Average Cost Of Salt Water Pool Installation

COVID-19 has increased pool building significantly

Save Money On Your Salt Water Pool Construction

Installing a salt water pool is expensive, more expensive than a regular chlorine pool given the extra equipment required: A chlorinator system and chlorinator cell.

While the up front cost is more expensive for a salt water pool, ongoing costs to maintain it are typically cheaper than chlorine.

So how can you save money on the cost of salt water pool installation and maintenance?

How Much Does Salt Water Pool Construction Cost?

The cost to build an inground pool may run you $30,000-$80,000 or more depending on your personal situation (where you live, ease of backyard access, local prices) in addition to all the things that you might consider adding to your pool as we’ll discuss below.

Included in that price range could be a decent chlorinator system with chlorinator cell which alone may cost $1,200-$2,500 for a top brand like Hayward. Each time you replace the cell may cost $300-$400 and up depending on the brand.

Once you get to a budget of say $50,000 for a pool build, you open the door to new possibilities and options but as you’ll see when you start doing research, the costs add up quickly. So it’s good to figure out well in advance what features you need and which ones you don’t. Or at least which ones you might delay and add later on after the pool is installed. This will help to keep the cost of your salt water pool installation down and ensure you don’t have remorse down the line.

How Much Does Salt Water Pool Maintenance Cost?

Ongoing maintenance costs vary. Salt for a salt water pool is easily under $100 per year depending on pool size, etc. We spend about $20 on salt every year in fact. I buy 3 bags tops each season. Chlorine on the other hand may run $300-$800 typically per season.

On top of that you’ll need chlorine to shock the pool in spring along with other chemicals as required ie. algaecide, phosphorus killer, etc. But you’d need these chemicals with any other type of pool and possibly more of them as they tend to involve more work and maintenance than saltwater swimming pools.

And as we’ll discuss below, you can expect to pay several hundred dollars per year to open and close your pool unless you learn to do it yourself.

Reduce The Cost Of Salt Water Pool Installation

Here are some ideas on reducing your salt water pool installation cost.

Choose your pool style carefully

For inground pools, the shape of the pool can affect the cost in a significant way. The bigger and more elaborate the shape, the more it will cost. And digging the hole and building the actual pool is far and away the biggest cost of an inground pool.

A standard rectangular-shaped pool will in all likelihood cost much less than a custom-shaped pool or one that requires more digging ie. the deeper and larger the pool = higher cost.

Costly factors: Depth of pool, size of pool (total water volume), ease of access to existing electricity and gas lines, ease of access to your backyard (how easily can diggers get in your backyard?). Also, are there any unforeseen factors like underground gas or water lines or large boulders to remove?

Cheaper options: An old school vinyl pool will most likely be much cheaper than a similar-sized fiberglass one. But a smaller fiberglass plunge pool may be cheaper still. Our next door neighbors got a fiberglass plunge pool built rather than a deeper, bigger vinyl pool like ours. It’s premade (fiberglass), is smaller and is typically 4-8 feet deep. They got one that isn’t deep enough to dive in but big enough for swimming. It takes up a smaller footprint in the backyard too. Smaller = cheaper.

Water features look cool but they add to the cost of the pool, might be a novelty you soon tire of and also may cause maintenance problems down the line.
Water features look cool but they add to the cost of the pool, might be a novelty you soon tire of and also may cause maintenance problems down the line.

All those extras

Do you need a diving board? We have a large boulder at the head of the pool in the deep end that acts as a diving board. You can always add one in later if needed.

Do you really need a slide? They’re fun if you’re a kid but if you have no children, you might want to skip it for that reason alone. You can always add one in later too.

Water features are cool but they add up in price. I spoke with our pool company owner who built our pool for the previous owner and he asked me how much I thought our waterfall feature cost to build. It’s on a rock bed with 2 hoses coming out draining into the pool to create the waterfall effect. It looks pretty simple to me. I had no idea of the cost but the $12,000 price he quoted was higher than I thought. Yeah, it’s a cool feature I guess but for $12,000?

Depending on where you live you may need extra support for the concrete for harsh weather. So this isn’t necessarily an option. It might be a must have.

And don’t forget the cost of required safety fencing that your local region requires by law.

Don’t forget the cost of your pool filtration system, vacuum, hoses, winterization gear (caps for water jets to prevent snow and water from getting in the pipes if you live in a winter climate) and more.

And you’ll probably want a winter cover and solar blanket, too. It all adds up.

Hold off buying a heater

If you live in an environment where you already get very hot weather, you might not require a heater to start with. Gas-powered heaters use gas of course (an expense) and need to be maintained (inspected) from time to time. Sometimes they stop working when the gas lines get full of cobwebs and you either have to clean them out yourself or get a pro to do it at your expense.

A decent gas pool heater may run you $1,000 – $5,000 fully installed so there is a wide range depending on manufacturer, size and your specific situation ie. do you need a new gas line put in?

Running a gas heater may cost around $7 per hour of usage depending on your local natural gas cost. It adds up anyways.

Cheaper alternative: Buy a solar pool blanket instead.

Pool Opening and Closing

Pool openings are similar for most pool owners but the closing part may be more involved if you live in a winter environment where pipes can freeze over the winter months. Either way, pool opening and closings cost money if you get a pool company to do them.

You can save money each year by learning how to open and close your pool yourself. If you’re being charged between $100-$350 (average) each time you open and close your pool, so that’s about $200-$700 per year.

The discrepancy in pricing is due to the fact that your local area will dictate the cost. Plus in my experience, a “real” pool company will charge more than a one-person outfit who may do the work as a side gig for cash. The question is what happens if something goes wrong? Will the cheaper option still be around to fix the problem?

Learning how to open and close your pool also gives you flexibility as you can then work on your own schedule rather than on your pool company’s calendar. Plus you learn more about the intricacies of your pool over time which helps for troubleshooting and problem solving down the line.

5 Ways To Save Money On Your Salt Water Pool
A nice bubble solar blanket helps you retain pool heat, attract heat from the sun and is cheaper than a gas heater.

Other Tips For Saving Money On Pool Construction

  • Wait till late in the season to build a pool. Late in the season when work is slowing down, many pool companies may be looking for another pool build and give you a deal. Especially in this economy.
  • You might even find that a mid summer or late spring pool build gets you a discount too.
  • Check and compare prices for both concrete pools and premade fiberglass, smaller plunge pools and other pool types. In your local area, it’s possible that some companies are hurting for work and are willing to offer good prices.
  • Get multiple bids and let the pool companies know you’re shopping around. Don’t take the first price.
  • Look for online reviews before committing. Learn to figure out the fake reviews from the real ones. Read the bad reviews and look for common threads related to timeliness, quality, attentiveness and follow up from each builder. One of our neighbors had to wait half a summer for their pool company to return to fix a problem on warranty.
  • Part of saving money on the cost of a salt water pool may be the money you save down the line when you go with a more expensive company that gives you higher quality and fewer problems over a lower-priced builder with poor quality.
  • Skip landscaping and do that later. Or do it yourself.
  • Learn more about how salt water pools work so you can do much of the maintenance work yourself. It’s cheaper and quicker than relying on a busy pool company who is focused on building expensive pools for other people and not on $50 maintenance jobs for you.

Carl Mueller

I bought a home with a salt water pool in 2006 and soon realized the benefits over traditional chlorinated pools. On this website I'll discuss all the tips and tricks I've learned over the years. I'll also help you troubleshoot various problems with pools in general and ones specific to salt water pools that I've experienced personally!

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