Budgeting for a pool is a complicated task because there are so many variables. So, how much does it cost to build a pool? According to HomeGuide, the average range for installing a pool is between $15,000 and $30,000, but that includes all pool types, including above-ground pools.
In-ground pools can cost anywhere from $50-$125 per square foot depending on your location, depth, and design of your pool. For pools like ours, made of shotcrete, most people will end up spending at least $30,000 unless their pool is quite small.
Swimming Pool Installation Cost
As the owner-builder, your design dictates the cost of everything else. So if you want to know what costs the most when you build your own pool, look at your design first. The more features and high-end materials you put in, the more expensive it will be. Depending on how fancy you get, you can easily spend over $100,000 on a pool, though most pools are far more modest. Let’s break down some of the cost of building a pool.
Control Your Pool Size
Bar none, the easiest way to control your costs is to limit the size of your pool. On average, a pool can cost between $50 and $125 per square foot. While you don’t want a pool too small for your needs, buying too much pool is wasted money.
Large pool costs also cascade down into other parts of your project. Bigger pools need more chemicals, filtration, heating, lighting, and water. Maintenance costs also go up with larger and more complex pool shapes.
Owner-builders have to pull their own permits and every location will have a different price. It could cost you $200 or it could cost you $2,000. Unfortunately, there’s no way around these costs. A simple call to your permit office can tell you the prices for the permits you need.
If you go with POOLAID, your design fees are a flat $2,000 as part of our pool construction package. If you go with an outside designer, you could pay much more and you’ll have to use a general contractor to run the job. That can cost big bucks!
Pools built in more northern climates or in major cities will cost more to install because of the higher cost of living and the relative rarity of pools. It could bump your price up by as much as 25%. There’s little you can do to control this beyond moving.
Shotcrete pools are more expensive than vinyl or fiberglass, but they last a lifetime with proper upkeep. Depending on the depth, shape, and size of the pool, a concrete pool can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $65,000 for materials alone.
If all you want is a small plunge pool or hot tub, your material cost will be much less. The average pool is 15’x30’ with a 4-foot depth. If you go smaller than this size, your costs will go down, but you won’t be able to swim as far.
The pool type you choose will also have costs built into it. A plain chlorine pool is the cheapest, but luxury-style pools with salt water, an architectural pool, or an infinity pool come with their own challenges and costs.
Design, excavation and finishing, landscaping, plumbing, heating, electricity, and even water delivery require someone to do the task. One reason owner-building is less expensive overall is that you’re subtracting the labor costs of the general contractor.
Individually, each subcontractor’s labor will take out a small chunk of your budget, but when you add it all together, it’ll dwarf material costs unless you have an extremely fancy pool with expensive landscaping.
If you have the skills to do any of the tasks of the subcontractors, and you’re willing to take the risk of DIY work, you could save some money here. Yet if you make a mistake, it will cost far more to have a professional come and fix the problem.
The labor for an in-ground pool installation will run anywhere from 25%-50% of your materials costs, but as an owner-builder, you automatically cut out some of the labor costs because you take on the responsibility of the general contractor.
Excavation costs are usually the most expensive of the subcontractor costs. Most of that cost is hauling the dirt away, so if you have landscaping that can use the extra dirt, you can save a lot of money by having it spread around the property.
If your soil is nice and soft with few stones, then these costs may not be so bad. If you have a lot of stones or need deep digging for a diving pool, the costs of excavation will skyrocket. Rough soil and deeper pools require far more labor and safety measures.
We do not recommend owner-builders try excavation on their own. The hazards of a collapsing pool wall can be fatal. Even though paying a professional is a high cost when you build your own pool, it’s not worth your life.
Your soil type and access to the site will also affect costs. In the worst areas, you could expect to spend $20,000 on excavation alone. A rock-bottom minimum would be around $3,500.
Filtration and Heating
All pools need a filtration system, which will run you anywhere from $500 to $3000 to install. If you want to add heating to your pool, expect to tack on at least $2,000 to $4,000, plus extra utility costs to keep the water warm.
Fencing and Patios
Your local codes may require you to put up a fence around your pool, or you may just want one to avoid liability. Depending on the materials and how enclosed you want your pool to be, you could spend $600 for a simple fence or over $14,000 for a full enclosure.
If you have a patio or deck around your pool, that will also cost money to install. The average national cost for a patio is between $3,000-$8,000, depending on size and features. It can go much higher, or much lower.
Landscaping and Features
If you plan to add landscaping around your pool to make it a paradise, look to spend $4-$12 per square foot. The plants you choose and features like fire bowls, fountains, and benches will all play into the price.
If you choose to have a pool add-on like a waterfall or a spa, these will also raise the price, sometimes considerably.
Pool Gear and Maintenance
Finally, you need to account for the ongoing costs of the pool for things like covers, chemicals, resurfacing the concrete every decade, maintenance on the filters and pumps, water delivery, and more. A pool is a great upgrade to your home, but there is an investment cost to keep it maintained.
An in-ground concrete pool can last over 50 years with proper maintenance. However, that maintenance can become quite expensive if you calculate the costs over time. Chemicals are just one part of these costs.
Every 4 years or so, the concrete will need an acid wash to remove staining and deep-grown algae from the wall. Over time, this stripping will make the plaster shell weak. It also makes the surface rough and unpleasant to the touch.
Resurfacing a pool is not cheap, but it’s an important part of your pool’s longevity. How often you need to do it depends on your pool’s surface and how often you’ve acid-washed your pool, but it’s definitely something to budget for in advance.
On top of all that, your filtration system, heating system, lights, pumps, and anything else that runs on electricity will need periodic maintenance. Lights eventually burn out and pumps will need to be replaced.
Saving Costs on your Pool
If you’re worried about whether you can afford the cost of building a pool or not, speak with us about your concerns. We can work with your budget considerations to find a design and materials that fit what you can spend, but you should be prepared to spend at least $30,000 to get the job done for the average pool.
The single best thing to reduce costs is to reduce the size of the pool and patio. Every extra square foot counts. If you’re not planning to swim laps and just want to entertain guests and cool off, a smaller pool could save you a bundle.