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What’s the cost to install a swimming pool?

A large swimming pool
Justin Paget/Getty Images
A large swimming pool
Justin Paget/Getty Images

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With summertime approaching you may well be thinking about how nice your own watering hole could be — a personal pool to lounge around and splash about in.

First off, you should know this is not a DIY job for almost anyone. A swimming pool is a complex thing to install, and different localities have different regulations about exactly what you can and can’t do.

Second, you better be ready to dive deep into your pockets before you can dive off the deep end. For an in-ground swimming pool — the permanent kind that requires a large hole to be dug in your yard — you can expect to spend $20,000-$65,000, depending on the size, material and layout you choose, according to HomeAdvisor. Larger, more complicated designs, intricate finishes and elaborate landscaping will, of course, up the cost; it’s not unknown to spend six figures on swimming pools.

So let’s dig into the basics of built-in swimming pools, as the in-ground variety is also called. (We won’t be getting into above-ground pools, a different animal that tend to be a little less expensive and involved to install.)

What are the main types of swimming pools?

When it comes to in-ground pools, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is what material you want yours to be made of.

The three most common types are concrete/gunite, vinyl-lined and prefabricated fiberglass.

According to HomeAdvisor, vinyl-lined pools are usually the cheapest option up-front, but tend to have higher maintenance costs over time, because the liner usually needs to be replaced every 10 years or so. Meanwhile, fiberglass pools are more expensive to install but cheaper to maintain. Old-fashioned concrete and gunite pools are the most customizable, but have high installation and maintenance costs.

Pool type Installation costs Maintenance info
Concrete/gunite $35,000 – $65,000 $2,700 – $4,000 annual maintenance costs, but lasts the longest with proper care — up to 100 years
Fiberglass $20,000 – $60,000 $500 – $1,500 annual maintenance costs, but long-lasting and easy to clean
Vinyl-lined $20,000 – $40,000 $1,100 – $1,700 annual maintenance costs, plus the liner needs to be fully replaced about once every 10 years

What influences the cost of installing a swimming pool?

No two pool projects are exactly the same, and your construction and installation costs will depend on where you live, your property’s geography and your pool’s specs.

It’s generally cheaper to build a pool in warmer-weather states, where personal watering holes are more of an everyday feature, and supplies and contractors are more plentiful. Those who live in more temperate climates tend to pay about a 20 percent premium on pool construction, according to HomeAdvisor.

No matter what they’re made of, larger pools are generally more expensive to install, and local regulations including permitting costs and debris disposal can also influence the price.

The features you choose for your pool will also influence the cost: unusual shapes (beyond the classic rectangle or kidney shape) tend to be more expensive to install, and add-ons like waterfalls, hot tubs and diving boards will also up the cost — by at least $2,000 to $10,000, according to HomeGuide.

Beyond the pool itself, your other backyard finishes can influence the overall cost of the project. If you’re using the pool installation as a reason to spruce up your property, say with a new deck, expensive patio pavers, landscaping or even a pool house, you’ll want to make sure to budget accordingly.

Keep in mind, most municipalities require fences to go up once a pool goes in, which can add a few thousand more dollars to your project, depending on the size of your property, fence materials you choose and specific local requirements. For example, if your city or town requires self-closing gates, you’ll pay more. In general, you can expect to pay $13-$25 per linear foot to install a fence, according to HomeGuide.

What’s popular in pools?

Pools are like almost every other home renovation or design project in that trends for finishes and features shift over time.

Here are some things that are hot in new pools today:

  • Saltwater filtration — with the price of chlorine rising, more and more pool owners are choosing saltwater systems over the ones that use traditional chemicals. While these can be a little more expensive to install (about $2,000 more, according to HomeGuide) and maintain, they require less attention day-to-day than chlorine pools do.
  • Tanning shelves and benches — as pool owners look for ways to get more functionality out of their investment, tanning shelves (a large, shallow area where recliners can be partially submerged) and perimeter benches are gaining popularity.
  • Different shapes — while rectangular pools remain popular because they’re the easiest and most affordable to install, homeowners with a bigger budget or more space can explore more intricate designs from freeform geometric layouts to classic Roman ends.
  • Smart pool systems — the internet of things has come to the backyard swimming arena, too. Why rely on timers and switches when there’s an app for monitoring your chemical levels or controlling your heater or switching on the underwater lights from your phone?

“Automation in general is becoming more prevalent in the field,” says Jay Vogt, owner of Sherwin Pools in Massapequa Park, New York. “You can shut things off on your phone. A lot of this stuff I find is becoming more common, it’s going to become unavoidable.”

Does a pool add value to your home?

Traditional wisdom is that a pool is more of a liability than a benefit when it’s time to resell your home, but that calculation has been shifting. “Over the past few years due to the trend of more outdoor space, pools have been exceptionally popular with buyers paying a premium to get those homes,” says Kevin Kieffer, broker associate with Compass Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay  area. Buying a home without a pool and then building one is often significantly more expensive than buying a property with an existing pool, he adds.

The National Association of Realtors estimates that pools add at most about 7 percent in value to a property. And that’s usually less than the installation cost.

Many house-hunters just don’t care about swimming all that much. Or, they shy away from the extra responsibilities and costs associated with the feature, making your potential purchasers pool (pun intended) smaller. “There are buyers that absolutely have to have one and buyers that definitively do not want one,” Kieffer says.

Understanding your neighborhood is key when it comes to evaluating the resale value of a pool. If all of your neighbors have one and you don’t, your property may not command as high a price when you’re ready to sell.

Bottom line on installing a pool

A built-in pool is a big investment for homeowners to make. They’re expensive to install and have fairly high ongoing maintenance costs. But they’re still as popular as ever — if not more so — and many find that the costs are worth it for the fun they get in return.

If you’re considering adding a pool to your property, make sure to solicit multiple bids and get a good handle on your budget before the excavators dig in.

Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a former mortgage reporter at Bankrate. He previously worked on the Business desk at The New York Times where he won a Loeb Award for breaking news, and covered aviation for The Points Guy.
Edited by
Senior homeownership editor