DIY Do's And Don'ts

DIY Pool: How Brandon Gardiner and His Dad Built Their Own Backyard Oasis


DIY swimming pool Brandon Gardiner

When Brandon Gardiner, 22, and his dad (both pictured above) wanted to put an in-ground pool in the back of their Stafford, Va., home in 2007, some of the contracting companies they turned to quoted estimates between $25,000 and $35,000.

They ended up getting the project done for about $6,000 – by doing it themselves.

"We were looking at the pricing, and it was a lot higher than we thought it would be," Gardiner said. "We're kind of a do-it-yourself kind of family anyway."

So they borrowed a Bobcat from a friend and began digging up their backyard -- as deep as 8 feet -- for the pool. They had measured everything and had started to shape the hole nicely.

"We were rockin'," Gardiner said. (Story continues after the gallery below.)


But as any DIYer can tell you, problems are bound to occur. And as the Gardiners started to hit their stride creating the pool, near-disaster struck.

"We got stuck in the rain," Gardiner said.

They were doing final measurements to insert the industrial plastic walls of the pool when a rainstorm hit. Mounds of mud began to form at the bottom, and the perfectly shaped dirt walls of the hole began to slide away with the water.

"Even a little bit of water messes up everything," Gardiner said.

He and his dad had to get a pump to suck all the water out of the hole. Then, once the rain stopped, there was the mud left behind.

"We had to scoop it up by hand," Gardiner recalled. "It took four eight-hour days of work to get it back to the way we wanted it.... We definitely had that moment where we were like, 'Should we have done this?' "

But once they weathered the storm, it was smooth sailing.

They laid 2 inches of concrete along the bottom of the hole then covered it with a vinyl liner, installed the plastic walls and stairs and used garden hoses -- which Gardiner joked was their "professional pool-filling equipment" -- to finish off the pool. Later, they laid concrete for a new sidewalk around the pool and planted new grass -- in effect redoing the entire backyard.

The pool took them from mid-August to September to build, and they waited until the following spring to construct the sidewalk. In total, it took about four weeks of working time to complete the project, Gardiner said.

It may have been an arduous process, but the major DIY undertaking was worth it, he added. The family threw a lot more parties around their new pool, and "there was definitely a lot more activities at the house.

"We would never do it again," Gardiner said, "but we were really happy with it."

See also:
Where You Can Swim Laps in the Living Room
'Batman' Fans, Behold the 'Batpool'
Oregon Couple Faces Tsunami-Size Fine for Pool

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