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How much does an in-ground pool cost?

Categories // Cost of Building a Pool

It comes as no surprise that one of the first questions people ask is "how much will my new in-ground pool cost?" The answer to that question is best given in two parts.
  1. What will it cost to get a new in-ground pool up and running?
  2. What will be the likely ongoing costs involved with owning that pool?

Part one: How much does it cost to build an in-ground pool?

The right choice - how much it costs to build an in-ground poolLet's start by taking a look at the different options out there. The most common types of pool sold in Australia include concrete, fibreglass and vinyl liners. Understandably all pools are not equal and therefore have different price points in the market.

What does a fibreglass pool cost?

There are some fiberglass pool manufacturers who offer DIY kits for around $15,000 or more however, it is important that before you embark on DIY you also understand the installation costs, associated risks and hidden costs of installing your own pool. Generally speaking, having your pool supplied and installed by a licensed pool builder is a much easier, safer and more cost-effective option. The entry level point for professionally installed fibreglass pools sits between $25,000-$35,000 and can range anywhere up to $70,000 plus. I know what you are thinking; "that's a pretty big range".
And you're right. It is.

So what influences the cost of your pool? It all really comes down to your site conditions and personal choices, as well as the manufacturer's pool shell technology, but here are a few factors

  • Access to site
  • Soil conditions
  • The size of the pool you have chosen
  • The way you set up your pool to suit your life style (will you choose a superior circulation and cleaning system for example)
  • Any additional water features or lighting features you choose to enhance the look of your new in-ground pool
  • The quality of the product you choose, including the pool shell manufacturing method
Compare the quality not just the cost of the poolsOf course, while most manufacturers make a pretty good product these days, it goes without saying that not all fiberglass pools are made to be the same. It pays to make sure you are fully aware of what you are being offered when comparing quotes (there are important differences between traditional fibreglass pools and fibreglass ceramic pools). What are the key benefits of the product you are looking at? Does it have features that you cannot get elsewhere? What operating system are they offering (operating systems can range from traditional filtration only, to enhanced circulation, and superior in-floor cleaning systems)? What ongoing protection comes with the product (what written guarantees are provided in the manufacturer's defect warranty document)?

It also pays to consider how long it will take to build your new pool. One of the great benefits of choosing a fiberglass pool option is that it reduces install time dramatically. A fiberglass pool can be installed in a matter of days where as concrete pools are known to take months. Find out more about how long it takes to build a pool here.

Vinyl-liner pool cost

Above-ground prefabricated vinyl-liner pools (with their lower initial cost) are a preferred option for some buyers. In-ground vinyl-liner pools are less popular in Australia than fibreglass or concrete options, and can be professionally installed and ready to use for a similar price as a fibreglass pool. In-ground vinyl-liner pools can also be purchased as a DIY kit for around $10,000, excluding installation costs (installation costs depend on installation methods, for instance most in-ground vinyl-liner pools require a concrete floor to be poured). So if you're going down the DIY track, make sure you understand the full construction requirements and related costs (excavation and concrete works usually require contractors). Of course, vinyl-liner pools also require far greater ongoing maintenance and care which we will explore in part two of this article.

The cost to build concrete pools

The benefit of a concrete pool is that your options are limitless when it comes to shape and size. This means it can be hard to give a detailed idea of pricing. Generally speaking concrete pools start at similar pricing to most fiberglass pools but they tend to have a much higher "top end" point.

Analysing concrete pool constructionMany people assume that concrete is a stronger and more durable option to build a swimming pool from; however, fiberglass technology has come a long way. These days, many of the fibreglass pool manufacturers have such strong and durable products that they match or surpass the warranties offered by concrete manufacturers. Compass Pools for example, offer a lifetime structural warranty on the cost of running. That warranty lasts the original owner's entire lifetime while at the property and can even be transferred to new owners in the first 25 years.

Part two: What are the ongoing costs of owning a pool?

The ongoing costs of your pool are largely dependent on how you choose to set it up from the beginning. All pools require a certain level of care to ensure that they endure the elements and remain clean and healthy.

There are 5 main activities that influence the ongoing costs of your pool:

  1. The way the water is filtered (the cost of running and servicing pumps and filters)
  2. The way the water is sanitised (chemical costs/ salt water chlorinators)
  3. The way your pool is cleaned (robot cleaners, self-cleaning units, suction cleaners)
  4. Keeping the pool looking like new (aesthetic maintenance)
  5. The way you use your pool (heat-pumps, water features)

Ongoing costs of a concrete pool

When compared to fiberglass pools, concrete pools do require more ongoing attention. Because concrete is more porous it provides the perfect breeding ground for algae and bacteria to grow. Thus concrete pools require more time (and money spent on chemicals) to keep healthy and safe to swim in. Unlike fiberglass pools, the more porous and less smooth nature of concrete (including most concrete surface finishes) means it is susceptible to black algae which can be particularly costly and difficult to remove.

Another thing to consider when weighing up if concrete is right for you is the aesthetic maintenance of the pool. Concrete pools generally require acid washing once every three to five years and it is common to re-plaster or resurface after about ten to fifteen years. Both of these add significant cost to the upkeep of your pool.

Ongoing costs of a vinyl lined pool

Vinyl-liner pools (also known as vinyl-lined pools) also have a higher maintenance requirement than fiberglass pools. Most vinyl pool linings have a five to ten year lifetime expectancy which means during a ten year period you should expect to reline your pool at least once. It is also important to point out that vinyl lined pools are more prone to damage from sharp objects which means you are more likely to spend money on future repair work. A good quality liner is likely to cost over $4,000 for an average sized pool.

Ongoing costs of a fibreglass pool

Fibreglass pools are a low, long-term investmentFrom an ongoing maintenance perspective a fibreglass pool tends to be a low effort/low cost option. Unlike concrete or vinyl-liner pools, once your fiberglass pool is in the ground, there is very little that you need to do. At Compass we recommend that you periodically hand-polish the gelcoat surface above the waterline (just like you would with a car or boat) but aside from that you will not need to resurface, repaint or reline your pool (provided that you follow the manufacturer's guidelines and maintain balanced water as well as correct chlorine levels all year round).

Because the gelcoat surface on a fibreglass pool is smooth (compared to most concrete pool surfaces) it is harder for algae and bacteria to grow. You use fewer chemicals and you may even be able to run your filtration system for a shorter period of time, which saves you money on power too.

The great thing about a Compass fibreglass ceramic pool is that you can opt to include the Vantage self-cleaning and circulation system. This system works to dramatically improve circulation in your pool making it even harder for bacteria and algae to grow. Not to mention that the system eliminates the need for manual cleaners or robotic cleaners. The Vantage system will save you significant amounts of money on power, chemicals and cleaning equipment.

One last thing to think of when comparing pool prices

Consider your pool cost as a long-term investment for maintenance and structural durabilityFinally another thing to consider when weighing up the cost of a pool is how much of your initial investment you are likely to get back (or even build on) when the time comes to sell your home.

Generally speaking, there are two types of buyers in the realty market. People either like the idea of having a pool or they are apprehensive of it. The reason the latter group have concerns is because they don't want to be caught in the trap of constantly working on their pool or paying someone else to do it.

A fibreglass pool minimises the effort and cost required to own an in-ground pool. A Compass fiberglass ceramic pool with Vantage takes that concept to the next level with almost hands-free pool care.

It makes sense that you think about the future and consider which pool option is going to be the best for you. When the time comes to sell your home, you'll want your pool to add to the appeal not take away from it.

The bottom line is that there is more than the initial price tag to consider before you make a decision on which pool to go with. Sometimes the options which look cheaper up-front can end up costing more than expected (DIY kit pools for example, with hidden install costs and associated risks). On the flipside, options which have the potential to be more expensive (concrete) sometime don't offer the assumed value that goes with the extra price tag.