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Swimming Pool Installation: Costs, Ideas, and Tips

November 16, 2018 · 5 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Swimming Pool Installation: Costs, Ideas, and Tips

Very few things in life are as refreshing as a cool dip in a sparkling pool on a hot day, right? Imagine yourself stretched out in a comfortable lounge chair. You’re half dozing under the sun as the bright green leaves and vibrant blossoms of the plants decorating the area sway gently in a cool breeze. Ice cubes clank in your glass, perhaps with a rainbow-hued paper umbrella floating in your fruity drink. Ahhh.

From time to time, you dangle your toes in the water, sometimes swimming a lap or two or listening to soft music playing as you float on by. Life just doesn’t get better than this, does it? It could, with your very own swimming pool built in the privacy of your own home.

If you’ve been thinking about building a pool, we’ve got some key pieces of information you may need to make it happen, ranging from creative pool designs to the nuts and bolts about the cost to build a pool, plus how to landscape the surrounding area and so much more.

Swimming Pool Design Ideas

If you’ve decided to build a traditionally-shaped pool, good for you. It will be just as refreshing as those with more unusual shapes. But if you’re looking to create something unique, then look at these 17 designs shared by House Beautiful .

There are so many options when it comes to building a pool; you can customize the shape, surrounding landscape, furniture, and more. There is endless inspiration for creative, imaginative, and stylish pools. If those 17 options don’t suit your fancy, you can find a different twist, like a pool with multiple swimming levels, a hot tub, and customized tile mosaics.

Deciding How to Build Your Pool

You’ll want to decide if you plan to DIY your pool-building project or if you’re going to hire a contractor. If you’re especially handy, you might already know you plan to do it yourself. Or, if you’re all thumbs, then it may already be clear that hiring a contractor is the only practical choice. If you fall somewhere in the middle, it probably makes sense to read up on what is required to build a pool (that’s coming next) and then decide.

Popular Mechanics provides a great how-to article and explains the following: “There’s nothing like installing a concrete swimming pool to one-up your neighbor’s above ground version. But planning your dream pool can be harder than it first seems. Consider your options and obligations before breaking ground, and in-ground pool construction will proceed swimmingly.”

Popular Mechanics says the first step should be choosing building materials. Options include concrete, vinyl-lined, and fiberglass. Concrete pools can be custom built and are the strongest and most durable. They also take the longest to build. Vinyl withstands the cold better, but can be punctured by pets, pool toys, and the like.

Fiberglass pools can also withstand the cold and are usually the quickest to install. But they come with fewer options and must be shipped by truck, sometimes with slower delivery times than you might like. You’ll want to compare prices, too, knowing that the cost of the actual pool usually accounts for 50 percent of the entire project. (More about the cost to build a pool later!)

You’ll likely need to get appropriate permits before you choose the best spot for your pool—one where sun shines and breezes are blocked—and where you can avoid overhead wires and underground utilities. Selecting the best circulation system to keep the water clean is also crucial. Filter choices include sand, cartridge, and diatomaceous earth (DE).

Sand filters are the oldest method, and still work well when installed appropriately and maintained well. Cartridge filters are beginning to become more popular because they use less water, important to many environmentally-conscious people. DE operates like tiny sponges by trapping dirt, algae, dust, and some bacteria.

Sanitizers used include chlorine, which is most popular, bromine, and polyhexanide (PHMB). No matter what you use, it’s important to test pool water and add sanitizers in the right proportions to keep pH levels between 7.2 and 7.8 , with alkalinity between 80 to 120 per million. At summer’s peak, it’s a good idea to check water chemistry multiple times weekly.

Choosing a Pool Installation Contractor

After reading this, you may say: “I’m hiring a contractor.” If so, then the Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers tips on hiring a reputable one. They first warn that nearly 2,000 complaints were filed against swimming pool contractors, dealers, and design companies in 2016 alone. Typical complaints include:

•  Refusals to do repair work covered by warranties
•  Projects not finished in a timely way
•  Workers making a mess

So, before hiring someone, it’s a good idea to research contractors in your area. You can conduct research via the BBB website or by looking at various customer reviews online. Ask friends and family members for recommendations or ask contractors you may already know for references.

You may want to ask whether the contractor you’re interested in hiring is licensed, with both liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Ask if permits are needed—and you might want to stay away from any contractors who say they don’t understand what’s required. A good rule of thumb is to work with companies that give you a written contract, one you feel comfortable signing, and keep a copy.

How Much Does It Cost?

According to HomeAdvisor , the average cost to build a pool in 2018 is around $24,000, and a typical range is around $11,800 to $36,000. There are a variety of factors that impact the cost of the pool you are building, including your location, size of the pool, building materials, filtration systems, and many other factors.

Don’t forget that the pool itself is typically only about half of your total investment. That’s because of the extras involved and maintenance required. If you want a clean pool, maintenance is not optional. Options, of course, are—and they range from outdoor lighting to whirlpools to forced current systems.

What about a deck? A covered deck for shade? Fences, privacy screens, and outside sound systems? Patio furniture? A pool house and/or an equipment shed? You’ll likely want extra outdoor electrical outlets and water test kits, too.

Then there is landscaping. The Spruce offers suggestions and some inspirational images of completed pool landscaping projects. It’s important to choose plants that will thrive next to a pool and ones that will look attractive with the rest of your home’s landscaping.

Position plants so they aren’t dropping leaves into the water. When selecting plants, choose options that are easy to maintain, provide some privacy, and offer touches of color, texture, and pleasing scents to the pool area.

Succulents are growing in popularity. If you choose to incorporate them, make sure to avoid the types with thorns or needles. They’d make an unpleasant surprise for those lounging in bathing suits. You could also consider ornamental grasses, vines, and more.

Finally, where will people sit? You’ll want chairs and chaise lounges that look attractive, mesh with your overall outdoor decorating scheme, and are comfortable. Tables should include umbrellas, or you should otherwise provide shade.

As you can see, the answer to “How much does it cost to build a pool?” involves much more than just the pool itself. Fortunately, there is an excellent way to finance this wonderful addition to your home.

Financing a Pool Installation

No matter what pool design, landscaping choices, and pool deck layout you decide upon, it’s important to consider financing it strategically. Credit cards are a tempting choice, but they may come with high interest rates. So, unless you are using your credit card on a very short-term basis (paying it off, say, in 30 days), a low interest personal loan may be a smarter option.

Using an unsecured personal loan can give you the financing you need on hand to install your pool in a few days. If you qualify for a low enough interest rate, you could pay off your new pool with low monthly payments. Check out this personal loan calculator to estimate the difference between using a credit card or an unsecured loan to finance your pool installation.

Ready to dive in? Explore SoFi’s personal loans and see if we can help you get started on your dream pool today.


The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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