There’s nothing like jumping in cool, clear water and soaking up the sun in the comfort of your own backyard. A swimming pool can transform your outdoor space into a beautiful oasis where the entire family can take a dip and enjoy nature. If you’re considering a pool of your own, the first question that enters your mind may be: how much do swimming pools cost? The answer to this question is determined by a wide variety of choices you will decide as you begin dreaming up your ideal pool. Here’s what to consider.
How Much Do Swimming Pools Cost? Planning a Pool that Fits Your Budget
One of your first priorities is setting a project budget. Swimming pools vary widely, with options that can dramatically impact the cost of installation. The type, style, size and design of the pool you choose will affect the initial cost, as well as the materials and features that you’d like to include. Let’s take a look at some of these elements and what to consider as you plan for how much your swimming pool will cost.
Determining the Perfect Size Pool for Your Yard
Just like any other construction project, the size of your new pool will significantly impact how much it costs to build. Smaller pools cost less than larger ones—unless you opt for more expensive amenities, like massaging features or custom lighting.
Take a close look at your backyard. Think about the space you have and how much you’d like to dedicate to your new pool. You might discover that a smaller pool will work better in order to preserve some of your backyard space for other activities.
If your backyard is sloped, has trees, or is an unusual shape, you’ll need to seek the advice of a professional when choosing a size and design. The builder may need to level out the space before construction can begin and figure out how to get machinery into your backyard. If so, the additional labor will impact your project’s timeline and budget.
Inground vs. Above-Ground Pools
When building a pool, the choice of inground or above-ground is one of the most significant cost factors. An above-ground pool is much easier to install, so it’s not surprising that the cost will be lower; however, they can also lack the “wow factor” of a traditional inground pool.
One of the most significant costs associated with an inground pool is the labor, which includes excavation and digging. While builders typically determine how much swimming pools cost by square foot, the labor can account for as much as half the price. Installing an inground pool is also more labor-intensive, particularly if you opt for a custom design.
Inground pools may require extra landscaping in addition to the cost of installation. You may also want to add a concrete pathway or stone pavers around your new inground pool, which will increase the total cost.
When considering how much your swimming pool will cost, in general, you can expect to pay anywhere from around $1,700 to $6,000 for an above-ground pool. Depending on the size, format, and material, an inground pool can cost $28,000 to $80,000—and even more for custom jobs that include landscaping and outdoor living options.
Choosing Your Pool’s Design
A standard swimming pool typically includes pre-formed shapes such as circles and ovals or the classic kidney design. However, if you’re looking for a more custom pool design, expect an increase in your project budget.
For example, lap pools made for exercise are long and narrow but can actually cost more than larger pools. Plunge pools are also expensive, but they’re usually not much larger than a standard hot tub. Custom shapes and sizes also have a higher cost.
If your dream pool is indoors, you’ll need to budget more for your swimming pool’s cost. This type of installation requires its own separately designated structure, which will, of course, increase both material and labor costs.
Considering Your Pool’s Water: Saltwater or Chlorine?
For decades, a chlorine pool was the only option for homeowners. Today, saltwater pools are becoming popular thanks to a few extra benefits they offer. A saltwater pool uses added salt to keep the water clean through electrolysis. Choosing a saltwater pool, you’ll have fewer chemical smells and softer, smoother skin.
The cost to convert an all-chlorine pool to saltwater ranges from $600 to just over $2,000. If you want your new pool to use the salt water method, the cost is approximately the same as an all-chlorine pool but with lower maintenance costs.
Selecting the Right Materials
- Plaster or aggregate – These materials are used over a concrete base. Because of the material’s flexibility, your pool can be any shape you’d like. These are also the most durable materials to build a pool with but can take longer to install properly, increasing labor costs.
- Tile or stone – These also go over a concrete base. They are visually appealing but can be difficult to repair or replace. On the plus side, they’re one of the most durable options.
- Fiberglass – Pools made out of fiberglass come in a pre-built one-piece shell that gets installed at your location. They make for a quick install, but design options are limited. Although fiberglass deteriorates over time, fiberglass pools have some of the lowest maintenance costs during their lifetime.
- Vinyl – This is often the least expensive option, at least for the initial installation. Vinyl also deteriorates over time, though you can opt for UV and fungus inhibitors to help slow that process.
Consider the different construction options available to you and the long-term plan for your backyard. An experienced pool installation company will work with you to select the material and design that best suits your needs. When determining how much your swimming pool will cost, remember to consider maintenance costs for the material you choose since each requires a different type of regular care to keep it in optimum condition.
Adding Features to Complete Your Pool
When planning for the pool you’ve been dreaming about, now is the time to consider the features that will transform a simple pool into your personal backyard oasis. Below are some ideas that can help you personalize your pool, regardless of your budget:
- Basic – A simple rectangular pool fits nicely in the basic budget. To complement this pool, you can add a few lounge chairs and a small table around the pool area to create a comfortable area to relax when you aren’t swimming. Accent the area with some potted plants and decorative rocks to complete the personalization.
- Moderate – If you’ve decided on a more expensive pool option, like a traditional kidney-shaped pool with colored plaster, you might also want to up your game on the amenities. A concrete patio adorned with built-in seating and a fire pit can make the space feel cozy. Rather than potted plants, opt for basic custom landscaping by adding small trees or shrubs. A small fountain or waterfall can add a soothing effect.
- Extravagant – If you’re ready to go all out for a custom-shaped pool, go all out on the extras as well. Why not install a matching hot tub? Instead of simple seating, put in a full pool bar or cabana to host guests in style. In addition to fancier landscaping, add custom lighting and a sound system to really set the mood. Of course, you can never go wrong with a pool slide or waterfalls.
The ultimate cost of these items will depend on how far you want to take them. There’s a lot of flexibility within each broad category to save money or splurge a little more. One important thing to remember is that not every addition has to happen at installation time. Ask your builder what should be prioritized with the initial installation and what can be pushed back to a later date. If it better fits your budget, you can expand a simple pool into a private resort over time.
The Impact of Location and Time of Year on Pool Costs
The location of your home also impacts how much your swimming pool costs because materials are more expensive in some states. Similarly, if you live in an area with very few pool builders, you’ll have to pay more than you would in an area with a builder on every block.
Another significant factor is the time of year you choose to build your pool. Since most people start dreaming of a pool as the weather gets warmer, spring can be a popular time to start building. Due to higher demand, the prices go up. To avoid this, consider building your pool in slower times, like fall and winter. You might get a better price and, as a bonus, your pool will be ready when summer starts.
Factoring in Maintenance Costs
After the installation is complete, there are maintenance costs associated with owning a pool. Many new pool owners don’t properly account for these costs, and what they add up to will depend on factors such as the type and size of the pool, your climate, and how often the pool is used. Below are some typical prices ranges you may expect to pay for pool maintenance:
- Chemicals – Pools require chemicals such as chlorine, pH balancers, and algaecides. Keeping a pool topped off with these chemicals can range from $50 to $150 per month.
- Electricity – Running the pool pump and filter can add around $30 to $90 to your monthly electric bill.
- Water – Filling and topping off the pool can add $50 to $150 to your monthly water bill.
- Repairs and upgrades – These costs are less predictable, as you don’t know when something will go wrong with the pool. Repairs can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on the problem.
If your pool costs are too high, proper maintenance can often reduce them. Covering the pool will prevent water from evaporating and increase the lifespan of the pump and filter by keeping debris out. You can also extend the life of your equipment and save money on chemicals by keeping them properly balanced. Energy-efficient or variable-speed pumps can decrease your electric bill.
Planning for Pool Safety
Keeping the people you love safe is an important part of being a pool owner. An inground pool is easy to accidentally fall into, especially for young children. Thankfully, there are a number of safety options you can put in place to keep your pool injury free and enjoyable for everyone. Some of these options include:
- Fencing – A fence around the pool is one of the most effective safety measures. It’s best to use a fence that entirely surrounds the pool and isolates it from the house. The cost of a pool fence can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the size and material used.
- Pool Cover – We’ve mentioned that pool covers can reduce maintenance costs, but they can also prevent someone from accidentally falling into the pool. Some are even designed to hold the weight of a person. Automatic pool covers are the most convenient, and also the most expensive, option. Their prices range from $8,000 to $20,000. Manual pool covers are a more affordable option, with costs in the $1,500 to $3,000 range.
- Alarms – These can be a very affordable way to provide an additional measure of safety. Pool alarms come in many forms. Surface wave detection alarms and subsurface motion detection alarms will alert you if someone is in the pool. Perimeter alarms will alert you if someone even goes near it. These alarms range from $100 to $300.
Finding the Right Pool for You
If you’re in the market for a new swimming pool, asking “How much do swimming pools cost?” and planning out all the major details should be your first step. Once you know more about the size, materials, and other factors, you can start getting creative and designing the pool of your dreams. The company you choose to build your pool will be instrumental in working with you to set a realistic budget. At California Pools, we’re committed to helping you navigate all the decisions and options that come with building your own custom pool and backyard oasis. Our designers love transforming a client’s ideas and desires into a stunning outdoor area that brings enjoyment and fulfillment to the home while keeping you on budget. If you’re ready to start your adventure in paradise, visit us online to schedule a consultation and get started with your own custom-built pool.