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Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Building a Swimming Pool

Last updated 03/08/2024 by

Julie Bawden-Davis
When you decide to build a swimming pool, a lot of questions will start swimming around in your head. The first thing you’ll probably want to know is how much it’s going to cost.
According to HomeAdvisor’s Chief Economist, Brad Hunter, the average cost to install an in-ground pool is $44,990.
Before you put in a pool, though, Hunter suggests considering factors that affect cost. Says Hunter, “Costs vary greatly depending on considerations like the type of pool material and any ‘extras,’ such as waterfalls, grottos, diving boards, or hot tubs.”
Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 questions to ask before you take the plunge.

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1. Why do you want a swimming pool?

Of course, jumping into cool water on a hot day is a great reason to add a swimming pool. But considering the expense, you should think it through and determine the best type of pool first.
For example, who will use the pool? A pool for a young, growing family may be different than a pool exclusively meant for adults.
What’s your main purpose for getting the pool? If you’re looking to entertain a lot of people, you’ll need a large pool. If you want it for exercise, you’ll be better off getting a lap pool.
Ask yourself why you want a pool before you begin shopping for one.

2. Where will the pool be located?

Do you have a large, flat, open space in your landscape? Or is your space sloped and narrow? Would you like to see the pool from indoors? The available space affects the type and size of pool you can install.
“If you have a sloping yard, consider a semi-in-ground pool. This is a less expensive option,” suggests Hunter.
He adds, “Semi-in-ground pools are built directly into slopes. A 12×24-foot semi-in-ground model costs from $8,000 to $10,000 less than a completely in-ground one.”

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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3. What design and size of pool do you want?

You have three main pool design options to choose from.
  • Standard in-ground recreational pool. Such pools usually range in size from 10′ by 20′ to 20′ by 40′, while the depth ranges from 3′ to 6’, with a 9- to 12-foot deep end. The larger the pool size, the higher the costs. Expect to pay about $50 per square foot of pool.
  • Above-ground pool. Installed above ground, these pools are the least expensive. According to Home Advisor, above-ground pools average $1,653. It’s possible to assemble these pools yourself, saving on labor costs. You can also install one in a day.
  • Lap pool. If you want to exercise, a lap pool is the answer. These usually run about 45′ long, 8′ wide, and 3 1/2′ deep. Lap pools are expensive, running about $63,000, according to Home Advisor.

4. What type of pool material?

The type of pool material greatly affects cost.
  • Concrete. Used for larger pools, concrete is the most expensive material with the highest labor costs. You’ll pay $50,000 to $100,000 to install a concrete pool, according to HomeAdvisor.
  • Vinyl. This material comes in various shapes and sizes. It’s the easiest to install. Installation runs from $35,000 to $50,000.
  • Fiberglass. This pool material is breakable, so it comes in a maximum size of 16 feet across. You’ll pay between $45,000 to $85,000.

5. Do you want any special features for your pool?

Do you want additional features, such as a diving board, slide, or waterfall? These are fun, but you’ll pay extra. A hot tub costs $5,000 to $8,000, while a waterfall runs about $1,000, according to Home Advisor. Diving boards cost $300 to $600. [Source]
Prioritize the special features you want and then narrow them down to cut costs. Most additions are the least expensive when added during pool installation.

6. Will plants surround the pool?

Landscaping makes a pool a backyard retreat. The cost of plants will vary according to how many you include and their types. Shrubs and trees tend to be more expensive than bedding plants.
However, shrubs and trees usually won’t require replacement. Also, keep in mind that plants shed leaves which will likely get into your pool and raise maintenance costs.

7. What about permits?

The type of pool you install dictates whether or not you need permits. Hunter says, “An in-ground pool is considered a permanent addition to your home and will require permits.” The pool contractor will also need to make sure there aren’t any power or sewer lines where you wish to install the pool.

8. Do you need a fence?

Since accidental drowning results in 10 deaths per day, and many of those deaths occur in pools, it’s a good idea to build a fence around your pool. The average cost for a pool fence is $14 to $19 per linear foot. Gates run about $325. That means the typical fence costs $1,125.

9. Can you afford pool maintenance costs?

After you finance your pool and have payments to make, it’s important to ensure you can afford the maintenance. “Maintaining a pool can be time-consuming, so people hire a service. But that can cost about $500 a season,” notes Hunter.
If your budget is tight, maintain the pool yourself.

10. Will the pool increase your property value?

It’s preferable if your property increases in value when you invest in a pool.
In warmer climates with mild winters, like Florida and Arizona, pools can increase property value. In colder climates, like Michigan and Maine, pools can negatively affect home sales.

Financing a pool with personal loans

Personal loans make it possible to quickly become a pool owner if you don’t have the cash on hand to cover all the costs. That’s why a growing number of homeowners are choosing to go this route.
So if you want a pool, but don’t have the funds, you should highly consider getting a personal loan.
Start with SuperMoney’s loan offer engine to get personalized offers from a selection of top lenders. Then, head over to our personal loans review page to compare those lenders, plus many others.
Different personal loans come with different rates, fees and requirements, so check out what the best personal loans are to ensure that you choose the best option for you.
And don’t forget to protect your investment by finding a top-notch pool contractor, using HomeAdvisor ProFinder

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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Julie Bawden-Davis

Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published journalist specializing in personal finance and small business. She has written 10 books and more than 2,500 articles for a wide variety of national and international publications, including, where she has a weekly column. In addition to contributing to SuperMoney, her work has appeared in publications such as American Express OPEN Forum, The Hartford and Forbes.

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