Building Your Dream Pool in Polk County
Written by RJ Walters
Photos by Dan Austin
Drone shots by London Wilson
When the pandemic hit, many industries and activities suddenly halted or hit a significant downturn, but construction of pools skyrocketed. Families decided to invest in outdoor spaces to stay and play, and a rise in remote work means a lot of people are spending more time than ever at home.
Not surprisingly, Central Florida is home to a panoply of pool builders who can take your online inspiration board and bring it life—as long as you have the money to match your ambition and you understand that building your dream pool is a process.
There are pool builders for every customer in this market, but we recommend you do your homework, carefully read online reviews and consider getting multiple quotes from different builders. If you expand your search to Central Florida you will find dozens of vendors, but proceed cautiously in your search, seeking out experienced builders with great customer testimonials who will be up front and transparent with you before you sign a contract or put a dollar down.
Check out a curated collection of several stunning pools built by established local builders and learn more about what each company believes gives them the edge to build you the pool of your dreams.
Goldsmith Construction has been constructing stunning luxury homes in Lakeland for nearly 45 years, and after nearly four decades in business they realized they had the know-how to build pools that match.
“We always had to have someone come in and build our pools, and we weren’t always satisfied with the work,” said Dillon Hornbuckle, COO of Goldsmith Pools, who worked on the home construction side of the business prior. “So we thought, man, if we want to build these big custom homes with big cool custom pools, maybe we ought to do it ourselves.”
Goldsmith focuses on matching custom styles with high-end finishes to build pools that are gorgeous to look at, easy to maintain and connected via the newest technology. For example, all of Goldsmith’s pools have automation built in, allowing owners to control temperature, lighting, pool pumps and more, all from the convenience of a mobile app.
“I have a couple customers that have their pool here in Lakeland, and they were actually on a trip in the Caribbean, and they had somebody watching their house and they were like,’ Hey, we wanna get in the pool, can you turn on the hot tub? And they were in the Caribbean and they said, ‘Sure, I’ll turn it on from my phone.”
Goldsmith pools come with a PebbleTec finish, which Hornbuckle calls a “beautiful, lifetime” finish that comes in almost any color.
For more standard pool builds, the process can be straightforward. Goldsmith staff build out a client’s pool on 3d software, send it to them and set up a meeting at their home where they can go over the plans and provide a quote.
The larger the project, the more complex the design phase can become. Hornbuckle said for pools that are $200,000+ the company partners with Dreamscape Outdoor Living & Design to go through an intensive, highly individualistic process.
Standard pool builds generally take 3-4 months to complete from first dig, and larger more customized pools generally take longer.
Hornbuckle said the company is just as devoted to meeting its customer’s needs through trustworthy relationships as it is through quality products.
When a build starts, customers can track progress on an app that provides regular updates.
“We’re real people. So if you call us we’re gonna answer the phone…and if you have a problem we’re going to work through it together.”
One interesting trend Hornbuckle noted is that people seem to be building smaller pools and investing more in outdoor kitchens, furniture and entertainment spaces.
“Before, I believe it was just, ‘Hey, I wanna get the biggest…deepest pool in my yard,” he said. “But now it seems like everyone’s going to smaller pools that are shallower….so , you know, they’re gonna walk around with a drink in their hand.”
Owners of featured pool: Don and Diane Busing
Location: South Lakeland
Pool and landscaping design by:
Ashley Vogel, www.givingtreegarden.com
Tile around pool: Parallax Cyan 1×2 from NPT
Special features: Granite top coping on hot tub, 16 spa jets, pool and spa are completely automated, landscaping around pool includes native plants like Fakahatchee grass
Polk County Pools
If you’re searching for the website for Polk County Pools, stop. There isn’t one. If you’re looking for a spectacular gallery of the 23-year-old company’s work, good luck.
But if you’re looking for the leaders of the company — owner Thomas McBride and the project manager, his son Christopher—look no further than local backyards because this duo is on-site doing quality work quickly without much fanfare, but with a lot of satisfied customers.
“Kind of what sets us apart from other companies and builders is just how hands-on we are,” Christopher said. “So I’m really able to control the quality and timeline of the projects.”
Christopher said typically projects range from 6-10 weeks from the time dirt is first turned over, and he encourages prospective customers to call around to get other quotes and timelines to find out how Polk County Pools compares.
He believes people are drawn in by their commitment to quality customer care, and from an options and materials standpoint Christopher says, “if you see a pool in a picture, we can build it for you.” He jokes that Pinterest inspiration boards have “changed his life.”
Polk County Pools offer exposed aggregate and PebbleTec surfaces in a wide variety of colors. Christopher said currently their customers are more frequently choosing exposed aggregate because of how smooth it is.
Although pinpointing pricing can be tricky because every customer has different wishes, McBride shares that a pool they build with the bare essentials starts around $50,000, but this year alone he has 10 contracts for pools that are more than $100,000.
“Do you want a spa or do you want a sun ledge? How many lights do you want? Do you want them automated? Do you want water features like waterfalls?” he asks rhetorically.
He said he likes to determine what people’s budgets are up front and then help them build a pool with features they enjoy, as well as with the infrastructure to add other upgrades down the road.
With Polk County Pool’s building process customers are provided a 3D look at what the final product will look like on their property before they ever sign a contract.
Owners of Featured Pool: Sam and Summer Strawbridge
Location: Hollingsworth Area
Pool design by: Polk County Pools
Size: 16’x30′ with 5’x7′ spa
Surface: Marquis Antigua aggregate
Tile around pool: Cinque Comiglia from Noble Tile
Special features: Spa is raised 12″ with a double spillway,umbrella stand w/two bubblers on sunledge, three automated LED lights, a heat/cool system, diamond cut expansion joints on the deck
Griffin Pools by Bosse
At Griffin Pools the team is committed to designing and constructing one-of-a-kind pools that match the personality of their clients.
“When I walk into a person’s home, oftentimes I try to look around and see their style,” says senior sales designer Charlie Downes. “Do they have kids? Do they have pets? What things do they have that stick out to me?”
Downes said that she works to make a pool’s form and functionality match the lifestyle an individual or family aspires to.
She said almost everyone wants to hear water flowing, so bubblers are essential, and luxuries like fire bowls and pillars make outdoor spaces more grand.
Every Griffin Pools client is provided a YouTube video with a 3D rendering of their pool design, just one of the many personal touches offered by the nearly 50-year-old business.
Griffin offers a lifetime warranty on its pool shells, and Downes touts the quality and durability of their builds.
“The beam itself, we shoot it in at about 8-10 inches thick,” she said. “And we also use #7 and #5 rebar through…not many other pool builders do that.”