Pool excavation costs an average of $2,500
One of the more exciting—if not the most exciting—reasons to dig a giant hole in your backyard is to install a pool. Excavation is a significant contributor to the cost of building an inground pool, and varies depending on a range of factors. Pool excavation costs $500—often for DIY projects—and up to $4,500 for large pools. Most homeowners spend an average of $2,500 on the cost to dig a pool. In extreme cases, pool excavation can reach the tens of thousands, but this is rare. Here's what you need to know.
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Pool Excavation Cost Factors
Estimating your pool excavation costs is not too complex. The primary factors that contribute to a professional's proposal include pool size, equipment needs, the cost of permits, and labor rates.
Pool Shape and Size
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest contributor to the cost to dig a pool is its size and shape. Your contractor will request the depth, width, length, and design plans for your pool to determine an estimate. On average, you'll pay between $8 and $25 per cubic yard to remove land for a pool. Here's how you can expect that to translate depending on the type of pool you choose and its size, assuming a six-foot depth at $17 per cubic yard.
|Pool Size (Feet)||Cubic Yards||Cost to Excavate|
|10 x 12||27||$450|
|12 x 12||32||$545|
|12 x 24||64||$1,100|
|14 x 28||87||$1,500|
|16 x 32||114||$1,930|
|20 x 40||178||$3,020|
You could pay higher than the average $17 per cubic yard if you need a circle, oval, or uneven shape dug by the excavators. On a basic level, these shapes take more time and precision to dig. Deeper depths, such as for the cost of a plunge pool which may be as deep as eight feet, can push the price up as well.
Your yard size plays an important role in the cost to dig a pool. It will be more affordable if your yard is large enough to offer ample space for you to maneuver excavation equipment and clean up, then transport dirt and other materials. If your yard is small, it can be tricky and take longer to excavate the pool space.
On the other hand, if you're digging out an area for a pool with a small footprint, like a tiny plunge pool, your costs will be lower, even if your yard is small. If you are digging for a particularly sprawling pool in a large yard, your digging costs will be higher simply because of the large dig area.
Materials and Equipment
You won't have to worry about material costs in this project since you're technically removing it. However, equipment will play a part in the pool-digging price. Renting equipment on your own will cost up to an average of $100 an hour or $2,200 for the week.
Also, if your professional team needs to bring in unique equipment to dig trenches, lay pipes, or work around difficult terrain, you could pay a premium on your larger fee.
An average of 80% of your pool excavation costs will go toward labor. Professional excavation teams cost between $40 and $180 an hour for a job that takes between four to eight hours on average.
There's no question that you will need a permit for building an inground or semi-inground pool. On average, building permits cost between $250 and $2,000 for large outdoor projects. However, depending on local laws, you could pay as little as $100 to $300 in permits for a simple pool installation.
Cost to Excavate a Pool by Ground Material
What you find under your ground will have quite the effect on the excavation cost, whether you hire a pro or dig the pool yourself. If you live in the mountains and have notoriously rocky soil, you will pay more for a backyard of soil or sand. Your pool installation team may recommend a soil test to understand the density of soil, including the amount of clay, sand, or rocks below.
Digging into dirt for a pool costs the standard rate we listed above: $8 to $25 per cubic yard. You will only need to contend with small roots, occasional stones, and groundwater. In most cases, your team will not need special equipment to dig your pool.
Sand costs between $8 and $40 per cubic yard for a few reasons. While it can be more difficult to dig through, your team may support the sides of the hole to keep the sand from cascading back down.
Without question, rocks in your yard will lead to a longer and trickier excavation process. You can pay between $40 and $100 per cubic yard if you require the removal or disposal of large rocks. Keep in mind that your team may not know what to expect until they begin to dig.
Additional Cost Factors to Consider
With quite the range in the per-cubic-yard price tag, you'll come across plenty of factors that help or hinder the process.
Time of Year
Choosing the right time to buy a pool is a delicate dance. On the one hand, you can snag some great deals on contractors during the off-season, such as in the late fall and winter. However, it can take longer to excavate frozen land if you live in an area with frequent freezing temperatures. You may also come up against extreme weather that can push back your work date.
You may have sunnier days to work in the summer, but you could pay a premium on the demand for pool builders.
The size, shape, and accessibility of your lawn have a say in the bottom line as well. You must be able to access the pool area with construction equipment. If you have a patio, walkway, or a mini-arboretum of trees in the way, the process will take longer or require special equipment.
Accessibility also applies to where you live. Contractors in urban areas may charge more for parking and traffic complications while rural homes may be harder to reach.
There may be a lot living behind the scenes below your yard, from utility lines to septic fields. You should always have your yard checked for gas lines, electrical wires, sprinkler systems, and septic fields. Here are some costs to keep in mind:
Cost to move gas lines: $15–$25 per linear foot
Cost to dig a trench for new wiring: $600–$2,100
Cost to move a septic system: $2,000–$20,000
Cost to replace a sprinkler system: $2,500–$5,000
Your local town may set requirements for inspecting your pool throughout the process. If you need to call in a specialist after the excavation phase, you could pay between $125 and $250 for the cost of the pool inspection.
While many local pool excavators will include material removal in their price, you may pay extra if you do it yourself. Renting a dumpster in general, for example, costs between $300 and $480, but large dumpsters that hold up to 40 cubic yards cost up to $800 to rent.
DIY Pool Excavation Costs vs. Hiring a Pro
Taking on any part of the pool-building process is complicated, so it's always best to hire a local inground pool installer to see it through from start to finish. However, you can excavate your lawn for a pool if you:
Have access to rental construction equipment.
Know the location of utility lines under your lawn.
Are confident in measuring the size of your pool.
Obtain the appropriate local permits before digging.
Remember that rental equipment costs an average of $100 an hour, so you could easily catch up to the price to hire an expert team if it takes you longer than necessary.
How to Save on Pool Excavation Costs
Digging a hole for a pool may seem like a costly extra step to obtaining your poolside dreams. Here are some ways to lower costs:
Speak with at least three pool installers to compare quotes.
Hire your own contractor to inspect the soil.
Rent a dumpster for soil removal if it costs less than the company's rate.
Hire your team in the off-season during temperate weather.
Choose an accessible area for your pool.
Keep your pool size small.
Stick to traditionally shaped pools.
Frequently Asked Questions
While you can save some money by digging your own pool, you may end up paying more in construction equipment rental fees in the long run. You could, however, focus your DIY energies on lowering the cost of leveling your lawn for your pool or filling in surrounding landscaping after construction.
The time it takes to build a pool—and dig out the area—varies based on the pool size and type. In general, a professional will take between four and eight hours to dig a pool. The process will take longer if they encounter large boulders or tree roots. Keep in mind that this is a small part of the process in the long run. You will need between eight and 12 weeks to build a pool from start to finish, including the time to apply for permits.
When designing your dream pool, it's important to leave enough room for safe walkways, patios, and extras such as outdoor kitchens and fire pits. Your local building codes may specify the minimum space between your pool and your house, utility lines, and property line. In most cases, the area of the patio around the pool should be equal to or greater than the surface area of the pool.
Most professional excavation teams will charge between $8 and $15 per cubic yard. Calculate the cost by finding the volume of your pool—width x length x depth—and dividing it by 27. Then, multiply the price by the cubic yards from your equation. Budget for complications like a rocky lawn, hard-to-access pool area, or high local labor prices.