HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PUT IN AN INGROUND POOL?
What’s your type? Selecting a style or type is one of the first decisions you’ll make when purchasing an inground pool. If you’ve not given inground fiberglass pools much thought before entering the pool market, you might be surprised by the breadth of readily available fiberglass pool designs. Before getting down to the nitty-gritty on how much a fiberglass pool costs, you should compare pool types to get an overall picture of inground pool costs instead of simply looking for the cheapest inground pool upfront costs. Let’s compare vinyl liner vs fiberglass vs concrete pools.
- Vinyl liners are the lowest in the initial cost. According to HomeAdvisor.com, vinyl liner pool installation costs run $35,000 to $65,000. However, they have long-term upkeep and repair costs associated with them. In addition to regular annual maintenance costs, the average replacement cost of vinyl runs from $3,500 to $5,000. On average, they need to be replaced every seven to nine years.
- Fiberglass pools cost a little more at the outset. Again according to HomeAdvisor.com, fiberglass pool installation costs run between $45,000 to $85,000. However, fiberglass pools require less annual maintenance and repair than vinyl. Plus, they are durable. How long do fiberglass pools last? Fiberglass pools today can last 30 years or more.
- Gunite (aka concrete) pools allow for greater customization of design but can be the most expensive. They do require greater on-site construction work and usually cost more to install and maintain. The exception to higher installation cost is in the sunbelt states where concrete pools can cost less. That’s why you’ll see prices vary drastically. HomeAdvisor.com puts the installation range for gunite pools between $55,000 to $100,000. The maintenance of a gunite pool includes acid wash/replastering approximately every five years and close attention to the chemical treatment of algae.
What do you care about? When asking, “is a fiberglass pool worth the money?” it’s helpful to think of it in terms of value as well. Is a quicker installation worth more? Do you have environmental concerns? Is low lifetime maintenance and durability important? To get the big picture, check out the graphic below that gives you a high-level comparison of the pros and cons of concrete vs fiberglass vs vinyl pools. Initial costs or upfront costs can certainly be a big part of a homeowner’s choice between vinyl, gunite, and fiberglass, but there is so much more to think about.
More considerations affecting your overall pool costs are:
- Maintenance And Cleaning Materials. In general, a fiberglass pool will require fewer chemicals and less maintenance than other pool types. But let’s break it down. Concrete pools need the most maintenance of all three types and have been estimated at $27,400 over 10 years. Vinyl liner pools need a little less in terms of maintenance, being about $11,500 over 10 years. Fiberglass pools need the least maintenance around $3,750 over 10 years.
- Pool Builder. The cost of doing business with someone is often overlooked. All pool dealers are not the same. Who you choose to purchase from and who installs your pool can make a difference. A small, independent builder might oversee your project from start to finish. A larger firm might have multiple crews with specialties moving from one installation to the next in a coordinated effort. One type is not necessarily better than another. Interview a couple of builders. A helpful question to ask yourself is, “do I want these guys in my backyard for a few weeks?” Seek references and check out some of their build sites in your area when possible. Thursday Pools independent dealers are among the best because they go through a stringent application process.
- Pet-friendliness? If you want to share your pool with pets, you’ll want to weigh your options. When it comes to pets, you don’t have problems with fiberglass pools. Pet claws can tear vinyl liners. And gunite pools can tear up their paws. Fiberglass pools are ideal for pets and can save money on remedies for the pool and the pet.
- Environmental Costs. Vinyl liners need to be replaced every five to seven years or so and end up in landfills. Plus, they are built with steel panels that can leach chemicals and rust back into the groundwater. Similarly, gunite pools have steel mesh/rebar for structure and can leach chemicals and rust. And acid washing can result in harm to the environment. Fiberglass pools don’t need resurfacing, don’t present groundwater issues, and last decades.
- Fiberglass Pool Shell Manufacturer. Pool shell prices vary based on the quality of the materials, complexity of design, and techniques that fiberglass pool manufacturers use. So, explore the manufacturers’ websites, and make sure you are pricing fiberglass pools of comparable quality and durability. Thursday Pools is the only ISO 9001 certified manufacturer in the fiberglass pool industry. We undergo a rigorous certification process to meet international quality standards in both raw materials and production methods. Our fiberglass pool shells are manufactured in nine layers. We like to think of this layering process as our “Composite Sandwich of Awesomeness.”
Here are the ingredients:
- Gel Coat
- 100% vinyl ester barrier coat
- First application of chopped fiberglass
- Second application of chopped fiberglass
- Hand-laid woven roving fiberglass
- Third application of chopped fiberglass
- Honeycomb core
- Fourth application of chopped fiberglass
- Fifth application of chopped fiberglass
When you are comparing costs among fiberglass pool manufacturers, make sure you know that you are comparing quality. And if at this point, you are simply wishing there was such a thing as an inground fiberglass pool cost calculator for Thursday Pools’ inground fiberglass pools, you’re in luck. Check the links in the sidebar for our Pool Cost Calculator.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST OF A FIBERGLASS POOL INSTALLED?
First, let’s check out the 10,000-foot view. The big decisions you’ll need to make as you consider the installation of a fiberglass pool involves scoping out your backyard’s accommodating factors and considering your personal tastes and budget. How big is the backyard? How much deck will you want? Where are the utility connections? What design and shape will complement or enhance the home’s architectural design? There are classic rectangular pools and then there are pool designs with an organic, wavy profile. And some that land in-between those styles.
Also, very broadly, you’ll have choices to make for decking, backfill, landscaping, fencing, pool equipment, and pool covers that will all have some degree of variability. Remember too, that you’ll have costs that may not be as variable. Your location may require a flat cost permitting fee. It may require the use of a crane to access the backyard space. Utilities, fencing, and pool covers may also fall under the required category. These items all factor into a typical fiberglass pool cost. That said, you can expect a Thursday Pools fiberglass pool with installation to cost between $40,000 and $60,000, depending on several factors.
Installation Related Costs That May or May Not Be Included
- Permits and variances. While requirements vary on both state and local levels, the bottom line is that you need a permit to have a pool installed in your backyard. In some locations, you may actually be required to get a plumbing and/or electrical permit as well. Permitting is essential because an inspector will verify that all pool-related regulations and requirements are met during the pool build to help prevent incidents and accidents from improper installation. You can plan at a minimum to spend $200 to $300 on just the pool permit itself. Make sure to ask if your dealer will handle the necessary permits and variances and whether they are included in the basic installation costs.
- Fencing. Some jurisdictions require you to have fencing around your pool for safety and insurance compliance. You might also be required to purchase or build a fence that meets specific material or design guidelines. For example, many states and municipalities require a fence that is 4 or 5 feet high with an inward swinging, self-closing gate. Many options are available, and the type of materials will affect price. According to HomeAdvisor.com, chain-link and mesh fences cost between $1,000 and $5,000 while wrought iron, aluminum, vinyl or wood run from $2,000 to $12,000. That said, the average cost to install a pool fence is $15 to $25 per linear foot. Your pool dealer will likely know the local requirements and may or may not install fencing.
- Pool cover. If you live in a zone where you must winterize your pool, you’ll need some form of cover, whether it is a winter cover, manual cover, or automatic safety cover. Winter covers are the least expensive but also the least convenient and most cumbersome to put on. A winter cover may run anywhere from $50 to $350, depending on the material. Manual covers often use a track and reel system and will range from $500 to $5,000, depending on whether it is made of safety material. Automatic safety covers are the most convenient, require electrical hookup and usually start at around $10,000. Check with your dealer to see if and what type of cover options are available.
- Electrical work. Electricity is essential for the operation of your filtering system, and it may also be needed for lights, jetting, or other decorative touches. A knowledgeable electrical contractor will help you assess your situation and determine if you need a new or updated breaker box for your backyard. Some pool dealers offer electrical. Others do not. Either way, you should budget between $3,000 and $5,000 minimum. Getting clarity on what electrical is included in your pool installation will help you better plan for this part of the process.
- Dirt hauling. Digging up enough yard to set a pool into it means you could be removing the equivalent of a one to two-car garage full of dirt before dropping your fiberglass pool shell into place. A ballpark estimate for hauling away dirt is a couple of hundred dollars per cubic yard. Ask your dealer if and how much dirt hauling is included in your installation. Alternatively, you may consider keeping some of it for other household projects. Some ideas include filling low spots on your property to make water drain more effectively, building mounds to hide an unattractive feature on your property, creating raised flower beds, and building a retaining wall.
- Equipment. Your installation will likely come with some equipment. Of course, you should ask your dealer and/or check your estimate to verify. Generally, your equipment will include the filtration system, skimmer and jets, a vacuum head and pole, vacuum hose, skim net, wall brush, thermometer, and chemical test strips. Your installation may have additional options such as a pool heater, automatic vacuum system, and salt generator.
- Backfill. Most likely, your installation includes some sort of backfill. If it’s not a line item on your estimate, ask your dealer if it’s included. Backfill is a material that supports your fiberglass pool walls as it is set into place. While backfill material is usually specified by your installer based on your particular ground makeup, crushed stone or flowable fill is often used to set fiberglass pools. If the backfill is not properly completed, it can shift and settle over time, creating a void. To help our dealers with installation, Thursday Pools created the patented Backfill Eliminator, a specially fabricated structure integrated into the bottom of the pool, allowing for sturdy and level installation. Additionally, the structure permits the free flow of groundwater, eliminating the possibility of stagnant water accumulating under the pool or excess groundwater lifting the pool.
- Restoration. As part of any large construction job, even if it’s referred to only as “clean-up” on your estimate, restoration is important. Pool installation can bring a combination of trucks, jackhammers, and other heavy equipment to your backyard. When it’s all done and your pool is installed, there may be landscaping or hardscaping work needed to make sure the surrounding environment does your beautiful new pool justice. Ask your dealer what is included in your installation.
- Water. The good news is that, unlike gunite pools that need somewhat frequent draining to remove cracks and stains and to re-plaster the pool, fiberglass pools don’t need draining. Therefore, you’ll only need to pay for a water fill-up at the time of installation. And depending on where you live and the size of your pool, the first water fill may add more cost to your installation. However, it may be included in your installation, and if it’s not, your dealer may have the best recommendations on getting it. When in doubt, always ask your dealer to explicitly tell you what is included in their installation cost and process.
WHEN IT COMES TO POOLS, SIZE MATTERS.
When it comes to answering a question like, “what is the average cost of a fiberglass pool installed?” size does matter. It is a factor in installation and maintenance costs due to more dirt removal and greater water volume.
Some frequently asked questions relative to the pool size are:
- How much does a small pool cost to install?
- How much does a 12×24 fiberglass pool cost?
- How much does a 12×20 inground pool cost?
- How much does a 16×32 inground pool cost?
While you may have a specific size in mind, different fiberglass pool manufacturers will offer different dimensions. But not one size fits all. Fiberglass pools come in small, medium, and large sizes to accommodate various yard sizes. However, every fiberglass pool design is transported in one piece, in the form of a fiberglass pool shell, from the manufacturer to the backyard site. Therefore, fiberglass pools usually fall within a maximum of 40-feet long and 16-feet wide. With fiberglass pools, there is a wide variety of pool designs and options you can add, but the size and shape are at least somewhat constrained by transportability.
INGROUND POOL COSTS DEPEND ON WHAT CONDITION YOUR SITE IS IN.
Geography, topography, and neighborhood all impact cost as you zoom in on your pool’s location. Is it on a rocky mountainside location? Is it a wide-open flat suburban lot in middle America? Where you are placing your fiberglass pool can impact the cost.
Do you live in an area with a strong freeze-thaw cycle? Do you have elevation changes? Is your backyard accessible? You can see how these factors can impact installation and add to the cost. In addition, you may have municipal guidelines or HOA restrictions that govern the specifics of pool placement or designate a particular type of fencing or pool covers.
Site Preparation is one of the variable costs for which it is good to consult with your dealer. A new, undeveloped piece of land will likely have totally different prep requirements versus a home in a wooded, or historic neighborhood. Trees and tree roots, underground and above-ground utilities as well as neighborhood covenants are just a few of the potential considerations as you get your property ready for an install.
Access is key to the efficiency and cost-effective delivery and installation of your fiberglass pool. Depending on the location of the backyard relative to the street and driveway, you may or may not require the use of specialized cranes or other equipment. The relative level of ease affects cost, so it’s good to ask your dealer what to expect early on.
IS A PATIO OR LANDSCAPING INCLUDED IN THE FIBERGLASS POOL COST?
Working with your dealer or construction contractor, you’ll determine whether the surface surrounding your pool patio is concrete, tile, stone, or some other form of decking and landscaping material. Costs can vary widely.
For example, a standard broom-finish concrete pool deck might average $6.50 per square foot, whereas a travertine paver patio may run $16 per square foot. For a 1,000 square foot patio, that can mean a variance of nearly $10,000.
The most popular concrete finish is broom finished concrete. At $6.50 per square foot, homeowners often choose this deck type to save money and then put more money into landscaping and lighting the patio area.
Stamped concrete is another, more decorative version of decking. Stamped Concrete runs between $20 per square foot and $26 per square foot. The downside of concrete is that cracks are more likely to happen and are harder to fix, especially in stamped concrete.
Pavers are often the most expensive, running anywhere from $16 to $60 per square foot. The upside of paver patios is that they aren’t subject to cracking like concrete. And if settling occurs under the pavers, they can easily be removed, the base can be leveled, and the pavers can be reset. The cons are that it is more expensive and it takes longer to complete a paver patio.
To fill in areas that don’t necessarily need to be walkways, consider these landscaping options:
- Shrubs, plants and trees give your pool a finished look and cost $4 to $12 per square foot.
- Landscaping rocks bring nature and pops of color and cost between $1 and $10 per square foot on average.
- A retaining wall adds dimension to an otherwise flat area and costs around $15 to $20 per square foot.
- For those wanting open space for pets and people to play, lawn turf costs $5 to $20 per square foot.
Note: all estimates given are averages. Actual costs may vary. Contact your pool contractor for a detailed estimate.
OPTIONS AND ACCESSORIES THAT AFFECT HOW MUCH A FIBERGLASS POOL COSTS.
While fiberglass pool designs may come with built-in options like tanning ledges, sun shelves, steps, bench seating, swim-outs, beach entry, and more, still other options are available that may add to your pool enjoyment and subsequently, the overall pool cost.
Adding some optional features can really bring the pool experience to life. Whether you have a young family, or an active lifestyle, or a contingent determined to get the most sun possible, the options you choose can match your pool to your backyard lifestyle.
The most common optional accessories include slides, water features, and dive boards. Let’s talk about some common items available for fiberglass pools.
- Ladder. Pool ladders are made of various materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and resin. They can generally be removed whereas built-in steps cannot be taken out. A rather low-cost line item, you probably only need to budget no more than $1,000 per ladder
- Simple slide. A simple, prefabricated slide with a ladder runs around $4,000. This is likely a straight-legged slide and ladder with no curve. You may also want to factor in the added cost to your homeowner’s insurance of up to $1,000 per year.
- Specialty slide. When you choose a more intricate design, the price goes up. You may choose a molded slide with a right or left curve at the end for around $7,500 or a completely custom slide from $10,000 to $100,000.
- Bubblers. A kid-favorite, pool bubblers are small fountains of water that bubble upward from the pool about 2 or 3 feet like a natural hot spring. They are most often installed at the entrance of the pool on a tanning ledge or beach entry. These run around $600 each.
- Deck jets. Pool deck jets are installed on the deck outside the pool, and they shoot water into the pool from 4 to 11 feet in an arch shape. They can actually cool the water and can be combined with lighting to make an elegant visual for your pool. Budget around $800 per deck jet.
- Waterfalls/cascades. Pool waterfalls start above the pool’s waterline and flow into the pool. They come in a variety of shapes, designs and can be constructed with natural materials such as stone or artificial materials like concrete, bricks, or other man-made structures. Because there is such a variety to choose from, their costs can range widely too. You may pay anywhere from $1,000 for a simple waterfall to $25,000 for a larger, more elaborate waterfall.