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And when COVID-19 hit, they were glad they had put down a deposit with their pool contractor in late 2019. With lockdowns underway, the couple knew they’d be spending a lot more time at home and they had beat the spring 2020 rush for pool installations. They took their first swim in July.
Today, many pool contractors are fully booked for 2021, and even for 2022, as Canadians who are missing the ability to travel and socialize look for ways to enhance their backyard spaces, as Rubinoff has.
If you’re interested in getting an inground pool, it’s important to know upfront there are numerous choices in pool styles, shapes and sizes along with pool decking (the patio material surrounding your pool)—and they all affect pricing, which can also differ greatly from one provider to another. Rubinoff decided on a fibreglass pool over the other options. “Originally, we budgeted $80,000 and they laughed at us,” Rubinoff shares. “There are costs you don’t think of [and] cheaper isn’t always better.”
As with most major purchases, it’s best to shop around, do your homework and get detailed written estimates before signing a contract. This guide will help you through the process.
Vinyl, fibreglass or concrete: Which is the best option?
Most pool shoppers start with choosing from among the three most common pool materials: vinyl, fibreglass and concrete (also called shotcrete or gunite). Each type has pros and cons in terms of cost, construction, and seasonal or long-term maintenance fees, which can also vary depending on frequency of pool use, quality of upkeep, and the quality of the pump, filtration and sanitation systems. Here are some average price ranges to help you make that initial decision:
|Cost to install
||$70,000 to $90,000
||$85,000 to $100,000
||$95,000 to $130,000
|Cost to maintain seasonally
||$1,200 to $2,000
||$1,000 to $1,800
Pump needs to run twice as long as other pool types, using more electricity
|Cost to maintain long-term
||New liners usually needed after 10 years: $4,500 to $6,000
||May experience cracks (infrequent), which cost around $3,000 to repair
Replacing gel coat on the interior can run $15,000 every 20 to 30 years
|Resurfacing/sealing needed every 20 to 30 years, which can cost approximately $15,000
Can be custom-shaped and -sized
|Can be installed in as little as a few days
Lasts longer than vinyl-liner style
|Customizable size and shape
Can be the longest-lasting of all pool types
||Can take longer than some fibreglass pools to build
Some experts say vinyl pools cannot accommodate salt water
Pets can tear the liner
|Interior finish can require resurfacing after 20 years
Lack of ability to customize shape and size
|Most expensive option
Needs more chemicals and pump run time to stay sanitized
More expensive to build and maintain
Takes the longest time to build
Building an “outdoor living room” to go with your pool
If you want your pool to be the centrepiece of an outdoor living oasis, you may want extras like fire pits or tables, a cabana, a roof or other covering for your patio area, an outdoor kitchen space or a bar. These items aren’t included in standard new pool price packages and their costs can differ greatly among pool contractors.
Pool decking, water features and landscaping
Sometimes referred to as landscaping, along with the trees, flowers or shrubs around your pool area, the decking—or material you use to cover the ground around your pool—may be equally as, or more expensive than the pool itself. Marc Luff, Co-Owner of Betz Pools in Stouffville, Ont., notes that, on average, premium interlocking stones in a large format can cost $27 to $33 per square foot through his firm, while imported natural stone can run about $40 to $45 per square foot. Flagstone laid on concrete is about $50 to $55 per square foot, and natural Canadian dimensional stone is $65 to $75 per square foot. Decking prices vary among pool and landscaping companies, so these prices are only an example of what you might expect to pay. You may be surprised that wood decks are the priciest option, clocking in at around $80 per square foot; that’s because wood on its own would rots quickly from the pool water, and therefore needs poured concrete installed underneath.
Flowing water fountains provide a zen ambience, but even a small one can add $5,000 or more to your total cost, depending on the materials you choose.
Some pool installation packages include a certain number of lights in the pool, but more will cost extra (on average, around $1,500 each), as will replacement bulbs when needed—anywhere from $300 to more than $1,000, depending on the type of bulb.
Greenery landscaping (trees, shrubs and flowers) is yet another way you can spend enormous amounts of money on your pool installation. (Note that the pool installation itself may obliterate your existing lawn or shrubbery.) Define your budget for greenery landscaping after finalizing the costs of the pool and its decking, add-ons and fencing (if needed)—then work with a professional to help you choose best for your style and budget.
Tech has entered the pool world as well. Phone-accessible pool controls are available for added cost, and Marcos Borges of BC Pools in North Vancouver says automated pool covers are also popular, running on average from $15,000 up to $20,000.
Additional costs you may need to cover
The following are important considerations that need to be researched and discussed with your potential contractor, as they can also affect pricing of a new pool: