On average, an inground pool costs $15,000 to build and install. However, prices range as high as $52,000.
How much you’ll pay to build a swimming pool depends on a number of different factors. Read this guide to learn how to estimate the cost of installing a pool, and then get estimates from inground swimming pool builders.
What’s in this cost guide?
- Average cost to put in an inground pool
- Cost to maintain and clean inground pools
- Inground pool types
- What is the best material for inground pools?
- In-ground vs. above-ground pools
- Is it worth it to build an inground pool?
- How to save money on an inground pool
- How to choose and hire a pro
- Find a pool builder near you today
How much is an inground pool?
While the national average cost of an inground pool is $15,000, your expenses can vary greatly. Depending on the size, materials and pool features, you could pay as much as $30,000, $40,000 or even more than $50,000 for an inground swimming pool.
Here are several factors that might play into your price:
A swimming pool can come in many shapes and sizes, but pool prices will correlate strongly with size. A small pool requires fewer materials. Size also directly affects the size of surrounding structures, such as a deck or pavers.
Location & excavation
It’s not just where you live that changes the price of a backyard pool — it’s where the pool is going in your backyard.
The land in backyards is rarely perfectly level, so installing a pool is likely going to require moving some earth around. The more aggressively you have to grade and excavate your yard, the greater the cost may be.
How much you spend on building a pool will also depend on the types of materials you choose. The most common pool materials are vinyl liner pools, fiberglass pools and concrete pools — and they tend to rank in that order from least to most expensive.
Saltwater vs. freshwater pools
Saltwater pools are becoming trendier due to their lower chlorine content, softer feel. And compared to traditional freshwater (chlorine) pools, saltwater pools require less frequent maintenance. Plus, these pools are less harsh on the skin and hair.
A common point of confusion is that saltwater pools tend to cost less in the long run, as maintenance is less intensive. However, they are more expensive to install, costing between $25,000 and $80,000. And converting an existing pool into a saltwater pool can run you between $800 and $2,000.
Adding extras to your pool will also affect the price. These additional features may include wireless devices and remote pool monitoring systems, custom designs, underwater lighting, self-closing covers, and water and fire safety features.
This extra cost might also includes add-ons in the poolside area. For example, if you want a new deck, stone, travertine or a paved surface around your pool — as well as landscaping and other decorative work — this will add to your pool costs.
Spa or hot tub
For some, a pool just isn’t complete without a spa or hot tub nearby. Adding this will increase design, material and labor costs by at least several hundred dollars.
As mentioned earlier, a custom design is almost always more expensive than buying an existing pool kit. Inground pool prices increase when you’re installing an indoor pool, an indoor-outdoor pool or any other type of customized design.
How much does it cost to maintain an inground pool?
It’s wise to get an idea of recurring expenses to maintain and clean a pool before you install one. Even a small pool in the yard will require plenty of upkeep.
These prices generally include ongoing labor for cleaning and removing debris, the chemicals needed to keep your pool at the proper pH and sanitation levels, pool filter replacements, vacuum replacement and resurfacing the pool. Then, there’s the cost to winterize and open/close the pool, as well as the electricity bill.
Here are some examples of pool maintenance fees you can expect:
- Basic monthly cleaning: $86 per visit
- One-time cleaning: $225
- Inspection: $75
- Winterization: $95
- Pool repairs: $878
A pool inspection usually includes safety checks on the surrounding area, including checking the vinyl liner or plaster/fiberglass interior of the pool for leaks, cracking or weak spots. If you have a saltwater pool, they’ll look out for signs of corrosion. They’ll also check on the condition of operating parts such as pumps, filters, heaters and automatic controls.
Pool cleaning includes using a skimmer to clean debris out of the pool, testing and adjusting chemical levels, and emptying the pool’s cleaning baskets and filter cartridges. The pool cleaner should also scrub the bottom and sides of the pool with a long brush and/or vacuum.
Winterizing your pool includes cleaning out debris, removing ladders, adjusting the pH and chemical levels, and cleaning the pool by skimming, brushing and vacuuming. Professionals will also lower the water level, turn off electronics, add in winterization chemicals and remove water from the plumbing lines. They will finish by covering the pool and ensuring the cover is securely fixed.
What type of inground swimming pool should you install?
Here are the most common types of inground pools you can install:
Vinyl liner pool
A vinyl pool is generally your cheapest inground pool option (though, there might be cases where other inground pools will cost more). This pool type involves laying a custom-cut sheet of vinyl atop a sand or cement bed that’s sculpted to accept the exact shape of the liner. The walls are typically made from steel panels, supported from behind and secured together to withstand the water's outward pressure.
A lower initial cost and a customizable shape for less money than concrete are the biggest benefits of vinyl liner pools. The cons: vinyl liners need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.
Fiberglass is typically the next most expensive pool material. A fiberglass pool is pre-molded and fits into your yard in a single piece. They have low maintenance requirements, a smooth finish, high durability and compatibility with saltwater. However, it’s difficult to get a fiberglass pool that’s custom.
Concrete, gunite or shotcrete pool
A concrete pool is generally the most expensive option — but it’s also the most customizable. With concrete pools, pros spray gunite or shotcrete over a rebar framework.
These pools generally require the most labor, and they take the longest to install. Still, it’s the best choice for homeowners wanting a custom-shape or very deep pool.
Other benefits of getting a gunite or shotcrete pool include its high durability. The cons include higher maintenance and installation expenses, greater chemical usage, incompatibility with saltwater, a rough interior surface, and it takes a long time to build and install.
You're probably familiar with traditional chlorine pools, but you may also consider getting a saltwater pool. A saltwater pool is usually a fiberglass pool, as fiberglass is the best material for resisting salt corrosion (something the marine/boating industry figured out years ago). Vinyl pools can also handle saltwater, though this is not recommended if the walls are steel.
The pros of saltwater pools are fewer chemicals and are less expensive to maintain compared to chlorine or freshwater pools. The cons are more expensive upfront costs and more technical expertise required in the design phase.
What is the best material for inground swimming pools?
If budget is your main consideration, a vinyl liner pool may be the best option — though consider that the liner needs to be replaced every decade or so. Fiberglass has a lower price of ownership and may be preferable.
If customizability is most important to you, go with a concrete pool. It will require more long-term maintenance, but it’s tough as nails and can be formed to nearly any shape.
>>Build the perfect pool. Get free estimates from pros near you.
Inground vs. above-ground pools — which is better?
For a homeowner, an inground pool can be more valuable and have a higher resale value than an above-ground pool. And, they’re typically more durable and luxurious. However, an above-ground or semi-inground pool may be the better choice for affordability.
Above-ground pools are more doable for self-installation and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. There are even above-ground pool kits that can provide a more turnkey solution for those who want a pool quickly and for less money.
Is it worth it to build an inground swimming pool?
Yes, building a swimming pool is a lot of work. It's a big monetary investment, so make sure it's worth it. It may be worth your time and money to build an inground pool if:
- You can afford to pay the installation and maintenance costs.
- The pool adds to the resale value of your home.
- It adds curb appeal.
- You can use the pool for regular exercise.
- It provides a way for you to spend quality time with loved ones.
How to save money on your inground swimming pool
Building an inground pool can be pricey, but there are ways to cut costs.
For example, get free estimates from several different pool companies. This allows you to analyze pricing methods and choose the best deal. You may even be able to use those estimates to negotiate lower prices.
If needed, simplify your design, add-ons and high-quality materials. Skip the dazzling features that you don’t need, which may include new outdoor lighting, hot tub or spa, pathways, pool toys, etc. But when it comes to materials, remember that sacrificing too much quality might mean repairs (and money) will likely be needed in the future. Consider whether a higher upfront cost may result in lower costs in the long run.
How to choose and hire a pro
To choose and hire the best builders in your area, start with an online search. Compare pros online, reading their customer reviews and ratings. Pay extra attention to reviews with attached photos so you can see the company's quality of work with past pools. A pro should be certified and licensed in your state, if required.
Finally, compare estimates between pros to get the best value and quality. If you need more tips on how to hire, read Thumbtack’s Smart Hiring guide.
FAQs about inground swimming pools
Here are answers to some of the most questions people have about the inground pool installation process and prices:
Why do inground pools cost so much?
Installing an inground swimming pool in your yard is an expensive process that requires a lot of materials and labor. It requires significant excavation, carefully forming the hole for the pool’s shape, plumbing, installing equipment and then installing the pool itself.
Do pools add value to your home?
It depends on where you live, the buyers (and sellers) in your market and real estate trends. For example, if you're a homeowner with property in a sunny city with unbearably hot summers, it might be a good idea to install one in your yard. However, a swimming pool might not add value to your home if some buyers will only consider it a liability or extra upkeep.
When in doubt, consult with your realtor or a real estate expert to figure out what types of home improvements or remodeling projects you should take on before trying to sell your home.
Can you build an inground pool on your own?
You might be able to build an inground swimming pool on your own, but it is extremely labor- and time-intensive. If you don't have the proper tools, materials, skills and experience when it comes to large construction projects, consider hiring a pro who does.
What is the most expensive part of an inground pool?
The most expensive part is usually the labor, particularly when it’s a concrete pool. However, keep track of all labor and material costs throughout the pool building process.