

orange excavator 2058729

Types of Pools

There are two basic types of pools: above ground and inground.

Above ground pools are purchased as a kit and installing them is as simple as following the instructions.  Above ground pool kits cost, on average, around $1,500, and are easy to set up.

Inground pools are available made from concrete, fibreglass and vinyl.  Vinyl pools are the most common types of pools that are used in DIY kits.

You can also build a DIY concrete or fibreglass pool.

Building a DIY Above Ground Pool

You will still need to prepare your site, even if you’re not digging down.  You want to make sure the area is excavated slightly so that the area is level.

One your site is prepared, building an above ground pool is actually really easy.  Above ground pools are available anywhere, such as Home Depot.

Each pool kit will differ and you will want to carefully look at what yours comes with.  An above ground pool kit will generally come with:

  • bottom rails
  • upright rails
  • stabilizer rails
  • top and bottom plates
  • a wall
  • liner

While you’ll want to look at your kit’s instructions, generally speaking, you will follow this process to build your above ground pool:

  1.  Connect the bottom rails to the bottom plate
  2. Add the pool base
  3. Install the wall.  A few tips for installing the wall:
    1. Make sure the skimmer cut out is on the top of the wall before you begin.  You certainly don’t want to have to change that partway through.
    2. Work slowly – this can be really tricky to maneuver.
  4. Install the upright rails.
  5. Install the liner.
    1. Take off your shoes before you begin working.  You don’t damage your liner while you are installing it.
    2. Work slowly and carefully.
  6. Attach the stabilizer rails and top plates.
  7. Attach the top rail.
  8. Install the pump and filter.
  9. Enjoy your pool!

Installing a DIY Inground Pool

Installing an inground pool is a bit more difficult than an above ground pool, but it is still a great home project to take on!

A standard DIY inground pool kit will generally include a steel and polymer wall pool.  Your DIY pool kit will probably include:

  • a pump and filter
  • main drains
  • pool returns
  • a-frame braces
  • aluminium coping
  • deck anchors
  • ladder and handrail
  • rebar stakes
  • skimmer
  • vinyl liner
  • wall panel and bolts.

Keep in mind, this is a standard inground pool kit.  There are frills and whistles that you will be able to add on, if you choose.

You will also need to have the following items (which you can get at a local hardware store):

  • Tools
  • Sand
  • Concrete
  • PVC piping
  • Electrical materials
  • Water

DIY pool

Get Creative

Some homeowners have gotten really creative in how they create their DIY pools.  They have moved beyond buying kits and created their own DIY pools out of various materials.

Galvanized Stock Tub

One intrepid family used a galvanized stock tank, measuring 8 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, as a pool to keep their family cool all year round.  Because of the material, these pools can have algae problems so you will want to keep a close eye on that.

A Natural Swimming Pool

For those that want to be more in harmony with the nature around them and use fewer chemicals, a natural swimming pool, or pond, is an option.  These are becoming more popular all the time.

These are filtered using aquatic plans and have to be sloped, more like a soup bowl than a bathtub, so that the walls do not cave in. An underwater aeration system is necessary here and will set you back between $1,000 and $2,000.

The installation costs are higher but the maintenance costs are lower.  One thing to consider – you need quite a bit of space to install a natural swimming pool.

A Shipping Container

If you can get your hands on one, a shipping container can easily be fitted to be your swimming pool.  While it could be prone to rust, the owners have been keeping on top of it and have found that it is still holding up seven years later.

Hay Bales

With about 50 hay bales, you can have a pool!  The great thing is that it can be temporary

After your DIY pool is installed…

Once your DIY pool is installed, you may think that your hard work is done.  But wait!

The work you put in maintaining a pool is just as important as the work you put in to build and install it.  There are several things that you need to do each week to make sure that your pool is functioning properly.

Doing this work will mean that your DIY pool will last a long time and you won’t have to spend money on replacements that could have been avoided.  As well, you will know that the water in your pool is safe for you and your family.

Hiring a pool cleaner allows you to enjoy all of the perks of a pool, like the fun with your family, without the nuisance of the maintenance chores.

More pool cleaning tips at YOUR tips:

Slade Dinn

How to Acid Wash Your Pool

If you want to keep your swimming pool looking and feeling great, it’s important to acid wash your swimming pool

how to prime a pool pump
Slade Dinn

How to Prime a Pool Pump

It’s summer and you’re ready to take a dip in your pool, but when you go to turn on the