It is a question we are asked nearly everyday, either in person, on the phone or by electronic inquiry, “How much does a normal pool cost?”.  Many times our answer is not the one expected and we tend to frustrate, completely unintentionally, potential pool owners. ” What is your normal?” We ask and go on to ask questions like “Where do you like to take your family out to eat for a special occasion? Do you go to the gas station and pick up some hot dogs or do you seek out some fine dining to celebrate?” or “When you are in the market for a new car, what kind of car do you look for? Do you look for a small economy car or the largest SUV?” The plain truth is that normal for one person is usually very different for another. We need more information to honestly answer the question and assist the potential client, even if it means causing some undesired frustration.

To our architect and builder friends we turn it around and ask “How much does a normal home cost?”.  They tend to understand that each client is looking for an answer to a question that requires a great deal more questions, before a real answer can be given. Size, style, energy-efficiency, materials, amenities and location all play a part in determining what is “normal” for any client.

Before we get to deep (pun intended) into this I want to express that any pool can be a potential blessing for a family or individual. It can also be a financial burden to some, a maintenance disaster for others or heaven forbid a tragedy of one sort or another to you, your family or friends. Entering into this decision should not be taken lightly or without some due diligence of research into the types of pools, types and qualities of available products, qualifications of installers, designers and builders. Ask around it is likely that you have a friend with a pool.

A pool can offer a means to learn how to swim, a place to relax and unwind, or exercise in and out of the water, an attraction for kids and grand kids or even romance. It can create beauty that was not there before, dare I say an art form, an aesthetic. It can relax your mind, sooth your body, create “white noise” to drown out a neighbor’s music, highway or shopping center. It can be whatever you want it to be and of course afford.

In our state, and of course on the internet, there are pool retailers that sell do it yourself on ground and above ground pool kits for just a few hundred dollars or even less. Some of these offer install services as you are making the kit purchase and others who wait for you to realize that it is not as easy as it appears. We do not offer these services, as it is not our target market.  If this is your “normal” you can stop reading here and surf the net for your pool oasis.

Some above ground and in ground vinyl liner kits, as well as fiberglass pools are available, for the do it yourself consumer, on line and from some pool retailers. These often cost a few thousand dollars or more for the kits and even more for the readily available installers. We have been called and asked if we would install such kits or finish failed attempts of install. We do not offer this answer to potential savings, as we cannot be assured of the quality of the materials or design. We have local competitors who do, and should you call us, we are happy to pass along such referrals without the often sought out recommendations. This is the  “normal” for some. When I was a teenager my parents had a premium type of above ground pool installed in our yard. We also had a membership to the local community pool. I have very fond memories with family and friends at both. At that time it was my normal.

As we exit the primarily do it yourself types of pools and their estimated costs we enter into the world of in- ground pool installers, designers and builders. Here costs are not only defined by the type of pool, its size and amenities, but also the quality of the design, materials and methods used, as well as the integrity of those you are dealing with.

In the residential world of in-ground swimming pools there are primarily three types of vessels, vinyl liner, fiberglass and concrete, also known as gunite or shotcrete. (More types exist, however for now we will focus on these three most popular types.) These can range from very small liner and fiberglass pools, with little to no amenities such as a patio, as low as $9,999.00 (currently advertised by a local competitor) to several hundred thousand or even multi-million dollar pools that can be sometimes seen on cable television.

It is unfortunate that many pool “salespeople” do not provide full disclosure to their prospects in order to close deals. So here is a very brief list of questions to ask about:

  • Local Building Codes – Most require a fence and/or automated covers. Electrical bonding and final inspections. In Virginia, the new building code requires more than ever before.
  • Patio – is it included in the deal? If so, how many square feet and what kind? Huge difference between light broom concrete and a “wet set” travertine patio. If not included, is pool perimeter coping included? If so, what kind and how will it be installed? Waterline tile should also be included on concrete pools. Expansion joint sealant is another detail often neglected between coping and separate patios.
  • Winter covers – We even recommend these for our auto cover clients in many cases because damage caused by snow loads are not covered by warranty. Ask about the difference between a safety cover and a winter cover. Is it included in the deal?
  • Energy Efficiency – There is a great deal more to this than just picking an“energy efficient” pump. Suction fitting size and quantity, return size and quantity, pipe and filter sizes all play an extremely important role in safety, noise reduction, energy savings and equipment longevity. Even the “energy star” rated pumps won’t be if the rest of the system is too small.
  • Inclusions and Exclusions – who is going to be responsible (financially) for what? The old saying “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.” A low ball price on a swimming pool is frequently too good to be true. What else will you be required to pay for in order to eventually use your new pool?

Want to learn more? Check out pool websites like http://apsp.org/  andhttp://www.genesis3.com/#.  Check with your State on issues with contractors you are considering. Here in Virginia it is http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/ or the BBB http://www.bbb.org/richmond/accredited-business-directory/

Often we are told that we are the most expensive pool builder in the region. We are just as often complimented on the thoroughness of our presentations and proposals as well as our knowledge and attention to detail. Beyond that, we have very few callbacks and a long list of happy clients who feed us referrals. Can we provide you a quote on a “normal” pool? Sure we can, after we ask a great deal of questions, hopefully answer your questions and look at your your yard.

By the way do you like hot dogs or gourmet dining or perhaps something in between?