Ever since we opened our doors—some 33 years ago—California Pools in Phoenix has been asked two big questions: “How much does a pool cost?” and “How long does it take to build a pool?”
We always wish we had a better answer, but we prioritize honesty. When people ask us how long it takes to build a pool, we tell them the truth: it depends.
Thirty years ago, timeframes for building a pool were hard to pin down because building permits in Phoenix could take anywhere from a day to a week. Since then, that timeframe has grown exponentially—now, pool building permits take anywhere from a week to three months depending on the jurisdiction.
Thirty years ago, we built much simpler pools and had crews on standby. Most pools took 3-6 weeks to build once construction started. Today, building time averages 6-8 weeks, while some pools can take months longer when the scope is larger.
Even with the shorter completion times and simpler pools we built when we were just starting out, no one homeowner investing in a new pool was happy to hear “it depends.” Moreover, clients always want it faster than any honest estimate.
Here is our best answer, based on decades of experience and knowledge:
- Estimate 1 week of construction time for every $10,000 worth of work. For example, a $40,000 pool takes about 4 weeks and an $80,000 pool takes about 8 weeks.
- Building a pool during a pandemic? Here is what you now need to know.
Nevertheless, even that answer is incomplete. Construction time is often not the lengthiest part of the process.
Here are some additional guidelines for streamlining the pool building process that can both save you money and have you swimming sooner!
Phase 1: Create a design, analyze the proposal, and decide on your pool company (hopefully us!). The average time for this phase is about 3 weeks.
- Tip: Do your research! Follow your gut on who to work with. It’s worth taking your time with this first major decision. If you do not feel right about a contractor, it will only cost you time and money to re-start the whole process with another designer.
Phase 2: Determine how you are going to pay for the project. Options include cash payments, financing, and including in your first mortgage, among others. The average time for a second mortgage finance process is about 2-3 weeks.
- Tip: there is no need to wait until you have a design and price. Get your financial arrangements started early and you can have the financing in place by the time the design is complete and you have agreed on the final costs.
Phase 3: Convert the design and paperwork into a construction plan, secure permits from the city, layout the pool on the ground and establish correct elevations. The average time for this phase is about 3 to 4 weeks.
- Tip: If you have worked with one designer and spent the amount of time necessary to create a plan, you will have little need for changes. Again, trust your gut. If you have the right designer he or she has listened, is experienced, and “gets” you. They will also react quickly to your requests.
- Tip: if you have unpermitted work in your backyard or your yard is situated on a hillside or has other unique drainage characteristics, it is good to start working on these issues early. These surprises can really delay the process.
Phase 4: Excavation of the pool through shotcrete. This part of the process averages about 3 weeks.
- Tip: Close the drapes and windows and keep a close eye on the dogs and kids. This is a relatively noisy and dusty process and the big machinery in the yard can be unsafe.
Phase 5: Shotcrete through interior finish (water in the pool). This phase requires about 3 weeks, on average.
- Tip: poured deck and shotcrete features are much faster than paver deck and masonry features. However, if you want pavers and masonry, make sure that the company you choose has internal labor and capability. This is the highest-pressure area on current labor and crews.
- Tip: select your products and colors early and minimize changes. In manufactured and imported products, we live in a supply-as-needed environment. Changes and supply issues can frequently cause delays.
Here at California Pools & Landscape, we strive to give our clients an honest answer when they ask how long it takes to build a pool. But the simple fact is, “it depends” is a great answer. It’s best to plan well, expect the unexpected, and work with the right company. You might not be an expert on pools or landscapes, but you’re probably an expert on people. Your gut and heart will tell you if the person or company you are working with have your best interests at heart.
Good luck with your project! The pool building process can be daunting, but the end result is always worth it!