It may not be what you want to hear, but the short answer is, it depends. Let me explain… Just like a new car, when you have options, you have changes in price. So, in building a new in-ground concrete (also known as gunite) pool, it all depends on the options. But to give you a general idea, the lowest price you will probably pay in today’s market for a small pool is around $30,000 and the sky is the limit on the other end. I have tried to address all the costs involved in pool building below, and hope this is helpful for you as you think about your own backyard.
Here are the items you have to consider:
Necessary equipment to run a pool are a pump, filter, and a time clock; that is the bare minimum. Other items most pools also include are gas/electric heaters, chlorinator (salt or standard), lights, multiple skimmers, and automatic cleaners. Some additional items to consider and that make your pool user friendly & make homeowners LOVE their pools are automated systems, LED color-changing lights, variable speed pumps as well as additional pumps to run water features and the like, in-floor cleaning system, salt systems, swim jets…The list could go on & on!
- The bare minimum in equipment should run you around $2,000.
- The average home-owner will spend around $8,500 in equipment.
- The bells & whistles will be a large range of pricing, so that would vary greatly from pool to pool.
Size & depth of your pool:
The size of your pool is determined by both the area of the surface of the pool and the perimeter in linear feet. This price will be determined by the price of concrete and rebar. Therefore, it changes as the market changes.
The depth of the pool has a typical range of 3 feet to 9 feet. The cost is based on how deep the crew needs to go during excavation, as well as the soil conditions. A minimum cost for excavation, concrete and rebar is going to be around $16,000 and the average pool is around $20,000.
Area of decking
Your decking refers to the amount of either concrete, pavers or other material around your pool. This price varies greatly depending on your choice of finishes, size, etc. Price range on concrete today is around $10-$13 per square foot (and again that price depends on the size & how the concrete is finished.) Pavers cost about the same. Natural stone or other like materials will cost you more.
When it comes to your pool, the features you can add are endless. You can do rock waterfalls, grottos, all types of slides, any water feature imaginable, sconces, lighting options, splash pads, swim jets, chiller (to cool your pool during those hot Texas summer days), decorative additions in the gunite (i.e. mosaics depicting animals or just designs), fire features, planters, waterfalls, outdoor kitchens, pergolas, etc. The list is endless… If you can imagine it, you can do it! Of course, each of these items will come with their own price tag. A good pool builder will price these items out individually.
Pool with a Spa or No Spa
In Texas, with our wonderful weather, some families choose to exclude a spa, and therefore save money in excavation, building, and equipment. But most people, if they are putting in a pool, do feel the spa feature is worth the additional expense. In fact, for therapeutic reasons, some families will do the opposite, and just go for the really tricked-out spa. To add a basic in-ground spa to a pool with the minimal equipment, you would probably pay around $8,000.
Feet (in length) between electrical source & feet (in length) between gas-line & pool equipment:
In order to have your new pool up and running properly, you have to have access to both electricity and gas (that is, if you are putting in a heater)… The cost on this item depends on how far the electric or gas line has to be run. The longer the run, the more it will cost. The base cost to run an electric line is $200 and then an additional $7 per foot. The base cost to run a gas line is $450 and then an additional $13 per foot. These costs can add up quickly and it is wise to put the equipment as close to the utilities as possible.
The finishes are all the beautiful touches you want to add to your pool to make it yours and unique. These would be items like your tile choices, the plaster finish, the coping (this is the transition between the pool and the decking), your waterfall finishes or waterfall sconces, fire bowls or other decorative planters, etc. Most pool tile comes in two types, either ceramic or glass. Glass is more expensive, and can range from $7-$30 per square foot, and ceramic is around $5-$15 per square foot. Natural stone tile is available, but is easily damaged by pool chemistry and is not usually recommended. Plaster comes in many options, starting with your basic white plaster all the way to a polished pebble plaster that can include abalone, mother of pearl, and glass which will give you lots of sparkle. Your average white plaster will cost around $2,500. Your pebble plaster starts around $7,000. Pebble plaster is the plaster of choice because of aesthetics and its ability to withstand pool chemistry fluctuations with ease.
Permits required by your city and other HOA fees:
Obviously, each neighborhood may vary on fees required to either submit plans or pay a deposit while work is being done. Your city may require additional permits and other fees to do construction. They may also require engineer or architectural plans as well as additional safety measures. All of these items will vary by job, and again, a good contractor will let you know about all of this in advance.
The memories you will make with your family, the dream come true of a backyard oasis, the vacation in your own backyard, the BBQ’s, the pool parties, the soak in the spa after a long day, the volleyball or basketball games in the pool…The list is endless but the lifestyle you can create in your own backyard is up to you and it truly IS priceless!
This blog is not meant to be the end-all for pricing in pools. It is meant to give a general idea of why building a pool costs what it does TODAY. Also, as mentioned, most items will change in price as our economy changes. So your bid for your pool will be dependent on the timing as well.
If you are currently considering building a pool, what are the must-haves for you and what are the items you think you can do without?
I would love to answer any additional questions you might have. Post them here & I will get to them as soon as possible.
If you are considering building an in-ground, gunite (or concrete pool), you will have many pool contractors to choose from in the Sugar Land area. You are probably wondering how to weed out a good contractor from a not-so-good contractor. Here are some items to consider:
1. Always ask for references. Call the previous clients and find out about the experience. It is important to know how often a supervisor was on site, how long the project took, what “bumps along the road” there were, and in general, how the overall job went for the homeowner. Another good question you could ask here, is why did THEY choose this contractor? This should give you lots of insight.
2. See the actual pool yourself; do not go off of website photos. Unfortunately, I have found that some contractors websites have illegally used pool photos from other builders. So be sure to go to at least 2-3 pools and confirm who the builder was.
3. Check on the contractors insurance – general liability.
4. Be sure you “click” with your contractor. You will be working with one another for at least a month & you want to make sure you have a good, easy rapport with one another. Building is a messy job and things WILL come up. No job, regardless of whom you choose, will be without its hiccups. So make sure you feel comfortable asking questions and also that you feel good about the response.
5. How long has the company been in business? In this economy, it is especially important to find a contractor that has an established business who can honor warranties and the like. Look at companies with 5 or more years of experience. Also keep in mind that each company will come to you with their own area of expertise – find out what that is and make sure that is what you are looking for. The company that builds the most pools in year isn’t necessarily the best company – that is their strength but it may not necessarily be what you as the homeowner are looking for. Also, a very important side note to consider is that some companies are merely franchises that a business-owner has purchased. This owner may or may not know anything about pools but has purchased a successful franchise giving you a false sense of longevity & security.
6. Talk about the details. Many times it will be the details in design, overall aesthetics, color scheme, landscape design, etc. that will truly make your backyard the oasis you have been dreaming of. Make sure your contractor doesn’t just know building, but has an eye for aesthetics or has someone on the team that does. This will help you achieve not just a hole in the ground for swimming, but will cause you to fall in love with your home all over again, and will bring the outdoors in and vice-versa.
7. Discuss longevity of your materials, warranties, and ease of use. If you have the best pool on the block but you don’t know how to use the control panel, you will not be a happy homeowner. Choose a builder who will show you the equipment, its’ energy-efficiency (this is HUGE! It costs a bit more up-front, but it saves you so much more in the long run & is also eco-friendly!; don’t pick the builder with the cheapest price on equipment – you will get what you pay for. You will definitely see the difference in your energy bills and in the life of your equipment), and how to use it.
8. Review the bid with your contractor and go over any questions you might have. There should be transparency in the bid and a break-down of the costs. Be wary of any “free” specials. This cost is guaranteed to be added in somewhere else. As the saying goes, “You don’t get something for nothing.”
Building a pool is a big commitment financially. So take your time in choosing your builder. Consider all the items mentioned above and don’t feel the pressure to “interview at least 3 companies”. This is an old-adage that was meant to encourage competition, but the truth is that if you trust your instincts in regards to the contractor you’ve selected, whether he/she is the first or the fifth, is unimportant. We recently needed some painting done & the first contractor that came out fit the bill. We went with him. We also wanted our carpeted stairs done in wood & actually met with six contractors until we found the one that was right for us.
Also remember, the cheapest bid is probably not the best bid – make sure you know the difference in equipment, materials, and scope of work between each company so you can truly “compare apples to apples”. With that being said, remember that a pool can be so much more than that. It can be the memories you make with your family, it can be the vacation every weekend in your own backyard, it can be “the place” for outdoor barbecues and socializing; so make sure that each area of your backyard is as important to your contractor as it is to you.
Here are some companies to consider:
San Jacinto Pools – Located in the Sugar Land area they have been around the Houston area since 1978. They specialize in pools with natural stone water features. They prefer to use Pentair and Polaris pool equipment.
Alamo Pools – They are also located in Sugar Land and have roots in the area since 1996. They focus solely on gunite (concrete) pool construction.
A-bear Pool Innovations – They have been building pools since 1981 in the Sugar Land area. They prefer to use Pentair pool equipment.
Maddox Custom Pools – Established in 1983 they are based in Rosenberg, TX. They specialize in salt water pools surrounded with natural stone. They prefer to use Pentair pool equipment.
Although I can’t say these companies are the “best” in the area you may want to consider them as you search for who you would like to work with.
Here are Reed’s Pool Service and Design we would love to help you with any decisions you need to make while on your journey to the ultimate backyard oasis. We too build in-ground swimming pools and spas and will be happy to assist you with a quote.
Lately, we’ve had a lot of calls regarding saltwater pools which is interesting because they were introduced in the 1930’s! (Believe it or not!) 1998 brought us the first enclosed salt cell, but I digress… In 2003, I moved back to TX from Southern California, where saltwater pools had been an industry staple for much longer and what I found was that lots of pool builders were using natural stone as the pool coping, which does not work due to the chemical breakdown of the stone by the saltwater. Although I tried to warn people about their finishes when building a salt pool, it seemed no one was listening. I think after 10+ years being back in the TX market, people are finally seeing what I was trying to explain and thus lots of questions about saltwater pools. So what’s the deal? I will explain…
The main advantages to a saltwater pool are: They provide a constant delivery of pure chlorine as compared to a traditional chlorine pool which only delivers chlorine when manually introduced. Secondly, the softening effect of electrolysis. In laymen’s terms, you are swimming in water that has been softened, just as you would add a water softener to your home. Thirdly, most people are less sensitive to saltwater than they are to traditionally chlorinated water. This means less itchy, dried-out skin, and hair, not to mention, you don’t have the smell of chlorine or the burning eyes that also come with a traditional pool. Another benefit is that the cost of chemicals is much lower. You also don’t have to store chlorine which is a corrosive, instead you are storing earth-friendly salt.
The disadvantages are (as mentioned above) breakdown of certain stones, which I don’t recommend nor do I use on saltwater pools. Saltwater pools are also more corrosive on metals than traditional pools. A saltwater pool requires a salt cell and control box (which obviously a traditional pool does not have) and it is costly to replace. Finally, the chemical reaction in a salt system causes the pH to go up, so adding acid is imperative each week in order to lower the pH; and, if you are maintaining your own pool, a saltwater pool takes a little more time to understand and perfect the chemistry.
One is not necessarily better or worse than the other, it is more a matter of preference. In the long run, there will not necessarily be tremendous saving or spending on either pool, they both cost about the same over the life of your pool. My personal preference is saltwater and I am in the process of building a saltwater pool in my own yard. I prefer it because I think it is better for my children (easy on the eyes, the nose, the hair & the skin), and my wife also prefers it to traditional chlorine for the same reasons. Either way, it is important to do your research and find out which type of pool is a better fit for you and your family.
Do you have experience with a saltwater pool? What do you prefer?