How Much Does it Cost to Build a Swimming Pool?

It’s a big, exciting day!  The day you and your family have decided to build your own in-ground swimming pool.  Whether you are doing it to add value to your home or for family use or to host the best pool parties in town, this is a huge decision and investment.  A lot goes into building a swimming pool.  I asked my friend, Chris Fellmer, of Pacific Paradise Pools for help since they are one of the best pool builders in Southern California.  The amounts discussed are from an actual pool build.  Yours will vary based on features, size and the company you choose.


Before this starts you will have gone over with the builder the layout of your pool and equipment.  They will use stakes to mark off the areas.  These are critical to the shape, elevation and placement of the pool.  Don’t let anyone move the markers! They also caution not to let anyone get near the hole.  This especially goes for pets and children.  The sides may crumble and pose an obvious safety risk. 

While the demolition team will utilize caution,  there will be unavoidable damage to existing grass and plants, irrigation, any concrete pathways, etc.They use special tires known as “Bobcats” on the trucks, but you may still end up with some black marks on the path from the driveway to your backyard.

You will need to turn off sprinkler zones in the areas the pool will be going a week before the dig begins.  However, if you are in a new home, you’ll need to saturate the area for them.  This helps reduce damage to the landscape, reduces the dust production and gives the overall construction improved conditions.

There will be some areas that your pool builder will not be able to identify such as easements, utility lines (or other unknown objects below the ground surface, unidentified property lines.  They May use something called “Dig Alert” to identify underground utility lines, but as the homeowner, they are your responsibility.

The excavation process will typically take 1-2 days.  Projects where “soil reports” are needed and reported at this time.  The payment for excavation will be due at this time.


Whether you have your pool builder provides these services or you need to contact another company varies in regards to lights, plants & trees and sprinklers, now is the time to do it.  If your builder does not offer these services, they can probably refer you to someone that does.


The builder will install a “skeleton” for the pool using steel bars to reinforce the pool.  It is a must-do for the structural strength of your new swimming pool.


This is all the installation of swimming pool equipment, gas and plumbing lines.  I highly suggest going with a variable speed pump.  They are even required by law in certain areas.  They don’t have to break the bank either.  Heck, you are already spending a fortune on the pool.Most smart homeowners are going for the American made, well known Black & Decker Variable SPeed Pump.  Which comes in different sizes.  Check out the 2  HP here.  Tell your builder you want a say in the brand of equipment you are getting.   While they install the gas lines ,  you may need to shut off the gas to your home.  They can relight your pilot for you if you are home.  You may want to call the gas company at this point to make sure your meter is sized correctly if installing a heater.

The plumber uses a heavy-duty trenching machine to obtain the required depth.  Please notify your pool builder of any potential obstructions.  Sometimes, as a courtesy, the builder will reconnect the sprinkler lines.  Make sure to ask if this service is included.


The conduits that go underground are placed from your electric panel.  These will connect to the equipment fixtures and controls.  They will usually pull the wire at a later time.  Thistypically takes one to two days.


Get ready for your earplugs because this part of the process is LOUD.  They will usually come in the morning.  This is where homeowner interaction begins.  Not only do you get to pay the invoice, you get to water your pool.  You’ll start this the day after gunite, both in the morning and the evening.  Then, for 10 days, you’ll need to give the surface a good soak 2-3 times a day, depending on how hot the weather is.  

At this point you’ll want to make sure you have your tile choice, determine your pebble color and decide on your rock and concrete color.  How fun, you little designer, you.


This is going to also include rock work.  This is the longest phase of your project.  It can take a couple of days to a month, depending on the scope of work.  You’ll usually need to make another payment at this point.  They are known as “progress payments”.

Concrete Decks and Drains

The concrete will be cured enough to walk on after one day, but you’ll need to keep the surface clear of debris, pots, hoses, etc for at least 2 weeks or the outline will be there prematurely. Your builder will take certain precautions and how and when they pour.  They will likely pre-soak the ground and build in “crack control joints” at all the crucial points, but surface cracks may still appear.

You can expect three to five days for sandblasted concrete finishes.  This will leave extra sand behind, but you can put it to good use by being spread into the planters by your landscaper.

Stamped concrete you can’t expect the desired color until it is properly cured, which is about twenty-eight days later.

The total time for grading, installing drains, forming and pouring concrete may take a week or two.  Proper drainage is essential for maintaining the stability of your decks and getting the water away from the pool.  Here's where you come in again. It is your responsibility for final grading and providing drainage outside of the pool.  Unless you have worked this into your build plan. Another payment will be due around this time.


Most tiles are applied in one to two days.  You will want to make your selection as early as you can to ensure enough stock.  Did you know that glass tile can take an additional 3 weeks of installation? I didn’t.

Fences, Gates and Cleanup

Your local code may vary, but most regions require the pool area to be totally enclosed.  This must be done before the pre-plaster inspection.  Be sure you have made arrangements with your superintendent for this requirement.  It can cause delays if you wait until the last minute!

I’ve Got 99 Problems, But My Pool Ain’t One

The time has come for the superintendent to perform a pre-plaster walk through with you. Take this opportunity to clear up any questions and get them squared away.  You are now entering the final stages of construction.  Hooray! All payments need to be up to date as well.

Weekly Pool Service Provider

You’ll want to retain a pool service professional because once the pool is plastered, it is under new management: you.


We are nearing the finish line!  Both plaster and pebble are a form of art.  Your crewman will work in the wet plaster wearing special shoes and eventually sponges on their shoes. They will try to keep white plaster, white, but sometimes it has a mind of it’s own as it is a natural product of the earth.  All plaster will mottle, or vary in color, like your concrete decks.

The plasterers will start to fill your new pool.  It can take 15-24 hours to fill the swimming pool depending on water pressure and gallonage.


The pool equipment will be started up once the pool is filled,  Make sure you call your super once the water reaches the middle of the tile line.  Pumps are usually run non-stop for the first 72 hours, or until the water clears up.  Your turn again.  The plaster must be brushed 3 times a day or more for the first couple of days.  Then once a day for a week..  You can hire a pool service company or even your builder (if they offer a start-up service).  Congratulations.  You are now a swimming pool owner.

Cost Breakdown

Again, these numbers were for a specific pool/spa combo.  Yours will vary.

Down Payment: $1,500

Plan Development: $3,500

Upon Excavation and Demo: $ $21,000

Underground Plumbing/Equipment Delivery: $ $16,000-$24, 000

Upon Gunite Application: $22,000

Order Coping- Comnc Masonry $ 5,500-$7,500

Drains- Set Coping: $ 5,500-$6,500

Pour BBQ Top Set Tile: $5,500-$6,500

Comp-Masonry- Deck-set: $ 5,000-$8,049

Pour Decks: $ 10,000

Day of Pebble Application: $7,500


Now we have an idea of what goes into building a new swimming pool and approximate costs.  The bigger your vision, the higher the cost.  See you new-poolside!