We’ve talked extensively about the cost of fiberglass pools here on this blog over the years but as 2013 approaches, I wanted to take a look at where pricing is headed in this industry and what it means for consumers and pool builders as a whole.
Pool Prices and Consumer Perception
For years, the majority of swimming pool consumers, before the “research” phase of buying started, have generally felt that a swimming pool cost 20-30k installed. And although such projects are still feasible today within that budget, the reality is that inground pools, especially when one looks at the entire package (like decking, electrical, options, fencing, etc), are more in the 40-100k range—with multiple factors that will dictate the package price.
Because the housing market took such a huge hit in 2008, the swimming pool industry was drastically affected by the events, and fiberglass pool manufacturers left and right were either bought for pennies on the dollar or simply went out of business.
During this time period, most manufacturers have done their best to offset costs and keep price increases to a minimum, but at some point, the industry will have to turn back to normal margins that lead to financial stability and long-term success. If this doesn't occur, we'll only see more company mergers and empty factories.
A Significant Price Increase
This is also why fiberglass pools (along with concrete and vinyl liner for that matter) will be taking roughly a 10-15% increase across the board for most manufacturers in 2013. Having looked at the updated pricing lists for most of the companies, as well as talking to many within the industry, everyone has essentially come to the realization that material and raw goods (like oil) are simply too expensive to continue to “keep prices the same.”
As one who buys from these manufacturers, when we at River Pools get hit with a price increase it’s never something we want to see, but it’s also inevitable, and common sense economics has indicated to us for some time this would be the case.
For consumers and folks that are clearly going to get an inground fiberglass pool over the next year or so, I've listed a few of your options to consider:
1. Install your pool in before Jan.1 2013: Most pool builders will be hit with their shell cost increase on Jan.1 of next year, which means you should be able to save a few thousand dollars just by installing your pool before the end of the year. Plus, considering the fact that most companies offer their biggest discounts in the November-January time frame, such a decision makes a lot of sense. This being said, your one disadvantage to this is that you’re going to have to wait about 5 months to use the pool.
2. Lock your pool price in with a deposit now but build later: Although not every pool builder offers this, many will allow you to put down a deposit(using the old pricing) in the fall/winter and then wait until spring to have the pool installed. The advantage of this method is that you lock in 2012 pricing and get to wait on the pool to be installed, but the disadvantage is that a larger deposit is generally required because the swimming pool shell has to be paid for before the Jan. 1 deadline.
3. Just wait until 2013: As I mentioned before, this option is available just like it is every year, with the only difference being 2013 will bring the largest price increases this industry has seen in almost a decade. Notwithstanding, some folks are simply not in position to spend now to save money later, and thus waiting is the best option.
Looking ahead, the days of people thinking a swimming pool cost 25k to install will soon be coming to an end. Before long, the consumer perception will be that 30-40k is the average, which, although still below the actual cost, is a far cry from where perception has been over the last decade.
As to whether or not concrete and vinyl liner pools maintain the same rate of price increases or have a different path, only time will tell. Be rest assured though, we at River Pools will be watching.
Questions? Comments? Don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts below!