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Inground Swimming Pool Buyers Guide

10,Sep 2020
An inground swimming pool is an excellent addition to any backyard and provides endless hours of fun in the sun! If you’ve been considering having an inground pool installed, you may be wondering where to start. At Swimming Pool Discounters, we’ve put together a guide on inground swimming pools to help you choose the right type of inground pool, the best placement for your pool, what to expect for pricing, and more!

Types of Inground Pools

There are a variety of inground pool types to choose from. Common inground pool types include fiberglass, concrete, and vinyl liner inground pool, each with their own pros and cons. It’s important to understand the various types of inground pools to find the right one to meet your needs.

Fiberglass Inground Pools

One of the major advantages of fiberglass pools is that they are easy to maintain. They have a gelcoat surface that is virtually non-porous, unlike concrete, which has a rough and very porous surface that allows algae to hide, making concrete harder to maintain.
Fiberglass is also inert and will not affect the water chemistry in any way. In many cases, fiberglass pool owners will spend about 75% less time and money on pool maintenance when compared to other pool owners.
This type of pool is manufactured off-site and is usually installed within two days, compared to a concrete pool that can take three to six months to install. With no liner, fiberglass pools have no risk of puncture and offer an incredibly strong and durable pool surface.
Fiberglass also offers an attractive look with colored finishes, ceramic tile, pool lights, etc. It is important to keep in mind that fiberglass pools will have a higher initial cost than vinyl liners, but you will spend less in the long run when your factor in the liner replacements that are required every 5-9 years.
The size, shape, and depth of fiberglass inground pools are not customizable, so you will need to be sure that you can find a fiberglass pool model that suits your needs, or you may need to consider a different type of inground pool.

Concrete Inground Pools

Concrete pools, on the other hand, on customizable in shape, size, and depth, allowing you to control each aspect of your inground pool. You can also add custom features such as tanning ledges, which are also available for fiberglass pools.
Concrete pools are another extremely durable choice for an inground pool, and you will not have to worry about your dog jumping in or sharp object tearing the liner. Keep in mind that concrete finishes will not last as long as the gelcoat surface of a fiberglass pool does.
Some disadvantages of a concrete pool include the more in-depth maintenance they require as well as, the higher cost of ownership. Because of their porous surface, the concrete pool accumulates algae, requiring weekly brushing and more chemical usage. Concrete also affects the pH of the pool water, so you will need to add acid regularly to keep it balanced.
The higher cost of ownership can be attributed to more money spent on chemical, professional acid washing, refinishing, and more, over the years. As we mentioned earlier, concrete pools can also take a while to install, so if you are looking for a pool you can enjoy sooner rather than later, a concrete pool may not be your best choice.

Vinyl Liner Inground Pools

Vinyl liner pools are one of the more affordable pools to install, allowing families to enjoy the benefits of having an inground pool, who otherwise couldn’t fit one into their budget. With vinyl liner pools, you can customize the depth, shape, and size of the pool.
Customizing the shape of a vinyl liner pool can cost more, but it will still typically cost less than a concrete or fiberglass inground pool.
A major disadvantage of vinyl liner pools is the cost of replacing the liner every 5 to 9 years. Another factor to keep in mind is that some parts of the vinyl liner will harbor algae growth. While the vinyl liner surface is relatively non-porous, parts of the pool, such as the plastic steps and behind the light niches, are submerged in areas without water circulation, allowing algae to grow there.

Choosing Your Inground Pool Size

The size and shape of your pool will be determined by how you will be using the pool as well as the resources and space you have to work with. You will want to start by thinking about how you plan to use your swimming pool. Do you plan to use it for relaxing and taking a dip once in a while to cool off? If so, then you probably don’t need a large pool. If you plan to be in the water more often, then you’ll want more space to move around and may opt for a larger pool.
If you plan to use the pool for exercise, you can get a pool that is more elongated, or you can choose to get a lap pool. You may even choose to get a smaller pool or a swim spa to allow you to swim in place. Just be sure the pool is deep enough that your hands do not scrape the bottom while you exercise.
If you plan to add accessories such as a diving board or a slide, you will need a deeper and wider pool to ensure people can use these elements safely. Base the size of the pool on the activities you want to do. Also, take into consideration the size of your family. If you have three or more people in your family that will be using the pool, you will require a larger pool.
Cost and space are two of the biggest factors that can affect the size of your pool. Keep in mind; you want your pool to fit in your backyard, while still leaving enough room for you to enjoy other activities as well as extra space left around the pool to install a deck. All of these factors come into play when determining how big your inground pool should be.

Choosing the Location of Your Inground Pool

Pool placement is largely based on the size and shape of your property. There are three main things to focus on when choosing the best location for your inground pool, including:

How Much Space Do You Have?

If your backyard is smaller than you will be limited in where you can place your pool. It is likely that you would want to place the pool near or next to your house. You could choose to use geometric shapes and materials that accent the exterior of your home.
If you have a larger area to work with, you have more location options available. Installing close to the home is still a viable option, but you can also set the pool back and turn it into its own unique space. When evaluating how much space you have, make sure you choose an area that can accommodate the accessories and other extras you want for your pool, such as a slide, a pool deck, patio, etc.

Other Matters to Consider

When installing your pool, you will need to ensure you choose an area that is level, unless you are willing to foot a higher bill to build on a slope. You also need to take into consideration local building codes such as easements, low-lying areas that could be prone to flooding, buried utility lines, and property lines. You will also want to consider if the area you are choosing will be accessible to the contractor and their equipment.

Choosing an Area that Looks Good and is Convenient

In addition to choosing a flat area, you also want to choose an area that will look good and provide you with the convenience of either being able to enjoy the sights and sounds all the time or have it hidden away for a private relaxing getaway. As long as the spot is level and follow other practical matters, it really boils down to preference when it comes to inground pool placement.

Choosing the Best Inground Pool Materials

Choosing the materials your pool will be constructed out of is one of the biggest decisions you will face in this process. As we’ve discussed, there are three material options, including:
  • Gunite (concrete)
  • Fiberglass
  • Vinyl Liner
Each material has its advantages and disadvantages as well as different price points.
With a concrete pool, you will receive flexibility in the shape and design of the pool, but you can expect a higher price tag and a rough surface that requires more maintenance compared to other materials. They also take up to three months or more to install.
Fiberglass is a durable, smooth option that is pre-formed and then placed into an excavated area in your backyard. You can purchase fiberglass molds in a variety of sizes and shapes, but you will not be able to customize the design like you can with a concrete pool. These are easier to install and maintain.
Vinyl liner pools have some flexibility with design options, more than fiberglass, but not as much flexibility as concrete. This is the cheapest pool material option and can be installed in less than a month. It is important to remember that your vinyl liner can cost more in the long run due to the requirement of replacing the liner every five years or so.

Pricing: What to Expect for an Inground Pool 

When it comes to pricing, the type of pool you choose, the accessories and add-ons you choose as well as your site conditions, and the size of the pool will have an effect on the cost.

Installation Costs

For a basic pool project, the quote you receive will typically include the cost for the delivery, installation, standard pool filtration, maintenance and cleaning equipment, first water fill, and some pool decking. Keep in mind that all pool builders have different packages, so be sure to check what each builder includes before making a decision.
Site Conditions
The condition of your inground pool site will also affect your cost, which is why most builders will perform an onsite evaluation before they give you pricing information. The cost can be affected by site conditions such as:
  • Septic System. If you have a septic system, will fingers need to be rerouted?
  • Elevation. Is there a change in elevation? Is a retaining wall required to prevent erosion? Can the builder leave the dirt on your property, or will they have to haul it away for you?
  • Electrical. Do you have room in the existing breaker box to run the pool equipment, or will you need an upgrade? How far away is the electrical box from the pool installation?
  • Plumbing. How far is your plumbing from the pool equipment?
  • Water. Will you need water hauled in? Is your pool area accessible to a water truck?
  • Landscape. Is any tree, shrubbery, concrete or deck removal needed to complete the installation? Will they need to be replaced afterward?
  • Access to property. Will the builder be able to get their equipment back to the installation site? Can concrete trucks reach the site, or will they be required to pump and shuttle the material from the street for installation?

Pool Patio/Deck

The type of pool patio material you choose can have a major effect on your budget. You can choose from a standard broom-finish concrete pool deck for about $6.50 square foot, or you choose a paver patio that typically costs around $16.00 per square foot. If you require a 1,000 square foot patio, you’re looking at a price difference of nearly $10,000.
Pool Upgrades and Accessories
Accessories such as an automatic pool cover, safety cover, heater, slide, and lights are optional and will typically not be included in your basic estimate. Depending on what you choose to add, these accessories can add thousands of dollars to the cost of your inground pool. Be careful with adding accessories if your budget is already tight.
Generally speaking, concrete pools work best for those with a budget of $50k and up. Vinyl liner pools are a good fit for those who have a budget of $35k–$65k, and fiberglass pools work best for those who have a budget of $35k and up.
Upgrades and Accessories for Your Inground Pool
There are a variety of ways to upgrade and accessorize your pool, including:
Custom Lighting
Lighting adds convenience as well as ambiance to your pool. Add unique colored lighting or consider adding landscape lighting to bring everything together and make the pool the focal point.
Water Features
 Transform your pool into a spa using water features. You can have an inground spa built next to your pool or for a less expensive option; you can purchase an above ground spa. Another great option is a tranquil fountain. This can be installed to pour into the pool to enhance your outdoor living space. 
Pool Protection Fencing
This is a great option, especially if you have small pets or children who could fall into the pool. This removable pool protection fencing can be shaped to fit your pool’s custom design, is easy to set up, and has a climb resistant surface to keep small children safe from drowning.
You can also see through the fencing, so you can still enjoy the beautiful view of your pool.
Deck/Patio Enhancements
Add some fun with a slide or a diving board or consider adding a pop of color by edging in the pool with tile. You may even want to pave the deck in stone for a beautiful look.

Excavation and Installation Process for Your Inground Pool 

Once the designs, size, and location of the pool have been finalized, you will be ready to begin the installation and excavation process. You will have to make sure you acquire a pool building permit from your city. Some pool builders will be able to assist you in this process or will take care of it entirely for you.
Once the permit is acquired, the construction can begin. The site will be cleared, and the area will be marked in accordance with the design plans to prepare for excavation. Once the excavation is completed, the pool builder will begin the inground pool installation process, which varies for each type of pool:
Fiberglass pools- the base is leveled to give the pool a flat base, and then the plumbing is installed before the hell is placed into the hole. A crane is then used to lift the pool into the base bed. The hole will be backfilled with gravel, cement, and sand or crusher dust as the pool is filled with water.
Concrete pools- After excavation, the surface is graded for a smoother, more stable surface. Metal and wood bars are used to frame the pool walls, and then the plumbing system is put in place. The swimming pool’s electricity system is also installed to run the pumps, lighting, and filtration. Concrete is mixed and is then used to build the walls and the floors of the pool. The pool is then let to cure for at least a month before it can be filled with water.
Vinyl Liner Pools- After excavation, the pool’s walls and bottom are installed either using wood, steel, or polymer. Some installers will pour concrete to bond beam around the pool for the bottom; some builders use Pool Crete for a smooth finish. Plumbing is installed, and then the vinyl liner is installed.
Once all electrical elements are installed, the pool builder will form and pour your deck or begin installing your pool patio.

Warranties and Services for Inground Pools

When it comes to warranties for your inground pool, you should know that you have three types of warranties:
  • A warranty from the pool manufacturer on the pool itself
  • A warranty from the manufacturer on the pool equipment, including heater, pump, lighting, etc.
  • A warranty from the pool builder covering their workmanship

Fiberglass Pool Warranties

Fiberglass pool shells have two types of warranties. They have a structural warranty that can carry anywhere from a 25 year to a lifetime warranty depending on the manufacturer’s policy. The second warranty covers the gelcoat finish, protecting you against osmotic blisters that can form. Most warranties for this can range between seven and fifteen years.

Vinyl Liner Pool Warranties 

The vinyl liner industry standard is that liner has a 20-year warranty. It is always best to read the warranty yourself to ensure you understand what is covered and what isn’t. In most cases, the warranty only covers the seams of the liner, and if they are defective, they will leak immediately. If the seams fail, there is usually little to no credit given to the buyer after two or three years. Labor to replace the liner, water to refill the pool, etc., are not covered.

Concrete Pool Warranties

A concrete pool, since it does not have a manufacturer, does not have a warranty. However, a concrete pool does have a builder, so you will have a workmanship warranty for a concrete pool from the builder.
It is crucial to read over your manufacturer warranty and speak in depth with your pool builder to ensure you understand what is covered and what is not if something fails.

The Buying Process for an Inground Pool

If you are thinking of buying a pool, there is no better time than now! Before you make a major purchase, like buying an inground pool, it is important to understand the buying process. Before getting an estimate, there are a few things to take into consideration:
  • Make sure everyone agrees. When speaking with your family about the purchase, make sure that everyone is on board. You don’t want to rely on your builder to convince a family member that the pool installation is the right thing to do.
  • Prioritize. Make sure you know what your ownership goals are. Do you want a low maintenance pool? Are you more focused on the aesthetics of the pool? Make sure you know what your priorities are before getting a quote.
  • Have a set budget. Secure your financing ahead of time before you enter into a contract with a builder. This will make the process easier for everyone involved.
Once these factors have been taken into consideration, you can begin searching for a pool build. Check their reviews online, ask your neighbors who they used for their pool, and call the builders you’re interested in to ask for examples of their work and references. Make sure they meet your qualifications to ensure you get a quality product.
For more information on inground pools, contact Swimming Pool Discounters Today!