Last Updated: December 27, 2021

Recessed Pools (Overview, Cost & Build Process)

Written By: Pool Care Guide

The extremely high cost of inground pools has caused many homeowners to search out more economically viable swimming pool alternatives. One option that many homeowners often find during their research process is what's commonly referred to as a Recessed Pool.

What is a Recessed Pool?

Recessed pools, sometimes called semi-inground pools are only partially buried into the ground. They use the above-ground pool design and modify it with reinforced walls that can withstand the increased pressures that inground pools resist. They offer many advantages similar to an inground pool at the fraction of the cost. Doughboy Pools is the primary manufacturer of recessed pools. All Doughboy Pools are capable of being installed below grade.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a Recessed Pool?

The price of a recessed pool will vary based on pool size, planning cost, city permits, and customized features. Expect the price of your installed recessed pool to cost between $3,000 to $10,000. Other costs that will need to be considered are pool area lighting, drainage, and filtration.

How Long Does It Take To Install A Recessed Pool?

It takes approximately 1-2 days to fully install a Recessed Swimming Pool. This of course will depend on the level of experience of the person or company completing the installation of the pool. This does not include the time needed to add a pool deck, fence or other aesthetic and safety features.

What Are The Steps To Installing A Recessed Pool?

ground excavation for below grade pool

  1. Planning Phase - Check with your city and understand what permits might be necessary due to local building codes. During this phase, you must account for all portions of the process. It is also highly recommended that you hire a soil expert to take a sample of the area. The wrong type of soil can lead to improper water drainage issues.
  2. Pool Site Selection - In order to decide on your pool's proper placement, you must take into account, water drainage, soil firmness and dryness, line of sight to home, and the overall levelness of the area. You should also avoid any slopes, swamp-like conditions, trees, eaves of buildings, and powerlines.
  3. Pool Site Layout - The recessed pool you purchase should come with a layout instruction guide that will walk you through how to mark and stake the ground for the excavation process. If the guide is not included it is recommended that you contact the manufacturer for the proper layout dimensions.
  4. Prepare the site - Depending on your budget or experience you may choose to have this portion of the process done by a professional. Due to local building and safety laws, heavy excavation should not be initiated without the guidance of city planning experts. Digging without the proper knowledge could cause expensive damage to underground pipes, sprinklers, septic systems, and utility lines. It's also dangerous. It's important to note that over-digging in both depth and width will cause installation issues and will be costly to fix. To avoid this mistake it is recommended that you have the excavator carve out within 2-3 inches of the necessary dimensions. The rest of the digging can be completed by hand using a shovel.
  5. Layout Pool Within Dug Site - Once the pool area has been dug it's time to measure again and to layout and mark the pool. This must be done according to the manufacturer's instructions to avoid any potential issues.
  6. Assemble the pool - This process contains many steps and will differ according to pool type. Review the manufacturer guide for proper assembly instructions.
  7. Fill Pool With Water - Its a good idea to plan and schedule this ahead of time so that the delivery of the water can arrive as soon as the pool has been assembled. Water Delivery costs will vary based on pool gallon capacity and location.
  8. Drainage Pipe - A drainage pipe installed around the base of the pool will help groundwater drain properly and to avoid pool complications.
  9. Backfill - During this process you will add a mixture of sand and cement, often called slurry around the pool. Once dry this mixture will help the pool maintain its shape and will keep dirt away from the pool itself. After the slurry has dried you should be good to backfill the desired areas with dirt.
  10. Add Safety Labels - This is an important step in the process. Your new pool should come with a series of labels as well as instructions on where to place these labels for maximum visibility.

Advantages of Recessed Pools

  • Recessed Pools are often much less expensive compared to Concrete and Fiberglass Pools.
  • With proper permitting from your local county you can often handle much of the work by yourself which makes it a great DIY project.
  • A well-installed and designed Recessed pool can actually increase the value of your home rather than lower it.
  • They can look much better than an above-ground pool or Intex Pool.
  • Unlike an above-ground pool, they will likely not negatively affect the property value of your home.
  • Recessed pools are often well designed and built to last.

Disadvantages of Recessed Pools

  • Its generally more difficult to find the shape and size that you need to fit your required specifications. This is due to the fact that the pool you will be placing in the ground is prefabricated at a set length.
  • They are less customizable than a fiberglass or concrete pool. Essentially the only portion of the pool that you can customize is the liner, the ladder, and the around pool decking.
  • Excavation for a recessed pool can be more difficult than the inground pool process.

Conclusion on Recessed Pools

Recessed pools can make for a great option when dealing with a tight budget. You may also want to consider a fiberglass pool or a semi-inground pool. These often are also not as costly as a custom inground swimming pool.

If you do decide to install a recessed pool please speak with the manufacturer and a certified professional prior to beginning the build process.

All information on this post is for informational purposes only.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of a recessed pool?

Recessed pools are more expensive than above-ground pools but cheaper than inground pools. The average cost of a recessed pool is $11,700, but the price range is $8,400 to $22,500. 

Can an above-ground pool be recessed into the ground?

Yes, it is possible, but there are risks. Above-ground pools are not designed to withstand the dirt that will press against them. If you try to backfill an empty above-ground pool, the pool will collapse from the weight of the dirt around it.

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