Plunge pools are finding a home in the U.S. market with customers who want to get swimming as fast as possible.
The quick turnaround, cost, speed of delivery and scalability make plunge pools — a smaller size pool to wade and cool-off in— a smart niche market for pool builders. They arrive on a crane ready to go; there’s no waiting around for concrete to cure on site. While these precast, concrete pools are a drop-and-go model, there are also options for vinyl and steel plunge pools, which require more time for construction on-site.
Karen Larson, founder of Soake Pools, which manufactures in Pembroke, New Hampshire, says plunge pools are popular with customers who don’t have or desire a large home.
“The tiny house movement, among other things, helped educate people that bigger is not necessarily better,” Larson says. “When it comes to pools, there are many advantages small pools offer that large pools cannot,” such as year-round use, efficiency, easier maintenance and time savings. It takes days, not months, to get customers swimming in precast plunge pools.
Also worth considering is the amount of backyard that would remain after a pool is installed. While homes have grown in size, yards have shrunk over the years. Zillow reported in 2015 that since the late 1990s, the median lot size for new homes declined about 10%.
“The trend of building bigger houses on similar-sized or smaller blocks has been happening for some time,” says Kurt Brutton, marketing manager for Plungie, a Lewisville, Texas–based plunge pool manufacturer. “With this squeeze for land size, there has been a compromise on how much outdoor living and lifestyle space is left behind.” Brutton says this is one reason the plunge pool has gained popularity overseas and is starting to take root in the United States. In addition to Plungie, other companies offering plunge pools are Modpools (made out of shipping containers), Soake Pools, Plunge Pools, Sacred Pools, Plunge+ Pools and Vanguard Precast Pools.
Currently, most plunge pool manufacturers ship pools that are self-contained — sealed, colored and ready to connect with filtration equipment for water filling. Some may opt to have it tiled at their home or sent already completed; each manufacturer offers different options depending on the customer’s timeline and preferences.
Dave Hobaica, co-owner of Plunge+, a manufacturer out of Easton, Massachusetts, loves the simplicity of providing customers with plunge pools. Originally, his family’s business started out as Easton Pool & Spa, Inc., but in 2019 they created a second company focused on plunge pools. About six years ago, Hobaica and his brother, Robert Hobaica, with whom who he owns the business, came across the idea for precast pools and saw it as an opportunity to add a revenue stream.
For his company, plunge pools and installations run between $35,000 to $75,000 depending on customization. Electrical work, gas, patio and coping, and fence (if necessary) are additional costs. Total time on site varies, but Hobaica says the pools are surfaced on site within three days of delivery. It can take up to six weeks to complete the project depending on material and subcontractor availability needed for landscaping, inspections, fencing, and more.
At 7 to 20 feet long and up to 8 feet deep, Hobaica says plunge pools replicate the shallow end of a traditional pool, so kids love to spend time in them, too. “They’re getting the best part of the pool without the cost,” he adds. “And you can turn them into a hot tub.” Customers can heat their plunge pools with either a gas heater or electric heat pump. For Hobaica’s clients, he recommends a gas heater as it works faster.
Plunge pools can also be upgraded with swim jets and exercise equipment like underwater bikes or treadmills.
For typical plunge pool customers, it’s a space to relax and cool off during the hottest days of summer. “It’s just meeting a major demand,” says Donovan Shanahan, director of Plungie partnerships.
For builders, less time on a job means greater profitability. It also reduces the need for bigger crews, increasing the safety of those working on-site due to fewer people working in a construction zone.
“My favorite aspect of these pools is the speed to swim,” Shanahan says. “We live in an Amazon Prime world. People want things right now. I can get a pool on a truck in 10 days right now. When it flies in [to the hole], it’s ready to plunge.”
For customers looking for an eco-friendly plunge, one option is Modpools, a Canadian company that turns modified shipping containers into a relocatable pool. Featured on shows like “Property Brothers” and “Tiny House Nation,” Modpools shined a national spotlight on creating a backyard oasis with container pools, including plunge pools.
Another upside for pool builders is the ease of standard supply ordering. Pre-set sizes for precast pools mean it’s easier to order filters and pumps in advance, especially when supply chains are still experiencing kinks.
Paul Rathnam, owner of Modpools, says he’s thankful his company doesn’t have to experience the headaches many brick-and-mortar builders are going through at the moment.
For Rathnam, the perks of the plunge pool are worth making it a segment — or an entirely new company — for pool builders these days. Customers get what they want sooner, he says — and they can be installed in any weather conditions as long as the hole can be dug.
“If we’re savvy enough,” he says, “we can manufacture leaner, build more product, build it quicker in a factory — and ship it to site, plug in the gas and electrical and we’re swimming.”