Building your own DIY Cocktail Pool or Spool as they are often affectionately referred to is not as difficult as you think. In this article I will cover all of the things that you need to consider when building your own DIY Cocktail Pool
At its most basic, a Cocktail Pool is a small swimming pool. It is a swimming pool in every way apart from its size. It is much smaller than your regular pool. So where does the the term Cocktail come from. Well, the main difference is that you are not going to be doing laps in your pool. You are more likely to be relaxing with a drink in your hand, hence the term, cocktail pool.
In terms of the size of a Cocktail pool, it would seem that the definition is that the maximum area of a Cocktail Pool is 400 to 700 cubic feet. In terms of the dimensions, you are looking at around 12′ x 12′ and 4′ or less in depth. There is no “deep end” per say and you are really looking at a pool that is going to accomodate less than 10 people.
DIY Cocktail Pool
What is a Spool?
One of the differences with a Cocktail Pool is that they often combine some of the features of a Hot Tub or Spa. This combination of the features, “Spa” and “Pool” are combined together to make the term “Spool”.
Because of the size, I guess Cocktail Pools or Spools are a little more like a Hot Tub or Spa in nature. Therefore, it is not uncommon for them to share some features such as a heating, jets and blowers.
Essentially a Spool is a 12′ by 12′ super-large Hot Tub!
As you can control the heat, you can use if for both. Perhaps a Hot Tub/Spa in the winter and then a plunge pool in the summer. Sounds like the perfect combination to me!
Can I Build a DIY Cocktail Pool or Spool?
Absolutely! The methods that we discuss on this website of cinder block built Hot Tubs, Plunge Pools and the like are totally valid for a Cocktail Pool or Spool. What you are probably not going to do in terms of a construction method is Shotcrete or Gunite.
We’ve discussed this many times on this blog that this is an art and something that can only be done by a professional.
However, digging a big hole, laying a concrete slab, then building 4′ high walls around the perimeter, in it’s most basic form is going to give you a simple method for building a DIY Cocktail Pool or Spool.
Cocktail Pool DIY
How Much is is Going to Cost to Build a Cocktail Pool or Spool?
This is always a difficult question. That said, what it is not going to cost you is $50K that the average swimming pool costs to build. A rough estimate here, based on the large hot tub projects that we do is that it should be under $10K. That is a pretty cool edition to your backyard for ten grand.
The finishes and features will ultimately dictate the final cost. If you are going to for swimming pool tiles as opposed to a liner, than this is going to add to the cost. Incorporating Hot Tub style jets is also going to add to the cost.
Ultimately, at planning stage you should be able to gauge where you expect this project to come out in terms of costs. Expensive finishes and fittings will of course, push up the cost. Cutting the costs as low as possible, I think it would be possible to do for around $7K.
Considerations for a Cocktail Pool or Spool
DIY Cocktail Pool Size – How Big? How Deep?
We’ve already outlined that the definition of a Cocktail Pool or Spool should be that it is under 14′ x 14′ and at a maximum 4′ deep. The exact dimensions are going to depend on your own backyard and the space that you have available.
A couple of things to think about. Where are you going to put the pump, filter, jet pump if you opt for one an heater? These do need to be covered and out of the elements. You will need 3′ square approximately to house these pieces of kit.
Cocktail Pool DIY
Shape – Square, Round, Kidney?
I guess the shape comes down to how comfortable you are in building shapes out of block or brick. Clearly, building a square cocktail pool or spool out of blocks is much easier than building a kidney shape or cylindrical pool.
That said, the plumbing for all of these is identical so my advice here is go with something that you are comfortable building and something that it going to work.
Opting for a share that it outside of your block laying capabilities is going to cause you problems. The alternative is get a brick layer in for a couple of days to lay the blocks for you.
This is always a option, you know the work will be top notch if done by a professional. It will of course add to the cost but it it something to think about.
Heated or Not Heated Spool?
This question is really going to to be answered by when you plan to use it. Is this going to be an all year round thing? Do you live in the south where you are not going to need to heat it for several months of the year?
Conversely, do you live up in the north where it is much cooler and you will need some additional heat. Only you can answer these questions.
Couple of things to point out on heating. The bigger the pool, the more energy needed to heat it. The more it is going to cost you to run it. Sounds obvious right? Also, how are you going to heat it?
Electricity for something that is 14′ x 14′ is going to be very slow and very expensive.
Propane or Gas would be a better option here but do you have a supply or can you get a tank fitted.
Air Source Heat Pumps are becoming more and more popular but they are not cheap and will add around $5K to your build cost. You will save money over the years with the running costs and it will heat the pool a lot quicker.
Something you need to think about at the planning stage.
Jets or No Jets in my DIY Cocktail Pool?
This is definitely something that you need to decide at the design stage. The pipework and jets do need to be added to the pool during the build. This is not something that you can add afterwards. Well, I guess that you could but it is going to be messy.
How many jets are you going to have. This will impact on your pump selection as remember, each jet needs a certain amount of water flow so this is a calculation that needs to be done. General rule, under 16 jets you will be fine with a 4HP pump as long as it is not too far away from the pool. It it is further away, there is a head height of water that needs to be “pushed and pulled” by the pump which impacts flow. We can help with this at design stage of course.
The finish that you are going to use on the pool is going to dictate a couple of things. Firstly, the cost. Something like swimming pool tiles is going to be much more expensive than a pool liner or a painted surface.
Secondly, wear and tear. If you have a liner in the pool, it is going to need to be replaced every few years whereas arguable, the tiles will last a lot longer.
Ultimately, the finish is going to come down to personal preference and budget. Yes, it is possible to create a good looking pool on a budget. Just be mindful of any replacement costs of things like liners (which are a couple of grand for a full size pool) do add up.
What are the Running Costs for my Spool?
How long is a piece of string? Yes, this is a difficult one. There are so many factors involved. How you heat it. How often you heat it. how well is it insulated? What is your ambient climate like? What sanitisers you use. The list goes on.
A Cocktail Pool or Spool is a luxury item (certainly in my books anyway) The is going to be a cast for this and an ongoing one of course. I would estimate at the lowest end of the scale it will cost you a 1000 bucks a year to run. At the upper, if you are heating it a lot, perhaps closer to 3000 dollars.
Not cheap I know. Again, this is just an estimate but you do need to be aware of ongoing costs.
Construction Method for your DIY Cocktail Pool or Spool
This is very much a summary of the steps that you need to take to build your own DIY Cocktail Pool or Spool. I’ve summarised each of the main stages that you will go through. This gives you an idea of the amount of work needed to undertake such a project.
Step 1 – Clear the Area
Step 2 – Dig the hole for your Cocktail Pool
Step 3 – Concrete Base
I suggest putting down a liner. This stops potential dirty water ingress into the pool. I’ve then put some metal rebar into the base for added strength.
Step 4 – Brickwork for Walls and Seats (if any)
Next, I built up the block work for the walls and for the seats. The stones that you can see are to form the concrete base. You put these down to disperse the pressure of the concrete so it has less chance of cracking under pressure.
Step 5 – Basic Plumbing Fixtures
Step 6 – Jets if Any
You will need to fit your jets at this stage. Bore any holes that you need and then use the Gunite fittings to get the jets through the wall.