Also called “dipping pools,” many people consider a plunge pool a great alternative to a traditional swimming pool if they lack 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. So, if you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s what you need to know.
Plunge Pool Total Cost: A Quick Summary
Plunge pools are much smaller than standard inground pools, and the size difference is definitely reflected in the cost. While an standard inground pool costs around $60,000 on average, a plunge pool costs much less.
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 $22,000. For a small plunge pool with 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 larger plunge pool that uses top-notch materials like concrete and comes with special features might cost closer to $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?
Unsurprisingly, size plays a major role in the price of a pool. A bigger pool uses more materials and takes more time to build. Most plunge pools are between 6 to 12 feet wide and 8 to 22 feet long. While this isn’t as big of a size difference as you get with normal pools, the size can still have a major impact on the cost of your plunge pool. That said, the biggest determining factors in the price of a plunge pool is whether you want an inground pool or above ground pool and the materials used in the pool.
While people can make their plunge pools as small as they want, most measure around 6 x 12 feet or 8 feet x 8 feet, with the depth rarely exceeding six feet. Larger plunge pools exist, but as you get larger, the pool essentially becomes an inground swimming pool, not a plunge pool.
Estimating the Cost of Construction Materials
Since most plunge pools are around the same size, the construction materials are where you really begin to see price differences. Most plunge pools use one of three materials: concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl.
Concrete Plunge Pool
Concrete is the most expensive option for a plunge pool. If you’re planning to build a concrete plunge pool, you shouldn’t expect to pay any less than $20,000. 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. However, concrete pools also generally require more maintenance and have more ongoing costs than fiberglass or vinyl pools.
- Very customizable
- 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 algae buildup and staining
- You may need to replaster the pool, and they require more chemicals than other options
- Can be more than twice as expensive as fiberglass or vinyl plunge pools
Fiberglass Plunge Pool
Most of the time, when you are installing a plunge pool, you don’t need an intricate custom design. So, if you don’t mind sacrificing customization, you’ll find that using a fiberglass basin is a much cheaper alternative. Fiberglass is still one of the most common construction materials for plunge pools, and it’ll cost you around $10,000 and $30,000. A small fiberglass shell might cost as little as $7,000 on its own, 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 installation time, they last a very long time, and these basins are usually easier and cheaper to maintain over time.
- Less construction and installation time
- Cheaper than using concrete
- Easy and cheaper to maintain
- Can last up to 30 years
- Less design and customization options
- Cost more than vinyl liners
Vinyl Liner Plunge Pool
Vinyl plunge pools are the cheapest option as the vinyl liner is the more cost-effective material for building your pool. Vinyl liners usually range from $8,000 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 does not have as long of a lifespan as the other two types. Most homeowners have to replace their vinyl liner every five to nine years after installation.
- The surface is non-abrasive
- Easy to customize
- Easy to maintain
- Requires more maintenance and repairs than fiberglass plunge pools.
- Doesn’t have as long of a lifespan
Above Ground Plunge Pool Cost
If you are on a tighter budget, an above ground plunge pool is your best bet. Above ground plunge pools can cost as little as $1,500 for a small option with steel framing and over $10,000 for a more permanent option with quality materials. The installation cost for above ground pools is much lower as they won’t require excavation, and for simpler designs, you may even be able to DIY.
For more on above ground pool costs, check out my cost breakdown.
Maintenance and Labor Costs
Beyond construction materials, daily maintenance and 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 plunge pools are any easier (or cheaper) to maintain from month to month.
Your chlorine and other chemical costs might be slightly lower than a regular pool, but you can still expect to spend $300 to $600 annually on maintenance costs (more if you have a concrete pool). This covers the cost of chlorine and any other balancing agents you might need to add to the water regularly to maintain the proper chemical composition.
Keep in mind that your filter media will probably need to be replaced every one or two years. You should also check and clean out your cartridge filter every 4-6 months, depending on how often you 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. To prevent sanitary issues, you’ll probably need to invest $100 to $500 in tools like a telescoping pole, pool cover, pool vacuum, and a net skimmer.
Unless you’re a seasoned professional, 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 cost more than $7,000 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, 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 more than two feet deep, you should budget a little bit 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 $350 for the permit alone. Depending on the type of pool and your municipality, the cost can dramatically vary, so doing your research and contacting your city council is imperative. Often, cities charge just for reviewing your plan and zoning and then they’ll give 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. In general, you can expect to pay between $40 and $220 per cubic yard of excavated land. So, a 6 x 12 x 6-foot pool will cost between $640 and $3,500.
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.
Infinity Edge 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 makes your plunge pool appear endless, but it 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. These pools generally cost as much as 40% more than normal-walled inground pools.
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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. There’s a lot to think about, from calculating the size and construction materials to figuring out the maintenance and labor.
Even if it feels a little intimidating initially, a lot of planning, communication, and an accurate estimate can go a long way toward ensuring you’re budgeting the right amount for your plunge pool.