To build or not to build? That was the question.

We actually had our house listed on the market for about two months this Spring. We had gone back and forth a bit, but ultimately decided that our family really wanted a pool – and at the time, we felt that our backyard was a bit too small to build one.

After a few months of showings and looking for our dream home, we quickly realized two things. We actually really loved our home and we had a lot of opinions about how other people should have built their pools. We realized that with the right layout, our backyard could potentially fit a pool and we decided to move forward with the pool building process.

Presidential Pools build showroom

In Arizona, it’s pretty common to build a pool — and we had multiple friends who had done builds with Presidential Pools before; hearing about the good experiences, Presidential Pools ended up being the only company we got a quote from. After our first initial design meeting, we trusted their expertise and decided to move forward with the contract. The cool thing about Presidential is that they have a Pool Park “show room” on-site so we were able to see the different pebble color options, pool decking, and other features as they would look in our yard, instead of just making choices based on some small tile swatches (which tend to look quite different to the eye).

All in all, the process took about 14 weeks for us – from signing the papers to diving in. Below is a gallery showing the ariel view of progress, and a little bit of information about each stage of the process is shared below.

Pool Construction Timeline

Agreement Signed with Pool Builder – June 18 

NOTE: The completion date on the contract is just an estimate, be prepared for the clock to actually start ticking on dig day.

We actually came to the company with a rendering of what we wanted the backyard to look like. The pool designer for our account worked with us to perfect it and provided some insight about what would be best for safety and logistics of building and using a pool.

Color Selection – July 2

Tip: Not all travertine is created equal. Pay attention to the porosity, and if possible, ask to get a few samples wet to try and pick out the one with most grip.

During this process, we decided on the pebble color, tile color, and the tile for the pool decking. I would say this was one of the most stressful parts of the process; despite having many luxurious build photos, there was no easy way to confirm what materials were used in those builds.

~ 3 weeks for Drawings and Permits 

Week 1: Pool Outline Drawn (July 8th)

We had opted to bring the yard down to dirt ourselves to save some cash. This meant selling our hot tub, removing the fire pit, and pulling up pavers. The kiddos (and some friends from Texas) were actually a great help. It was a ton of work though, and we were grateful this was the end of our hard work.

Week 2: Excavation (July 16th)

We didn’t have a complete understanding of the schedule during the process because of the way the builder works with their subcontractors. It was a great surprise to wake up one morning to the excavator being unloaded and we were so excited to get things moving. Our project manager had told us it would be about 10 weeks from dig to water.

Week 3: Plumbing & Electrical (July 22nd)

The plumbing and electrical weren’t very exciting to watch on the install side of things otherwise, but it’s a very important step. Because we were getting a heater for our spa, there was a good bit of extra plumbing and valving involved already, presidential was able to add a few valves so that the pool could be heated as well. We obviously don’t plan on keeping the pool heated year-round, but it’s always a good option to have! One of the extra features we thought would be a good idea was a UV cleaning system, which was installed during this process.

Week 4: Steel Framing (July 26th)

NOTE: The concrete walls are quite thick on pools, so don’t freak out if the dimensions look a different than what was discussed in the design phase. Just trust the process.

This was a surprisingly quick process, and very entertaining to watch! This created the frame that would reinforce the concrete. The team was quick and efficient and this was about five hours worth of work over two days.

Week 5: Inspection from City of Gilbert

City of Gilbert (Arizona) was really quick during the inspection process, and I learned that I could watch the inspection schedule and status online. There was no real benefit to us having this information, other than it was cool to know. The city worked directly with our pool builder with updates and permit requests.

Week 6: Shotcrete (August 12th)

Shotcrete (or the pool concrete) took a morning and was quick! They started early because of the Arizona heat and were done by mid-day. We had to water the concrete every few hours for several days to ensure there were no cracks in the concrete as is cured and dried. Our kiddos had fun helping during this process and it made us all so eager to have the pool completed and ready for swimming!

Presidential Pools installing shotcrete concrete in arizona pool
Shotcrete application process was really neat to watch.

Week 7: Waterline Tile (August 20th)

I am in love with the color we selected for the waterline tile! Initially, we were nervous because it seemed like everyone does bright blues for this tile, but I wanted the water and the grass to be our “pop” and the tile and travertine to sort of blend together. Truthfully, I will say that the tile team was my least favorite during the process. I feel the quality was so-so and there were a few things that we had to ask to be re-done and a few issues that the pool deck team noticed and requested to be fixed — this put us behind about a week. Not a huge deal, but still not ideal.

Week 8: Pool Decking Begins (August 26th)

The pool decking team had a big job of leveling out all of the dirt and making the travertine pattern perfect. They measured and laid out the travertine for the main patio and the firepit. Once we saw the design laid out in person, we realized there wasn’t anywhere to sit by the pool other than the spa, which would make it tough to have a really close eyes on the kiddos. Luckily, Presidential’s landscaping team was easy to work with and we were able to put in a last minute design change for an additional travertine pad by the other side of the pool for lounge chairs. Definitely worth the extra cost and time.

Week 10: Pebble (September 11th)

Pebble application was another really fun (and exciting) process to watch. They had a sophisticated system that hung all of their equipment over the pool to ensure that the pool surface would stay smooth. This photo below shows a much more powder-y color than the blue we ended up with. The next day, the pool was acid washed which removed a lot of the excess plaster around each pebble and cleaned the individual pebbles for a smoother finish.

Water: September 12th

Tip: This is exciting! But do make sure to clarify and follow the proper handling instructions, as the pebble finish is not fully cured yet, and can stain at this stage if not cared for

Water, water, water! Filling the pool took less than 18 hours, which was so exciting. We had two hoses filling it up during the day.

Power Up: September 13th

Tip: Do your best to keep your pool super clean, this is a really important step to keeping your pool looking vibrant!

The day after we added water, our pool builder came and turned on all of the systems, added the pool chemicals and did a brief orientation with us to review the pool operation and maintenance. Once the pool was full, we did have the brush the surface of the pool several times a day for a few weeks. This ensured that no dirt or debris settled into the pebble surface while it was still curing. Since we have artificial turf that was going to go right next to the edge, there was still a lot of dirt being kicked around; we did have a few specs of dirt that settled into the pebble, but we were able to remove the discoloration with a wire brush.

Week 11: Turf Install (September 20th)

We choose to have everything finished off with turf. We didn’t want to add any additional maintenance to the backyard and we really liked the look of the turf. The bright color compliments the blue in the pool. I love that even with the pool, our kiddos still have space to kick a ball around — and we still have a trampoline on our side yard. If you have dogs like us, just be aware that the turf will get super hot in the summer. Our dogs are trained to go to the bathroom on the rocks on our side yard so we don’t anticipate any issues.