How much does a pool cost?

Nothing says summer in Australia quite like cooling off in a swimming pool on a scorching hot day, especially if that piece of paradise can be found in your own backyard. And there can be a pool option for just about every budget.

If you are looking to install a pool, or are just dipping your toe in with some preliminary research, there’s plenty to plan for. With a wide variety of swimming pools to choose from, there can be choices for the most budget-conscious through to price-is-no-problem home owners. Here’s what you may want to consider before taking the financial plunge.

How much does a pool cost?

The cost of a pool can vary massively depending on factors such as the size, style and materials used.

At the most affordable end of the scale, Compass Pools says an above-ground vinyl-lined pool can set you back less than $10,000 if you DIY-install.

Further along the cost scale, another option is a pre-fabricated plunge pool. Trades site hipages says plunge pools are small but deep, so they can fit in a petite space, and the cost typically ranges from about $8,000 to $15,000.

Inground fibreglass pools can range from around $25,000 to $75,000 fully installed, according to hipages, though the cost can vary depending on the landscaping you choose. If you prefer a concrete inground pool, hipages says the cost can start at about $35,000 – with the average cost being $50,000 to $75,000, though the cash splash can go as high as $100,000 or more, depending on the design and size.

Having a good idea of the type of pool you want before approaching installers for quotes could help you get an accurate cost estimate, which is important if you’re on a strict budget.

Pool types and average costs in Australia

Pool type Approx cost
Above ground $3,500 – $7,000+
Pre-fabricated plunge pool $8,000 – $15,000
Inground fibreglass $25,000 – $75,000
Inground concrete $35,000 – $100,000+

 Source: Hipages, 2021.

Will your pool be in-ground or above-ground?

This initial decision will help direct your focus when considering other aspects of your pool design, and the subsequent bill. Above-ground pools are generally cheaper as they won’t require the same amount of excavation needed to install an in-ground pool, and a small pool can potentially be put up by a home handyperson in a matter of days.

In-ground pools are usually the more expensive option, but they can offer a wider variety of additional fixtures and aesthetic features than the above-ground variety. In addition, they tend to be very durable, potentially giving you more years of enjoyment. According to Backyard Oasis for instance, the vinyl lining of an above-ground pool may only last for 6 to 9 years, while the pool itself may have a lifespan of 7 to 15 years.

By contrast, Barrier Reef Pools says a good quality fibreglass pool can have a lifespan of 30 years. A concrete pool has the advantage of being almost fully customisable in style and design; however, it may need to be resurfaced after 15 years, something that can set you back around $10,000, according to Barrier Reef Pools.

Pool costs to be aware of

Regardless of whether your pool is in-ground or above-ground, there are a number of factors that may affect the installation process and potentially incur added expenses. Depending on your backyard, an above-ground pool may require surface-levelling services, plus a sand base, or concrete slab, for the pool to rest on. An in-ground pool requires excavation, and Melbourne pool builder Momentum Pools notes this can cost more if access to the site is restricted, for example, with narrow side entrance ways. Additionally, the progress and price of an in-ground pool may be affected by further complications, such as the discovery of underground rock during the excavation process.

What other pool costs could sink your budget?

In addition to the initial costs, there are a number of other factors during and after construction that may cause your expenses to ripple out.

  • Landscaping: An attractive aspect for many people of having a swimming pool is designing it to complement your property and lifestyle. This usually requires landscaping, which can be a considerable additional expense. For example, you may wish to add decking around an above-ground pool, or paving if your pool is in-ground. There are also a variety of aesthetic details available which you might wish to consider, including the interior finish of the pool, water features, an attached spa or plants and trees to surround it.
  • Safety fencing: All swimming pools are required to comply with safety guidelines and pool fencing rules. While the law can differ depending on where you live, there are some regulations, including the installation of a fence, that are common to all states. Once a pool is filled with 300mm of liquid or more, it is generally required to have a safety barrier or fencing. Hipages says the cost of pool fencing can range from $200 to $600 per linear metre, depending on the material you select.
  • Increased utility bills: According to Canstar Blue, the average swimming pool can cost between $800 and $1,200 to run annually – or about $23 each week. This covers the cost of running the pool pump. It doesn’t include heating. In addition, the average-sized pool can lose around 7mm of water per day according to the Swimming Pool and Spa Association. So unless you invest in a pool cover, you could be looking at paying more in household water rates.
  • Insurance: The installation of a swimming pool on your property may affect your home insurance policy, if you have one. Consider letting your insurance company know about what’s being installed, to ensure your swimming pool is covered under your existing home and contents policy, or arrange to have your cover extended.
  • Maintenance and accessories: Ongoing maintenance and accessories for your swimming pool are an added expense that you may need to keep in mind. This can include the cost of a professional pool cleaning service, or the chemicals and cleaning tools if you choose to do it yourself.

How can you finance a pool?

There are many ways to finance a home improvement project, including:

  • Savings: Drawing on a savings account means you do not have to take on debt to finance the job, which means you do not have to pay interest or fees on that debt. This means that if you can afford to do so, paying for the job out of your savings will generally save you money in the long run.
  • Redraw/offset account on your home loan: You may consider the option of making a redraw on your home loan or using funds saved in your offset account, assuming your home loan has one or both of these features. It is wise to consider the long-term impact this could have on your mortgage, as paying for a job this way may increase the total amount you have to repay over time when interest is factored in.
  • Personal loan: Depending on your personal circumstances and the cost of the job, you may be able to consider using a personal loan to fund the work. This could be a secured loan or an unsecured loan. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that interest rates are generally higher for personal loans than for home loans, and it’s a good idea to read the lender’s terms and conditions first. You can compare personal loans with Canstar.
  • Credit card: It may also be possible, depending on the cost and your ability to repay the debt quickly, to pay some of the expenses for a pool installation on a credit card. There could be some fringe benefits for doing so, such as extra insurance cover in some cases. You can read the card’s Key Facts Sheet or the Product Disclosure Statement for the insurance cover to find out the conditions of the policy, and you may also find it helpful to read the Target Market Determination. Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are typically much higher than home or personal loans, and interest can quickly accumulate on large balances, so it is a good idea to weigh up your options and consider them carefully. If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off the card’s balance in full each month, it may be worth re-considering whether a credit card is the right option for you. You can compare credit cards with Canstar.

Will a pool add value to your home?

The jury tends to be out on whether a swimming pool is among the renovations that add value to your home. Some determining factors may be your home’s location, the climate and whether the pool complements your property aesthetically. Even where your pool ticks all these boxes, not everyone wants the maintenance that can go hand in hand with a backyard pool.

The presentation and maintenance of your swimming pool may also determine its value as an asset. For example, if your swimming pool takes up your entire backyard, leaving room for not much else, it may not be as appealing to a potential buyer as a pool that seamlessly complements your property and landscaping.

With this in mind, it could be a good idea to talk to a local real estate agent about whether or not a pool is likely to add value to your home, based on their experience with other properties in your area.

Overall, even if a pool may not automatically add any financial value to your home, the lifestyle value might make it worth it for some.

Main image source: By Real Estate/

Original article by Eliza Parry-Okeden.

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