I talk to a lot of customers that are thinking about purchasing and installing an inground pool. One of the first questions I ask them is what size or shape pool are they interested in. It's a good place to start - but to determine the full cost of the pool project and set a budget, it is essential to look at all the cost factors.
This article is about the costs of building your own inground pool, adding up all of the various supplies, materials, tools, labor, services and the cost of the inground pool kit, plus any options or upgrades that you add to the pool.
Planning, Permits and Inspection Costs
In regards to planning there is no direct cost, other than your valuable time. And it takes time, expect to spend around 20 hours behind a desk, computer or telephone, planning all of the pool construction phases. Once you figure out what pool shape and size you want, you can plan on where in the backyard you are going to locate the inground swimming pool. You also need to plan your pool deck choice ahead of time before purchasing the pool. Around the pool you can use basic concrete, pavers, stone, wood or tile. We need to know this so that we can provide you with the proper pool coping to match your pool deck choice.
The cost to get a residential building permit varies in each state and each town so check with your local town hall to find out the cost. When I built my pool I paid $150 for them to process the paperwork and issue me my building permit. A few states also require an engineered drawing with a raised seal which we can provide for you, for our engineer's fee of about $90.
Inspections are typically required during the process but there is normally no charge for pool inspections. I know when I built my own inground pool kit there was an inspection after the walls were built and the concrete was poured around the outside of the steel wall panels. There was another inspection once my electrician grounded my pool and did all of the necessary electrical work according to my local code. Finally, after my pool was completed my building inspector came to my home and did a final inspection giving me the stamp approval to use the pool.
Pool Kit Purchase
The cost of your pool kit will vary depending on the shape, size and style of the pool. We offer a 14 gauge Steel wall pool kit and also a Polymer wall pool kit. Once you make a wall choice, then you decide if you want our Deluxe pool kit or our Deluxe Plus pool kit. These kits both have everything you need to build a pool, but we can add or subtract any items from either kit. We will gladly customize a pool kit for your particular needs. The larger the pool the more expensive the cost will be. When determining the real cost for your pool kit, decide on any other accessories you want to add to your pool kit such as: diving board, slide, heater, solar blanket, safety cover, etc.. In our sample 16x32 pool, like the one I built in my backyard, is currently priced at $6550.
Excavation and Hauling Costs
Excavation costs vary around the country so check with some local excavators to find out how much they charge per hour or what their flat fee would be. Normally the cost for excavation to dig and to backfill around the pool once it is built would cost about $1500.
You can use 20-30% of the dirt you are taking out of the hole for backfill (around the pool) as long as that material is compactible. If you have extra fill dirt, you can have the excavator try to grade it into your backyard, or other areas of the property. When there is too much material then you can contact a local hauling company or ask the excavator to find out what the cost would be to haul the material out of your yard.
When I built my pool I did not have any material hauled out of my yard, in fact I needed more dirt, and ended up bringing 50 yards of clean fill into my backyard. When Larry built a pool however, he had to haul off 5 truckloads of dirt, but luckily found a nearby place that was looking for clean fill dirt. When it comes to hauling extra fill dirt out (or in), this definitely increases the cost to build an inground pool.
Floor Materials Cost
Along the bottom of the pool, you'll put down about 2” of finished material along the bottom of the pool before installing the liner. The least expensive way to do a hard bottom would be mix of Portland cement and masonry sand; using a 4:1 ratio of sand to cement. The approximate materials cost for a 16’x32’ pool for this type of bottom would be around $600. This is one of the best pool floor options if you have no ground water in your backyard. Another option for the floor material which is the better option if you have ground water is vermiculite. The vermiculite is porous so if you have ground water it acts like a sponge. The materials cost for vermiculite on a 16’x32’ pool would be around $1200. Vermiculite is easier to work with due to it's lighter weight, and easier to trowel into place.
Plumbing and Electrical Costs
Typically there is no plumbing cost, as normally all of the plumbing is done by the homeowner. We do provide a plumbing diagram for your pool kit and there is a written instruction manual for the entire pool kit. When plumbing the pool if you have any questions give one of our inground pool kit experts a call. The pool kit contains pipe and fittings, but if your equipment pad is further, or you add additional equipment like a heater, slide or water features - then more pool plumbing will be needed. We include a 100ft roll of flexible PVC pipe, and can supply additional rolls if needed, at $150 each. Larry decided to use 2" plumbing on his pool, which added about $375 to his pool cost. If you install a gas heater, you may need to hire a gas contractor to run natural gas or LPG to your heater.
In regards to electrical cost, it depends on what needs to be done by your electrician and how far your electrical box is located away from the pool equipment pad. The pool also has to be bonded (which means connecting all of the metal components to a continuous ground). The pool pump and underwater lights need to be wired along with other accessories. Approximate electrical cost would be around $1500, but this varies by amount of work done, and your local prices.
Once your pool walls are constructed, you need to pour a concrete collar all around the base of the panels to lock the walls into place so there is no movement. This is similar to a footer or foundation on a home. The concrete collar is about 10" deep and 30" wide, all around the outside of the pool walls. When excavating the hole for the pool, it is dug 2 ½ feet larger than the pool, which allows room to work. Now, we fill up that area with 10" of concrete. The concrete you want to order from your local concrete company is the cheapest mix they have available, normally a 2500 mix. For a 16’x32’ pool you need approximately 6-7 yards of concrete and the average cost per yard is about $100, so you can plan on about $700. You may want to use some concrete to pour a pool equipment pad.
If you are doing a concrete pool deck and patio, contact local concrete finishers to find out what they charge per square foot to install your pool deck or patio. You will need to tell them how much concrete you want around the pool, in square feet. I recommend at least 3 feet all the way around the entire pool area. This way if you want to install a safety cover you will have enough concrete to drill in the brass anchors. When planning the concrete patio I would also recommend having an area where you can put a table and chairs, maybe a few lounge chairs. Costs for a pool deck vary widely, from $5-$25 per square foot, depending on the materials, or textures and colors. A basic 3' concrete pool deck, around our example 16x32 pool, should cost around $1500.
When I built my pool my buddies helped with the labor and I gave everyone steaks and beer! When Larry built his pool, he hired Rent-a-Randy, and provided two local helpers. A pool can be built with just two people, but it's much faster if you have 3-5 full-time workers. Not including your own labor and management during the project, you can expect to need 100-150 man hours of labor; not including excavators, electricians or the pool deck job. If you paid your helpers $12 per hour, that would be around $1500 in wages.
Other Pool Construction Costs
Pool fence and other required safety measures. Check with your local county on the fencing requirements. Water delivery would be another cost if you decide to have water delivered to fill the pool. I do recommend getting at least 1 load of water to help set the liner quickly.
Check with your local contractors to determine cost for excavator, electrician, and concrete company. Try to figure out if you can use the extra fill dirt or need to have it hauled away.
After you do all of your research, you will see that by building the pool yourself the cost will be so much less than a local contractor will charge. I have talked to many customers who tell me that they built their own inground pool for half the cost of the average bid from local pool builders.
In the end, building your own 16x32 inground pool can easily cost around $15,000, which saves so much money, that you can add extra size or features that aren't affordable when using a contractor to build your pool. Build your own inground pool!
SPP Pool Expert