Adding a pool to your commercial property or rental home can increase its rental income potential and resale value. But embarking on such a major construction project also carries financial risks and liabilities if not managed carefully. As a fellow small business owner exploring your pool installation options, I want to provide comprehensive, unbiased insights on whether to hire a contractor or take on a DIY project.
Breaking Down the Costs
Installing an basic, entry-level concrete swimming pool costs an average $35,000 with a contractor, but prices can easily double for more high-end designs. Opting for a DIY approach provides significant cost savings, with potential to construct a basic pool for $15,000 or less. However, this comes at the expense of your personal time and labor. Some cost considerations include:
- Design fees: $2,500 – $5,500+
- Equipment (pump, filters, etc): $5,000 – $15,000
- Construction labor: at least $15,000
- Total avg cost: $35,000+
- Design software fees: $50 – $500
- Permit fees: $200 – $500
- Equipment: $3,000 – $10,000
- Building materials: $5,000 – $12,000
- Total avg cost: $15,000 or less
Clearly, the DIY route allows significant budget savings. But this doesn‘t consider long-term maintenance, repairs and your personal time inputs, which I‘ll explore next…
Calculating the Return on Investment
Installing a pool on your investment property only yields positive ROI if it sufficiently raises the rental income or resale value above your total costs. Calculating the breakeven point depends heavily on ongoing maintenance and repairs.
Contractor Pools: Higher Upfront Costs, Professional Maintenance
While hiring a pool contractor costs 2-3x more upfront versus DIY, builders typically provide 1-3 years of professional maintenance as part of their package. This covers chemicals, cleaning, minor repairs and equipment like pool covers.
Factoring in just $150/month for maintenance after the warranty expires, a $35,000 contractor pool would breakeven in increased property value after 7-8 years.
DIY Pools: Lower Upfront Costs, Greater Maintenance Burden
Opting for a DIY installation means taking on pool maintenance yourself or paying out of pocket for a maintenance service. Typical maintenance costs look like:
- Weekly chemicals: $30/month
- Monthly cleaning service: $100/month
- Average repairs per year: $250
- Replacement pump/filter every 5 years: $5,000
- Miscellaneous costs (covers, etc): $100/year
This totals nearly $300/month or $3,600/year for maintenance and repairs after a DIY installation. As a result, a $15,000 DIY pool would take 8+ years to reach ROI breakeven as well.
Evaluating Which Route Fits Your Goals
For small business owners exploring pool installation, the choice between hiring a contractor or DIY comes down to your budget, timeline and personal involvement.
Contractors make sense if you want:
- A completely hands-off process
- Professional design expertise
- Predictable costs and timelines
- Confidence in the quality and safety
DIY makes sense if you possess:
- Construction experience
- Flexible timeline
- Ability to personally handle repairs
- Appetite for cost savings
In particular, pay close attention to your local permit approval processes if considering DIY, as navigation complex residential codes and inspections poses a major barrier for many owners.
Digging Into Permitting Requirements
Local county and city offices regulate pool construction through building codes and permit approvals. Common requirements may mandate:
- Submitting detailed drawings of pool size, layout, drainage plans
- Adhering to electrical safety standards including GFCI outlets, conduit wiring type for pumps
- Installing specified fence heights with self-closing gates
- Following excavation depth limits and reinforcement methods
- Using only approved water discharge methods
Navigating these regulations is extremely complex for DIY pool owners without engineering expertise. Missteps or oversights can delay project timelines by months and inflate budgets quickly even after construction begins.
Both DIY and contractor-built pools require passing rigorous final inspections checking safety adherence across materials, fencing, electrical, plumbing and more. But contractors‘ expertise poses far less permitting risk.
Protecting Yourself with DIY Construction
While the potential cost savings of a DIY pool seem enticing, the risks around injury liability and work quality loom large. Some key areas to mitigate risks include:
- Adhere to OSHA‘s trenching and excavation safety standards
- Shore up trenches/holes properly before entering
- Use detectable warning tapes to avoid gas line breaches
- Only touch electrical work if you hold an electrician license
- Verify outdoor outlets used are GFCI-protected to prevent shocks
- Check local code for required wiring conduit specs
If hiring specialty contractors like electricians, check:
- Valid local business licenses
- Proof of bond and insurance
- 5+ years experience references
Following rigorous safety standards and secure contractor screening protects both your legal liability and overall quality. Cutting corners spells disaster.
My Own Background in Pool Construction
In addition to running my real estate investment company, I previously worked for 5 years project managing pool construction operations. Having participated in over 100 residential pool installations for clients across my state, I‘ve seen firsthand how budgets and timelines can bloat without experienced oversight.
The layering of regulations, alongside structural and safety considerations for electrical, plumbing, excavation and measurements led many DIY owner‘s budgets to balloon by 50-100%. Even minor measurement mistakes in pool layout design lead to cracked concrete and foundation issues. And obtaining permits often took 6-8 revisions to satisfy inspector concerns, delaying projects by months.
These hard lessons drive my guidance to thoroughly consider your background before embarking on a DIY install. With the right project management experience combined with specialist subcontractor partnerships, DIY can yield the cost savings benefits without undue risk. But it remains an advanced project even for skilled construction business owners. Feel free to reach out with further questions as you explore your options and quotes. Here to help advise through both the exhilaration and headaches of installing a new pool!
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