Also called “dipping pools,” many people consider a plunge pool to be a great alternative to a traditional swimming pool if they’re lacking in space. You might not be swimming laps in a plunge pool, but these small pools still give you plenty of room to exercise or relax after a long day.
Before you start buying bathing suits, the first step in installing your plunge pool is figuring out the cost and budgeting for it. So, if you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s what you need to know.
Plunge Pool Total Cost: A Quick Summary
The price tag of your plunge pool can vary, especially when you’re factoring in things like labor and materials. However, on average, most homeowners pay around $25,000. For minimal landscaping, labor, and materials, some homeowners might be able to get that number down to $10,000.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a plunge pool that uses top-notch materials like concrete and comes with tons of special features might cost closer to a ballpark of $40,000 or $50,000.
For a closer estimate, you’ll need to take a closer look at where you plan to put your plunge pool, what materials you’ll use, and even the price of the contractor you might be interested in hiring.
Plunge Pool Size: Does it Affect Price?
Most of the time, size plays a major role in the price of your pool. A bigger pool usually means more materials and more construction time. However, the plunge pool might be one of the only exceptions to this rule. Since these pools are pretty standard in size, there isn’t as much differentiation. The biggest differentiation is typically whether you want an inground pool or above ground pool.
While people can make their plunge pools as small as they want, most of these pools measure around 6 x 12 feet or 8 x 8 with the depth rarely exceeding six feet. In some cases, a larger plunge pool might be around 8 x 16 feet. However, if you go much larger than that, you’ll have to begin looking at prices for an inground swimming pool, not a plunge pool.
In recent years, the “infinity edge” pool design has become more popular with plunge pools, but it’s an expensive upgrade. The bigger design gives your plunge pool the appearance of being endless, but they can be tricky to install. Even once you’ve found a contractor willing to do the work, you can expect to pay anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 for this specific type of plunge pool.
Estimating the Cost of Construction Materials
Where you really begin to see differences in price is with the construction materials. Most plunge pools use one of three materials: concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl.
If you’re planning to build a concrete plunge pool, you shouldn’t expect to pay any less than $25,000. In fact, depending on specific measurements, the total cost could be closer to $40,000.
There’s a reason why the cost is so high with concrete. Unlike vinyl or fiberglass pools, you can’t use a pre-made concrete liner. Your contractor will have to need to mix and pour the concrete. The upside is that there’s more room for customization or design options with gunite and shotcrete, and you won’t have to worry about getting tears or rips in the liner.
- More durable
- No need to worry about tears or rips in the liner
- You might need to perform an acid wash every 3-5 years to prevent mold buildup and leaks
If you don’t have a custom size or design in mind, you’ll probably find that using a fiberglass basin is a cheaper alternative. Fiberglass is still one of the most common construction materials for plunge pools, and it’ll cost you around $10,000 and $25,000. Keep in mind that the basin itself might not cost $10,000, but when you tack on labor and excavation costs, these numbers will seem a little more accurate.
The good news is that fiberglass cuts down on the installation time, and these basins are usually easy to maintain over time.
- Less construction and installation time
- Cheaper than using concrete
- Easy to maintain
- Rips or tears might form in the basin over time
- Less design and customization options
When you’re dealing with vinyl liner, the cost usually ranges from $10,000 to $20,000. Like fiberglass, your contractor can use a pre-made liner and install it in less time than it takes to deal with concrete.
Although the initial cost of a vinyl liner is lower than fiberglass or concrete, keep in mind that it might not have the same lifespan as the other two either. Most homeowners end up having to replace their vinyl five to nine years after installation.
- The surface is non-abrasive
- Easy to customize
- Easy to maintain
- Doesn’t have as long of a lifespan
Maintenance and Labor Costs
Beyond construction materials, daily maintenance and the labor costs for your contractor make up a big slice of your overall bill.
Just because it’s smaller than a traditional swimming pool doesn’t mean that the plunge pool is any easier (or cheaper) to maintain from month to month. You’ll still need to purchase for your plunge pool as well as store it in an appropriate location.
Your chlorine costs might be a little lower than a regular pool, but you can still expect to spend $300 to $400 annually on maintenance costs. This covers the cost of chlorine as well as any other balancing agents you might need to add to the water regularly to maintain the right chemical composition.
Keep in mind that your filter cartridges will probably need to be replaced every one or two years. Replacing the filter itself is usually something owners have to do every two or three years as well, depending on how often they use the pool. It’s safe to assume that the more you use the pool, the more frequently you’ll need to worry about replacing and maintaining your cartridges, filter pump, and heater.
As far as cleaning goes, this is a part of maintenance you won’t be able to avoid. If you want to prevent sanitary issues, you’ll probably need to invest $50 to $100 in tools like a telescoping pole and a net skimmer.
Unless you’re a seasoned professional yourself, you’ll likely need to hire a contractor or pool builder to put your dipping pool in. Labor costs can add up to almost half of your total bill, especially if you’re using a material like concrete that takes longer to install.
Generally, you should expect to pay at least $1,000 for labor costs, but it could be up to $15,000 in some cases. As already mentioned, fiberglass and vinyl have quicker installation times and generally lower labor costs.
The good news is that most contractors can give you an accurate estimate if you know the size and material you’d like to use for your plunge pool.
Other Factors That Can Influence Price
Construction materials, labor, and maintenance might have the biggest price tags, but these aren’t the only expenses you’ll need to worry about. If you’re thinking about a DIY installation, make sure to consider these factors, which may sway your decision to go with a professional pool builder instead.
Getting a Permit
If you’ve never owned a pool before, you might not realize that most municipalities require you to get a permit — even for a plunge pool. Generally, if your plunge pool is going to be more than two feet deep, you should budget a little bit of money for permit costs.
Not all municipalities calculate their permit fees the same way, but it’s usually a good idea to set aside at least $150 for the permit alone. Oftentimes, cities charge just for reviewing your plan, zoning, and then giving you the actual permit.
Land Excavation Costs
Excavation costs for a plunge pool tend to fall on the low side, especially if you don’t plan for your pool to be more than six feet deep or have many water features, which can increase the size. With excavation, some contractors include this cost in their estimates, but not all of them do.
Regardless, excavating your backyard usually ends up being around $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the exact size of your pool. If you’re trying to install a special design, like an “infinity edge” plunge pool, you’ll probably pay more than $5,000.
When you’re looking for a contractor, don’t forget to ask whether excavation is included in the estimate they give you. This way, you can budget accordingly to avoid hidden surprises.
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While a plunge pool might not cost as much as a traditional pool (and certainly less than a natural one), that doesn’t mean you won’t have to worry about hidden costs. From calculating the size and construction materials to figuring out the maintenance and labor, there’s a lot to think about.
Even if it feels a little intimidating at first, a lot of planning, communication, and an accurate estimate can go a long way toward making sure you’re budgeting the right amount for your plunge pool cost.