Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Costs of an In-Ground Pool

Eleven years ago I took the plunge (pardon the pun) and put an in-ground pool in my back yard. I’ve always known that it was expensive to buy and is expensive to maintain, but I didn’t know how expensive the maintenance is until I added up the costs. Anyone considering an in-ground pool may be interested in the costs that await.

My pool costs may be higher than typical because I put in a large (20x43 feet) pool with a longer and deeper deep end than is typical. So, some costs may be lower for other pool owners.

My costs are laid out below. Most are actual figures including taxes. I estimated the costs for natural gas based on an average of the last couple of years. Hydro is a little more difficult. I based this cost on the power draw stamped on the pump. The figure I came up with seems consistent with the increased hydro cost we see in summer months. The repair cost is an average over the many years I’ve had the pool.

Initial Costs

$27,862 – pool + installation + heater
$2009 – running a 70-foot natural gas line
$500 – extra cement not part of contract
$75 – pool enclosure permit
$215 – water
$396 – parts needed for winter closing

$31,057 – total in 1999

$38,846 – total adjusted for inflation in 2010 dollars

Yearly Costs

$320 – chemicals (chlorine, algaecide, alkalinity, muriatic acid, conditioner)
$341 – pool opening in spring
$369 – pool closing in fall
$300 – natural gas
$560 – hydro for pump
$300 – repairs, replacement parts

$2190 – total per year

As you can see, owning an in-ground pool is expensive. I don’t regret my decision because I have really enjoyed the pool over the years. However, some people may hesitate when they see the size of these numbers. The costs go down for smaller pools and you can save if you’re willing to do the opening and closing work yourself. However, costs will shoot back up if you close it for the winter improperly and you get freezing damage.

I know a few people who got a pool without a heater, but they ended up buying one later. Without a heater, you just won’t get much use of the pool in the Canadian climate.

If you want a pool, make sure your eyes are open to the costs before diving in.


  1. Do you have to pay more in house insurance or liability insurance for having the pool? In case a dog drowns in it and the owner wants to see you?

  2. @Big Cajun Man: Good question. It's been a while since I told my insurance company about the pool. My recollection is that the insurance cost more, but the increase was very small compared to the other pool costs.

  3. what's the impact on resale value? I would think normally it would be negative.

  4. @Financial Cents: Perhaps the cheaper option is to buy a house that already has a pool.

    @Geoff: My guess is that the experience of reselling a home with a pool is mixed. It shrinks the number of potential buyers, but to those buyers, the pool add some value. So, it is likely to take longer to sell a home with a pool. I doubt that you would get the cost of the pool back, but the house may sell for a little more than the same house with no pool. In the end, it only makes sense to put in a pool if you would really get a lot of use from it for many years.

  5. on august 11, the WSJ wrote something similar that agrees with your post:

  6. @Anonymous: Thanks for the link to the Wall Street Journal article. It was more negative about pools than I am, but the message that pools are expensive is right.

  7. I'm confused, how do you spend more than 700 dollars on opening and closing? Most of the work can be done yourself, drain the lines, pump it down and cover it up.

    Also, 300 a year on maintainence? Are you factoringing in the cost of a liner and pump and then dividing it over the life?

    I have a much smaller pool, 16X24, but my costs are under a thousand dollars a year.

  8. @Anonymous: My pool is about 2.25 times the area of your pool and likely more than 3 times the volume. So, that drives up my costs. The pool guys that I have come in take more than 2 hours for 2 guys to close down the pool. Opening is about 1.5 hours for 2 guys and includes some chemicals. I could do it myself, but those 7-person hours would probably take me double the time (at least). I choose to pay someone else, but some may choose to save this money and do it themselves.

    The $300 per year on maintenance is an average figure. It includes nearly $1000 one year fixing my heater. If something else big happens one year, like needing a new liner, this maintenance figure is likely to be higher than $300 per year.

    One thing I've noticed about doing proper accounting of costs for just about anything is that the numbers seem too big. It's like asking someone how long they take driving to work each day. They may say 15 minutes, but if you actually time it, the real answer may be 25 or 30 minutes.

  9. Hi Micheal,

    Can I ask who did the install of your pool and who manages the maintainence?

    1. @Anonymous: The pool was installed by a company local to my area. I manage the maintenance in the sense that I either do the work myself or call in a contractor to do it when necessary. I've used different contractors over the years.

    2. What were the costs for the pool deck/walkway, the surrounding landscaping and the fence enclosure?

      You seem to be omitting some significant capital expenses.

    3. @Unknown: The initial pool installation cost I quoted included pool decking and extra cement pads. We already had a fence. So, there weren't other costs for us. Your mileage may vary.