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How Much Does a Pool Cost?

Updated on January 29, 2013

Know the Costs Before You Take the Plunge

When it comes to owning a swimming pool, there's good news and bad news. The good news is, most people can afford to a pool of one kind or another. The bad news is, it's easy to dive into a pool project without fully understanding the costs - and that's a mistake that can get you into a lot of trouble.

Whether you're thinking of a basic, no-frills above ground pool or the inground pool of your dreams, it pays to do as much research as you can before you commit to a project. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the hook for a pool that's way more expensive than you planned, or perhaps worse, one that doesn't meet your expectations. After all, what good is a cheap swimming pool if you never use it?

This page provides basic, introductory information on how much a pool costs. Your actual costs will depend on a lot of different factors - including where you live, what type of pool you want, and which pool contractor you select. Consider this a starting point.

View of an inground pool (source: MorgueFile)
View of an inground pool (source: MorgueFile)

Types of Swimming Pools

There are three major types of swimming pools. Within each group, there's a lot of variation in price. Still, which sort of pool you choose is the biggest factor in determining your costs and commitments.

Above ground pools sit on top of the ground, and include everything from blow up kiddie pools (though these are on the very low end of the spectrum) to expensive options with 6-foot walls. They're the cheapest type of pool because they typically don't require professional installation.

Inground pools are what most people think of when the picture a backyard swimming pool. The water is completely below ground, typically with a deck built around it. Because of the materials and labor involved, these pools are the most expensive to install.

Semi-inground pools are partially above ground and partially below. They often have decks built around them. As you might expect, they tend to cost somewhere in-between an above ground and inground swimming pool.

Above Ground Pools

If your experience with above ground pools consists of plastic kiddie pools or larger variations of them, you might want to check out what's available nowadays. These pools can be large enough to get some actual swimming done. In fact, the biggest downside is that the walls can be too tall, blocking your view from the backyard.

The main advantage of these pools is that installation is much easier and cheaper compared to swimming pools that require excavation. Larger pools may still require heating, which can increase your costs. But, all in all, this is a straightforward option that the average homeowner can install and manage on his or her own.

Above ground pools vary a lot in price, from less than $100 to more than $1000. Some of the most popular brands are Intex and Doughboy.

Doughboy Above Ground Pools Commercial

Inground Pools

The term inground pool refers to a built-in swimming pool that's a permanent fixture in a yard. Beyond that, inground swimming pools vary enormously in terms of size and features - from expansive and luxurious pools with diving boards and slides, to simple backyard plunge pools designed for one or two people.

Installing an inground swimming pool is often very complicated, not only because of the excavation involved but because of the amount of money and the need to involve third parties. Most installations have to be done by professional contractors - in fact, in many places, it's required by law. For that matter, there are often lots of other local permits and regulations that apply to inground pool owners.

It's impossible to give an accurate picture of how much an inground pool costs, but you're generally looking at $20,000 and up. The best thing to do is to study all the options and, after you know what you want, contact pool builders in your area to get estimates that you can compare side-by-side.

Book on Pool Designs - Spend Some Time Studying the Options

Semi Inground Pools

Semi inground pools are permanently built into the scenery, but don't require as much excavation or the same expensive materials as fully inground pools. They can be as large as inground pools, and when landscaped and/or combined with a wooden deck, can be just as beautiful as well.

On average, semi inground pools cost more than above ground pools and less (often much less) than inground pools. For a lot of homeowners, choosing a semi inground pool makes it possible to do the installation themselves - which can save loads of money. There are semi inground pool kits that make it easier by including all the main components in one package.

Semi Inground Pool Installation

All the Extras

How Your Choice of Features Determines Your Final Cost

The main reason it's so hard to get a straight answer about swimming pool costs is that there are so many optional and/or variable expenses that come with it. Here are just a handful, to give you an idea.

Enclosures. Local law likely requires you to keep your pool behind a fence. What type of fence you choose can seriously impact your overall costs.

Lighting. You'll likely want or need to install some special lighting for your pool, especially if it's inground or semi inground.

Slides, Diving Boards, Etc. These extra features can cost more than you think.

Heater. Depending on where you live, you will likely need a heater to keep your pool water at a comfortable temperature. The heater you choose not only impacts your initial expenses, but the price of maintaining the pool going forward.

"Special" Features. If you want an extra-deep pool, beach entry, spa, or any one of the many common "tweaks" to a standard pool design, that will change the price.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. There are many, many factors that go into the cost of buying and owning a swimming pool that make it hard to generalize about prices.

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Your Feedback is Welcome!

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    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 5 years ago from Michigan

      Great advice about checking out the cost before diving into the expense of a pool. For me, it was worth every nickel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'd wondered what the cost would be for owning a pool - this is very helpful, thanks!

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 5 years ago

      Good info. Thanks