In-ground pools are available in three types: concrete, vinyl, and fiberglass. They have similar initial costs for a turn-key installation, but there are great differences in the lifetime cost.
Concrete is sometimes called gunite. Gunite, however, is actually the method used to apply concrete to form a pool shell. Concrete is very durable, but it can also become a haven for mold and algae if not properly maintained. Every 3 to 5 years the pool needs an acid wash to keep algae from forming and sticking. Because this will strip a small layer away, the shell will have to be re-plastered at some point.
The initial cost of installing a concrete pool is between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00. Because they are usually larger than other types of pools, they require more electricity and more chemicals to keep them clean and swimmable. Including the acid wash and re-plastering, over a 10-year period, you can expect to pay an average of $27,400.00.
Vinyl pools are popular because of their versatility and ease of maintenance. They come in a variety of shapes including custom designs, and the soft touch of vinyl means a non-abrasive surface. They're very easy to clean and many owners handle the cleaning themselves. Because the vinyl surface tends not to allow algae to form easily, the cost of chemicals is usually lower than that of concrete.
Installing a vinyl pool has an initial cost of $35,000.00 to $50,000.00. With patience, talent, and the right tools, a dedicated DIYer could possibly handle the job themselves. Over a 10-year period, maintenance costs around $11,500.00.
A fiberglass pool is a preformed shell that gets put into a levelled hole pre-dug to the shape of the pool. It lends itself well to the experienced DIYer, but most people prefer the peace of mind of letting a professional handle the work. The shells usually measure no more than 16 feet across in order to avoid breakage during shipping and installation. They are possibly the easiest of the pool types to clean and maintain, and there are no special requirements for the shell. No acid wash and no liner replacement makes the size limitations an acceptable trade-off for many people.
The initial cost of a fiberglass pool is from $45,000.00 to $85,000.00. This includes delivery and installation up to a basic deck. The maintenance cost of is the lowest of the three types with an average of $3,750.00.
As you can see, there isn't much difference among the initial installation costs, all things considered. The real difference lies with the maintenance costs. A concrete or vinyl pool can be of many configurations, but the maintenance costs are considerably higher. You should weigh your desired purpose of the pool against what sort of maintenance you want to deal with.
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Size and Location
The size and location of your pool will also have a big impact on your cost. As a rule of thumb, figure $50.00 per square foot of pool. The depth will also affect the cost to varying degrees.
A small pool generally measures about 10x20 feet and isn't too deep, about 5 ½ feet. They are used mostly just for cooling off on hot days, but many can be fitted with swim jets for exercise. Using the above rule of thumb, the base cost for a small pool is around $10,000.00.
An average size swimming pool is around 14x28 feet with a typical depth of around 6 ½ feet, but if you intend to do any head-first diving, the Red Cross recommends a depth of at least 9 feet. Pools of this size start around the $20,000.00 range.
Pools are considered large at around 18x36 feet. Many have deep ends of 9 to 12 feet. Often too large for most suburban homes, large pools can start at about $35,000.00.
The location can affect the cost depending on factors such as what's beneath the ground (a layer of rock will have to be blasted through), how far the crew has to travel to get to your house, and the cost of living in your area.
If you decide on a fiberglass pool but don't have easy access to your backyard, a crane might be necessary to lift it over your house.
Your landscaping may dictate where your pool can go. However, if you have a sloping yard, you might consider a semi-inground pool cost. They can be built directly into slopes and a 12x24 foot model costs from $8,000.00 to $10,000.00, less than an inground. Surrounded by a deck and decorative plants, they are an attractive compromise.
Custom Pools and Features
When it comes to accessorizing your pool, the sky's the limit. Many features are available to give even the most common pool a customized look and feel.
Shape – The most common pool shapes are rectangular or kidney bean. Custom shapes are limited only by your imagination, but the cost of having one is limited by your budget. In general, figure a base cost of $50.00 per square foot for your design.
Spas – A hot tub is a popular feature for pools. A spa can add $5,000.00 to $8,000.00 to your base price.
Slides – Pools built with kids in mind will often have slides. Slides cost from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand depending on design and manufacture as well as features, such as water jets.
Rocks – The natural look of stone around your pool makes for a relaxing escape. Available in natural stone and artificial stone, the cost depends heavily on the type of stone and the configuration you want.
Lighting – Lighting can set the mood and provide some safety for your pool if you use it after dark. Traditional incandescent light and energy-efficient LED lights are available for a wide variety of prices depending on features such as light color, floating or fixed, and output. They average $75.00 to $100.00 each for a 50-watt light, but higher wattage lights are available.
Waterfalls – Waterfalls are attractive features on any pool, but the cost can be hard to calculate until you talk to an installer. At the least, you can expect to add around $1,000.00 to your cost for a simple waterfall.
Diving Boards – If your pool is large enough and deep enough, a diving board will cost from $300.00 to $600.00 for a fiberglass model to around $1,000.00 for a high end aluminum one. The cost of installation depends on local codes and requirements, so discuss this with an installer before you buy a board.
Decks – The deck around your pool might be figured in as part of your quote. It will probably be a basic concrete deck with only a basic design. The more elaborate your design, and the materials used, will add to your pool cost to widely varying degrees.
Plants – Like decking, the cost of plants around your pool will be determined by your own tastes and choices. Keep in mind that leafy plants will drop their leaves, which could blow into your pool. If you have landscaping that needs to be changed, such as trees, boulders, or sloping, that will certainly add to the cost by varying amounts.