There are many reasons to build a pool in the offseason. First, maybe you want to use your backyard for one more summer before you start construction. Or, perhaps you want to take advantage of this year’s pool pricing. Pool builder typically introduce annual increases to their pricing lists. Either way, you might ask, can you build a pool in the winter?
Can You Build A Pool In The Winter?
Once again, like so many questions with pools, the answer depends on many factors. One of the largest factors with any pool question is location. The answer to the same question in Arizona versus Massachusetts can differ widely.
If you live in the southern states, the answer is a resounding yes, you can build a pool in the winter. However, if the ground freezes where you live, winter construction is a bit more limited. Although, even if you live in northern states, you can still build a pool over the winter. You will just have to wait for the worst of it to be over to finish the job. During our time as pool builders in New England, it was common for us to start the first half of a pool in the late Fall season and complete it in early Spring.
Why Do Pools Take Longer To Build In Winter?
One of the main limitations to winter construction is the temperature for concrete placement. According to the American Concrete Institute (ACI, cold weather is defined as 40 degrees or lower. When placing concrete, which includes gunite and shotcrete pools, in cold weather conditions you need to take specific precautions as outlined in ACI 306.
Should You Build A Pool In The Winter?
Oddly enough, building your pool in the cold could be a positive. As stated in ACI 306, concrete placed during cold weather, protected against freezing, and properly cured for a sufficient length of time, has the potential to develop higher ultimate strength. Therefore, building a pool in the winter could make it more durable.
Can You Build A Pool In The Winter Without Paying More?
There are some additional costs incurred when building a pool in the winter. Though, these costs are typically borne by the pool builder without additional cost to the owner. Building pools in colder weather means a pool builder gets to keep the business going at full steam a little bit longer into the winter. Eventually though, there comes a time when the temperatures are just too frigid even for cold weather concrete placement and construction stops. In New England, this is generally sometime in early December.
How To Build A Pool In The Winter Successfully
Generally speaking, it’s bad practice to dig a pool before winter without getting the concrete shell of the pool completed for winter. It makes for a messy cleanup in the spring if you have an open hole with rebar and plumbing mixed together with all the mud and mess of springtime. It’s sometimes unavoidable though as winter starts at a different point every year. The best practice is to build your pool at least to the gunite phase before winter starts or wait until Spring.
If you really want to build your pool over the winter and there’s no budget restrictions, it is possible to build a temporary insulated structure over the pool construction area. This way you can keep the construction area heated and warm. Then, you can move beyond just concrete placement and move into the masonry phases, put on the tile and even plaster the pool in the middle of winter.
This is common with commercial pools such as YMCA’s or fitness centers. However it’s often too expensive for residential homeowners. Building a temporary structure just for construction would be a budget buster for most people though. Oftentimes the pool is left in a dormant state until March or April when the temperatures warm up again.
Bottom Line On Can You Build A Pool In The Winter?
Don’t let the winter get you down. In many places of the country, you can build a pool all year. Even in the colder climates it’s possible to build into the colder weather. By building over the winter you have the best chance of having your pool complete and ready to swim for the summer. Whereas, if you start in the spring, your pool may still be under construction when summer arrives. In the end, remember that construction only lasts for a season or two. Once your pool is complete you will have many years to enjoy it.