Asking how much does an inground pool cost? is a lot like asking how much does a house cost? There’s no simple answer. Inground pool prices are dependent on so many factors that the only meaningful way to find out the true cost is to get a quote from a local contractor – or better yet, several quotes from several contractors.
But before you call in a pool builder, it helps to do some homework ahead of time. First, to get a very rough ballpark estimate of what an inground pool costs, so that you know whether you can afford even the most basic pool. And second, to get an idea of the sorts of things a contractor needs to know to make a bid. That’s the humble goal of this site – to give you the basic facts you need to begin the process of getting an inground pool.
Start With a Ballpark Figure of $50,000 (But Don’t Get Too Hung Up On It)
On average, an inground pool costs around $50,000. However, there is a ton of variation around that average. The actual cost depends on, among many other factors, the type of pool we’re talking about. The following table offers a clearer picture.
|Type of Pool||Ballpark Cost|
|Indoor Pool||$75K+ [more info]|
|Spool (Small Pool)||$20K+ [more info]|
|Pool Kit (Self-Installation)||$12K+|
Notice that we didn’t include above ground pools, as a lot of other online estimates do. Factoring in above ground pools lowers the average considerably, and can cause an already rough estimate to be misleading.
One more word of caution about ballpark price estimates. Many of them come from pool companies, which aren’t exactly impartial. Some may try to get a foot in the door with a lower number. Others may try to steer you toward fiberglass pools, or whatever type of pool they prefer. Because there’s so much that goes into the cost calculation for a new pool, there’s plenty of room to monkey with the numbers.
Things that Might Raise (or Lower) the Price of an Inground Pool
Here’s a more detailed rundown of the things that determine the final cost of installing an inground pool.
Size. No surprise here, but the size of the pool is a major factor in determining how much it costs. This includes both the perimeter measurements of the pool and its depth. Smaller, shallower pools are cheaper than larger, deeper ones.
Your area. Generally, the higher the cost of living in your area, the more you will have to pay for pool installation. Also, some areas have more stringent pool safety laws, requiring add-ons and modifications that further increase the cost of a pool.
Customizations. There are myriad ways to customize an inground pool: freeform shapes, beach entries, grottos, vanishing edges, etc. These sorts of customizations can easily drive the price of a pool past the $100,000 mark.
D.I.Y. If you can do some of the work yourself, that can shave a significant amount off the price. Many companies actually sell inground pool kits that provide you with all the material you need. However, if you’re not up to doing everything, look for a contractor who will work with you (some will and some won’t).
Add-ons You May Want or Need
It’s no exaggeration to say that add-ons can cost more than the actual pool. Here’s a list of extras that can quickly jack up the cost of a swimming pool. Of course, “extra” is relative. One person’s extras are another person’s must-haves.
Fencing. In most parts of the country, local laws require inground swimming pools to be surrounded by a barrier. Furthermore, the barrier must meet certain specifications, meaning existing backyard fencing may not qualify. The cost to build a pool safety fence varies widely depending on the yard, materials, and exact pool safety requirements.
Lighting. There are all sorts of lighting configurations you can get with inground swimming pools. If you’re planning to swim at night (or just spend time around the pool), this is likely to be a key concern for you.
Pool heaters. The cost of a pool heater varies, but generally adds $800 or more to the cost of the pool. More importantly, heating the pool can add significantly to the ongoing cost of pool ownership.
Pool covers. A pool cover can keep skimming to a minimum and save significantly on pool heating costs. Traditional pool covers are relatively affordable, but many people find them inconvenient to use. Thus, many new pools are built with automatic pool covers, which can add $1000 or more to the cost of installation.
Pool automation. There are a host of technological upgrades and add-ons that make pool maintenance easier. These include everything from robotic pool cleaners to built-in systems for controlling lighting, heating, and filtration.
Water features. Water features come in many forms, including scuppers, deck jets, and waterfalls of various types. They’re must-haves for many pool owners, but they do add significantly to the cost of installing and maintaining a pool.
Diving boards and slides. Fun amenities like these can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the price tag. Also, keep in mind that a diving board might require a deeper pool than you had planned, a domino effect that increases your installation cost.
Spas. Adding a spa to your inground pool significantly raises the price. However, for many people, a spa is an essential component whose cost must be factored in from the get-go.
That covers the most common add-ons, but it’s by no means a comprehensive list. Extra features like the ones above account for much of the variability in inground pool pricing.
Pool Pricing Outlook for 2020
There’s one more variable in swimming pool costs that’s impossible to ignore – time. Like everything else, pool prices are subject to change. That’s why, if you stumble upon an article on pool installation costs from several years ago, you’re likely to get different (read: inaccurate) information.
Not so long ago, pool builders were under pressure to keep prices low due to a weak economy and the resulting lack of consumer demand. That’s no longer the case. These days, the pool industry is in a much better place, and thus prices for new swimming pools are once again on the upswing.
Given current projections for the housing market and the economy in general, our prediction is that the cost of an inground pool will continue to rise in 2019 and beyond. In other words, if you’re thinking about building a pool, prices probably aren’t going any lower than they are right now.
We told you it wouldn’t be simple to answer the question of how much an inground pool costs. Hopefully by reading this and other articles on this site, you’ll have a solid start in your research. When you’re ready, get in touch with at least three contractors (they should provide free estimates). It’s also a good idea to visit prospective contractors at their place of business. As anyone who’s ever built a home or done any sort of major renovation knows, the most important factor in success is finding a contractor you can trust.
As you begin to get an idea of how much your pool is going to cost, you should also begin planning how to pay for it – including any pool financing you may need. The earlier you start to plan these things, the sooner you can be relaxing in your new inground pool.