The Backyard Pool Installation

July 25, 2022

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I think we got more questions about our backyard underground pool and the installation process than we have gotten on anything else – ever. And that’s saying something!

I get it, the pool has been the most exciting topic around here, too, and we have all been anxiously awaiting the day it was finished. So, in honor of all your inquiries, I decided to do a full post taking you through the whole process and answering all of the most asked questions.

Let’s dive in, shall we? 😏

First, in case you missed it, we did a full breakdown where I took you through the cost of our in-ground pool and how we budgeted for it. For those considering installing an in-ground pool, I’d recommend starting there! Our pool is 20×36 gunite pool. So it’s a plaster finish–no liner–with a built in spa and tanning ledge.

We were pretty fortunate that we actually found our pool company through our landscaper. The two companies have worked together several times, so the communication was very fluid. We didn’t have to handle any scheduling, which was very convenient.

How long did it take?

The official demo in the backyard started in December; however, they started digging the hole for the pool in January. Initially, they said it would take 20 weeks, but it took a little longer since the pool was officially done last week. 😬 Overall, it was about 24-25 weeks from start to finish.

Remember when the backyard looked like the photo below? Boy, we have come a loooong way.

How deep is the pool?

Originally we said it would be 6′ deep, but we kept second-guessing that decision and decided to go with 7′. I’m so glad we added that extra foot because the water is only just over 6’ and it’s 6′ 8″ to the top of the deck—not sure where the 7’ went. In any case, we’re really happy with the depth.

I’m not sure if it is standard for every pool that the water does not go all the way to the top. So, if you are considering having a pool installed, I would recommend asking and seeing if they suggest digging a little deeper to ensure you get your desired water height.

Deciding on the color and texture

When we were picking the color, they showed us lots of different materials but what really helped us decide was when they showed us photos of what it looked like with the water-filled.

Due to the different ways the light reflects on the material determines the color of the water. Turns out the color of pool water is a science. Chris and I chose a gunite pool with a hybrid plaster (with quartz and mini pebble) in the color “Sharkskin.” Since we don’t live in Malibu, I didn’t want a light blue pool – I wanted something more classic and traditional.

I also got several questions on the texture of the bottom since it almost looks rough to the eye, but it is a subtle pebble texture and actually very smooth to the touch.

No regrets. 😍

Is it a saltwater or chlorine pool?

We went with a saltwater pool which was recommended by the experts. Ultimately salt water is less expensive each year; maintaining chlorine levels can be pretty pricey! Salt water also has no harsh chemicals that irritate eyes and skin and has no harsh smell. And saltwater is overall less maintenance which we are all about.

One thing to keep in mind, a pool actually has to cure for 30 days before the salt can be added in. (Curing entails brushing it two times a day to prevent dirt from settling into the plaster.)

Is the pool heated?

It will be, but again, we have to wait 30 days for it to finish curing before we can heat it. However, the girls jumped in two days after it was filled and stated it was already very warm. We probably won’t heat it in the summer, but the hot tub will have the heat turned on asap. And the pool will remain heated during the cooler months.

Will it stay filled year-round?

Yep! The automatic hardcover started getting over the weekend, allowing the pool to be covered yet still useable all year. The hardcover will also cover the pool when it is not in use for extra safety.

As a perk, the hardcover can be partially removed so only the hot tub can be uncovered if we like – which I am very much looking forward to this winter!

Are you worried about having a pool with young children?

In the last backyard update, I mentioned that by law in North Carolina, it is required to have a fence around a pool as a safety precaution. We additionally have an alarm that notifies our phones says when a door is opened to outside. The cover to the pool can only be opened with a code and, all of our girls have swim lessons. As a parent, that extra peace of mind is priceless.

This was our first in-ground pool installation, and wow, we learned a lot about what goes into creating an in-ground pool. Did you know so much went into planning a pool? What was the most surprising part for you? I want to hear in the comments!

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What do you think?

  1. Samantha Thomason says:

    Love your pool and picked some similar finishes for our own! Do you have any issue with people not seeing the tanning ledge, stairs or deep end bench? We also chose to skip stair/bench tile and worry it may blend in and be dangerous when the pool is busy. Thanks so much!

  2. Adrien Poulos says:

    Can I ask the name of the company you used for this project?

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      We worked with Anthony & Sylvan Pools–a national brand, but a local crew that was recommended by our landscape contractor.

  3. Melanie says:

    How did you decide to turn the pool perpendicular to the house?

    Most are parallel and I was thinking parallel — so I’d love to know your thought process!

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      It really came down to other areas of entertaining that we wanted right there. We wanted to have the outdoor kitchen, a firepit, and a living area surrounding it. So the pool was sandwiched between all of these different activities and we can all be in the same perimeter without one area feeling distanced.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Can you please share what was used for your pool line tile?

  5. Katie Y says:

    They may not have filled to the top edge of the pool because of how any inlets/filter systems are designed to work? Pools I’ve worked at in the past, we wanted to keep water just below gutter/inlet level. When people are swimming, water with whatever floating debris will get pushed into the inlet system and can’t get pushed back out, and the pool can filter that stuff out. When water is above, you get a backwash effect and the leaves and junk don’t stay out (and usually then sink to the bottom where they are harder to remove, can stain the pool, etc). There was also a public health consideration-people’s oils, sunscreens float on the top and you want that getting filtered out too, not building up! Hard to tell from the photos, but it looks like the water level is hitting just below the inlets so I’m thinking that may be why.

  6. melanie lopresti says:

    Can you speak to the cost of the bluestone installation cost? And also maybe the contractor? I am located in Raleigh and my pool is starting next month. Torn between having my pool contractor do the decking or going through a landscape architect

  7. Karen says:

    What sort of protection does the fence provide if it is only surrounding the yard, not the actual pool? Is it mainly to keep animals out?

  8. Heather says:

    Curious why there are no ladders etc, is there no code for that?

    • There’s steps in and on either side of the deep end there’s kind of a platform that you can sit on/get out of the pool from. I think it’s a relatively new pool thing that I’m LOVING!

  9. K Vickers says:

    It’s a beautiful pool. I especially love the brick walls and the layout of the entire project. Very creative and organic. Regarding depth, we built our with a 9′ deep end. We had active preteens who grew up in the water and always entered the pool in a running dive. We wanted the depth for extra safety. The depth also helps in the hot Houston summers to offset our dark PebbleSheen and keep the water a little cooler. Since it also gets pretty hot in NC, I wonder if you opted for a combo heater chiller? Not doing so is my one regret.

  10. Jami Graham says:

    My best friend is in Cary and I’m helping her with the pool build, I’ve had 5 built here in CA but we can’t get a quote/call back from anyone but one company! Can I ask who you used and how they were?!

  11. KL says:

    So fun to enjoy now before summer is over!! While I’ve also learned salt water pools are less expensive to maintain (especially due to recent chlorine plant production issues), it’s also true that the salt water corodes the pool equipment more quickly than standard chlorine so while you many save on chemicals, the life of system is shorter.

    Luckily there are other advantages and it’s easier on body! Enjoy!! ☀️

  12. Stephanie Walker says:

    Can you talk to us about what you used for the coping and the pool deck? We need to add on to ours and love the look of bluestone but it gets hot!! Looks beautiful!

  13. Kate says:

    Fun facts for comparison: In Florida you have to have two exits from the pool so everyone has a built in seat on one end and the normal steps on the other. (ladders and/or handrails are NEVER used). We call the tanning ledge a “sun shelf!” 😀 And if you ever need to drain the pool, you call in thr pros to pump water into the ground all around the pool to stabilize it all. Otherwise the pool can pop out of the ground. #weirdscience ;)

  14. Rachel says:

    I love your pool! It’s pretty much exactly what I had in mind for our new pool except you added that shallow area. Can I ask what you did for the pool decking? Is it stamped concrete or did you do a cool deck?

  15. Alia says:

    It looks lovely! I’m wondering, you mentioned NC law says you need a fence around the pool. Is that coming later? Curious what you have planned for that.

  16. Chelsea says:

    It’s so beautiful. I’m surprised to hear that it has no chemicals! I thought salt water still required a little chlorine, just much less of it, or something. Ha.

  17. Christina Salvato says:

    I am finalizing the details on my pool project currently and the depth is something I have already been struggling with a bit. Glad I read this as I will def be sure to ask my contractor about it. Thanks for the heads up!

  18. Monique Dais says:

    If I could do it all Uber again, I’d definitely change the the height to 4-5 ft across the entire pool. During paring everyone seems to stay on the shallow side.

  19. Ashleigh says:

    It is a work of art, truly. I’m in awe when I see the photos of the pool and backyard every. single. time.

  20. Suzanne says:

    Looks lovely! Will look nicer and nicer over the yers as the landscape matures. Interested in the actual swimming length, given that the steps and that very shallow area take up quite a bit of the length. How may feet of actual swimming length is there? Just wondering in case anyone want to use the pool to swim laps – looks like the length is actually kind of short – guessing you guys are not really “swimmers”?

  21. Greg says:

    Looks amazing (no surprise) thanks for all of the details. We’re planning for a pool right now, could you tell us the size of the hot tub and tanning ledge that you chose? Thanks!

  22. Jessica says:

    It’s absolute perfection! I love the sleek look without ladders too!

  23. Haley says:

    A fun activity in the winter (supervised esp with how young your kids are) is polar bearing!

  24. Amber says:

    Looks beautiful! My husband is a pool builder in Australia and the fencing regulations are a lot stricter… I realise why but aesthetically it looks a lot better without. Great job!

    • Erica says:

      Aesthetic should never come first – I’m glad we have the rules we do in Aus!

      • I don’t think our rules are aesthetic based lol

      • Amber says:

        Oh don’t get me wrong, I think it looks better but I’m glad we have the regulations too! I have two little ones and can’t imagine the stress I’d have without our pool fencing.

    • I live in Virginia and our homeowners insurance requires a four-sided safety fence (the house cannot be one of the sides). Even with door alarms and a cover, I would never live in a home with a door that leads directly out to the pool.
      I agree, the fence isn’t aesthetically pleasing at all (one of my friends called it “jail-ish”). The fence would completely ruin the view, but the safety risks aren’t worth it!

  25. R says:

    It looks great! Thanks for sharing the journey! A pool is on my wish list…

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