The Total Package
Package pools are strong, lasting and increasingly customizable

A lot of pool shoppers, and even some builders, have antiquated ideas about pool shells. If you want a rectangle, they think, pretty much any type will do. A kidney or lazy L? Ditto. Custom pools, however, (for which the only templates that exist are in a designer’s or customer’s imagination) are sometimes thought to be the exclusive domain of the gunite builder. And Gunite builders hesitate to build anything other than what they’re used to building.
But builders of package pools are busy spreading the word that times have indeed changed. Not only are package pools easier to install and durable in harsh climates, they can also be made to satisfy even the most exacting customer. The biggest problem in the past historically has been the lack of shapes and features for package pools. Those criticisms don’t apply anymore. More pool shoppers are finding that package pools can supply them with almost any shape they could want.
Over the last few years package pool manufacturers have been able to offer anything they can get in gunite. One company’s motto is, ‘If you can draw it, we can saw it.” They call it, “Imagineering,” a phrase borrowed from the late Walt Disney.
You can have a customer who roughs out an idea for a pool on a napkin in a diner and that design can now be turned into a CAD drawing, then cut the pieces to those specifications and produce that exact shape.
“Ten years ago it was just standard shapes, but today we’re encouraging our builders to go custom. They can add value to their product offerings. It’s a good way to increase margins.”
Some manufacturers say that custom-cut radiused steel walls don’t take a lot of extra time to manufacture, and don’t add a lot of work at the job site, thus keeping intact two of a package pool’s strongest selling points: lower cost and speed of installation.
Although steel wall pools have come a long way, there is one product for package pools that offers more out there in today’s market. The expanded polystyrene styrofoam (EPS) insulated pool wall system is less expensive than the steel wall system, and offers more to the customer.
Their biggest feature is that pools built with this wall system are naturally warmer and less expensive to heat (if you’re going to heat a pool). They also have a motto, “A pool you can actually use and gives you a longer swim season.”

Cost and Construction

“The main thing for the consumer is the overall cost,” Byrne says. “Package pools are going to be lower, without a doubt.” How much lower depends on the builder, region of the country and the cost of material, which has been rising sharply, but building with the insulated pool wall system can still be 25 or even 50 percent less expensive than a similar gunite pool and other types of pool kit systems.
The lower price tag is an obvious benefit and enticement to consumers. Customers also appreciate the reduced construction time package pools provide.
In addition, because packaged pools install more quickly and require less labor, job-costing is facilitated for the simple reason that it’s easier to predict the cost of materials as opposed to the cost of labor.
Insulated Pool Kits, the EPS package pool supplier, Sacramento, Calif.-based, offers 100+ standard designs that are cut from big blocks of EPS at three factories in different parts of the country. There is no additional charge for freight as shipping is included in the cost in the United States and Worldwide, too.
When the customer chooses a shape, we call one of the manufacturers, which take the blocks of EPS panels and cuts them into the desired pool shape.
Those 100+ designs can also be mixed and matched to create even more choices, says Jeffrie Rowland, of Insulated Pool Kits offering package pools and distributing them throughout the United States.
“The panels are delivered within the original blocks,” she explains. The EPS walls are numbered and notched to help assembly, and according to Rowland, can be put together in the excavated site in just a few hours.
“The builder just pulls the panels out of the foam blocks and puts them together. The foam block acts as more or less of a crate and protects the panels from damage during transport.”
“I even did one myself, which was pretty neat,” she says. It was better than working in the office half a day. “The other thing is the pools are designed especially for our EVM Coatings, which can be sprayed on, but you can also finish them with epoxy coatings, fiberglass, or vinyl liners. “
The strongest selling point for EPS wall system though, is that it’s an excellent insulator, which helps keep the pool water warm and extends the swim season, Rowland says.