A swimming pool can be an incredible way to enjoy your outdoor living space, get healthy exercise, and even increase the value of your home. The cost to build a pool averages $10,000-$100,000, which is an big range, and not very helpful for budgeting.
If you want to build a pool, here are some considerations and cost-driving factors that can help you figure out how much to build a pool.
Costs for a Pool: Above Ground Swimming Pools
The first cost-driving factor when budgeting for a pool is the type of pool you want to have. There are two main types of pool: above ground and in-ground. Here’s what to know about planning and budgeting for a new pool.
Above Ground Pool Budgeting
An above ground pool is a great option when you are trying to save money. Above ground pools are often sold as a kit, with all the equipment you need. They are easy to install and most homeowners can do it themselves with some basic DIY skills and tools. They can be disassembled if you want to move and take the pool with you, and ambitious DIY-ers can also build a deck around an above-ground pool for a complete landscape transformation.
Above ground pools require:
- Pool walls
- Pool support posts
- A pool liner
- A coping or top rail to seal the liner to the wall
- A pump and filter unit
- A pool skimmer
- A pool ladder or steps
When considering total costs for an above ground pool, here are the key factors to consider:
- Labor costs. Above ground pools require some labor in terms of site prep and setup and assembly. Will you do the labor yourself, or hire a professional to build the pool for you?
- Pool materials. Above ground pools usually have steel walls or you can upgrade to a blend of steel and resin, which allows you to use salt water in your pool.
- Liner material. Above ground pools are lined in vinyl, but not all vinyl is the same. You can choose a simple overlap liner or a beaded liner for a cleaner look.
- Protection and durability. Above ground pools gain a lot of usability and durability when they are protected. Accessories like floor padding and cove protection reduce wear and tear on an above ground pool.
- Size and shape. And, as always, the ultimate cost to build a pool depends on the size, shape, and total volume.
Overall, the average above ground pool costs $1,500-$16,00 to build and install, and is an extremely affordable option for building a new pool.
Costs for a Pool: In-Ground Swimming Pools
For many people, when they think “pool”, they think “in-ground pool”. In-ground pools are more durable, more customizable, often more beautiful, and far more expensive than above ground pools. Generally speaking, you can build a top-of-the-line above ground pool with a wraparound deck for the starting price of an in-ground pool. An in-ground pool can boost a home’s value by as much as 7%, but in some markets, or when poorly maintained, a pool may actually make a home harder to sell.
In-ground pools require:
In-ground pools often have built-in plumbing to fill and drain the pool, lighting fixtures, and accessories like ladders and diving boards
Depending on what the pool shell is made of, there are various finishes and edging methods that will be required to finish the pool
Three Types of In-Ground Pool
One of the key budgetary factors for an in-ground pool is what the pool is made of. Generally speaking, in-ground pools are made of either:
- Vinyl: Vinyl pool liners conform to the shape excavated for them, so they can be used in pools of any shape or size, and conform well to organic and irregular shapes. Vinyl pools are the most affordable in-ground option, but vinyl pool liners typically only last 7-9 years and need to be replaced.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass is a popular material for in-ground pools, and has been a great choice for hot tubs for decades. Fiberglass pools are made by professionals, so size and shape can be limited by what the company can create and transport to your pool site. Fiberglass usually has depth restrictions and can’t be used to build an in-ground pool deep enough for diving. Fiberglass is tough and very durable, and extremely low maintenance, so it is the most affordable in-ground pool material to maintain. A properly maintained fiberglass pool will last forever.
- Concrete: Concrete is incredibly versatile in size, shape, and depth, allowing you to design virtually any custom pool shape or depth for your needs. Concrete is also compatible with tile and other custom finishes, which can’t be done with vinyl or fiberglass. A concrete pool will last 50 years or more, but needs resurfacing every 10 years or so.
Costs to Build an In-Ground Pool
When considering building a new in-ground pool, here are some more of the key cost-driving factors to consider:
- Excavation and hauling. Even ambitious do-it-yourselfers seldom want to excavate enough dirt for an in-ground pool. Not only is it faster and more effective to hire a professional to excavate for a pool, but some pool types require a level floor, which can be difficult for the average person to dig themselves. In addition, once the soil has been excavated, it usually needs to be hauled away.
- Permits and safety. In most municipalities, a permit is required before building a new in-ground pool. Your local regulations may limit the range of customization, or mandate certain safety features. In-ground pools pose more safety risks than above ground pools, so they are often required to have fences, and even when fences are not required, they can be critical for pool safety.
- Plumbing and electrical. In-ground pools require plumbing for drains, pumps, and other functional features. You may also want plumbing for an auto-filler, jets, or other accessories. In-ground pools also require an electrical supply for the pump and filter, and for any lights. Again, much of this plumbing and electrical installation is often best done by a professional, and not within the skills of the average homeowner.
- Size, shape, and function. Finally, all pools are priced according to size, shape, and depth. Small in-ground plunge pools are more affordable than big family-friendly recreational pools. Features like jets, fountains, waterfalls, and the like also add to the budget.
As a general rule, here are some estimated figures to keep in mind when budgeting for an in-ground pool:
- Labor costs, including excavation, site prep, plumbing, and installation: $15,000-$30,000
- Pool costs: $5,000 and up for vinyl; $10,000 and up for fiberglass; and $50-$75 per square foot for concrete, plus concrete finishing and surfacing costs.
- Basic pool equipment, including pipes and plumbing materials, pump and filter system, skimmer and drain, valves and fittings: $4,000-$10,000
Pool Operation and Maintenance Costs
No matter which type of pool you choose, after it is built, there are still some remaining costs to factor into your annual budget. Here are the big three:
Cleaning chemicals and equipment
When building a new pool, you also need to buy a range of cleaning and maintenance equipment. Pools require regular net skimming, cleaning, water testing, and the addition of various chemicals.
A new pool owner needs to not just purchase these items, but also needs to consider where they will be stored.
Buying pool chemicals in large quantities saves money over time, but then a homeowner needs to store and access large buckets of these chemicals and keep them safe from children and pets. Cost: $200-$500 for net skimmer and brushes, test kits, and pool chemicals
Simply running a pool requires water, electricity, and the addition of chemicals. Pools with a heater require more electricity to operate than pools without one. The exact cost for the additional electricity and water depends on the utility rates in your area.
Pool maintenance costs
Pools need regular cleaning and service, particularly as they age, with extra maintenance needed at the beginning and end of each season.
Cost for pool maintenance: average $500-$750 per year for pools that are used seasonally, higher costs for pools that are used all year long.
The exact cost to build a pool depends on your area, the type and size of pool you choose, and how much service and maintenance your pool requires.
This guide provides you with some cost averages and estimates to help you during your planning and budgeting, but every home and every pool is slightly different.
Once you know your options, as well as the pool cost-driving factors, you can make the right choice of pool for you and your home, and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of having a pool of your very own.