From Dreams to Reality: Navigating the Costs of Custom Inground Pools in California

How Much Does it Cost to Build an Inground Pool in California?


Inground pools have become increasingly popular among homeowners in California because they offer a private space for relaxation, fun, and socializing. The state’s warm weather and outdoor lifestyle make inground pools highly desirable for many properties.

Before we discuss the costs of building an inground pool in California, it’s important to know the factors that influence these expenses:

  • Geographical Location: Costs can vary significantly depending on whether you are in Northern, Central, or Southern California.
  • Design Complexity: More intricate designs usually come with higher price tags.
  • Material Quality: High-quality materials suitable for the local climate can affect both initial and long-term costs.
  • Labor Costs: Hiring experienced pool contractors often involves substantial labor fees.
  • Local Regulations: Permitting requirements and compliance with local regulations can impact both timelines and budgets.

For professional advice on your inground pool project, consider contacting Alan Smith Pools, who are well-known for their excellent pool resurfacing and replastering services in Orange County.

Selecting a Pool Tile is another critical decision that contributes to the overall aesthetic and durability of your pool.

Key Factors Affecting Inground Pool Construction Costs in California

Several key factors can affect the overall costs of building an inground pool in California:


The geographical location within California significantly impacts the cost range for inground pool projects. For example:

  • Northern California: Higher real estate values and challenging terrains like the Bay Area can drive up costs.
  • Central California: Generally offers more affordability compared to Northern and Southern regions.
  • Southern California: Luxury markets such as Los Angeles and Orange County tend to have higher prices due to demand for premium features.

Design Complexity

Design complexity plays a crucial role in determining whether a pool project will be budget-friendly or more expensive. Custom features, intricate designs, and advanced technologies can escalate costs.

  • Simple rectangular pools are less costly.
  • Custom shapes, waterfalls, and integrated spas add to the expense.


High-quality materials suitable for the California climate can impact both upfront and long-term costs. Choices include:

  • Concrete: Durable but expensive.
  • Fiberglass: Less maintenance but higher initial cost.
  • Vinyl Liner: More affordable but may require frequent replacements.

Labor Costs

Labor costs form a significant portion of the overall budget. Factors affecting labor expenses include:

  • Experience of Contractors: Hiring experienced contractors in high-demand areas like Beverly Hills or Malibu commands premium prices.
  • Specialized Skills: Tasks such as plumbing, electrical work, and masonry require skilled labor, influencing costs.


Local regulations and permitting requirements can also influence construction timelines and expenses. Compliance with:

  • Environmental Controls: Necessary permits for water usage and drainage.
  • Safety Codes: Adherence to safety standards can involve additional costs for fencing or covers.

Understanding these factors helps homeowners make informed decisions when planning an inground pool project in California.

Regional Cost Variations for Inground Pool Construction in Different Parts of California

Northern California

In Northern California, the cost of building an inground pool can vary significantly based on several factors. Affluent neighborhoods like the Bay Area can heavily influence pricing due to higher real estate values, exclusive materials, and demand for custom features.

Cost Range:

  • The general cost range for inground pools in Northern California spans from $100,000 to over $500,000.

Key Influences:

  • Affluent Neighborhoods: Areas such as San Francisco and the Bay Area drive up costs due to premium pricing for labor and materials.
  • Geographical Challenges: Hilly terrain and dense urban environments add complexity and expense to construction projects.
  • Client Preferences: Custom features and eco-friendly designs are highly sought after, increasing overall costs.

Example Costs by Region:

Region Cost Range
San Francisco $150,000 – $500,000+
Bay Area $120,000 – $450,000
Other Regions $100,000 – $300,000

Noteworthy Considerations:

  • Labor Costs: High-end neighborhoods command premium prices for experienced contractors.
  • Local Regulations: Stringent environmental regulations and permitting requirements can extend timelines and increase budgets.

Understanding these regional variations helps homeowners anticipate potential costs and make informed decisions about their inground pool projects.

Central California

Central California has its own unique pricing factors for inground pool projects. Unlike Northern California, where expensive neighborhoods like the Bay Area have a big impact on costs, Central California has a wider range of expenses.

Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbara, the special Mediterranean-style buildings and beautiful ocean views make pool construction more expensive. The price here usually ranges from $120,000 to $500,000. This higher cost is driven by the demand for pools that match the luxurious homes and stunning surroundings.

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo has a different view on pool construction costs, with prices ranging from $80,000 to $350,000. Things like pool size and design complexity have a big effect on how much it will cost in this area. Homeowners in San Luis Obispo often want custom designs that fit in perfectly with their properties’ natural beauty.

Key Points:

Santa Barbara:

  • Cost Range: $120,000 to $500,000
  • Influences: Mediterranean-style architecture, ocean views

San Luis Obispo:

  • Cost Range: $80,000 to $350,000
  • Influences: Pool size, design complexity

This difference in pricing within Central California shows how important it is to think about local factors when you’re getting ready to build an inground pool.

Santa Barbara: A Pool Paradise

Santa Barbara is known for its stunning Mediterranean-style architecture and breathtaking views of the ocean. It’s no surprise that these unique features have a significant impact on the cost of building an inground pool in this area.

Why Are Pool Construction Costs Higher in Santa Barbara?

Here are some key factors that contribute to the higher costs of pool construction in Santa Barbara:

  • Architectural Style: Many homes in Santa Barbara showcase beautiful Mediterranean designs, and pool owners often want their pools to match this aesthetic. This can involve intricate tile work, custom stone features, and other high-end finishes that drive up expenses.
  • Scenic Ocean Views: With such amazing coastal views, it’s only natural for homeowners to want their pools to enhance this feature. However, creating a pool that complements the ocean scenery may require specific placements and additional landscaping efforts, leading to higher costs.
  • Customization and Premium Materials: Residents of Santa Barbara love having unique and luxurious pools. They often choose customized designs with features like infinity edges, integrated spas, and advanced water elements. Additionally, using top-tier materials such as natural stone, glass tiles, and high-quality plaster further adds to the construction budget.
  • The combination of these elements results in pool construction costs ranging from $120,000 to $500,000 in Santa Barbara. These prices reflect the desire for exclusivity and innovation that are synonymous with the affluent lifestyle of this area.

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is a city in Central California that offers a great combination of affordability and options for customizing your inground pool. The cost of building an inground pool in this area usually falls between $80,000 and $350,000, and it’s influenced by several key factors:

  • Pool Size: Larger pools require more materials and labor, which means higher costs. If you’re considering a big pool, make sure to plan your budget accordingly.
  • Design Complexity: Pools with intricate designs or special features like waterfalls, spas, or unique shapes will cost more. On the other hand, simple geometric designs are usually more affordable.
  • Materials and Finishes: Using high-quality materials that can withstand the local climate may be more expensive at first, but they can save you money in the long run by being more durable and requiring less maintenance.
  • Labor Costs: The price of skilled labor in San Luis Obispo can vary. While hiring experienced contractors ensures good quality work, it might come with a higher price tag.
  • Permitting and Local Regulations: Making sure your pool project complies with local building codes and environmental regulations can add extra time and cost to the overall process. It’s important to consider these factors from the beginning when budgeting for your pool.

In San Luis Obispo, it’s essential to find the right balance between the size, design complexity, and material quality of your pool while also staying within your budget. This will help ensure that your inground pool project is successful.

Southern California

Southern California is renowned for its thriving luxury pool market, offering a broad spectrum of options to suit various budget ranges.

Los Angeles

High-End Pools

Prices typically start at $150,000 in affluent neighborhoods like Beverly Hills or Malibu. High-end pools with extensive customization, advanced technology, and premium materials can exceed $500,000.

Factors Influencing Cost

Property size, desired customization, and the use of premium materials play significant roles in pricing.

Orange County

Elevated Cost Levels

Pool construction costs range from $120,000 to over $500,000.

Driving Factors

The demand for exclusivity in upscale neighborhoods, innovative designs, and high-end finishes contributes to elevated costs.

Inland Empire


Compared to coastal areas, the Inland Empire offers more affordable luxury pool options.

Pricing Range

Luxury pools typically range from $70,000 to $300,000 based on size and complexity. Additional costs may arise from custom features and high-quality finishes.

San Diego

Private Resort-Like Pools

Emphasis on creating private resort-like experiences with luxury customization options.

Cost Range

Luxury pool construction costs between $100,000 and $450,000. Integration with the home’s design and natural landscape often impacts the budgeting process.

Los Angeles: A Playground for the Rich

Los Angeles is famous for its upscale neighborhoods and extravagant way of life, which have a significant impact on the cost of building an inground pool. There are several reasons why prices are higher in this area:

1. Property Size

Larger properties, especially in affluent areas like Beverly Hills or Malibu, require more extensive landscaping and custom features, driving up costs.

2. Customization

Homeowners often want their pools to stand out with unique design elements. Features like infinity edges, waterfalls, or integrated spas may look stunning but can significantly increase the final price.

3. Premium Materials

To ensure both durability and beauty, high-end materials like natural stone, premium tiles, and advanced pool finishes are used. However, these luxurious choices come at a cost.

Here’s a breakdown of the average prices you can expect to pay for a top-of-the-line pool in Los Angeles:

Feature Cost Range
Basic Inground Pool $150,000 – $200,000
Custom Features & Design $200,000 – $350,000
Premium Materials & Finishes $350,000 – $500,000+

Building an inground pool in Los Angeles requires careful planning and budgeting due to these influencing factors. The choice of materials and the level of customization can vary widely based on individual preferences and property characteristics.

Orange County

Orange County is famous for its high pool construction costs, influenced by several factors:

1. Exclusivity in Upscale Neighborhoods

Areas like Newport Beach and Laguna Beach are known for their wealthy residents who want only the best. This exclusivity significantly drives up the costs.

2. Demand for Innovative Designs

Homeowners in Orange County often look for cutting-edge pool designs that use advanced technology and unique architectural elements. These innovations usually come with a higher price.

3. High-End Finishes

The preference for luxury materials such as Italian marble, custom mosaics, and high-quality tiles further increases the cost. These finishes not only enhance the look but also ensure durability.

Here’s a breakdown of typical costs in Orange County:

Pool Feature Cost Range
Basic Inground Pool $120,000 to $150,000
Custom Features $150,000 to $350,000
High-End Luxury Pools $350,000 to over $500,000

For example, a standard inground pool with basic features might start at around $120,000. However, adding custom features like infinity edges or underwater lighting can push the budget to between $150,000 and $350,000. For those seeking a truly luxurious experience with premium materials and intricate designs, costs can exceed $500,000.

The desire for exclusivity and luxury makes Orange County one of the most expensive regions for inground pool construction in California.

Inland Empire

The Inland Empire is a more affordable option for building inground pools compared to the expensive coastal areas. Here, you can find luxury pool choices that are reasonably priced while still offering various custom features and top-notch finishes.

Cost Range:

  • Luxury pools in the Inland Empire generally range from $70,000 to $300,000.

Key Factors:

  • Affordability: The Inland Empire tends to have lower overall project costs compared to places like Northern California or Orange County.
  • Customization: Homeowners can add special elements like waterfalls, built-in spas, and advanced lighting without paying the extremely high prices found in wealthier neighborhoods.
  • Finishes: Despite the lower costs, you can still get high-quality materials and finishes for your pool.

Comparative Analysis:

  • Property Size & Design Complexity: The Inland Empire has larger properties that allow for spacious pool designs without the extra costs of working with limited urban spaces.
  • Labor Costs: Labor expenses are also usually lower here compared to expensive regions like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which helps keep overall costs down.

The relatively affordable nature of pool construction in this area makes it an appealing choice for homeowners who want to bring a bit of luxury into their lives without spending too much money.

San Diego

San Diego’s pool market is known for its strong emphasis on creating private resort-like experiences. Homeowners in this area often want luxury customization options that seamlessly blend with their home’s design and the natural landscape. This trend can significantly impact the budgeting process for inground pools.

Key factors affecting costs in San Diego:
  • Luxury Customization: Pools are designed with high-end features such as infinity edges, waterfall cascades, built-in spas, and custom lighting.
  • Integration with Home Design: The pool area is often designed to be an extension of the living space, requiring meticulous planning and high-quality materials.
  • Natural Landscape Integration: Pools are landscaped to blend with the local environment, incorporating elements like rock formations, tropical plants, and ocean views.
Cost Range in San Diego:
Feature Cost Range
Basic Inground Pool $100,000 – $200,000
High-End Custom Features $200,000 – $350,000
Premium Materials & Finishes $350,000 – $450,000

The focus on luxury and customization means that inground pools in San Diego can range from $100,000 to $450,000. Factors such as property size and desired level of customization play crucial roles in determining the final cost.


Before starting an inground pool project in California, it’s important to assess your own budget and priorities. Take into account the key factors and regional differences we’ve discussed so you can make a well-informed decision.

Here are the main points to keep in mind:

  • Location and Accessibility: Costs can vary depending on where you are in California due to factors like environmental regulations, property values, and local labor rates.
  • Design Complexity: If you’re looking for custom features or unique designs, be prepared for higher construction costs.
  • Materials and Finishes: Opting for high-quality materials that can withstand the California climate may mean higher upfront expenses but potentially lower long-term maintenance costs.
  • Labor Costs: Hiring experienced contractors ensures quality workmanship but may come with a higher price tag.
  • Local Regulations and Permits: Compliance with specific laws in your area can impact both the timeline and overall budget of your pool project.

While construction costs are important, it’s equally crucial to find a reliable and experienced pool contractor to work with. This will guarantee that your pool is built to high standards, all necessary permits are obtained, and the entire process runs smoothly.

For more than 35 years, Alan Smith Pools has been a trusted name in the industry, serving over 35,000 families in California. They offer professional pool remodeling and renovation services along with new pool construction.

Contact Alan Smith Pools today:

  • Website: Alan Smith Pools
  • Phone: (626) 261-0825
  • Headquarters: 1276 E Colorado Blvd Suite #210, Pasadena, CA 91106

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

The geographical location within California can impact the cost range for inground pool projects due to regional cost variations, unique architectural styles, and scenic views that may contribute to higher construction costs.

In Northern California, the general cost ranges for inground pools can vary significantly based on affluent neighborhoods like the Bay Area, where high-end neighborhoods contribute to higher pricing compared to other regions within Northern California.

Significant cost variations based on specific regions within California where an inground pool is being constructed include unique cost dynamics in Northern California, Central California, and Southern California, influenced by factors such as property size, customization options, and architectural styles.

In the San Luis Obispo area of Central California, factors such as pool size and design complexity can significantly impact budgeting for a project due to their influence on construction costs and overall expenses.

Southern California is known for its thriving luxury pool market, characterized by properties with private resort-like pools, luxury customization options, and innovative designs that contribute to higher-end finishes and exclusivity.