Benefits—and Factors Boosting Construction Costs
Imagine being able to use your home’s swimming pool year round—regardless of the weather outside. Particularly in areas of the country with short swim seasons, a concrete (gunite/shotcrete) pool that’s built inside—as part of a new or existing home—can be the answer.
However, this solution comes with a price. For the privilege of maximum privacy, convenience, and availability, building an indoor swimming pool can easily cost double or triple that of a regular backyard pool.
Indoor pools vs. enclosed pools
First off, let’s define what we mean by an indoor concrete pool. This is a permanent installation that’s completely integrated into the structure of a home. Custom-built into a concrete foundation, an indoor pool is typically surrounded by solid, non-movable walls. It may be in a basement or a separate “wing” of a large home.
Variations of indoor pools can be even more complex and costly. They include pool rooms with a retractable ceiling or sunroof or which have one or two walls that open all the way. Another form is an indoor/outdoor pool, built exclusively when an architect incorporates a pool into a new home design. This elaborate approach features one portion of the pool inside the home, and the other half built out in the open air.
Don’t confuse an indoor pool with a regular backyard pool that is simply enclosed in a screen room or retractable/removable vinyl or glass structure. A good alternative for some homeowners, these enclosures are more affordable, and they can be added months or years later after the initial pool construction. Some versions at higher price points offer protection from the weather, but usually not at the level of a true indoor pool.
A tiny fraction of the private residential pools built in the U.S. are built indoors. In neighborhoods with backyards close to one another, a handful of homeowners choose an indoor pool for the total privacy it provides from the nearby neighbors.
More frequently, indoor pools are built where summers are hot and winters are harsh, such as the Midwest and Northeast. However, they can also be found in metropolitan areas like Las Vegas and South Florida where homeowners want to keep out scorching heat and/or tropical insects.
Cost considerations for permanent indoor pools
The price to build an indoor pool will vary by size, style, materials, and configuration. However, the same is true for any comparable pool built outdoors.
The key lies in understanding what factors are unique to the price tag of indoor conduction. What makes them more expensive to put in? Let’s isolate the three significant factors that contribute to the project tab on an indoor retreat.
1. Indoor Ventilation and Dehumidification
Any space that houses an indoor pool must have a system for proper ventilation and dehumidification. Without one, the pool water in an enclosed space creates humid air, and humid air creates problems.
For starters, indoor air conditions can become smelly and uncomfortable; your fancy pool room might feel more like a gym or steam room. Trapped air could smell from harsh odors from the side effects of traditional pool chlorine. Worse yet, humid air can create a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and rot—which can damage the rest of your home.
That’s why ventilation systems are not an option. A system must be installed to serve as either dehumidifier or an air exchanger. When it comes to the price for a unit, even small systems start in the four-figure range, and more common price tags will be $30,000 to $60,000.
Running these systems also adds to utility bills. Pool covers can help reduce evaporation and resulting humidity, thereby helping cut both the needed size for the system and the amount of energy needed. However, purchasing a cover adds to your overall cost.
2. Home Vapor Barrier
Because an indoor pool will live under the same roof as everything else in your home, an extra layer of protection is needed between it and the rest of the house. That’s where a vapor barrier—also known as a vapor diffusion retarder—comes in to play. Standing guard, its role is keeping water or humidity from seeping into other rooms and wreaking havoc.
Made of glass, metal, rubber, synthetic plastic, or other materials, the vapor barrier is installed inside of the walls of the pool room. It can be costly. The project may require removing and replacing existing sheetrock. When this is complete, walls may need refinishing and painting. To work effectively, the barrier material must be perfectly installed with no tears, gaps, or leaks. A proper installation almost always requires the services of a professional contractor.
3. Structural and Foundation Costs
Like any inground pool, an indoor version must be built into stable ground. Along with a full excavation and detailed shaping there will be installation of steel-reinforced concrete, plumbing, electric, interior surface, and pool equipment. Whether inside or outside, there are multiple phases of construction, and it’s a major job.
What this means is that the easiest way to put in an indoor pool is when a brand-new home is being built from the ground up. By doing so, space can be allocated specifically for the pool, and the pool room can be strategically included during the new-home development. (An added benefit: The pool won’t be a separate construction job that disrupts your normal living routine.) Hands-down, if you have the opportunity and the budget to go this route for an indoor pool, don’t pass it up!
Typically, adding a pool to an existing home requires extensive work, and in some ways, this kind of renovation project can be more complex. Building the pool and the pool room may impact the home's foundation and structure.
That can get pricy. If your existing home lacks the space for a pool and deck, adding fresh square footage to the existing footprint with dedicated pool room is an option, but will up your final bill.
In addition, building codes vary depending on the state and municipality where the pool is built. There may be specific standards and requirements dictating how the pool structure will tie in to the house structure, and these regulations can add cost.
With an indoor pool, taking a dip can be as convenient as taking a bath. However, building one requires a larger investment than a traditional outdoor pool.
If your budget can handle it, you can join the ranks of Americans who enjoy an indoor option as a fabulous addition to their home and lifestyle. Built properly by a contractor with a proven experience with indoor installations, this boutique home improvement can ensure your ability to swim comfortably and privately 365 days a year rain or shine.