Tuesday, June 30, 2020

We Got a New Pool -- How Much It Cost and What We Needed

Growing up I didn't really know anyone with a backyard pool. I mean, I knew people with baby pools, wading pools that anyone over the edge of 2 or 3 wouldn't really appreciate, definitely nothing an adult or teenagers could enjoy. I assumed that in order to have a real pool you needed to be extremely wealthy, so never even thought about having one.

Fast forward a bunch of years, and my friend Libby, who, while not extremely frugal, is pretty money conscious, and isn't "rich" by any stretch of the imagination, tells me that she has a pool that her whole family uses. I was shocked, because, as I mentioned, pools in my mind were for rich folk only. But Libby taught me that you could have an above ground pool that fits in your backyard, which you then put away for the winter, and it is pretty affordable.

And so, it was a dream of mine to get one once we had our own backyard. But things happened and it never was a priority and I never got around to getting one. And then corona happened, and with everyone more or less stuck at home (even once things are opened, just for comfort's sake) I decided that this summer I'd be getting one.

And then I went to my scratch and dent store, and what do you know- they were selling a 3 meter diameter, 1 meter deep, round pool, for a very affordable price. So I got it.

We set it up, but I honestly was clueless about what I actually needed, and how many more expenses there would be involved, so I turned to friends with pools and joined various Facebook groups to learn more.

Here's what I ended up needing for the pool, and how much it all cost me.

The pool itself cost $314 and it included the frame, the liner, a pump, and a safety ladder- more on that in a minute.

I bought a cover for $14, but honestly it seems like a waste, I'm not bothering to put it on most nights.

I asked people what I needed to put in the water to make it stay safe, and the two main options are chlorine and salt water, but salt water is much harder to do right, and in terms of chlorinating my pool the recommendation I got from my friends with pools is that with a pool this size I want chlorine tablets and a floater for it. I decided to buy a bunch of tablets at once, and they, together with a floater, and a skimming net cost me $54. I probably overbought the chlorine tablets, but this stuff doesn't go off, so if I use it for next year all is good.

Then I had some additional costs. I originally wanted to put my pool on the tiled area in my backyard, and thought that that would be a nice size for a pool, but surprise surprise, the pool was even bigger than the entire tiled area (I'm not complaining) so then I needed to do stuff to prepare the untiled area of my ground for the pool.

I cleaned out the dirt and flattened the ground as much as I could, then lay down our synthetic grass on top of it (yes, I bought it last year but it took until I got a pool for me to actually lay it out). And then I set up the pool. Filled it up.

So isn't water expensive? Well, depends how much water you need to use. It took overnight to fill the pool. This pool has 7 cubic meter in it, and well our water bill is complicated. We have a certain allotment of water per family member living here, and once we go over our allotment it costs more. First allotment is $1.02 per cubic meter, so that would be $7.50 for the water, but second allotment costs $2.80 per cubic meter, so if we ended up using more than our allotted amount the pool would cost a vast $19.80 to fill. Really reasonable. Of course bigger pools will use more water, but even then it's not a ridiculous amount.

Ok, so after we filled it up, we saw that I hadn't cleaned the dirt under it well enough, since I felt things poking through, and I didn't want to chance anything poking a hole through, and the ground wasn't totally flat either like it should be, so I decided to let out the water and restart.

I looked into buying lots of sand or dirt delivered to my house to level my yard completely, but it was ridiculously overpriced, at least 300 dollars for a delivery of a huge amount, but no one delivered smaller amounts, and I didn't need anything major. So I decided to go to a gardening store and buy dirt there.

I bought 2 giant bags of soil from the nursery for $40 and used them to flatten out the dirt more and also soften it once I took out anything pokey.

But I decided to do things right, and get algecide and a pH tester before I filled the pool again, things I forgot about doing the first time around.

The algecide was $11 and the ph tester kit was $27.

And then we filled it again. So that's either another $7.50 or $19.80 for that water.

And lastly, safety. While the pool isn't deep and my kids can all stand in it, and its an above ground pool so no one can actually fall into it, that doesn't mean I don't need to be concerned about safety. I thought about removing the ladder and locking it far away from the pool, but I was told that that can be a problem also, as if someone somehow manages to fall into the pool, they need a way to climb out. The ladder that came with our pool actually is a special ladder specifically meant for safety purposes- the rungs in the pool always stay there, so people can always climb out, but there is a mechanism to lift the outer rungs up off the ground so you can't climb up into the pool. It hooks up onto the top of the ladder, but I decided to buy a lock and a chain to secure it there so no one can lower it and climb into the pool and accidentally drown, unless I first unlock it. This cost me an extra $10.
P.S. If you notice, the trampoline to the side doesn't have a net. It's currently not in use since the poles holding up the net broke so I'm still looking for replacement poles. Don't worry, safety is very important to me!

So total for the pool and all our related expenses? $529.40 if we used the larger allotment of water, and $504.8 if we didn't go over.

No, you don't have to be rich to have a pool. At least not this kind.

No, this isn't an enormous pool, and maybe one day I'll like to get a bigger pool (but that would mean getting rid of the trampoline, since we don't have room for a larger pool and a trampoline in our yard) but for now this is a great way to cool off. I can't exactly do laps, but today I did manage to do some elementary backstroke (with my head against the side so I wasn't moving anywhere) and get some exercise in despite my being nearly half the diameter of the pool in height. My kids are having a blast playing in it, and I'm teaching them basic swimming techniques, which my kids are still small enough to be able to do in a pool that size.

If you thought pools were just for rich people, think again. It is definitely much cheaper than I thought it would be, and it makes me sad that we went so many summers without this fun way to cool off.

These pools should last quite a few years (my friend Libby is on her eighth year, if I recall correctly) and it comes with a patch kit just in case it springs a leak. So this is many years of summer fun for a very reasonable price tag.

P.S. In case anyone was wondering, I'm a trained lifeguard and experienced swimming teacher.

Do you have a pool? What size? How much do you spend on it? Original costs and yearly? Have you wanted a pool but thought it wasn't affordable? Did this post make you realize it is more affordable than you thought?


  1. Kudos on the pool. I hope your family has a great summer with it. I chose a neighborhood with an HOA because it comes with a community pool. Unfortunately the HOA decided not to open it this year due to Covid19 and the cost of insurance needed for Covid19. Wish I could have a private pool, but that's not allowed.

  2. I'm glad you found a pool that fits you and your children's needs and enjoyment. Wondering what brand it is. It's good to hear what you and the family are up to plus what a great frugal deal you got on the pool. Be safe and keep having fun!

  3. Pool looks awesome! Costs seem reasonable too - I'm in the UK so our weather doesn't really warrant a pool, but I'm cnsidering a hot tub.

  4. How fun! And amazingly reasonable investment.

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