How Much Does an Inground Pool Cost to Install?
Answering the Impossible Question
It's a safe bet that most people would love to have their very own swimming pool in their backyard. What stops many people from pursuing the dream of pool ownership is the big (and some might say frightening) question: How much does an inground pool cost to install?
Well, a lot.
That might be a tongue-and-cheek answer, but it's just about as good as any other. The price of an inground swimming pool depends on a lot of different things. Take two identical pool installations and change just one detail, and you could find yourself with a wildly different price. Here are some of the biggest factors that can swing the price tag one way or the other.
This one is pretty obvious. Every prospective pool owner realizes that, all else being equal, an Olympic-sized pool is going to cost more than a swim spa. Both are great for exercise, but one takes an enormous amount of materials and labor to install, whereas the other is comparatively modest.
When thinking about pool size, be sure to consider how you're going to use the pool. For example, if you're going to be swimming and/or diving, you'll need a deeper pool. On the other hand, if your pool is mostly for games and entertaining, you probably want something wide and shallow. The activities you want to do in your pool dictate the dimensions, which have a big impact on cost.
One final note: The size of your pool is particularly important when talking about concrete (gunite) pools, which require a lot of labor to install. A larger size requires more hours to build.
Building a pool in New Jersey costs a lot more than building the exact same pool in Arkansas. For the most part, that's because the cost of labor is much higher in New Jersey, and labor - as mentioned - is a huge part of pool construction cost.
But that's just one of the reasons you might get very different price quotes in different regions. Different states also have different laws regarding building permits and pool safety. These can seriously impact your final price (as well as your schedule). There may be other factors as well, such as weather conditions that make "extras" like pool heaters or covers a necessity.
There's a reason all the experts recommend getting at least three quotes before hiring a contractor. Even pool companies in the same location can have very different prices. Some may try to rip you off by overcharging at every turn. However, in many other cases, there are perfectly good reasons for a higher price.
As a rule, you have to pay more to get the best. That means pool companies who want the best electricians, plumbers, and laborers have to pay more for them - and that the customer in turn has to pay more to get the pool company with all these talented people on its side. You can often tell which builders warrant a higher price by the accreditations they hold from industry organizations such as The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, along with their standing with the Better Business Bureau.
Notice I say "additional" features instead of "extra" or "optional" features. That's because what's "extra" in one case may be necessary in another. To use just one example, in some places you may be required to have a pool alarm installed with your swimming pool to alert you if a child or animal falls in. That's a necessary feature that adds to your overall cost.
There are also features that simply vary a lot in cost, such as decking, fencing, and landscaping. You can spend a little or a lot on these things, and the choices you make can add thousands to your bill.
Finally, there are the pure extras, such as diving boards, attached spas, water slides, etc. Again, these things can add up to a whole lot of money. There's no way to estimate what you're going to have to pay until you know everything you want. If you're having trouble figuring out what that is, try using an online pool designer to help you visualize the end product.
Call it disappointing, anticlimactic, or even a cop-out, but there's no answer to the question of how much an inground pool costs. The good news is, it doesn't have to cost a fortune - backyard pools are within the reach of most people in the middle class. The bad news is, it can cost a lot more than you expect - especially if you want/need a lot of additional features.
Of course, if you can't afford the inground pool you want, there are always above ground pools, which are far cheaper. And if all else fails, there's always the public pool. I hear they sell ice cream there, and best of all, you don't have to do the skimming yourself.