2. How Much Should an Inground Pool Cost?
There are a number of things to consider as you investigate costs - the initial cost to get the pool, the cost to maintain the pool, and the unexpected maintenance problems you might have to deal with over the years you own the pool.
I will get right to the point here and tell you that the initial cost for a fiberglass pool will be less than a concrete pool and more than a vinyl liner pool. Regular maintenance on a fiberglass pool will be less than concrete and less than a vinyl liner, and unexpected maintenance on a fiberglass pool will be less than concrete and less than vinyl.
There will be significantly less chemicals needed for fiberglass pools, no liners to change, no walls to scrub or acid wash, no liner leaks at the stairs or outlets, and no replastering. If you drop an anvil on your fiberglass pool and put a two foot hole in the wall, I can have it repaired and looking like new in about six hours - done. That particular aspect of pool ownership is very clear. Initial ownership cost is where you are going to see the greatest differences, and those costs are dictated mostly by the cost of materials, and the cost to install the pool.
From the outset the initial costs of building a pool are much the same. It costs the same amount to get machinery to the property, to lay out the pool, and to excavate the pool design. Equally, each pool builder has to level, and shape the design, cutting the correct angles and making the bottom of the pool ready to begin.
At this point things start to diverge.The concrete pool construction now gets into a long and expensive labor process of bending rebar, and tying each point where the pieces of rebar meet, with metal ties. While this is being done, boards are being placed around the rim of the pool to start to form the concrete as it is sprayed, and plumbing holes are being created and pipes are being inserted in the wire for later placement of returns and main drains and skimmers.
Meanwhile, the vinyl liner construction now begins the process of laying out, erecting, and bolting together the wall panels for the pool. At the shallow end of the pool the stairs are set in place and as the wall panels are slowly brought around they are joined to the stairs. The sides and cross measurements are taken to ensure the pool is square, or in the case of a free form pool, the specified measurements from one point to another are correct - if there is an error here the liner will not fit, and be too tight in places or have folds and wrinkles on the bottom.
The fiberglass pool builder is watching the crane place the shell into the excavation and then begins the process of leveling everything and plumbing the pool. When it is level and the plumbing is done, the excavated soil is put back around the pool as water is put in the pool. The point is, that each pool, requires different construction skills, but the costs are wildly different.
Concrete pools require a lot of manpower and time, vinyl liner pools require a lot of manpower and time, fiberglass pools require a lot of manpower and time, but a major portion of that is done at the plant where the pool is built. So if each pool uses the same pump, filter and accessories why don't they cost the same? Vinyl liner pool kits are relatively inexpensive, costing about 30% of the pool cost with the rest being a function of time, labor, material costs and the cost of the things the pool needs to operate like pumps and filters,and his profit.
Concrete pools have very heavy labor costs, and very skilled labor as well. The people who lay out the rebar, are different from the concrete people, who are different from the plasterers, and although some builders do everything, the vast majority of concrete pool builders subcontract each portion of the pool out to these experts. His other costs are the rebar, and the concrete material, and the other things required for any pool, and his profit.
The fiberglass pool builder has lower labor costs, but the cost of the fiberglass shell is significant - often being more than half the cost of the pool. The shells require lots of manpower and materials, and arrive at your home complete and ready to go. The balance of the costs are in the labor to install, and the pump and filter, and his profit. So, the difference in the prices are mostly in the materials needed, except in the cost of concrete pools which are very labor intensive.
Here are projected costs, assuming nothing extra, no landscaping or water features - just a swimming pool swim ready - just bring your bathing suit.
Unless you live in a big city, where the subcontractors needed are plentiful, your concrete pool will cost about 30% more than a fiberglass pool, and a vinyl liner pool will cost about 20% less than a fiberglass pool. Our average fiberglass swimming pool - is about 12-14 feet wide and 29 feet long, and costs about $33,000. Using that number a similar vinyl liner pool should cost about$26000, and a similar concrete pool should cost about $43000.
To do this yourself, expect a fiberglass swimming pool to cost about $1000 for each foot of length, and then add about10%. It's not very scientific, and accuracy will vary, but it is a good rule of thumb.
As you enter the market, it is important to remember that for the most part, everything else being equal (and it is not always equal depending on manufacturers) the only place a pool builder has to move on his price is by reducing his profit. If business is good, and he is booked up solidly, he won't move. If he has no work, or business is slow, he might work for less to get the job. But the caution here, is that if he is unable to compete because he is being judged on price and only price, one way to get the job and keep his profits, is to reduce the quality of the product he builds for you. In the long view, the cheapest is not always the least expensive, and you are about to spend a lot of your money.
So that should help you get some idea of the relative costs of inground swimming pools. As always it is important to do your research, and know what to expect. You have worked very hard to make this possible, and you have every right to expect that whoever builds your swimming pool will give you value for your money. Look for a good builder, and go look at his work, and remember that the builder who makes a fair profit will still be there when you need warranty or maintenance for your pool.
2. How much does an inground pool cost?