Typical Excavating and Prepping for a Fiberglass Pool Installation in Southern Ontario

The first step to your backyard dream begins with a little spray paint, and strategic planning by the crew that will be performing the excavation and installation. With best case scenarios of great access for the equipment, good weather and no setbacks this portion can take only hours up to a few days. We are going to take you through the steps recommended by Barrier Reef Fiberglass Pools for proper excavation right down to the step before the pool is set in place.

Prepping the Dig Site

Before the Fiberglass pool can be dug there is some prep work that is required. Guidelines as to how far the waters’ edge needs to be from the fence line are put in place by the City you live in and although they are typically 5’ from the fence line to the waters’ edge, it can vary from each location.

From there a printed dig sheet is used to calculate the measurements required. The dig sheet will have the excavation site divided into portions so the correct depth is dug. The outline of the actual pool is sprayed on the ground with a “12 inch over-dig” to allow for side access of the pool once it is placed on the bedding. The size of the over-dig can vary based on the shape of the pool and the arrangement of the benches and seating in the pool shell.

Breaking Ground

The first step once the pool is sprayed out is to set the calculations for the height of the pool. Typically this information is gathered for your application for in ground pool enclosure package that is submitted to the City.
This is used to set the height of the top of the coping stone after the pool is installed. From there the calculations can be made as to how deep the hole needs to be dug. For this a laser system and/or transit is used throughout the excavation process.

Once the layout is sprayed and the calculations have been made it is time to start digging the hole. Based on the access at the side or back of your home will determine the type of excavation “production line”. If you have good access then you will typically have an excavation machine in the backyard, a skid steer to transport the waste earth and a bin and truck in the front for the disposal of the dirt.

If you have smaller access there are a few options; a front bucket track system that is only 42” wide or a conveyor system that is set up to transport the dirty away to an awaiting bin. The front bucket option is similar to the skid steer process but it does take more time for the excavation because the vehicle moves slower and typically needs to be driven delicately down the sides of homes with smaller access. The conveyor system is just as it sounds, a belt driven series of pulleys and belts that runs along the side of your home with a 36” width lifting the dirt away even in the most difficult and narrow situations. Both of these options may add $1200 to 4000 to your project but won’t stop you from installing your pool.

Prepping the Base

Once the hole is excavated to the proper elevation the base material that the pool will sit on needs to be prepared. If the soil type in the backyard is clay we recommend High Performance Bedding (HPB) as it is approximately 97% compact and is a great for any underground water. If the native soil is sand it is recommended that the base remain sand but back fill the sides with HPB. Either way the base material should only be approximately 3” – 4”. The builder will either use a stake and string guide or “tracks” that are constructed to provide a consistent grading of the base to match the dig sheet.

Once the bottom is smooth and prepped it is time for the next step; the arrival of the pool.

Once the hole has been dug and the soil is removed the next step in the process of transforming your backyard – there may be a huge mess of mud and dirt now but you are not far from the final touches.


After placing the pool on the gravel bed, the floor of the pool is walked on to ensure that there are no voids or humps that were formed during the placement. Water is then added to the pool simultaneously along with backfill. Continuous checking of the levelness of the pool is critical.


While water and backfill is being done, connecting the plumbing from the pool to the equipment pad location can be completed.

Deck Preparation

After water and backfill have been completed, gravel is prepped for what whichever type of decking will be surrounding the pool. Typical decking includes concrete or pavers. Finally leveling and shape adjustments and bonding are done at this stage.

Pool Coping and Deck

At this point the concrete decking, pavers or combination of the two are installed around the pool. Integrating accessories and features such as handrails, ladders, water sheers and deck jets.

Finished Pool

With the pool decking complete, and the yard cleaned up, the swimming pool is officially turned over to the owner.