Did you know that a steel shipping container can be converted into a pool or spa? With a little creativity, these structures can be attractive and cost-effective alternatives to installing a pool in the ground.
Recently, shipping container pools have gained popularity as a more cost-effective and environmentally responsible substitute for conventional pools. This substitute requires a fraction of the time and money to install than traditional pools because it is constructed from repurposed shipping containers.
Determining how much to budget for a shipping container pool, however, should be your priority if you're considering getting one. In this article, we'll go over all of the costs associated with installing a shipping container pool in your backyard.
What Is a Container Pool?
Container pools are made from recycled or repurposed shipping containers that have been modified and reinforced to hold a significant amount of water without collapsing.
Usually constructed from a 40-foot-long shipping container, container pools often have windows installed and the roof removed. They typically have a length of between 20 and 45 feet.
Additionally, you are free to create it in any way you see fit. The options are essentially limitless, depending on your preference for a luxurious and feature-rich haven or a straightforward, minimalist design.
Advantages of Shipping Container Pools
A traditional above-ground or inground pool allows a homeowner to enjoy all of the advantages of having a pool, including exercise, relaxation, and family fun. However, there are several advantages to container pools over traditional pool designs that might make them more alluring. These advantages include affordability, durability, customizability, sustainability, and portability.
Affordability: A container pool can be a great way to save money on the project overall if a homeowner is already considering installing an inground pool. In order to reduce the cost of installing a shipping container pool, a homeowner may also choose to purchase a smaller model of one of the many sizes of container pools.
Durability: A shipping container pool, unlike above-ground or in-ground pools, is made of steel, making it more durable, long-lasting, and resistant to impact, dents, abrasions, water, wind, sleet, and snow. Although the steel base and walls are susceptible to rusting, you can slow down the rusting process naturally and preserve the metal for years by painting it with zinc or lining it with fiberglass.
Customizability: A container pool can be customized in a multitude of ways. If a homeowner feels that there is room for one or two more features, they can discuss the upgrades they have chosen with the pool installation contractors and have them included in the final design.
Sustainability: A shipping container is usually crushed, disassembled, and melted down to recover the raw materials when it is no longer useful. Container pools are an appealing solution for using these containers. These pools are an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint, especially if they are made from repurposed materials.
Portability: Container pools have the feature of being able to be loaded onto a trailer and moved to a new location, adding portability to the design. This means that if you live in an area with strict pool regulations, or if you don't know where you'll be living next year, a container pool could be the ideal solution for you.
Also, it's possible that adding a container pool will raise the house's value. They are not only very eco-friendly and reasonably priced but also very adaptable. Pools made of shipping containers can be set up above ground, partially underground, or completely underground.
How Much Does a Shipping Container Pool Cost?
Shipping container pools can be less expensive than traditional inground swimming pools, but it all comes down to size, features, installation costs, and, most importantly, pool type, whether concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl. It also depends on the installer and your location. As a result, the prices vary.
Nonetheless, a homeowner can choose the best pool for their house if they have a thorough understanding of the variables that affect container pool installation costs.
Container Pool Size and Dimensions
One of the main elements influencing the project's overall cost is the pool's size. A homeowner may wind up saving or spending a substantial sum of money, depending on the dimensions.
Container pools are typically 8 feet wide and vary in length, so if a homeowner wants a larger pool, they must find a longer shipping container. Some manufacturers provide customized sizes, such as an 8' x 12' plunge pool for homeowners with small yards or wider models measuring 12' wide for those with larger yards.
Smaller container pools are a good option for homes with one or two people, but a 30- or 40-foot pool is advised if the homeowner plans to regularly use the pool with four or more people. A homeowner can purchase a 45-foot pool to add a little more space, but the cost will be higher.
Location and Site Preparation
After locating and selecting the container, you must determine the location of your pool and cut the container to the length and depth you require. Remember to check that it will fit in your yard.
The labor cost to install a container pool also varies depending on the location. The cost of building a pool is generally higher in cities or regions with a higher cost of living, so a homeowner must consider their local economy when putting together a budget for this project.
A solid, level surface, typically compacted gravel, a concrete slab, or concrete footings, is also required for the installation of an above-ground shipping container pool.
Depending on the location and whether the pool is above-ground or below, you have to consider the installation labor as well, which can account for anywhere between 25% and 50% of the overall cost of a container pool.
Installing an inground container pool usually takes more work than installing an above-ground pool, just like with traditional swimming pools.
The majority of container pool installations necessitate the following labor:
- Contractors charge between $50 and $150 per hour to coordinate and supervise installation.
- Plumbers typically charge between $75 and $150 per hour when connecting a swimming pool to a property's water system.
- Electricians charge between $50 and $130 per hour to install electrical connections for pumps and lighting.
- A crane operator will charge between $500 and $1,500 to move the container pool from the house to the backyard.
- Permits for installing a backyard container pool range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the scope of the project.
Another thing to consider will be the foundation costs: Gravel costs $1 to $3 per square foot, depending on the type of rock and travel distance; leveling a yard costs $0.40 to $2.00 per square foot or $500 to $1,000 on average; and installing a concrete slab costs $6 to $12 per square foot, or $2,400 to $4,800 for a 20' by 20' slab.
Customization and Features
In addition to the typical costs associated with installing a container pool, homeowners should also take into account the overall design of the pool as well as any customizations or add-ons, such as filtration systems, pool lighting or stairs, and other pool accessories, to make sure their project stays within their budget.
The first consideration for your pool's feature is whether it will be above-ground or in-ground. Because the construction of traditional above-ground and inground pools differs greatly, installation costs typically vary more.
However, there is less of a difference in cost between above-ground and inground container pool installation because container pools can be installed above-ground, partially inground, or fully inground using the same reconditioned shipping container structure.
Aside from the overall design, additional features must be considered for the project's cost. The table below includes some examples of container pool customization options and their associated costs:
Additional Features for Container Pools
$500 – $5,000
Filtration and pump systems
$1,000 – $2,000
$200 per lamp
$300 to $5,000
$4,500 – $9,000
$4,500 – $7,000
$3,000 to $12,000 ($25 – $50 per square foot)
A homeowner should bear in mind that in addition to thinking about the size of the pool, they will also need to buy a pool liner that fits the size of the pool they have chosen.
The cost of a pool liner can range from approximately $1,000 to $3,600 depending on the material and type of pool—above-ground or inground. Inground pool liners typically cost between $700 and $1,500, while above-ground pool liners typically cost between $100 and $600.
Typically, the pool liner is composed of fiberglass or vinyl. A concrete and plaster lining or an epoxy and elastic polymer lining are also options, though these are less common.
Permits and Regulations
The installation of a pool is one of many projects that need permits from the nearby municipality. For this reason, if you are managing the project yourself, you must obtain local authority approval for the shipping container design before beginning the building process.
Usually, they ask that you submit design drawings and an application for approval. Asking an engineer for assistance with the product design is an option.
However, - if you are working with a contractor - you can find out if the contractor you are working with will take care of the project's permits by asking them. The majority of businesses will handle obtaining permits to make sure they have the necessary paperwork before moving forward.
The cost of a permit varies according to the location. For pool installation, they usually charge a flat fee that varies from $450 to $1,800; however, certain municipalities may go one step further and request a copy of the construction contract in order to determine permit fees.
When installing your container pool, it's crucial to follow all applicable building codes and regulations. especially considering the possibility of electrocution, flooding your neighbors' homes, and other safety hazards! Having said that, residents of rural or suburban areas might not have to worry as much about licenses and laws.
However, we still advise you to plan your pool with user safety in mind.
So, make sure you familiarize yourself with the state and local laws about shipping container pools and swimming pools in general before you purchase a shipping container. These regulations may specify how your shipping container pool is constructed and whether you have to apply for permits in advance.
This will assist you in determining the boundaries for building a shipping container pool from the beginning. You don't want to skip this step and find out later that the pool you built violates these regulations.
Professional Installation vs. DIY
If you're someone who enjoys DIY projects and wants to take on the project of building your shipping container pool, you should know that while it is possible, there are several steps you must take before you get there:
- Getting local permits,
- Determining the size of the pool,
- Constructing a foundation for the pool,
- Building a structure that is suitable for a pool,
- Making provision for plumbing, etc.
The materials you use determine a large portion of the cost of constructing a shipping container pool. For a pool with an 8′ width, the average price range for materials is between $10,000 and $15,000. Of course, the longer the pool, the higher the cost.
If it isn't adequately supported and reinforced the shipping container won't be able to withstand the water pressure, which could lead to the walls collapsing and flooding the yard.
While DIYers may save $1,500 to $3,000 on labor costs by taking on the project themselves, doing an installation themselves may end up costing more than just hiring professionals because most do not have the tools, time, or experience needed to complete this task on their own. So, even though the result can be rewarding, the process can be difficult and time-consuming.
The homeowner has the final say in the matter, but it is recommended that they work with a pool installation company unless they have extensive experience installing pools.
Pool maintenance is typically performed in one of two ways. You have the option of doing it yourself or hiring a pool maintenance company. When you go the DIY route, you're essentially exchanging free time for a lower overall cost.
However, keep in mind that the savings are often less significant than you might think. One of the main reasons is that pool cleaning services can take advantage of bulk discounts and higher-quality equipment than you would use at home.f
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that the steel shipping container pools tend to rust if the surface is not kept up or protected. To prevent rust, most container pools are lined with fiberglass, vinyl, or concrete and plaster, and then coated with a waterproofing or zinc paint.
The average monthly cost of professional pool maintenance for weekly or biweekly cleaning services is between $80 and $150.
The equipment and expenses needed to maintain a shipping container pool are usually the same as those of a traditional pool. Although an automated cleaning system lowers the need for constant maintenance, it raises the initial cost of the pool by $4,000 to $5,000 or more.
The cost of operating heated pools and pools with enhanced features is usually higher. The number of parts that could eventually break or need to be replaced is also increased by these features.
Installing a pool heater alone normally costs between $1,800 and $4,100, but homeowners may be able to negotiate a lower price if they schedule this extra service with the pool installation contractors.
The table below shows the monthly cost of running a pool heater:
Type of Heating
Monthly Cost (Average)
$0 to $10
To avoid high costs, you'd need to insulate the container's exterior. This is similar to the slight insulation provided by traditional in-ground pools. Without insulation, your container pool will have high heating costs.
In addition to heating, a container pool needs water-cleaning systems, just like regular pools do. Without them, the water turns stagnant, grows a lot of algae, and becomes not only ugly but possibly dangerous for your health as well.
One of the most significant water-related issues stems from the decision to use chlorinated or saltwater. The decision between chlorinated and saltwater pools is frequently difficult because each has distinct advantages.
Saltwater pools may appear to be the more expensive option in terms of maintenance. When a system isn't cleaned regularly, saltwater can cause mineral corrosion. And, despite their name, saltwater pools still require chlorine level adjustments.
However, the overall cost of saltwater pool maintenance is lower than that of chlorinated pools. This is largely because the materials used in saltwater pools are generally less expensive. The saltwater is also naturally resistant to algae, which reduces the costs associated with dealing with that type of contamination.
Depending on the age, condition, and level of maintenance given to the container after it is converted to a swimming pool, a shipping container pool can last anywhere from ten to thirty years.
Containers that are transported across the ocean for an extended period might not last as long as those that are not exposed to such severe circumstances.
Container Pool Project Budgeting
While the cost of installing a new container pool can be lower than that of installing a conventional inground pool, the price can still vary greatly. And those variations are mostly determined by the type of pool you intend to build.
People frequently begin their adventures with a new pool by researching the most recent pool designs. The initial appeal of these concepts is usually based on their aesthetic appeal.
The latest hot trends are popular for a reason: they are beautiful and eye-catching. However, people frequently overlook the fact that different designs affect overall maintenance costs.
Some pool design trends, for example, that emphasize smaller sizes or a focus on a specific lining color may catch your eye simply because they are visually appealing. However, those design elements can help you save money by lowering your heating costs.
Here are some suggestions to help homeowners save money on container pool expenses:
- Examine prices offered by various pool installation companies: To make sure you're getting a fair price, get at least three quotes from local pool installation experts.
- Steer clear of adding unnecessary components to the project: Although they look fantastic, expensive pool lights, diving boards, and slides can raise the installation costs of a container pool considerably. If you're on a tight budget, skip them.
- Schedule the installation for the off-season: Since summer is when most pool installation companies are busy, you might be able to save money by booking the work for early spring or late fall.
- Choose an affordable size: Rather than just choosing the largest size pool, invest in a pool that is appropriate for the number of people residing in the house.
- Do your pool maintenance and testing: If you are capable of cleaning the pool, testing the water, and adding chemicals to balance the water chemistry, don't hire a pool maintenance company to take care of it needlessly.
- Take careful consideration before accepting the lowest offer: Be wary of extremely low estimates, as they may indicate poor quality work or a lack of experience and may result in higher long-term costs.
Constructing a swimming pool out of shipping containers can be difficult and needs careful thought and preparation. For this reason, it's usually a good idea to start by thinking about what your ideal container pool will need.
What kind of pool would you enjoy using the most? Would you prefer your pool above ground or inground? Will you hire a pool maintenance and cleaning service, or will you handle maintenance yourself?
After determining your requirements, it is time to move forward with making your project a reality: You must find the appropriate container, prepare it for use as a pool, reinforce it to support the weight of the water, and ensure that it complies with all applicable building codes and regulations.
Despite the challenges, shipping container pools provide a unique and cost-effective alternative to traditional swimming pools, and they are growing in popularity among homeowners worldwide.
- How long will a shipping container pool last?
The container pool can last for roughly 25 to 30 years before needing to be replaced if it is properly maintained. To help prolong the life of the pool, you should be aware that the walls of a container pool are susceptible to rusting and must be sealed with a waterproofing solution.
- How big are shipping container pools?
In general, depending on the company or builder you choose, container pools have a generic set of size and depth options. The most common sizes for shipping container pools are 8' wide by 20' to 40' long, which are the dimensions of most shipping containers.
- Can you turn a shipping container into a pool?
It will undoubtedly require more work than just purchasing a shipping container, cutting off the top, and filling it with water, but it is undoubtedly feasible to convert a shipping container into a pool given that watertight containers have long been used in the logistics industry to transport liquids.
All you'll need to do to create a shipping container pool is a few extra steps and professional assistance.
- How deep are shipping container pools?
Most container pools have a maximum depth of 9 ft. But, high-cube containers are also available, giving you an extra foot of height that may effectively add depth to your pool and guarantee a deeper dive, which some pool users may find more appealing.
- How long does it take to set up a shipping container pool?
The actual installation and setup of a shipping container pool can take anywhere from one day to a week or longer. However, depending on the company and design, the production time for shipping container pools varies from a few weeks to a few months.
- Is it possible for a shipping container pool to leak?
If sufficient reinforcement with steel and other materials is not included in the construction, a shipping container pool may leak.
To make sure that the pool can last as long as possible, it will also be helpful to use a watertight welding process and apply a waterproof layer to the inside of the container. To prevent spills, you can alternatively cover the pool's surface with a flat plate covered in wood cladding.