T Nation

Excavating a Swimming Pool by Hand?

I recently moved into a new house and I plan to build a pool hopefully within a year. I’ve been getting estimates from pool companies and I’ve been told that even the smallest excavator won’t fit between the minimum dimension between my wall and the fence on either side of the house. The only way I’ll be able to get an excavator in is IF, and I emphasize IF my neighbor would giver permission for the pool company to remove the fence from his side of the property and use his driveway to go back and forth with the loads of dirt. He has a flower bed between our shared fence and his driveway so I’m not counting on him granting permission although I will appreciate it if he does.

If you were in this situation and denied a pool because of it, would you say “fuck this bullshit” and dig the motherfucker by hand? No doubt it would be a shit load of work but I feel it would make me proud as hell to do it if I’m absolutely faced with the situation. I live in central California where it gets 110 degrees in the summer and I want a pool BADLY!

Since I’m asking a group of able bodied T-men (not a bunch of estrogen-bitch men from the general public) I’m wondering what others think???

It is possible - the guy who lived in my friends house before him in SA dug his pool himself - and it’s absolutely 100% still.

Best time to do it would probably be after someone has pissed you off - I remember that guy having a bad temper.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m digging a pool baby, digging a pool”.


The pool in question.

Just check with the local Utility companies first, so you won’t get electrocuted, blown up, or poisoned by raw sewage. Where are you going to put the dirt and rocks that come out of the hole? Sometimes, if there is a rock ledge underneath your property, some blasting may be required. That’s the fun part.

You can probably dig 2 cubic yards a day.

How much space do you have? The pool companies may not have a mini excavator, but somebody will or you could rent one.

Check this guy out, 39" wide.
http://www.bobcat.com/excavators/compare/323

These things are a lot more fun to run than a shovel, too.

[quote]tedro wrote:
How much space do you have? The pool companies may not have a mini excavator, but somebody will or you could rent one.

Check this guy out, 39" wide.
http://www.bobcat.com/excavators/compare/323

These things are a lot more fun to run than a shovel, too.[/quote]

Damnit, the guy from the pool company told me the minimum dimension for a Bobcat was 5’-6". I will send him that link and see what he has to say.

Or I can rent it and hire someone who knows what the fuck they are doing to operate it.

I know he said the minimum dimension that THEY USE is what I stated above, but they don’t own the equipment anyway. I don’t see why they couldn’t rent one of those 39" ones. It would cost more because it would be more labor intensive but who knows. I will look into it. Thanks.

Sure it’s doable.

I know a guy who had a cracked pool (built by a previous owner) buried in his yard. He dug the whole thing out and turned it into a fish pond. And he’s a middle-aged desk jockey.

Two cubic yards per day sounds reasonable with normal soils. I’ve dug some shallow-grave-sized holes in my yard to bury twigs and other plant matter and they took a couple of hours.

I know someone who had a similar problem, it was quite expensive but what hid did was have the digger lifted over his house (actually it was only a bungalow) by a crane, then he had a conveyor belt system installed that removed the dirt down his narrow side passage into a skip at the front.

getting a crane might be a bit OTT, but if you have the cash it sounds preferable to all that digging

I vote for going through your neighbor’s yard. You’ll have to agree to compensate the neighbor for any damages (messed up grass, flower beds etc.), but that’s really not a big deal, especially if you do it yourself. Talk with your neighbor, go out and buy all the plants for his approval, take down the fence, build the pool, and replace all his stuff yourself. That would strike me as being the easiest approach.

10 Friends
1 Weekend
A shit load of beer.

What and miss out on the fun?

[quote]mazevedo wrote:

Or I can rent it and hire someone who knows what the fuck they are doing to operate it.

[/quote]

You could pretty much shit can your regular work out while digging that thing out. I’d imagine you would get a pretty serious training session in by hand digging a swimming pool. Fuck all kinds of that, I’d rather find a community pool.

[quote]Khronos wrote:
I vote for going through your neighbor’s yard. You’ll have to agree to compensate the neighbor for any damages (messed up grass, flower beds etc.), but that’s really not a big deal, especially if you do it yourself. Talk with your neighbor, go out and buy all the plants for his approval, take down the fence, build the pool, and replace all his stuff yourself. That would strike me as being the easiest approach. [/quote]

This is the smartest approach. I know you say you want the pool badly, but few - if anyone - has the determination to excavate a pool by hand. You may start strong, but you will most likely fade. Especially if you are talking about the real deal - 20x40, 10 foot deep, diving board, etc. Go home and dig a three foot trench outline of your pool. I bet after that, you will bring your neighbor a fifth of fine bourbon and a blank check.

Reminds me of this one time when my brother and I were talked into “moving a little bit of dirt around” for a hundred a piece. My brother was home from college and jobless and a little extra cash to pick up a load of dirt for a hundred bucks sounded like a good deal. I’m going to estimate it was probably somewhere around a ton of dirt.

We didn’t mind because it was for my mothers friend.

[quote]rsg wrote:
It is possible - the guy who lived in my friends house before him in SA dug his pool himself - and it’s absolutely 100% still.

Best time to do it would probably be after someone has pissed you off - I remember that guy having a bad temper.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m digging a pool baby, digging a pool”.[/quote]

He lives in SA and he dug the pool out himself?

That must be the first time a white guy has taken on any serious manual labour like that in Africa

[quote]Hadow Khan wrote:
10 Friends
1 Weekend
A shit load of beer.

[/quote]

That’s what I would do.

[quote]analog_kid wrote:
Hadow Khan wrote:
10 Friends
1 Weekend
A shit load of beer.

That’s what I would do. [/quote]

While this sounds like a good idea at first glance, I can see how it would almost, without fail, change from a swimming pool hole dig into MUD WRESTLING BLOOD PIT OF DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM, filled with dead and dying friends.

Mini-X; problem solved. And like tedro said they are fun as hell to run.

There is some fine input here and I appreciate all the responses.

Of course I will take the route of asking the neighbor first. That is the easiest and most cost effective and sane way to do it. This thread was posed as a “what if” scenario. But it definitely makes for good discussion and it’s good to hear other peoples stories as well.

I bet the neighbor will feel damn stupid if he says “no” and a few months later I still have a fat pool in my yard. He would not be invited.