It’s no secret that an inground pool for your backyard costs a significant amount of money, but exactly how much you’ll need to design, install, and maintain one of your own can seem like a mystery once you start looking into it.
Prices can vary greatly from state-to-state and from contractor to contractor, and that’s before you even start to consider the huge variations between a concrete pool and a vinyl pool for example, or how much you need to budget for things like beach-entry design and a decent poolside seating area.
All of this could make creating a budget for your new pool installation project a tough challenge, but with our guide, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Below, we talk you through the costs associated with every aspect of inground pool installation, from the influence of your pool size on your budget to how much you should expect to pay for those added luxuries like waterfalls and pool slides.
We’ll also answer your most burning questions about installing a pool, including the most important question of all:
What’s the cheapest way to build an inground pool?
An inground pool costs thousands of dollars to install but can significantly increase the value of your home, not to mention providing hours of fun and relaxation.
Before we answer that though, let’s start with the basics:
- How Much Does an Inground Pool Cost?
- How Does Location Affect the Cost of Your Inground Pool?
- How Much Does it Cost to Own and Maintain an Inground Pool?
- Frequently Asked Questions About Inground Pool Installation
- Final Thought: Determining the Cheapest Way to Build an Inground Pool
How Much Does an Inground Pool Cost?
A pool of a standard shape and size like this one will prove more affordable than a larger, custom design.
In the United States, the average inground pool costs around $45,000 to install, though prices can vary anywhere from as little as $12,000 to over $100,000 depending on key factors such as the size and materials used.
Location and even shape play a part too, with unique and complex pool designs naturally costing more than your typical rectangular pool.
Additional features like diving boards, slides, hot tubs, and beach-entry design could also add as much as $1,000 – $10,000 to the cost of your project.
Inground Pool Costs by Size
Size matters when it comes to building your pool. Much like building a new patio, laying an artificial lawn, or any number of projects designed to transform your outdoor space, the bigger it is, the more you pay.
In the United States, most pool-owners opt for a standard pool measuring 14ft x 28ft, or 392 square feet with a depth of 6 1/2 feet. Inground pools generally cost somewhere in the region of $60 – $125 to build. So, for a pool of this size, expect to pay around $23,520 – $48,750.
You could, of course, save money by opting for a much smaller pool such as a basic 10ft x 20ft (200 square foot) pool, which could cost you as little as $12,000.
Below, we’ve listed the most common sizes of inground pool in the US and their average costs, though bear in mind that these could still vary depending on everything from the type of pool you want, your location, and even the contractor you hire.
These prices include the cost of both materials and labor.
|Size (in feet)||Square footage||Average cost|
|10 x 20||200||$12,000 – $25,000|
|12 x 24||288||$17,280 – $36,000|
|14 x 28||392||$23,520 – $48,750|
|15 x 30||450||$27,000 – $56,250|
|16 x 32||512||$30,720 – $64,000|
|18 x 36||648||$38,880 – $81,000|
|20 x 40||800||$48,000 – $100,000|
How Pool Depth Affects Cost
While the average pool depth is 6 1/2 feet, it’s always possible to go deeper. In fact, in some cases, it may be required.
If you want to be able to dive head-first into the water for example, then the American Red Cross strongly suggests a minimum depth of at least 9ft.
As you can imagine, the deeper your pool, the more excavation work, and materials you’ll require. With that in mind, if you’re going for a deeper-than-average pool, expect your costs to be at the upper end of the price scale around the $125 per square foot mark, if not higher.
Inground Pool Costs by Material
Vinyl pools prove to be the cheapest inground pools while concrete models like this one are by far the most expensive.
After size, the biggest factor influencing the cost of your pool installation project will be the materials used.
Inground pools are available in either fiberglass, vinyl, or concrete models, each one offering their own pros, cons, and price points.
Vinyl: $12,000 – $40,000
vinyl is the way to go if you’re in the market for an inground swimming pool but need to keep a tight rein on your budget. It can also be a great option for getting a great-looking pool while still having some extra cash left over to spend on your poolside flooring or an outdoor entertainment area.
Still, costs aren’t the only reason why many people opt for vinyl-lined pools.
Unlike their fiberglass counterparts, these pools are constructed almost entirely on-site, so there’s no manufacturing or shipping restrictions to worry about. As such, you can build a vinyl pool to pretty much any size or shape that you like.
What’s more, the non-porous vinyl material used in your pool means that you’ll have very little -if any- algae growth to worry about. This not only means an easier cleaning process, but it’s also better for the environment as you won’t need to use chemicals to keep your pool water clean.
Of course, vinyl pools have their downsides too.
Though they may be the cheapest short-term option for getting an inground pool installed in your home, their long-term maintenance costs can soon add up.
Even the best vinyl pool liners have a limited lifespan and you’ll find yourself buying a new replacement liner every 5 – 10 years. While the liner itself may not be a huge investment, the cost of draining the water, installing the new liner, and refilling the pool water all add up, meaning you’ll probably spend somewhere in the region of $10, 000 – $20,000 on this process alone over the course of a 10-year period.
We should also mention that while vinyl pools aren’t as durable as other types and are prone to wear and tear. With that in mind, it’s worth keeping a good pool liner repair kit on standby.
Fiberglass: $20,000 – $60,000
Fiberglass is perhaps the most commonly used material for residential pools, offering several key advantages over the other two models.
For one thing, there’s the speed of installation.
Fiberglass pool shells are pre-built off-site, then delivered to your home and installed. Since they’re built from a mold, your manufacturer should already have a pool shell to match your desired size and shape ready and waiting in their factory. This means they can get it to you quickly and the whole installation could take as little as 3 – 6 weeks.
Then there’s the maintenance or rather lack of maintenance required.
The shell itself should last a solid 25 years with little to no ongoing maintenance required while cleaning is a breeze, especially if you use a good quality pool cleaner.
Finally, there’s the aesthetic appeal. Fiberglass pools can be customized and modified with an array of attractive pool tiles, lights, and water features to create a truly impressive look for your home.
Having said all that, these types of pools aren’t without their limitations.
Having a pool built from a pre-set mold may be great in terms of getting it installed quickly, but it does mean that you’re restricted to a finite number of designs. Sure, some manufacturers may be prepared to create a custom pool shell mold just for you, but the cost to do that is going to be way beyond the budget of your average homeowner, and it may be more affordable to simply opt for a custom concrete model instead.
Speaking of designs, since these pools are built off-site and then shipped to you, shipping rules and regulations are going to limit how big of a pool you can have. In most cases, fiberglass pool shells can be no bigger than 16 feet across. That may be a little too small for some users, though for others it could be, at most a perfect fit, or at the very least an agreeable compromise to get a practically maintenance-free pool.
Cost-wise, these pools tend to be smack dab in the middle, costing more than the average vinyl pool but often proving more affordable than the top-end concrete models.
Concrete: $35,000 – $100,000
Vinyl pools can require regular repairs if your dog jumps in the water and rips the lining with their nails. Fortunately, that’s never a problem with concrete pools.
There’s no way of sugar-coating the fact that concrete swimming pools are the most expensive of all. Even at the entry-level range, you’re still looking at around $30,000, and that’s before you even start to think about upkeep and maintenance costs.
Since concrete is a very porous material, plenty of algae can build up around your pool edge, so you’re going to have to spend more on chemicals and filtration to keep your pool clean.
The algae will also wear away at the surface so you’ll end up spending thousands every 10 – 15 years on a complete replastering job, as well as a regular acid wash every 3 – 5 years to balance the water’s pH level.
All this can set you back as much as $20,000 – $40,000 over the course of a ten-year period.
There’s more, too. Concrete tends to take about 28 days to dry out, and that’s in optimum conditions. Poor weather can mean that it takes even longer and since you need the concrete to fully dry before construction can be finished, you’re looking at around 3 – 6 months for a complete installation, compared to around 3 – 8 weeks for other types of pool.
So, with all that working against them, why would anybody bother with a concrete pool in the first place?
Simply put, the main reason that people choose concrete pools is that they’re highly customizable, even more so than vinyl pools. They can be made to just about any size, depth, or even shape, though truly unique pool designs will always cost the most.
Beyond that, concrete pools are the best option for adding additional features such as tanning ledges or beach entries and, let’s face it, the most attractive.
Finally, we should note that these types of pools more than hold their own when it comes to durability. While that algae build-up can be a pain, you can rest assured that your concrete pool won’t suffer the same wear and tear problems as other types.
With a vinyl pool, for instance, the minute your dog decides to jump in the pool you run the risk that their nails will rip the lining, requiring the whole thing to be replaced. With concrete, there’s no such problem, making it a great choice for families with pets and children.
DIY Pool Installation Costs vs. Hiring a Professional Contractor
Though there’s technically nothing to stop you taking on your inground pool installation as a DIY project, it’s rarely a good idea.
Sure, it could save you as much as 40% – 45% off the total cost, but that’s assuming you know exactly what you’re doing and everything goes perfectly.
Make a mistake, and even the smallest of errors could end up costing you thousands more. We’re not just talking about pool repair costs here, either.
A cracked pool wall can cause the whole thing to collapse, sending countless gallons of water flooding your garden and potentially damage your property, if not your neighbor’s property too.
At best, this means your garden is ruined. At worst, it means you end up paying a few thousand dollars to damp proof a wall and carry out some major structural repairs.
In other words, those short-term savings could end up costing you much more in the long-run, so it’s always worth hiring a professional contractor to ensure the job is done right.
If you are adamant that you want to install a pool yourself, you may be better off sticking with an above ground pool set which is both more affordable and easier to install.
Cost of Installing Additional Pool Features
A diving board can make a great addition to larger pools. Just make sure the depth is at least 9ft if you’re going to dive head-first.
An inground pool can be a tremendous asset in its own right, but if you have the budget to spare, spending a thousand or so dollars on a few additional pool features can significantly increase both the value of that pool and, more importantly, how much enjoyment you’ll get out of it.
Diving Board costs: $400 – $5,000
A good diving board could set you back as little as a few hundred dollars or upwards of $5,000. This includes both the board itself as well as professional installation.
Given the safety concerns and the nature of local building codes, it’s always worth consulting a professional to help you get the most suitable board and install it correctly.
Pool Slide Costs: $500 – $20,000
While buying a cheap inflatable slide is always an option, if you really wanted to create that all-important wow-factor with your new inground pool, you could do far worse than installing a permanently-fixed pool slide like this exciting-looking model from S.R. Smith.
Hot Tub Costs: $5,000 – $15,000
Built-in hot tubs have become an increasingly popular pool feature over the last several years, proving a great way for mom and dad to relax while the kids splash around in the main pool.
Although they won’t be cheap, if you’re using your new pool as a way to increase your property value, they’ll definitely help with that.
$5,000 will get you a fairly basic spa, while $10,000 – $15,000 will bag you a genuine top-of-the-range model and may even be enough to cover the building of a hot tub enclosure too.
Waterfall Costs: $750 – $1,500
Though some fancier waterfalls and water features could cost you in excess of $30,000, there really is no need to spend so much.
You can get a great-looking waterfall like this gorgeous model from YUDA without breaking the bank and use it to create a stunning focal point for your entire pool area.
Beach Entry Pool Costs: $50 – $150 per square foot
Sometimes known as ‘zero entry’ pools, beach entry pools replicate the experience of walking from the beach into the sea by using a gentle slope to enter the pool on one or more sides rather than the traditional pool steps.
The price you’ll pay for this feature will depend on the size of your pool and how many sides you install it on, so think in terms of square feet rather than a fixed price when it comes to planning your budget.
Other Inground Pool Costs to Consider
Along with all the luxuries above, there are a few other items that you might consider to be essential if you’re going to get the most of your new inground pool.
A decent pool heater, for instance, will go a long way to maximizing your enjoyment by ensuring you’re no longer limited to using it in just the warmest periods of summer, extending your pool season by as much as 6 – 12 weeks. For this, put a budget aside of $150 – $2,000.
A pool cover could cost between $600-$2,200 (including professional installation) and will prove invaluable for keeping your pool clean and well-preserved when not in use.
Finally, you might also want to set aside a few hundred dollars to pay for plants and other landscaping features to enhance the look and feel of your pool.
How Does Location Affect the Cost of Your Inground Pool?
Location plays a bigger role in determining your inground pool costs than you might first expect.
If you live in states such as Florida, California, or Arizona, you’ll be spending some 15% – 25% less than those based in more northerly states.
Meanwhile, the location of your property itself can impact your budget.
For example, if your home is in a hard-to-reach area with poor accessibility, your contractor is going to have a difficult time getting the equipment and materials to your backyard. To compensate for the extra work involved, they could add as much as $10,000 to the cost of your project.
How Much Does it Cost to Own and Maintain an Inground Pool?
Buying a good quality pool cleaner may save you hundreds, if not thousands, on cleaning and maintenance every year
Day-to-day operating costs for an inground pool run in the region of $1,000 – $2,000 per year depending on how regularly you use it.
In terms of maintenance, that largely depends on the type of pool you have. A standard fiberglass pool could cost as little $300 – $1,200 per year in general maintenance, while a vinyl pool may set you back $500 – $2,000 per year depending on how well you take care of lining.
A concrete pool may set you back an average of $2,000 – $4,000 per year in maintenance, though it’s likely that this will come as larger individual sums paid every few years for things like acid washing and replastering, rather than the smaller annual maintenance costs associated with vinyl and fiberglass pools.
Frequently Asked Questions About Inground Pool Installation
Inground pools cost less than indoor pools like this one but more than above-ground options.
Do I need a permit to build an inground pool?
Practically all US states require you to obtain a permit before installing a swimming pool.
Keep in mind that as well as getting a permit for the construction of the actual pool, you’ll also need relevant permits for electrical, plumbing, and any mechanical work too.
In some regions, such as Los Angeles County you can get a Combination Swimming Pool Permit which covers all of the components under one permit, so it’s always worth asking your local government department if such a permit exists as they’ll save you a ton of paperwork and may even save you some money too.
How long does it take to install an inground pool?
Ignoring pre-construction steps such as design, planning, and obtaining the relevant permits, most pools should take somewhere between 3 – 8 weeks to build depending on the type of pool you opt for.
A standard fiberglass pool, for example, takes an average of 4 weeks to install though it could take less for smaller pools and up to 6 weeks for larger ones.
A vinyl pool takes a little longer, around an average of 6 weeks for a regular-sized pool, though again size makes a difference. A smaller vinyl pool may only take 4 weeks while a larger one could take 8 weeks.
The one anomaly here is concrete pools.
After laying the foundations, the concrete needs to fully cure before actual construction can begin. This takes a minimum of 28 days in ideal conditions, though weather conditions can mean it takes much longer. As such, some concrete pools take as long as 3 – 5 months to finish.
How do installation costs for inground pools compare to other types of pool?
Inground pools cost more than above ground pools but tend to be cheaper than most indoor pools.
While inground pools generally cost between $35,000 and $70,000 a good quality above-ground pool may set you back as little as $500 – $2,000.
An indoor pool could cost over $200,000 if you don’t already have a pool house or similar structure and need to build one from scratch. If you do have such a building, you’ll still be looking at a budget of $25,000 – $100,000.
What should I look for when choosing a pool contractor?
Most of the same things that you’d look for when hiring a contractor to do anything from laying a new patio or installing a loft conversion. Ask to see a portfolio of their work and reference from previous clients so that you can be sure they’re capable of getting the job done on time, on budget, and to the kind of high-quality standards you expect.
Given the complexity of pool construction, US states require pool contractors to be licensed and insured, so avoid any that aren’t as this could cause a ton of headaches if things go wrong.
Finally, be sure to look for a contractor who is happy to provide you with a comprehensive set of plans and a detailed contract that outlines every part of the project, including payment terms and conditions.
Final Thought: Determining the Cheapest Way to Build an Inground Pool
By now, you’re armed with everything you need to know about the costs to install an inground pool.
You’ve learned that, while a vinyl swimming pool may be the cheapest to install it could also cost you a fair amount in regular repairs and maintenance.
You also learned that the costs associated with maintaining a concrete pool are pretty high, though the trade-off may be worth it for the sake of long-lasting durability, customization, and aesthetic appeal.
Taking all that into consideration, there’s the only question left to be answered:
What’s the cheapest way to build and enjoy an inground pool?
In our estimation, the answer is simple:
Opt for a fiberglass pool.
Sure, the initial price tag of such a pool may be a little higher than that of a vinyl pool, but it’s a small price to pay to save years of costly and time-consuming vinyl lining replacements that might well end up eating into the precious time you could be spending enjoying your pool.
Of course, the one downside to this is that you’re limited to a small range of sizes and designs, so if you do decide to go for a concrete or vinyl pool then the best way to manage costs is to keep things simple.
Stick to a regular shape and size, and leave out the slides and other fancy extras for the time being. Sure, it might not be as glamorous as an elaborate, custom-designed pool, but it’s still going to add tremendous value to your property and, most importantly of all, ensure hours of fun for you and your family.