Breaking Down the Costs: What You Need to Know About Building a Pool in Southern California

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Swimming Pool in Southern California?


Building a swimming pool in Southern California can be a significant investment, with costs ranging from $85,000 to $150,000 on average and exceeding $400,000 for custom designs. Understanding the cost to build a swimming pool in Southern California is crucial for homeowners planning to enhance their outdoor living spaces.

Several key factors influence pool construction costs in this region:

  • Size and Depth: Larger and deeper pools require more materials and labor.
  • Location: The property’s location can affect ease of access and overall construction complexity.
  • Materials: Choices such as inground concrete are often recommended for durability and customization.
  • Features: Additional elements like waterfalls, LED lighting, and heating systems can elevate both aesthetic appeal and cost.

This article will cover:

  • The average cost to build an inground swimming pool in Southern California
  • Considerations for custom pool pricing
  • Material finishes and their impact on the project
  • Enhancements like water features and lighting systems
  • The value proposition of swimming pools in property valuation
  • Navigating market conditions and buyer preferences

For expert guidance on your pool construction journey, consult Alan Smith Pools, renowned for their professional pool remodeling services in Orange County. Their premier pool resurfacing and replastering services in Orange County can transform your pool with their expert craftsmanship. You can also explore pool tile selection options they offer to add a touch of elegance to your project.

Understanding the Average Cost to Build an Inground Swimming Pool in Southern California

Cost Range for Inground Pools

Building an inground swimming pool in Southern California typically ranges from $85,000 to $150,000. For custom projects with unique designs and high-end features, costs can soar above $400,000. The significant variation in prices underscores the importance of understanding the specific factors that influence these costs.

Key Factors Affecting Pool Construction Costs

Size and Depth

  • Size: Larger pools require more materials and labor, leading to higher costs. For instance, a standard 12×24 feet pool will be less expensive than a 20×40 feet pool.
  • Depth: Deeper pools necessitate additional excavation work and structural support, which also drives up costs.


  • Property Location: Pools built on uneven or sloped terrains may require extensive grading and retaining walls, increasing construction complexity and expenses.
  • Access: Easy access to the construction site can lower labor costs. Conversely, difficult access may require specialized equipment and manual labor, thereby raising overall expenses.


The choice of materials for various components of the pool significantly impacts the cost:

  • Interior Finishes: Options such as plaster, pebble, or quartz finishes vary in durability and price.
  • Waterline Tile: Mosaic tiles offer aesthetic appeal but come at a higher price compared to standard ceramic tiles.
  • Coping and Decking: Materials like natural stone or textured concrete provide different levels of durability and style at varying price points.

Budgeting for Your Pool Project

Setting a realistic budget is crucial for homeowners considering an inground pool. Factors such as size, location, and material choices should be meticulously evaluated. A detailed budget helps in planning finances effectively and ensures that there are no unexpected financial strains during the construction process.

Example Budget Breakdown:

Component Estimated Cost Range
Excavation $10,000 – $20,000
Shell (concrete/gunite) $30,000 – $50,000
Plumbing & Electrical $15,000 – $25,000
Finishes (plaster/tiles) $10,000 – $30,000
Decking & Coping $10,000 – $25,000
Permits & Inspections $2,000 – $5,000

By understanding these factors and planning accordingly, homeowners can embark on their pool construction journey with confidence.

The Appeal of Custom Inground Swimming Pools in Southern California

Custom inground swimming pools are highly desirable among Southern California homeowners due to their durability and ability to be tailored to individual preferences. Unlike standard pools, custom options offer a wide range of design choices that can transform an ordinary backyard into a luxurious oasis.

Key Factors to Consider for Custom Inground Pool Pricing

When planning for a custom inground pool, it’s essential to understand the various factors that can impact its overall cost. By considering these key elements upfront, homeowners can make informed decisions about their pool project and ensure that it aligns with their budgetary constraints.

1. Size and Depth Considerations

The size and depth of a pool play a significant role in determining its price. Here’s why:

  • Impact on Material Requirements: Larger and deeper pools require more materials, including concrete, rebar, and tiling. For instance, a standard 20×40 ft pool might use about 50 cubic yards of concrete, whereas a larger pool could require up to 100 cubic yards.
  • Construction Complexity: Deeper pools necessitate more complex excavation and support structures. A pool with an 8-foot deep end will involve more labor and engineering compared to a uniform 4-foot depth pool.

To give you a better idea of how size affects cost, here’s an estimated price range for different pool dimensions:

Pool Size (ft) Estimated Cost Range
15×30 $85,000 – $120,000
20×40 $120,000 – $160,000
Custom sizes >$400,000

Example: A custom-designed infinity pool measuring 25×50 ft with varying depths can cost upwards of $450,000 due to increased concrete usage and sophisticated structural requirements.

2. Location on Property

The location of the pool within your property can also impact its cost. Here are two key considerations:

  • Ease of Construction Access: Properties with limited access may require specialized equipment like cranes or manual labor for transporting materials. This can add significant costs to the project.
  • Site Preparation: Sloped terrains or rocky soil types increase excavation complexity. Flattening a hilly backyard can involve additional grading work and retaining wall construction.

Example: Constructing a pool in a hillside property in Malibu might incur extra costs for retaining walls and specialized excavation equipment, potentially adding $20,000 to $50,000 to the budget.

3. High-Quality Materials and Additional Features

The choice of materials and inclusion of extra features can further elevate the cost of a custom inground pool. Here’s how:

  • Material Selection: Opting for premium finishes such as glass tiles or natural stone elevates both aesthetics and price. A pebble finish might add around $10,000-$15,000 compared to basic plaster.
  • Enhanced Features: Integrating features like waterfalls, jets, LED lighting systems, or automated covers increases overall costs but enhances functionality and visual appeal.

Key features impacting price:

  • Water features (e.g., waterfalls): $5,000 – $15,000
  • LED lighting systems: $1,500 – $3,500
  • Automated covers: $6,000 – $12,000
  • Heating systems: $5,000 – $10,000

Example: A custom pool equipped with cascading waterfalls ($10K), LED lights ($2K), and automated cover ($8K) could see an additional investment of around $20K on top of base construction costs.

4. Labor Costs and Timelines

The complexity of your pool design and the duration of the project can impact labor costs. Here’s why:

  • Skill Level Required: Specialized designs call for skilled craftsmen which raises labor rates.
  • Project Duration: Complex custom projects extend timelines; longer projects mean higher labor costs.

A dedicated project manager ensures seamless execution but adds to the overall budget. Projects involving intricate masonry or advanced plumbing/electrical work can extend timelines by several weeks or months.

By understanding these factors—size & depth considerations, location-specific challenges, material choices & additional features—homeowners can make informed decisions about their custom inground swimming pools in Southern California.

Choosing the Right Material Finishes for Your Inground Swimming Pool

Selecting suitable material finishes for different areas of an inground pool is crucial for both functionality and style. Homeowners often choose custom designs even though they cost more because they are more durable and offer more options for customization.

Popular Material Finishes

Mosaic Tiles for Waterline

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Mosaic tiles come in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing homeowners to create unique and visually appealing waterline designs.
  • Durability: These tiles are resistant to chemicals and UV rays, making them long-lasting.
  • Maintenance: Easy to clean, reducing long-term maintenance efforts.

Textured Stone for Coping

  • Slip Resistance: Textured stone provides a grip, which enhances safety by preventing slips.
  • Temperature Regulation: Natural stones tend to stay cooler under direct sunlight, offering comfort.
  • Variety: Available in numerous textures and colors, allowing customization to match overall pool aesthetics.

Slip-Resistant Decking Choices

  • Safety: Slip-resistant materials like brushed concrete or rubberized surfaces minimize accidents.
  • Comfort: These choices are gentle on bare feet and provide a comfortable walking surface.
  • Design Options: A wide range of patterns and finishes are available, enabling tailored designs that complement the pool area.

Benefits of Durable Materials

Using durable materials like concrete for inground pools offers significant benefits:

  • Longevity: Concrete is highly resistant to weather conditions and general wear and tear.
  • Customization: Concrete can be molded into various shapes, sizes, and depths, offering unparalleled flexibility in design.

Personalization Enhancements

Homeowners can personalize their pool spaces through various features:

  • Interior Finish: Options range from plaster to pebble-tech finishes that offer different textures and colors.
  • Waterline Tile Choices: Custom mosaics or glass tiles can add unique visual elements.
  • Coping Styles: Choices like natural stone or pre-cast concrete provide different aesthetic appeals.
  • Decking Materials: Options such as stamped concrete or pavers enhance the surrounding area’s look while providing practical benefits.

By carefully selecting material finishes, homeowners can create custom inground swimming pools that not only meet their functional needs but also elevate the outdoor aesthetic of their properties.

Exploring Enhancements: From Water Features to Lighting Systems

Custom inground swimming pools offer endless possibilities for personalization and enhancement. Many homeowners in Southern California choose custom designs even though they cost more because they add value and make their outdoor spaces unique.

Add-On Features to Enhance Your Swimming Pool Experience:

  • Cascading Waterfalls: These features not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your pool but also create a serene, natural ambiance. Cascading waterfalls can vary in size and complexity, ranging from simple rock formations to elaborate multi-tiered designs.
  • Decorative Fountains: Adding a decorative fountain can serve as a focal point for your pool area. Options include traditional spouts, modern sculptures, or even interactive water jets that provide both visual interest and entertainment.
  • LED Lighting Options: LED lighting systems allow homeowners to illuminate their pools with vibrant colors and dynamic patterns. These lights can be installed underwater or around the pool deck, enhancing safety while creating a captivating night-time atmosphere.

Cost Implications of Enhancements:


Feature Estimated Cost Range Maintenance Considerations Energy Usage Considerations
Cascading Waterfalls $5,000 – $15,000+ Regular cleaning to prevent algae buildup Moderate energy consumption
Decorative Fountains $2,000 – $10,000+ Periodic pump maintenance Low to moderate energy usage
LED Lighting $1,500 – $4,000+ Occasional bulb replacement High energy efficiency


Installation and Maintenance:

  • Cascading Waterfalls

Installation requires professional expertise and may involve significant excavation and plumbing work. Maintenance includes regular cleaning and inspection of pumps and filters.

  • Decorative Fountains

These features are relatively simpler to install but still necessitate professional setup. Maintenance involves keeping the nozzles clean and ensuring the pumps are functioning correctly.

  • LED Lighting

Installation is straightforward but should be handled by professionals to ensure electrical safety. LED systems are highly durable with lower maintenance needs compared to traditional lighting.

Selecting durable materials like concrete for these enhancements ensures longevity and weather resistance, crucial factors given Southern California’s climate. Homeowners can personalize their pool spaces effectively while considering the balance between initial costs, ongoing maintenance, and energy efficiency. By incorporating such features, you not only elevate the functional aspects of your pool but also significantly enhance its visual appeal.

The Value Proposition: Swimming Pools and Property Value in Southern California

Understanding the impact of swimming pools on property value is crucial for homeowners in Southern California. A well-designed and maintained pool can significantly enhance a home’s appeal, attracting potential buyers and increasing its market value.

Contribution to Higher Property Values

Real Estate Market Trends

  • Homes with swimming pools in Southern California often command higher prices compared to those without pools.
  • In a competitive real estate market, a pool can be the distinguishing feature that sets a property apart.

Expert Insights

  • Real estate agents frequently highlight the presence of a swimming pool as a key selling point in property listings.
  • Pools are particularly attractive in regions with warm climates, making them desirable amenities for potential buyers.

Supporting Data

Statistical Evidence

  • According to Redfin data, homes with pools in Los Angeles sell for approximately $95,393 more than those without.
  • Another study indicates that adding a pool can increase the value of a home by up to 7%.


Location Average Increase in Home Value
Los Angeles $95,393
Southern California Up to 7%


Key Considerations

1. Design and Maintenance

  • A well-designed pool that integrates seamlessly with the landscape can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the property.
  • Regular maintenance ensures that the pool remains in pristine condition, avoiding any negative impact on property value due to wear and tear.

2. Market Preferences

  • Understanding current market trends is essential; modern buyers often look for energy-efficient features such as solar heating or LED lighting.
  • Pools equipped with advanced safety features are particularly appealing to families with young children.

3. Regional Appeal

  • In Southern California, outdoor living spaces are highly valued, and a swimming pool can serve as the centerpiece of such areas.
  • The region’s climate makes owning a pool not just a luxury but a functional asset that enhances daily living.

Expert Recommendations

Real estate professionals suggest that investing in high-quality materials and including popular features like waterfalls or automated systems can yield better returns. By ensuring exceptional design and maintenance standards, homeowners can maximize their investment’s contribution to property value.

The positive impact of swimming pools on home resale potential is well-documented and supported by both data and expert opinions. For homeowners considering a pool installation, understanding these dynamics can help make informed decisions that align with long-term financial goals.

Navigating Market Conditions and Homebuyer Preferences for Pools

Understanding market conditions and buyer preferences is crucial when investing in a swimming pool. In Southern California, where outdoor living spaces are highly valued, certain features and styles are more appealing to potential buyers:

  • Modern Designs: Clean lines, minimalistic aesthetics, and infinity edges are popular.
  • Eco-Friendly Options: Energy-efficient pumps, solar heating systems, and sustainable materials attract environmentally conscious buyers.
  • Smart Technology: Automation systems for pool maintenance, lighting, and heating add convenience and modern appeal.

Homeowners should consider these trends to ensure their pool investment aligns with what the market desires.

Tips for Adapting Pool Projects to Changing Trends

To keep up with evolving preferences without sacrificing long-term value:

1. Flexibility in Design

Opt for designs that can be easily modified or upgraded. For example, planning for future additions like a spa or water feature can save costs down the line.

2. Quality Over Quantity

Invest in high-quality materials and construction techniques. Durable finishes and reliable equipment not only extend the pool’s lifespan but also appeal to discerning buyers.

3. Safety Features

Install safety features such as child-proof fencing and slip-resistant surfaces. These additions can make your pool more attractive to families with young children.

4. Aesthetic Integration

Ensure the pool design complements the overall landscape and architecture of your property. A cohesive look enhances visual appeal and perceived value.

Popular Styles Favored by Homebuyers in Southern California

According to real estate experts, certain styles are particularly sought after in the region:

  • Resort-Style Pools: Features like beach entries, tanning ledges, and cabanas evoke a luxurious resort experience.
  • Natural Pools: Incorporating elements such as rock formations, waterfalls, and lush landscaping creates a serene oasis feel.
  • Lap Pools: For health-conscious buyers, lap pools provide a functional yet stylish addition to their fitness routine.

Case Study: Alan Smith Pools’ Approach

Alan Smith Pools has been at the forefront of adapting to market trends while maintaining high standards of craftsmanship:

“We prioritize understanding our clients’ needs and preferences,” says Alan Smith Pools’ lead designer. “By offering customizable options and staying updated on market trends, we create pools that not only enhance our clients’ lifestyles but also add significant value to their properties.”

Their expertise in plaster, tile, masonry, plumbing, electrical work, hardscape, structural work, landscaping, and general construction ensures that each project meets contemporary demands without compromising on quality.

Aligning your swimming pool design with current market conditions and buyer preferences is essential for maximizing your investment’s value. By staying informed about popular styles and incorporating adaptable features into your project plan, you can ensure long-term appeal and functionality of your pool in Southern California.


Understanding the cost to build a swimming pool in Southern California requires careful consideration of various factors discussed throughout this article. Key elements such as pool size, depth, location, material finishes, and additional features play significant roles in determining the overall investment. Homeowners must set a realistic budget and plan their finances effectively to avoid unexpected expenses.

Thorough planning and informed decision-making are crucial when starting a pool construction project. Consulting with experts ensures that each project aligns with both personal preferences and market trends. With over 35 years of experience and a dedicated team of professionals, Alan Smith Pools offers unparalleled expertise in pool building and remodeling.

For personalized cost estimates and professional guidance tailored to your needs, reach out to Alan Smith Pools today.

Contact Alan Smith Pools

Choose the leading pool builder in Southern California for your pool construction project.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Several factors come into play when determining the cost of a custom inground pool in Southern California. These include size and depth considerations, the pool's location on the property, ease of construction access, as well as the quality of materials and additional features chosen for the project.

Choosing durable materials like concrete for inground pools in Southern California is important due to their longevity and weather resistance. These materials offer greater durability and require less maintenance, making them a practical choice for this region.

Popular material finishes for different areas of an inground pool include mosaic tiles for the waterline, textured stone for coping, and slip-resistant decking choices. Each option offers unique benefits in terms of functionality and style.

Homeowners can consider various add-on features such as cascading waterfalls, decorative fountains, jets, and LED lighting options to enhance their swimming pool experience. These enhancements can elevate the aesthetics and functionality of the pool but may have cost implications related to installation, maintenance, and energy usage.

Well-designed and properly maintained pools can contribute to higher property values in Southern California based on real estate market trends and expert insights. They add to the overall appeal of a property and can attract potential buyers who value outdoor amenities.