How to Dig Your Own Swimming Pool

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Introduction: How to Dig Your Own Swimming Pool

Here's how I built my own swimming pool from scratch.

Step 1: Find the Perfect Spot

If you can make sure you place the pool in an unshaded area and out of the wind, it makes a big difference when in use later. Find the best spot on your property before you start digging.

Next, mark the area with lime paint or with stakes and string lines. Plan on marking out the pool and also the space surrounding it if you are building a concrete deck.

Step 2: Get the Right Equipment

You're going to need some earth moving equipment to properly finish the job. Mini excavators and wheel loaders will help you dig your hole and move the dirt away from the pool site.

You may need to cut down trees if you are tight on space. Look for a stump grinder rental provider if you need equipment to help you grind away tree stumps.


Before you dig the hole, remove the grass and topsoil using a skidsteer loader or flat shovels and scrapers.

Step 3: Dig, Dig, and Dig Some More

For this project, here are the measurements I used:

Excavation Hole Size: 2m deep x 9m long x 5m wide

Finished Pool Size: 1.6m x 8m x 4m

Approximate the right angles using string and pegs. It will be squared later when we drop in some reinforced mesh.

Step 4: Shape the Pool

Fill the bottom with gravel to level the base.

Drop the steel reinforcement in the base to give flexial strength to the concrete base. The mesh has to be lifted on little concrete pillars to ensure it is in the middle of the poured concrete. My base ended up 10 to 12 inches thick. Only 8 inches is required.

You'll need to add drains for the filtering system. Two drains are required to avoid someone getting sucked onto a single drain - the second drain provides suction release.

Pressure test it to check for leaks on the joints prior to pouring the base.

Step 5: Fill It With Concrete

The concrete should have a specific water content to give the correct strength. To get mine to flow we had to add more water - 5 years with water in the pool and no leaks yet.

The drains are covered with pieces of wood cut to size and silicone to avoid concrete getting into the pipe system.

Step 6: Add Concrete Blocks to Your Wall

Start adding blocks to build the wall. Between each layer of blocks, a horizontal steel rod reinforcement was added to give lateral strength to the walls.

Backfill behind the wall with gravel to allow for some expansion of the surrounding soil .

Leave a block out for the skimmer and have holes cut for jet delivery pipe.

Backfill the blocks with concrete to a specific mix. The reinforcing rods up the center of the blocks have been extended by wiring a straight length on. You can avoid this but then every block has to lifted the height of the pool.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

A 10mm thick (approx) render coat was added. I battened off sections then plastered between the battens. The sides and the base. The white fluid is the waterproofer in the render mix.

One drain has a one-way valve in it to allow escape of groundwater into the pool when the pool is empty to equalize pressure.

Concrete block put on top to stop groundwater coming in whilst rendering

The drains were profiled when the concrete base was poured to allow debris to flow to the suctions

Step 8: Add the Paint

Painted with chlorinated rubberised paint. Lasts about 2 / 3 years then starts to bubble.

Step 9: Install the Filters & Pump

Install the filters and pump somewhere preferably out of sight. Add a trip switch for safety.

Step 10: Fill the Pool

Filling the pool will likely take a few days. Add chemicals to ensure your new pool does not attract bugs and algae growth.

Here's the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49RciVEKj-8

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    14 Comments

    thats a tiny pool. seems like its not worth it. an above ground pool would have been better. go big or don't do it

    This pool is only 5'-4" deep, 26'-8" long and 13'-4" wide. It is deep enough to swim in, but DO NOT DIVE! I think this is a perfect sized pool for swimming and for children to learn to swim. I think a rectangular pool is also the best shape. Your pool looks fantastic, you did an admirable job on the whole project. You also know where all the hidden structures are in case repairs are needed. I am sure you and your family will have many years of enjoyment using this pool. Thanks for posting this instructable!

    Really, DO NOT DIVE? How do you think racing swimmers get in a pool?
    Didn't see a high board.
    Come to think about it, didn't see a ladder either.
    Should mention not to park your truck in it either as long as 'we're' being safely conscious and all.

    Your comment is ignorant and wrongly sardonic. Professional divers and swimmers compete in regulation pools that are mush deeper than 5'4". Olympic swimming pools are 6'7" minimum depth by definition. BigJRM's recommendation to not dive into the pool is correct and widely recognized.

    Better check on permits first!

    Impressive! But I still bit scared - too much work. How long did it take for you?

    Very nice job on your pool. Enjoy!

    ...as to the "diving" controversy...I'm quite sure BigJRM was not referring to shallow racing dives, which not every one learns how to do...so there was no need for the sarcasm from Itsmescotty. Many youngsters think that "diving" refers only to deeper headfirst plunges into waters, and kids get broken necks every summer by diving too deeply into shallow waters...or waters where hidden obstacles aren't clearly visible. Safety cautions are generally issued out of well meant genuine concern for others, and it is arrogant to scorn them.

    Add a friend whose father also dug a pool per he did it by hand. He would dug two wheelbarrows each week day and about 8 on Saturday and on Sunday he would sit in a lawn chair by his unfinished pool and read the newspaper. The father said it was cheaper than a health club and it took him about a year ti finish the hole. USed to keep bucket of dirt in the car to throw out when he found a place that need fill.

    You didn't make a shallow end. How come?


    Ok, maybe you can tell me: Why are pools always painted blue or green? Seems to me that painting them black (with enough markers that you could see the bottom) would help warm the water

    I don't know why they skipped the shallow end, but the reason most pools are painted these colors is that they look the most attractive. Black pools do warm up quicker in the spring and stay warming longer in the fall, but for most of the summer, the water is too hot to swim in comfortably (who wants to swim in bath water?) Of course, what region you live in will affect this also. Someone in Arizona, doesn't want any dark color, yet a pool in Maine may be best if painted black.