If you’ve started thinking about installing an in-ground swimming pool, you have a large project on your hands.
This is absolutely not the sort of decision you should undertake lightly. That said, with the proper planning before breaking ground, there’s no reason that the construction of your in-ground pool shouldn’t go swimmingly.
While above-ground swimming pools have their place, nothing makes a statement like an in-ground installation. The right swimming pool can instantly transform an otherwise bland yard into an oasis for the whole family.
It’s estimated that there are 5 million in-ground pools in the United States, with roughly 200,000 new in-ground pools being built every year. This data comes from the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance.
Today, then, we’ll walk you through some of the major things to consider when you’re costing your in-ground swimming pool.
There are too many variables to deliver a fixed estimate for the pool you have in mind, but we’ll be guiding you through costs across the board so you’ll have a ballpark figure to work from.
First, some rough generalities about pool costs.
Snapshot of In-Ground Pool Costs
On average, it costs $35,000 to install an in-ground swimming pool, with homeowners typically spending from $28,000 to $55,000 for a pool in the US.
When you factor in maintenance, increased power bills, and any repairs, you can expect to add anywhere from $2000 to $5000+ annually in running costs.
This should give you an initial idea of how deep you’ll need to dig for an in-ground pool.
Types of In-Ground Swimming Pool
The most significant factor impacting the cost of an in-ground pool is the type of that pool.
There are 3 main options here, in descending order of popularity:
- Concrete in-ground pools
- Vinyl-lined in-ground pools
- Fiberglass in-ground pools
Concrete in-ground pools
Concrete pools are sometimes called shotcrete or gunite pools, named for the way concrete shoots out from a gun onto the walls reinforced with steel. Once this concrete cure, the pool can be plastered and painted, then finished or tiled.
These pools are custom-built, and they be fashioned into any size and shape, as well as any depth.
Installation takes anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks with concrete pools, but you’ll get a construction that’s built to last. You should get decades of service from this type of swimming pool.
Concrete pools also respond well if they need remodeling or enlarging.
Concrete in-ground pool prices
Concrete pools costs between $30,000 and $60,0000.
The average price of a 14 x 28 foot concrete pool is $50,960.
Long-term costs average $27,5000 over 10 years, making concrete pools the most expensive to maintain.
Summary of concrete pools
- You can shape these pools according to your needs
- You’ll need to acid wash the pool once every 4 or 5 years to get rid of algae and mold. Unfortunately, this method will also weaken the structure over time, leading to a need for resurfacing
- Concrete pools require lots of chemicals as well as a great deal of electricity for proper pool health
- These pools will need replastering every 10 to 15 years at a cost of roughly $10,000
Vinyl-lined in-ground pools
A vinyl pool has a flexible liner that’s preformed to fit into the hole you’ve excavated for your in-ground pool. The liner is attached to a frame that’s reinforced with aluminum, steel, or a non-corrosive polymer.
Most vinyl-lined in-ground pools are rectangular in shape. Some manufacturers offer freeform liners, but these are in the minority.
You can expect to construct a vinyl-lined in-ground pool in 1 to 3 weeks.
These pools are at more risk from sharp objects slicing through the liner. To mitigate these puncture wounds, look for a pool liner that’s at least an inch thick.
Vinyl in-ground pool prices
In-ground vinyl-lined pools cost anywhere from $25,000 to $45,000. This makes a pool of this type the most affordable in-ground option at your disposal.
While you’ll benefit in terms of upfront costs, running costs mount with this kind of pool. Expect to outlay $13,250 over 10 years on pool maintenance and upkeep.
Summary of vinyl pools
- Vinyl-lined pools come either as preformed shapes, or as custom builds (although the latter is rarer)
- These pools are easy to clean and boast a slick, smooth finish
- Vinyl in-ground pools are highly resistant to algae
- If you need a liner replacing – you should do this once every 10 years – this will cost from $3000 to $4000
- Liners are made from steel panels or thermoplastic and draped over the pool structure. The floor of the pool will be made from concrete or sand
Fiberglass in-ground pools
With fiberglass in-ground pools, you get a single piece of material that’s factory-molded and then dropped into the hole you have excavated by a crane. This dramatically reduces installation time. You can expect to install a fiberglass in-ground pool in as little as 3 days.
Fiberglass pools are treated with a slick gel-coat finish. This is not only stain-resistant, but also remarkably durable.
Since this material is non-porous, you’ll require far fewer pool chemicals, and you won’t suffer from as much algae growing, either.
You won’t get the same choice when it comes to the shape and size of a fiberglass pool, though. If you have an unusually-shaped yard, this could prove restrictive.
The other drawback is that different states are responsible for regulating the shipping of bulky loads. There’s every chance your pool will take a winding route to your house through several states. This understandably increases the cost.
Access can also be problematic as the crane will need to drive up close to your house before maneuvering the preformed shell into the hole that’s been excavated. This may only be possible via your neighbor’s property. Make sure you check these logistics.
Fiberglass in-ground pool prices
The cost of a fiberglass in-ground swimming pool ranges from $18,700 for a 10 x 16 foot pool through to $63,180 for a larger 18 x 30 footer.
Maintenance and running costs will run you around $3750 over 10 years.
Expected lifespan of a fiberglass in-ground pool is in excess of 25 years.
Summary of vinyl pools
- These pools are much simpler to clean and maintain that any other in-ground pool
- You’ll find the smooth surface of these pools inhibits the growth of algae
- You won’t need to spend as much time testing the pH levels in your water with this type of pool
- Installation should be complete well within a week
- These pools are usually premade, and normally smaller than concrete or fiberglass pools
- You can make significant savings on installation by doing some of the work yourself
- Turn-key pool packages can save you money over managing all the separate parts of the pool project yourself
You’ll find all these types of pools available across the United States. That said, some styles are more popular in some regions.
In colder climates, for instance, vinyl liners and fiberglass pools make a flexible option when you’re choosing an in-ground pool. The regular cycles of freezing and thawing can cause damage to concrete pools.
Fiberglass pools are the most popular choice in southern states.
Don’t be afraid to seek guidance from your pool contractor. If you find they almost exclusively install one type of pool over others, there’s probably a good reason for this.
Most importantly, don’t cut corners when it comes to hiring a pool contractor. Get plenty of quotes, and make sure you’re hiring someone with extensive experience of installing this type of in-ground pool.
With that rough idea of costings in place, how about the zoning side of things?
An in-ground swimming pool is subject to zoning and building regulations. You’ll need to apply for a building permit and then wait for approval before you break ground.
Now, zoning rules different from city to city, but you’ll normally need to account for setback distances from the pool to:
- Property lines
- Sewer lines
- Septic tanks
As a guideline, fences or perimeter walls need to be a minimum of 4 feet high. These should feature self-latching and self-closing gates for safety’s sake. Any fence boards need to be spaced less than 4 inches apart. If you have a chain link fence, you need openings smaller than 1.25 inches.
If you have children using the pool, think about installing alarms on any doors or gates leading to the pool. A safety cover also makes a smart addition to your in-ground pool.
Contact your local zoning board to establish the rules and restrictions in your area.
Before we finish up today, some pointers concerning the circulation system required for an in-ground pool.
This circulation system will harness filtration alongside sanitation so your water stays clean and completely clear. The filtration pump will suck up water from the drains at the bottom of your pool and sends surface water through an automatic skimmer. All the water is passed through a pool filter and then it’s recirculated into your pool sparkling clean.
When you’re comparing swimming pool filters, you’ll find 3 main types:
- Sand filter
- Cartridge filter
- DE (diatomaceous earth) filter
The most common type of pool filter, and also the oldest, sand filter systems trap the dirt and debris from your pool in sand.
The more these sand particles become clogged up, the smaller and smaller the particles they’re able to capture.
To clean a sand filter, you just need to backwash it. This simply means that you reverse the flow of water through the filter and then flush all the dirty water out into a waste line.
These filters use oversized cylindrical cartridges to filter the debris from your pool water.
You should look for a cartridge capable of filtering 500 square feet.
Unlike a sand filter, this type requires no backwashing. Instead, all you need to do is rinse of this type of filter using your garden hose.
DE (diatomaceous earth) filter
Diatomaceous earth, commonly abbreviated to DE, is a powder that’s porous thanks to tiny openings. It acts much like a sponge. When water passes through the openings, it becomes trapped.
A DE filter is capable of filtering dirt, dust, and algae, along with certain forms of bacteria.
You clean this type of filter by backwashing, but at the expense of much less water than you need to use when backwashing a sand filter. Once you’re done, add some fresh DE to the filter.
The filtration system in your pool might help you to effectively remove debris, but you’ll need some type of chemical sanitizer to eliminate the organic compounds that contaminate swimming pool water. Bacteria and algae are the most common contaminants. Oxidizers can call both organic and inorganic compounds in pool water.
You’ll find 3 sanitizers registered by the EPA for use in swimming pools:
By far the most popular pool sanitize, chlorine also works as a highly efficient oxidizer.
When you put chlorine in your pool water, it dissolves rapidly. As this happens, free-available chorine – this is known as hypochlorous acid – is released.
You can find chlorine in the following forms:
- Cal hypo
- Liquid chlorine
- Gaseous chlorine
- Lithium hypochlorite
You can also add bromine tablets as a pool sanitizer. These are solid white tablets of hypobromous acid that dissolves in the water, producing free-available bromine. This is also a great oxidizer.
Polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) works when used in combination with an algaecide and some hydrogen peroxide.
You could also consider a salt chlorine generator for your in-ground pool. This serves to transform table salt into chlorine. This does not result in a saltwater swimming pool, though.
Make sure you test your pool water before you add any chemicals. You can find plenty of pool testing kits. Look for pH levels between 7.2 and 7.8. Ensure alkalinity is from 80 to 120 ppm (parts per million).
Choosing the Right Site for Your In-Ground Pool
Picking the right spot for your swimming pool is crucial. If you hire a reputable and experienced pool contractor, they should guide you.
Bear the following pointers in mind when considering pool placement:
- Keep it high and make sure it’s dry: Avoid any low-lying areas as your pool could end up littered with debris and flooded with mud if it rains heavily
- Take advantage of the sun: Keep your pool away from any trees. Not only will this maximize the amount of sun that hits the pool, but it should also minimize the number of leaves littering your swimming pool
- Keep the pool in sight from the house: If you have children using a pool, it makes sense to position it so that you can see if from inside your house
- Keep the wind away: Do as much as you can to position your pool so you get as little wind whipping into it as possible. Think about adding a fence or a wind break if needed. Alternatively, plant some thick shrubs around your pool
- Avoid cables and lines: It goes unsaid you need to locate your pool away from electrical cables, sewer lines, and septic systems
The Bottom Line
When you’re estimating the cost of an in-ground swimming pool, remember that the total price is likely to be double the cost of the pool itself.
Here are some extras you’ll need to budget for:
- Pool lighting
- Privacy screens
- Extra electrical outlets
- Equipment shed
- Pool furniture
- Pool toys and inflatables
- Building permits
- Extra insurance
- Electrical contractors
If you take your time when you’re working out the cost of an in-ground swimming pool, you should have no problem establishing a reasonable estmimate to work from.
OK, to round out today’s comprehensive guide to the cost of an in-ground swimming pool, we’ve collected the answers to a trio of the most frequently asked questions about pool costs.
1) To what extent does the type of in-ground pool influence the cost?
The material of the in-ground pool has the most impact on cost, but next in line is the style of the pool. Where an above-ground pool could run you $5000, an in-ground pool will cost you more like $30,000, and that’s at the lower end. Concrete in-ground pools are the most expensive, followed by fiberglass and vinyl-lined pools. Different styles of pools also attract varying maintenance and upkeep costs.
2) What is the most affordable shape for an in-ground pool?
Whether you’re considering a pre-built liner or a custom-made pool, the most inexpensive in-ground swimming pools will be regularly shaped. Rectangular and oval classic pool shapes are usually the cheapest.
3) What the cheapest in-ground swimming pool?
For the straight-up cheapest route of entry into the world of in-ground swimming pools, vinyl-lined pools are the best option at roughly $35,000 fully installed.