Like a home renovation or extension, adding a pool to your property can feel like a big investment. And with increasing supply and installation costs, as well as rising energy prices, it may feel like a luxury you can’t afford. However, with the right research and preparation, you can have a pool that meets your needs and lifestyle – without blowing your budget. With that in mind, here are five things to consider when you budget for a pool.
Installation will be your biggest expense when buying a pool. According to Hipages, the installation of an inground pool can cost anywhere between $31,000 and $100,000. It all depends on the pool size, pool type, site access, features, landscaping and fencing. To understand how these factors affect your budget, let’s break them down.
There are two main types of inground pools – fibreglass and concrete pools – and they all come at different price points depending on size. The average concrete pool size sold these days is 8m x 4m. The average cost of a pool this size would be $45,000 for a fibreglass pool and $50,000 for a concrete pool.
In general, large concrete pools are more expensive because builders need more materials and time to build them. This also applies to curved or free-form pools, which can be tricky to design, build and landscape.
To find out more about different pool types, see Fibreglass vs Vinyl Pool vs Concrete Pool: What’s the Difference?
If you live on a large, flat block, installing a pool is pretty straightforward. But if you have a sloping block, unstable soil or rocky terrain, it can make access, site preparation and excavation difficult. Builders may need to use smaller excavators or hand-digging, which can increase your overall costs and installation time.
During an inspection, a pool supply company will let you know if there are site issues and how they’ll affect your budget. It’s also a good idea to contact Before You Dig to identify problems in advance. Having said that, it’s not unusual to come across rock, pipes or cables during the excavation – even with a prior assessment – so be prepared for unexpected site access costs along the way!
At a minimum, your pool will require a pool pump and pool filter to circulate and clean your pool water. Depending on whether you get a single-speed or variable-speed pump, you could spend anywhere between $350 and $2,500. As for pool filters, a single cartridge filter could cost $550–$1000, while a media filter can cost $800–$1,200.
Additional equipment like pool heaters, salt chlorination, pool cleaners, pool controllers and automated covers will add to these costs. For advice on the best equipment for your pool type, size and budget, speak to a pool supplies dealer or your pool installation company.
Depending on your needs, you may want to add some extra features to your pool, like a fountain, deck jets, a slide or a diving board. While these can enhance your pool, they also add thousands to the pool build, depending on their size and complexity. When choosing pool features, make sure they add something functional to your pool, like a fun playground for your kids or extra water circulation for the pool.
Another pool feature to consider is a spa or hot tub. It’s a great way to entertain friends, relax or keep warm in the cooler months. However, a spa could add $10,000–$20,000 to your installation bill, depending on whether it’s spill-over or separate. Before adding it to your pool, make sure it suits your needs. There’s no point in getting a spa if you never use it!
If you’re planning to build a concrete pool, you’ll need to factor in surfacing costs. This includes waterproofing as well as tiling or pebblecreating, which can increase material and labour costs. However, concrete pools have a longer lifespan than other pool types, lasting 40 or more years.
Coping is the border installed around the edge of your pool. Not only does it make your pool look more attractive, but it also stops water from getting behind the pool wall. Most pool coping is made from stone, tiles or concrete, with materials ranging from $70 to $200 per linear metre. When requesting quotes from pool suppliers, make sure the materials are included so there aren’t any surprises further down the track. Plus, if your pool is curved, expect higher installation costs.
During a pool installation, much of your existing landscaping may be removed or damaged by excavators, heavy equipment and workmen. While pool companies do their best to protect your garden, there may be casualties, so be prepared to replace garden beds or turf.
Also, depending on how large your garden is, you may need special landscaping – like concrete or decking – to provide a non-slip surface around your pool. Make sure all of this is included in your pool quote. However, if you have DIY skills, you may be able to do the landscaping yourself and save a few hundred dollars in labour costs.
Pool fencing is mandatory in Australia. Each state and territory has regulations for fence height, gaps, outward-opening hinges and climbable objects, so you’ll need to get a custom-made fence for your pool. You can choose from timber, aluminium or frameless glass – depending on your preferences and garden design.
In general, aluminium is the cheapest at $90–$120 per linear metre, while frameless glass can be $275–$600 per linear metre. Also, most councils need to inspect your pool fencing to issue a certificate of compliance, which usually includes an inspection fee of $175–$200 and a certificate fee of $30–$35. This will need to be repeated every 1–3 years, depending on where you live.
Pool costs don’t end when installation is complete. To keep your pool in optimal condition, you’ll need to run your pump every day, heat your pool (if you have a heater), rinse your filter, top up your water levels, clean your pool and balance your water chemistry. All these processes can increase your electricity, water and chemical bills – significantly.
On average, a pool can cost $600–$1,500 a year to run – or more if it’s large, heated or frequently used, so make sure you add this to your budget. You’ll also need to take care of weekly maintenance, like skimming leaves, checking equipment and balancing pool water, but if you don’t have the time to do this, you’ll need to book a pool maintenance service, which can cost about $100 per service visit.
Over time, pool surfaces, fittings and equipment can deteriorate. As a result, your pool won’t work as efficiently, which can increase maintenance and running costs. In general, if your pool is more than ten years old, it’s time to upgrade (most pool equipment has a lifespan of 10 years, so this is a good benchmark). This could mean switching to a new pool pump and heater, replacing the gel coat on your fibreglass pool or refreshing the coping tiles around your pool.
One cost that’s often overlooked in pool budgets is equipment storage. Most pool owners will have cleaners, chemicals, pool toys and covers that need to be stored when they’re not in use. If you don’t have a garage, you’ll need a dedicated shed to store them so they don’t deteriorate.
You’ll also need covers for a pool pump, filter and heater to protect them from the elements, reduce noise and extend their life. This can vary from $35 for a small basic cover to $2,500 for a large acoustic cover. Some councils require enclosures to minimise noise impact on neighbours, so check with our local council to see if this applies to your pool.
A backyard pool wouldn’t be complete without loungers, day beds, fire pits and umbrellas. Not only do they make your pool area look more inviting, but they also make swimmers and guests comfortable while they catch some rays or rest in between swims.
The cost of outdoor furniture will depend on how much space you have available and what kind of furniture you buy. A hardwood lounger could cost you about $200, while a wicker outdoor set could put you back $1,500. Think about how you’ll be using the pool (e.g. lounging, entertaining, having pool parties, etc.) and only buy furniture that matches your needs.
Pool loungers. Source: iStock
If your budget is looking a little tight, here are some clever ways to reduce installation and maintenance costs:
Budgeting for a pool is never easy, particularly when so many factors can affect the final price. Before you do anything, estimate all costs associated with installation, pool maintenance, upgrades, equipment storage (or enclosures) and outdoor pool furniture. Make sure you shop around, and don’t forget to clarify the inclusions in your pool supplier’s quote. To be safe, add 5–10 per cent to your budget for unexpected costs.
If you’ve gone over budget, reduce pool installation and maintenance costs by choosing a smaller pool (such as a plunge pool or swim spa), installing an above-ground pool, minimising pool features, using energy-efficient equipment, choosing aluminium fencing and covering your pool with a solar blanket.