You want a swimming pool…. here’s what you need to know

Pool Plan

Swimming pools are a symbol of the American Dream. Our desire to pursue this dream is fueled by visions of children laughing, splashing and having fun or the tranquility of floating in the calming water. No wonder everyone dreams of having this constant source of recreation right in their own backyard!

Most people don’t have any idea about how to go about getting a swimming pool installed. The following information was designed to answer the most common questions asked by people just beginning to investigate the possibility of installing a swimming pool in their own backyard.

Types of Inground Pools and Costs

The first thing to decide is which type of inground pool will best meet your needs. There are three types of inground swimming pools:

Vinyl-lined Inground Pools have a rigid polymer or steel wall, a vermiculite floor, and are lined with vinyl. These pools are durable, easy to take care of, and beautiful.

Liners are available in a wide variety of patterns and are available in several different shapes and sizes. The price of a basic vinyl lined pool typically starts around $35,000 – $40,000. The surface of this pool is easy to take care of and lasts for many years.

Gunite or Plaster Pools have a rebar framework that is covered with shotcrete with a final layer of plaster to provide a smooth finish. Gunite pools typically start around $50,000 – $60,000. Gunite pools are very flexible in design and can be very elaborate.

A gunite pool with a sophisticated design can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your imagination and budget are the limiting factors when considering gunite.

Fiberglass Pools are large fabricated units that are placed in the excavated area with a crane and plumbed. The price of fiberglass pools start around $30,000 – $40,000.

With more people accessing the internet, they are finding that inground pool prices are lower in some areas of the country. It’s important to understand why this might be the case.

The building season in Western Washington is fairly short, pools are less common but demand becomes very high during hot summer months, and there are very few qualified pool builders. When you limit the supply, have a demand that exceeds that supply AND factor in that there are few ways to satisfy the demand–prices will be higher.

Prices would naturally be lower in areas where there is a pool at almost every residence, the weather is great 12 months out of the year, and pool builders are plentiful.

Appropriate Site

A professional pool builder can help you decide if your site is appropriate for a pool, however, there are a few things you can prepare in advance to help with planning.

If you have a septic system, you will need a copy of the “as-built” that indicates where the system is installed and where the backup drain field is located. If you do not have a copy of this document, it can usually be obtained at your local health department. If you have a plat or site drawing for your property with dimensions, house placement, and parcel number, these items can be very helpful. You must have room on your property for the pool allowing for appropriate setbacks.

There may be some obstacles to overcome in order to install a pool on your property so be prepared for the possibility of some planning delays. Variances may be required or the septic reserve field may have to be relocated in order to get a pool in your backyard. Obstacles can often be overcome during the planning process.


Planning for a pool can be the most exciting and most frustrating experience. Many people wait to begin planning until the sun starts to shine.

By the time spring rolls around, most reputable pool builders have several pools in queue and are very busy installing pools for their customers who began planning over the winter. As a result, if you wait until the spring or summer months to begin, most pool builders won’t have the time to give you the attention you need and deserve for the initial stage of planning.

The planning process involves design, engineering and permits—very similar to building a house. This process can potentially take several weeks. It is best to begin planning your pool several months in advance!

It is also important to remember that it is also impossible for everyone to be the first pool in the queue so be prepared to have a shortened swimming season the year your pool is installed. You’ll have many more years to enjoy your pool!

How to choose a pool builder

Now that you’ve decided that you can afford a pool and understand when you should begin your planning–it’s time to choose your pool builder.

First, make sure that the builder you are using has been around for a while. Second, look for a builder who is a member of the APSP (The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals). The builder should be willing to show you some of their projects so that you can see what the finished product looks like and observe the quality of their work.

It’s not a bad idea to speak with more than one builder but the most important deciding factor should be your comfort level. Ask for references and talk to them! Make sure that the builder is competent, is appropriately licensed, and specializes in swimming pool installations.

Try to talk with the project manager who will be on site and will be in charge of the project BEFORE you sign a contract. If you only speak with a sales representative, you may never see him or her again. Make sure you are comfortable with the people who will actually be in your backyard!!