Build a swimming pool in the garden yourself – the best guide on the internet

Enjoy the summer sun on the lounger in the garden and jump into your own pool to cool off – a dream that can be realized. Because a pool is available in many price ranges. If you want, you can build the swimming pool yourself.

In midsummer temperatures, many homeowners want their own pool in the garden. With a little money and space, that’s not a major problem. The following options are available:

  • Take a five-figure sum in hand and have the pool built by professionals.
  • Build the pool yourself: Take over services such as excavation, concrete work, pool construction or pool design yourself and save some money.
  • Choose an above-ground pool that can be set up in the garden easily and sometimes even without technology.

Those who are skilled in their craft and invest a few working days can build a pool themselves. Before the first groundbreaking is done, future pool owners must decide on a design.

Paddling pools and above ground pools

The simplest and cheapest types are inflatable paddling pools or those with scaffolding that do not need any technology and are ultimately little more than large paddling pools.

It looks different with above ground pools. These are also called steel wall pools, wooden pools or frame pools and, as the name often suggests, are made of steel, wood or plastic. There is also a pool liner, depending on the equipment, a skimmer and a filter pump are also included. If both are missing, it should be bought separately, otherwise the bathing fun only lasts a few days or a maximum of weeks until the water has to be completely replaced.

The construction of an above ground pool is quite simple and is quite similar for all pools. Detailed instructions are usually included. In most cases, however, the following steps are necessary:

  • Prepare the subsurface: At least if the pool is to stand for a longer period of time, the ground must be prepared. Lawn is unsuitable, the ground must be absolutely level. Manufacturers sometimes recommend a concrete foundation, but there are also foundation plates that can be placed on a substructure made of vibrated gravel. The necessary vibrating plate can be borrowed from the hardware store.
  • Set up pool including scaffolding: Depending on the version, it is a frame made of pipes that support the pond liner or a frame made of steel or wooden parts that must be assembled according to the instructions and then covered with a pool liner.
  • Set up and install technology: Next comes the technology, the last is a pool ladder that can simply be placed over the edge.

Such pools are typically less than 1.35 meters high and are less suitable for swimming. Larger pools have to be buried at least in part. But smaller pools can also be buried, depending on the design. For everyone else there is an alternative: Do-it-yourselfers can build their own wooden scaffolding and cover the pool with it, so that a pool with a larger edge area is created, for example. Such a structure can even be integrated into the terrace. But this is only worthwhile if the pool is left standing permanently, i.e. also in the garden over the winter.

Variants of the built-in pool

Inflatable ring pools offer swimming fun for small gardens. They are available in hardware stores for as little as $ 100. Once the summer is over, the pools can simply be dismantled. Certainly not the best solution in the long term, but a good alternative to the large garden pool for tenants.

If you want a little more space in your pool, a steel wall pool is well advised. In this variant, a steel body is built in a round or oval shape and lined with a waterproof film. With a maximum diameter of eight meters and a water depth of 1.50 meters, there is already plenty of space for swimming. A round pool this size can be had for about $ 2,000. The scope of delivery often includes accessories such as filters and pool ladder.

Prefabricated swimming pools made of polyester are a particularly convenient solution. They are delivered in one piece and only have to be inserted into the appropriate construction pit. The gap is filled with lean concrete. However, the comfort has its price. Swimming pool builders have to reckon with a purchase price of around $ 10,000 for a rectangular pool with a length of eight to nine meters.

If you want to swim long laps, you should build a large swimming pool. For example, Styrofoam blocks or scarf stones are suitable for self-construction. These are built on a base plate and then poured with concrete. Of course, the basin can also be cast entirely from concrete. In these variants, too, it is lined with a film. The price depends on the size of the pool and the personal contribution made.

Pool typeBenefitsDisadvantage
Steel wall poolInexpensive, easy to assemble, ready-made hanging filmAdditional effort when backfilling the body, the filled soil settles too much, the pool wall can buckle under the pressure of the water
Polyester poolfinished pool, short construction timeShape of the basin given, high transport costs
Styrofoam componentseasy to work with, good insulation, curves possible, roots and rodents have no chancehave to be filled with concrete and plastered, quite expensive
Poured concrete poolsolid, longer shelf life, roots and rodents have no chance, every size and shape possibleFormwork very complex, labor-intensive, only for very experienced do-it-yourselfers
Pool built from shell stonesstable, can be built by yourself, flexible in size and shape, roots and rodents have no chanceLabor-intensive, built-in parts may have to be fitted

Structural requirements

Building a pool is a relatively complicated undertaking. Do-it-yourselfers should consider a few things in advance and during construction so that the effort is worthwhile and there are no unpleasant surprises after building the pool:

  • The soil in which the pool is buried must be checked. The result can already rule out some types. For example, too high a groundwater level makes it impossible to use many types of pools. A sealed concrete tank would be the right choice here.
  • The surface must be firm and level. Stones and roots should definitely be removed to prevent damage to the film. Smaller hollows can be evened out with sand. In most cases it is advisable to place the swimming pool on a 15 to 20 centimeter thick concrete slab. This means that there are no unevenness on the pool floor that would later interfere with cleaning.
  • The bigger the swimming pool is, the deeper it has to be sunk into the ground. From a pool height of 1.50 meters, the pool should therefore only protrude by a maximum of two thirds of its height. The reason for this is the high pressure that is placed on the outer wall with the corresponding amount of water. The steel body receives the necessary stability through the underground installation.
  • The installed water pipes must have a slight slope towards the pool. The incline prevents water from standing in the pipes when the pool is emptied and from freezing in freezing temperatures.
  • Paving stones around the pool protect the water from pollution from grass and earth.

Pool building step by step

This video shows that do-it-yourselfers can at least partially build a swimming pool themselves. This is followed by step-by-step instructions for building the pool.

Dig a pit

If you buy a pool kit, you should also find information about the pit in the assembly instructions. Otherwise, the pit corresponds to the outside dimensions of the pool plus around 50 centimeters on each side. If the technology is to be partially buried, this must of course also be taken into account. An excavator is required for the excavation, a mini excavator is usually not enough.

In order for the pit to be rectangular, the pit should first be measured and marked with cords. Make sure to also measure the diagonals. In the case of a rectangle, the diagonal lines are the same length.

The excavation must be disposed of. Your own garden is usually not suitable for this. The earthwork company will deposit the excavation on request and at an additional cost. At least part of the excavation is still required, however, in order to fill the construction pit again after the pool has been installed. During intermediate storage, make sure that the mound of earth is not created too close to the pool – otherwise the pool can be expected to be constantly soiled during construction.

Lay the foundation

Floor plates are sometimes included with kits. There are also suppliers who sell such floor tiles individually. Otherwise a pool needs a concrete floor slab. In both cases, the aim is to have a stable surface without a slope, otherwise the pool walls will be unevenly loaded and thus damaged. The floor should also not have any unevenness, because this makes pool cleaning much more difficult. A tongue-and-groove system ensures a level surface for the floor slabs, while unevenness can be removed with a leveling compound on the floor slab.

Both floor slabs and the concrete foundation require a gravel bed as a foundation. Either the floor panels are distributed on top of it. Otherwise, spacers and reinforcements are laid out, then the concrete is poured. Even if a client builds the foundation himself, he should have the concrete delivered to him with a concrete mixer. Depending on the wall system, the reinforcements for the side walls must also be incorporated into the base plate. This is the case with styrofoam pools, for example.

The way in which a foundation has to be concreted is not that different for pools and garages. The following text explains how this works using the example of a garage:

Build the pool

When the foundation is ready, the pool is set up. There are many different variants here. The simplest and most expensive are prefabricated pools made of plastic or ceramic. Steel wall pools or above-ground pools, which can also be at least partially buried, are somewhat more complex. The assembly is carried out according to the instructions. The steel wall pool, for example, comes as a steel roller that has to be inserted into a guide rail on the floor. The edges are also connected using a rail.

All kinds of technology are required to ensure that the pool can be used permanently and the water remains clean:

  • Skimmer (1): The skimmer collects the surface contamination of the pool. In the simplest version, it is ultimately a sieve that fishes dirt particles out of the water. One possibility is also an overflow channel from which the surface water runs off and is filtered. In private swimming pools, a pump is usually connected to the skimmer.
  • Pump (2): The pump pumps the pool water through the filter system and cleans it of hair, flakes of skin and other impurities. The entire pool filling should be circulated once a day. The size or performance of the pump depends on the size of the pool. Weaker pumps have to work longer per day than stronger pumps.
  • Filter (3): pool size, pump capacity and filter system must be coordinated with one another. There is a choice of two systems, a sand filter and a cartridge filter. Cartridge filters are more maintenance-intensive and are primarily used for smaller above-ground pools.
  • Inlet nozzle (4): The water is pumped into the basin via the inlet nozzles.
  • Drain nozzles (5): There is a drain on the floor through which the pool water can be drained and directed to the filter.
  • Pool heating: it takes a while for the pool water to warm up at the beginning of the bathing season. It’s faster with a pool heater, which is either connected to the heating system of the house or stands on its own. Either heat pumps or solar thermal energy are possible. But there are also special pool tarpaulins that absorb the heat of the sun without using much technology and transfer it to the water.
  • Pool robot: the robot helps with the daily cleaning of the floor and walls.
  • Pool lighting: Optional technology that sets the swimming pool in scene, especially in the dark. Depending on the lighting technology, the connection must be made by an electrician.
  • Countercurrent system: Optional technology that sets a flow of water in the pool and enables, for example, sporty swimming in the small garden pool.

Seal the pool

The pool is then tiled or lined with foil. The tile work should be done by professionals, because it has to be worked absolutely tightly and without errors. The weather-resistant films are usually treated against fungal and bacterial attack and are available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Many also leave the laying of the swimming pool liner to a professional, especially when the liner has to be welded. But there are also foils that do not require welding: Then the individual foil strips are laid overlapping, an adhesive liquid is applied and the seams are then sealed with liquid foil.

If the pool is heated, it should be insulated from the outside. Depending on the pool system, the outside of the pool wall is otherwise packed with bitumen or bubble wrap.

Plaster the pool walls on mesh. This means that plaster does not crumble so easily.

Let in water

Now the water is let in. At least partially. Because the water ensures that the foil adapts to the pool. Only when this is the case, for example, nozzles or pool lights are finally attached. In addition, pool builders should pay attention to whether the film is leaking anywhere and rework if necessary. With a garden hose it takes a relatively long time to fill the pool, depending on the pool size and water pressure, this can take twelve hours or more. It’s faster if you borrow a standpipe with a water meter from the municipal utilities; in the case of large pools, this can even be financially viable because the water fees for the standpipe are lower.


A pool needs a cover. The simplest is a tarpaulin or sheeting that is spread over the pool. Such films are also available as solar films that help heat the pool water. For larger pools, a roll-up device for cranking is useful. If you like, you can of course also build a permanent roof structure.

Pool maintenance all year round

Despite all the technology that cleans the water and keeps it fresh, the pool still needs maintenance.

Daily care:

  • The pump should circulate the entire contents of the pool once a day. Unless it has been programmed accordingly, the owner must remember to run the pump according to its performance.
  • Despite the skimmer and filter, there are impurities that have to be fished out with the catcher.

Monthly maintenance:

  • Measure and regulate the pH value of the water. The pH should be between 7.0 and 7.4. If it deviates from this, there are special pool products that are called pH-Plus or pH-Minus and, according to their name, lower or raise the pH value.
  • With chlorine, a distinction is made between free chlorine, which is 0.5 to 1.0 milligrams per liter, and combined chlorine with a maximum of two milligrams per liter. If the values ​​are incorrect, it may be sufficient to replace the pool water, but there are also chlorine neutralizers.
  • Depending on the level of contamination, but at least once a month, a pool robot should do its cleaning job.
  • The filters must be cleaned or replaced, and the skimmer basket should also be emptied regularly.

Prepare the pool for winter:

  • Remove mobile objects such as ladders or suspended lamps, clean the pool properly.
  • The water should have a pH value of 7.0 to 7.2, the chlorine value should be a maximum of 0.5 milligrams per liter. There are also winter remedies that protect against algae growth and limescale deposits.
  • In the case of permanently installed pools, the water remains in the pool, but is lowered so that it no longer sloshes into the drain, i.e. about ten centimeters below the skimmer. Close the inlet nozzles. Water pipes should be completely freed from water to avoid frost damage.
  • Dismantle technical devices such as filter systems, pumps, heaters, countercurrent systems.
  • Cover the pool.

Prepare the pool for the bathing season

There are two different approaches to starting the bathing season in spring: with complete emptying of the pool or without. Two things must be observed when emptying it completely: The water can only be drained into the garden if there is sufficient infiltration space and if there is no copper sulphate in the water. This chemical is added to some winter protection products. In addition, the water may only be drained to the level of the groundwater, otherwise the external pressure on the pool is too great.

If you don’t want to empty your pool completely, you can proceed differently:

  • Thoroughly clean the pool and water, then top up.
  • Measure the pH value and set it to the optimal value between 7.0 and 7.4. Depending on the chlorine agent, other values ​​may also be necessary.
  • Perform shock chlorination. Mix and dose an appropriate chlorine agent according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Connect the pump and filter, make sure the inlets are filled with water and then let them run until the water is clean and crystal clear. Then measure again and adjust the pH and chlorine values ​​if necessary.
  • Now attach all other elements such as the pool ladder or pool lights.

The cost of a pool

The cost of a swimming pool in the garden depends heavily on the design. Inexpensive above ground pools with pumps are available in hardware stores for less than 100 dollars. However, the supplied pump is not very efficient. If you want to replace them, you have to invest at least as much money again. Larger above ground pools with a fixed frame are significantly more expensive, depending on the size, they can cost $ 1,000 or more. In addition, there may be costs for preparatory measures. Many above-ground pools need a floor slab or at least an absolutely level surface for the floor to be dug and a gravel bed to be laid.

If you build your own pool, you can expect $ 10,000 or more, depending on the size, features and what kind of work you can actually do yourself. Not every do-it-yourselfer can do earthworks, the concrete for the floor slab usually has to be delivered, and the electrical system often requires an electrician. The professional swimming pool costs tens of thousands of dollars depending on the size and features.

The pool water

Tap water costs between $ 1.50 and $ 2.50 per cubic meter, depending on where you live. But there are also sewage and other fees, so that the total cubic meter costs between three and seven dollars. For a small above-ground pool with a 6,000 liter capacity, a filling costs between 20 and 40 dollars. With a built-in pool six by ten meters and 1.50 meters deep – that is, a capacity of 90,000 liters – the cost of a filling can be 600 dollars or more.


If you want to heat the water, you have the choice between special tarpaulins for less than 100 dollars or real heaters, which can then cost several 100 dollars depending on the performance.

The standard equipment is included with many pool sets. Cash and the like only cost a few dollars. It gets more expensive if a pool robot is to be purchased, it costs several hundred dollars again.

Running costs

The maintenance of a pool also costs money. This includes, for example, fresh water, chemicals and electricity costs, and from time to time one or the other repair is due. The amount depends, of course, on how much water has to be replaced, whether there is an electric pool heater and how many chemicals have to be used.

Simple above ground pools can operate for less than $ 100 a year. Larger, stationary pools roughly cost between $ 300 and $ 1,000 a year.

Basic swimming pool knowledge

Does the swimming pool need a building permit?

The model building regulations of the federal states require a building permit for swimming pools as soon as they have a capacity of 100,000 liters or a size of 100 cubic meters or more. If not only a pool is set up but, for example, a floor slab is built or the pool is buried, the project must be communicated to the building authority. Even if no approval is required.

What does a pool cost?

A swimming pool built into the ground, large enough to swim in at least a little and equipped with the necessary technology, costs at least $ 10,000 to be newly created. In many cases the price will go well beyond that.

An above ground pool is cheaper. Including technology, it’s already available for 1,000 to 2,000 dollars. Depending on the pool, there is also the preparation of the subsurface, possibly with light earthwork and concrete work.

How big should a pool be?

The size of a pool depends heavily on its planned use. So: how many people should be able to use it at the same time and in what way. A relatively small pool, which should be used by two people for swimming at the same time, should have a pool of at least 4 x 8 x 1.50 meters.

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