How much do concrete pools cost?

In one way or another we are all consumers. To my mind swimming pools are conspicuous effigies for consumption. As a kid I always thought any friend of mine whose parents had a pool were wealthy beyond measure. As a (reportedly) grown up pool builder I still think pools are ace but not necessarily the providence of the rich and fabulous.

The cheapest concrete pool we build starts from $40k for a 6m x 3m fully customisable pool with solar heating, salt chlorination, waterline tiles and LED lights etc. There is nothing cheap about $40k but likewise there is nothing cheap about the pool we offer for this price. It’s heated, well lit with multi coloured lights, sanitised by an automatic chlorination system, and finished with tiles and paved coping. We could easily delete our standard inclusions and possibly lower the price to around $30k but we don’t want to build pools that are literally “nude pools”.

In-ground concrete swimming pools are the premium end of the pool market. As per the above, prices start from $40k and go well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A photo of a concrete in-ground pool in Ashburton.

Pool service provisions, fencing and landscaping are an additional expense often adding 25% – 100% of the cost of the pool. This means that the $40k base pool we offer will as a project cost, often cost at least $50k allowing for fencing, services and landscaping.

The average price of a pool we build is around $75k, and I estimate most of our clients spend approximately 35% of the price of the pool on services, pool fencing and landscaping, resulting in a total spend of around $100k.

Key points:

  • Well appointed concrete swimming pools start from $40k.
  • The fencing and landscaping around a swimming pool may cost 25% or more than the cost of the pool.
  • A budget of a $100k will allow you to build nearly any pool project as seen in our pool gallery.

For an accurate price estimate of the pool you’re planning, try our pool price calculator.

Is Pool Maintenance Difficult?

A common misconception about getting a new pool built is that the pool maintenance will take up a lot of your time. But this isn’t true! The key is consistency. By being consistent and having the right equipment, you don’t need to invest much time at all to keep you swimming pool clean year round.

I often tell clients if they spend 10 minutes a week on regular pool maintenance – that’s pretty much all they will need to do on a continuous basis.

The Zodiac V4 4WD robotic pool cleaner

What do I need to do every week?

The 10 minutes can be broken up into:

  • Emptying and checking skimmer and pump baskets
  • Skimming large leaf matter and debris off of the pool surface
  • Checking the dosing equipment
  • Adding salt and replacing the acid drum if required
  • Dropping the robotic pool cleaner into the pool
  • Back-washing the filter

If you commit to a measly 10 minutes every week, you will have absolutely no problem keeping your pool clean. And most importantly, you will be free to enjoy anytime you want!

For more information on pool cleanliness and things to watch out for, visit Better Health Channel.

Pool Sanitation Systems – What We Recommend

Pool sanitation systems are how swimming pool water is disinfected or kept in a healthy and usable condition for swimming. Most pool sanitation systems are based around oxidising agents like chlorine. These agents chemically render water-borne pathogens, such as germs.

Traditional Pool Sanitation Systems (Salt Water Chlorinators)

Historically, chlorine and chlorine generator systems like salt water chlorinators, have been used for sanitising pool water. Chlorine is the most widely used sanitation method for drinking water and treatment of wastewater. Chlorine is noxious and dangerous (but then again, so are hydrogen peroxide, bromide, and UV light systems). However, these these dangerous chemicals and systems of sanitation delivery are required to kill any potentially unhealthy pathogens in your swimming pool water.

A simple salt water chlorination system uses the most wide spread and effective sanitation chemical – chlorine. This is a cost effective and reliable method of sanitation. Additionally, this technology has the ability to monitor and regulate sanitation output. Such salt water chlorine generators have been around for over 20 years and are still the most widely used technology.

pool spa combo with pool sanitation systems“Natural” Pool Sanitation Systems

Just as everything ‘organic’ or living isn’t necessarily advantageous to us, similarly, we shouldn’t avoid all chemicals.

The modern trend demonises chemicals and praises “natural systems.” However, in practice, “natural” systems of sanitation aren’t compatible with modern swimming pools.

So called “fresh water pools” or “natural pools” are rarely practical. They are only possible with vast volumes of water, cold water temps and low bathing loads. Such conditions are rarely preferred in suburban backyard pools.

Proven and effective sanitation systems are best for active families. This is because they suit small water volumes, high water temps and high bathing loads which are seen in the majority of suburban family pools.

Many of the new sanitation systems on the market use buzzwords like “mineral pools,” “fresh-water” and “chemical free.” It is the marketing departments, not the R&D departments that dream up such terms.  In choosing a sanitation system for your swimming pool, the most important consideration should be the effectiveness of the system, along with the practical usability for your family (e.g. allergies).

How much does a pool cost to run?

For most people considering purchasing a pool this is a question very nearly top of mind – perhaps second only to the initial capital outlay: how much does a pool cost to run?

A photo of a pool in Ashburton.

Pool Chemical Costs

At Momentum Pools we build our pools with standard features including full tiling, salt water chlorination and an auto pH dosing systems made by Zodiac. When we first commission the pool after filling we add approx 20Kg of pool salt / 5000litres of water (approx 8 bags ). This salt can be purchased from Bunnings for approx $8 / bag. For continuous use a pool requires 20kg of salt per 5000L of water per year.

Electricity Costs

When we build clients swimming pools we always specify variable speed pumps and solar heating such as Sunbather’s solar heating and Zodiac’s compact heating. And against trend I offer clients the following advice:

Run your pool equipment for the minimum amount of time each day.

This means in summer run your filter pump for 4 hrs per day and less in Winter. Top dose sanitiser levels through adding granulated chlorine manually. Yes – your pool equipment can do this – but the energy intensive processes, provides a poor cost return. Overall, the running costs associated with running a pool are complex with many variables as well as the interplay within the variables themselves adding to the complexity.

Filter Pumps
In low speed mode use 0.6Kw of electricity x 4hrs = $0.48 per day*

Solar Pump
Assuming 4hrs of use per day = 0.6Kw of electricity x 4hrs = $0.48 per day*

Salt Chlorinator
Assuming 4hrs of use per day = 0.6Kw of electricity x 4hrs = $0.48 per day*

*Based on a rate of $0.20 per kWhr

For an accurate comparison of energy providers visit https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au/.

 Water Cost

To calculate the approximate initial water cost, please try our pool filling cost estimator.

In terms of evaporative water loss – even with solar heating your pool should only lose water in the peak summer season from mid November through to mid March. On average approx 5 – 10mm of water per day or 0.005 – 0.01m of water will be lost off the surface of the pool. This means a total water loss for the period of 120 days x 25 ( sqm ) x 0.005 – 0.01 = 15 – 30cm of water or 15,000 – 30,000L. Whilst this figure seems high its offset by Melbourne rainfall in this period on average of 250mm for the 120 days or approx 9500L of water hence the average pool will need a net water input of approx 5000 – 20,000L of water for the year or approx $20 – $80 of water.

How deep do I make my pool?

Setting water depths in domestic pools is a tricky subject. The dangers of diving into shallow water are a huge risk. Similarly deep water poses a drowning risk to young kids and poor swimmers. Taking a look at the statistics, and it is a clear issue in Australia. Public access pools have been re-designed in the last 20 years to have shallow water external step entries with graduated step drops of 200mm to enter the pool shallow ends with depths generally set at between 900 – 1100mm.

Deep end water depths are rarely more than 1800mm. This has resulted in the practice of diving into pools being banned. Many diving pools with water depths of less than 4m have been decommissioned as unsafe. The reduction in pool water depth has been brought about to reduce drowning and increase the usable area within pools.

Its seems an oxymoron but people don’t swim in pools. They get wet and cool off. This is not withstanding the lap swimming times early in the morning etc. at 50m pools etc.

The take away on pool depth

So when it comes to the average backyard pool depth there a few basic golden rules:

  • Don’t allow anyone to dive in your pool
  • People will primarily stand and sit within the pool.
  • Increase the usable area (the water depth between waist and shoulder depth for teenagers ( often the primary pool users)

I advise that you build a pool with a shallow end water depth of 1.0 – 1.2m and a deep end water depth of 1.6 – 1.8m. This will allow for usable and manageable water depths as well as a smooth elongated transition zone with a steady floor gradient between the shallow and the deep end.

Swimming Pool Depth

Like many of our pools, this pool includes a full length bench seat. We’ve found that the deep end gets a lot more use when there’s a bench seat nearby to swim back to and rest on.

 

Is full tiling worth it?

When customers ask us why we will only fully tile, we just point out that nearly every commercial pool in Australia is fully tiled.

Why tiles?

We recommend pool tiling because it is more durable, smoother, less chemically reactive and colourfast. This is when compared to the alternatives – quartz renders, pebble linings and painted finishes. However, if your budget doesn’t stretch to tiles we will fit waterline tiles and fine pebble interiors where required – but we still like tiles a lot!

Mt Martha Concrete Pool Melbourne by Momentum Pools

While it may be cheaper not to fully tile your pool, we believe the quality, durability, and look is well worth it

Momentum Pools uses only the best available tiles to give your new pool that “oh so glorious” final look. Here are some of our tile suppliers:

  • GNS Ceramics
  • Ceramic Solutions
  • The Pool Tile Company
  • Perrini

Filling your pool

How much does it cost to fill a pool?

The average suburban in-ground pool with a surface area of 25sqm starts off by containing approx 38,000L of water. By the time the local regulatory authorities apply their charges of approximately $4 per 1000L, the cost would be around $150 of water.

Try our Cost Calculator below to get an estimate.
 

Water Loss due to Evaporation

pool cover

A pool cover can reduce water loss due to evaporation.

In terms of water loss, your pool should only lose water in the peak summer season from mid November through to mid March. On average, evaporation will lead to a lose of approximately 5 – 10mm of water per day.

This means a total water loss for the period of summer should be:

120 days x 25 sqm  x 0.005 m/0.01m = 15 – 30cm of water or 15,000 – 30,000L.

Whilst this figure seems high, Melbourne’s reasonably high rainfall will offset this by an average of 250 mm for the 120 days or approx 9,500 L of water.

Consequently, this means the average in-ground pool will need a net water input of approx 5000 – 20,000L of water for the year or approx $20 – $80 of water.

However, you can greatly reduce water loss by installing a pool cover. We recommend Sunbather’s hidden pool covers.

Equipment Manuals

Please find below manuals for products we use and recommend:

1. Multi-Color Light Models
http://www.spaelectrics.com.au/product-manuals/

2. Zodiac Flo-Pro Epump
https://www.zodiac.com.au/flopro-epump

3. Waterco – Solar Controller
Zane PC5 manual.pdf

4. Sunbather – Solar Controller
Sunswitch Wired Controller Booklet.pdf

 

Choosing a Pool Builder

When choosing a pool builder, there are some key steps you can follow to make the best choice for your particular needs.

Obtain References

You should be able to obtain references easily from any reputable builder. Ask for details of people who have contracted similar work to yours and arrange to visit them. This allows you to view the finished product, check finer details (such as tile finishes) and speak to the previous customer directly about the company. If a builder cannot provide references, it may be best to look elsewhere.

Installing the pool plumbing

Ensure the Builder has insurance

Any builder should be insured, to cover against damages to property during work, contractor injury, etc. during work. Obtain details of this insurance so that you know you are not taking on any unknown liabilities. Any issues here are a clear red flag.

Ensure you Really Understand the Payment and Cost Structure

It is a good idea to find out how much of the build price you will pay up front and when the rest will be requested by the builder. For example, if you are asked to pay more than 66% of the cost before the pools concrete layer has been added, it is advisable to look elsewhere.

Take care to establish exactly what is covered by the contract in terms of works and cost. If a builder hits rock while digging, this can lead to delays and cost increases. It is a good idea to speak to the builder beforehand and confirm these details.

Some builders do not include formwork, electrical work, etc. in the contract, resulting in an increase in costs when it comes to both the in-ground pool installation itself, and the finishing of the garden space you set out to build. Ensure that all works you are seeking to have done are included in the contract and the price, prior to signing.

Ask the Pool Builder to come to the Site Prior to Quoting

When it comes to the quote itself, be sure not to trust a blind over-the-phone or general quote. Reputable builders will only quote a price once the envisaged works have been carefully talked out and confirmed, and the space in which the work is to be done has been surveyed. If a price seems too good to be true from someone who has not done this, then it likely is.

Make Sure you Feel Comfortable

Finally, you should be comfortable with the builder you select, and be able to build some kind of rapport with them. You will be working closely with them throughout the project and, as such, it is important you feel good about them, and can trust them.

If you end up choosing Momentum Pools, feel free to contact us for more information about how we operate.

Waterproofing swimming pools

Waterproofing swimming pools is a critical component of the construction works required when building a pool. Historically, the trade of “waterproofing” didn’t exist. Certainly within the swimming pool industry, no specific specialised trades were ever employed to waterproof the structure of the pool. Instead, in-ground pool builders relied on:

  • the density and thickness of the concrete pool shell
  • the relative impermeability of the surface coatings applied to the concrete pool form
  • the epoxy seals and expandable foams to seal around penetrations (pipes, etc).

It’s probably best if I explained the mechanisms by which swimming pools leak before going into waterproofing methods

Most people imagine a pool leak in a swimming pool to be related to the failure of plumbing lines. Although this is sometimes the case, it is uncommon and easily fixed due to:

  • the widespread use of pipe pressure testing equipment to check for failed lines
  • the use of mini excavators to excavate the pluming lines to fail safe depths.

Pools also leak through “penetration leaks”. Simply, this is when water leaks out of the pool concrete form around the pipe or fitting penetration. Pool builders try to mitigate these type of leaks through applying epoxy collars and swell-able water stops. This works really well when correctly implemented.

The other type of water leak in a swimming pool and by far the hardest to fix is a “structural leak”. In this type of leak, water leaks through the concrete form of the pool shell at a slow and often undetectable rate. Most people aren’t even aware of having a “penetration or structural leak” in their swimming pool. Unless they can visually see a buildup of water on an exposed part of the pool, it is difficult to notice a leak.

This pool captures the modern design brief, built on the property boundary as well as the residence boundary and in full view from all living areas it abutts. It’s a showstopper, which relies on a modern in-floor cleaning system to keep it clean - as it can only be accessed from a single paved entry side.

Leaks in Older Swimming Pools

Past building practices meant that nearly every swimming pool shell was built in-ground and was fully concealed within the excavation. A penetration or structural leak in an in-ground pool, built as such, would be undetectable. It is integral with modern building styles of elevating pools and building pools within apartments that the pool is waterproof. In these builds, even a small leak will show up in plaster works or the walls of the levels immediately below the pool. Hence, the present need for a specialist trade and methods in waterproofing pools.

Preventing Leaks

At Momentum Pools we mitigate water loss via swimming pool leaks through the following best practices:

  • Plumbing leaks – We pressure test pipes and use our own excavator to dig trenches so they are at a safe depth. We also locate our pool plumbing lines near the pool shell and try to limit all services being enclosed in single service trench. Finally, we often back-fill over our plumbing lines with ¼ minus screenings or friable sand.
  • Penetration leaks – we fit epoxy collars around all our pipes and penetrations using a thixotropic plural component epoxy such as “ferrope”. We also use swell-able water stops when needed.
  • Structural leaks – we fit a 2 component polyurethane sprayed membrane, such as “Rhino Linings Tuff Stuff.” This is a practically indestructible and completely impermeable membrane lining. We have our own spray rig to fit these liners and have 2 specially trained staff who have completed the Rhino training course. Please note –  this is a highly specialised and consequently expensive process. It is best suited to critical waterproofing applications in apartment buildings, etc. where even a small water loss forms a critical problem.

We don’t fit membranes when a pool is to be built in a traditional fashion, fully encased within an earth excavation. This is because the small water loss of a few litres a day (if at all) is minuscule and not worth the expense of fitting an expensive membrane lining to the pool form.

We often fit very dense 3:1 render mixes with polymer modified render linings to our pool forms. This is part of the tiling process. This creates a near impenetrable barrier to water loss, although small leaks through such cementitious linings are a low possibility.

Important Points

  • Pools can and do leak. Your pool builder should state in the contract/quote some of the methods employed to prevent water leaks
  • The only way of guaranteeing no water leaks is to fit a whole structure membrane lining of the type. We use “Rhino Linings Tuff Stuff” to ensure this in appropriate jobs.
  • If your pool builder tells you he has “never had a leaking pool” he is either in denial or telling you what you want to hear
  • Do an evaporation test to work out if your pool leaks or not. Contact Momentum Pools and we will guide you through the process on how to go about it