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How much does a pool cost? How much to put a pool in, in your area.

Everyone wants a pool, but few people know how much it will cost to put a pool in. This question is a big one, and not one that is as easily answered as you might think. In fact, the sheer number of factors that influence the cost of your pool are seemingly endless. 

From where you live to the number of features, the cost of a swimming pool is highly variable. We think it’s important to talk honestly about the reality of general pool costs, as well as the cheaper vs more expensive options on the market. 

The Truth Hurts

Before we get into it, we want to give you the cold, hard truth. That is, this is not a question you can google and get a firm answer. No google search, no website (not even ours!), can tell you exactly what your pool is going to cost.

The sheer numbers of factors that influence the cost of a custom pool make it impossible to quote online. Let's say you think you have all of your bases covered. You believe have managed to scrape together an reasonable estimate. Truth is, there are almost always costs you haven’t thought of yet. Prices vary by state, which vary by neighborhood. They vary by materiality, feature, type of pool, the list goes on and on.

To get a true estimate on how much a pool is going to cost you, you need to get quotes from real people. More so, these people need to be in the industry in your area. If you have a designer in mind, they can be a great resource. Designers help connect you with contractors who will give you an idea based on what you want.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a solid answer on websites or social forums, you’re looking in the wrong place. No estimate is better than the one a pool contractor in your town can give you.

With that said, let’s talk about some of the cheaper vs more expensive options that exist to put a pool in your backyard.

Cheaper Options

If you’re wondering what the cheapest options are that will get you from dry land to swim suit season, we’ve rounded up a brief list of options. Prices for these options will still vary depending on your location and the market in your area.

Above Ground Pool

You’ll know right away if this is the right option for your based on whether or not you are even willing to entertain it. For homeowners who are sold on an inground pool, the savings implicit in an above ground design aren’t worth talking about. But if you’re feeling open minded, it’s worth mentioning that above ground pools don’t have to be an eyesore.

Sure, they aren’t glamorized like their inground alternatives. But a well placed above ground pool can be functional, and designed to flow seamlessly in your space. Plus, with a price tag starting around $5,000 and topping out around $15,000, they’re certainly the most affordable option on the market.

Vinyl Pool

If you’re ready to dive into the world of inground pools, your most affordable option is vinyl. Vinyl pools often cost about $10,000 less than a fiberglass model, although even this depends on your area and who you hire.

If you are unfamiliar with how vinyl pools are constructed, we’ll give you a brief background. Vinyl pools are created by stretching a custom vinyl liner sheet to create the pool structure. This liner locks at the top edge and into a track on the bottom of the pool coping.

Vinyl pools take less time to install and are lighter on engineering, thus their lower price tag. Unfortunately, they aren't as durable as fiberglass or versatile as gunite constructions. It’s also worth pointing out that the initial lower cost of a vinyl pool may be rendered obsolete in a decade once the lining needs to be replaced.

Mod Pool (Fiberglass & Prefab)

Finally, you have the mod pool. These precast, prefabrication fiberglass options are still much cheaper than their-from scratch gunite cousins, but are still expensive in their own right. You can expect to spend between $60,000 and $85,000 dollars, depending. If you're having troubles envisioning a mod pool, think of a fiberglass pool as lowering a bathtub into the ground in your backyard.

Many people like this option as a way to save some money and have a nice and functional finished product. However, opting for mod pools means losing the flexibility and customization of a more expensive gunite design. Afterall, there’s only so many ways you can cast a bathtub.

More Expensive Options

Outside of above ground and prefab options, the only option left is the more expensive one. Gunite or shotcrete pools are some of the most popular, but also come with the highest pricetag.

Gunite or Shotcrete Swimming Pools

Once you leave the world or prefabricated options and step into a more custom pool design, you are automatically committing to a higher price tag. This is because even the simplest of concrete or gunite pools take on more costs than the options listed below.

What is a gunite pool?

Gunite is a specialized concrete blend consisting of sand, cement and water. To build a gunite pool, a hole is first dug, and a steel cage known as a rebar is installed to help give the pool its shape. Then, gunite is applied through a high pressure hose and left to cure until it becomes rock hard. After that, plaster, tile, and coping work is done, bringing the final design to life.

Unlike a fiberglass or vinyl construction, a gunite pool not only needs to be designed, but it needs to be constructed from nothing. This means additional price of material, and an additional cost of labor. The larger, or more complicated your custom pool becomes, the more labor must be done, the more materials must be used. We’re sure you can see where this is going.

Concrete pools are simply more expensive, and more variably expensive, than the cheaper options on the market. Even in this category, the distance between the most affordable gunite pool and the most expensive gunite pool is huge. We’re talking a range in the $100,000 dollars.

Costs Within Costs

A well-designed, custom inground pool in California probably should not be fathomed from under $100,000 dollars. The same basic design may cost slightly less in areas with a lower cost of living.

Add a basic spa, and you can add thousands of dollars. Custom tile? Bump the price up again. The more your pool is a reflection of your unique design tastes, the more expensive it will be.

The good news? For most people, the cost is worth it to have a pool they truly love and can use for decades to come.

The Bottom Line

If you’re one of the many people looking to know exactly how much a pool is going to cost you, the reality is that you’re looking in the wrong place. Because a pool is a unique project, with many small intricacies, trying to find the price of your future pool is like trying to find a needle in an internet haystack.

You may be able to get some wide ballpark figures, but at the end of the day we recommend taking your search of the internet and into your local market. Talk to your friends who have had similar projects done. Reach out to contractors. Hire a designer who knows your area like the back of their hand. Any of these steps will take you closer to a real quote on your dream pool than any online article ever could.

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