There’s nothing like being able to walk out your back door to swim in your very own private swimming pool. Picturing yourself relaxing by a crystal-clear pool on a hot summer’s day (cocktail optional) sounds like a dream come true.
But is owning a pool worth the cost? And more importantly, will it increase your property value? Today we’re going to separate the fact from fiction — the fantasy from reality when it comes to owning a swimming pool.
When Pools Add Value to Your Home
There’s no question that a sparkling clean, beautifully-landscaped pool is the frosting on the cake when it comes to the ideal family home. Even for those who don’t really fancy swimming, it’s been scientifically proven that living near a body of water makes human beings happier.
A pool does have the potential to increase the value of your home up to 7% (according to HouseLogic) if the situation is right and all of the planets align. So, when might a pool make financial sense for you? Well, let’s start by looking at the factors that you need to actually make owning a pool a sound financial investment.
If you live in a warm climate
Owning a pool that boasts year-round warm weather makes a lot of sense. Principally, you won’t have to close your pool for the winter and re-open it come spring. This makes it a usable investment for more of the year and saves on the costs of winterizing chemicals and equipment.
If all of your neighbors have pools too
Keeping up with the Jones’s? Yeah, kinda. If everyone on your street has a pool then not having a pool might actually make your home impossible to sell (if you ever planned to move).
If a pool makes sense in the space you have
Does your yard have the space for a pool? Or will building a pool in your backyard completely overtake the space? It’s a good idea to build a pool in your yard if you measure the lot and still have room left over for other things like a garden, a croquet set, or a minigolf course (just kidding).
The condition of the pool
When the time comes to sell your house, the condition of the pool will make a huge difference when considering possible value-added. If it’s less than 20 years old, well-maintained, and sparkling clean, there’s a good chance that your resale value will see a nice little jump.
If, on the other hand, it’s an older pool that needs a ton of work or hasn’t been well cared for over the years, it’s gonna be a hard sell, to say the least.
If any of this sounds like you or your living situation, chances are that having a pool makes good sense for your lifestyle. If not, you may want to think again.
The Cost of Building/Installing a Pool
What’s the old saying?
“You gotta spend money to make money.” Right?
Well, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing if you decide to build or install a pool in your home. Spending.
According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost of building or installing a pool is going to set you back around $30,000. That will cover a typical 600 square foot concrete pool and the necessary equipment that goes with it.
A vinyl pool will be a bit cheaper and a pre-fab fiberglass pool will be the least expensive choice.
If you decide to spring for all of the bells and whistles like landscaping, a waterfall or fountain, and safety fences (which some US states mandate), you might be looking at close to $100,000 total.
The Costs of Maintaining a Pool
Owning a pool is kind of like owning a horse. Everyone thinks the major cost is in the initial purchase (which is also significant) but the upkeep is where it really gets you. Just like horses (sort of), pools require a lot of maintenance and the costs are worth considering before you dive in (pun intended).
To keep your pool looking its best (and safe to swim in), you’ll be dropping a fair amount of your pool budget into the necessary equipment associated with pool maintenance. This generally includes:
- A pool pump
- A pool filter
- A pool heater (optional)
- An automatic chlorinator (optional)
- A pool vacuum, skimmer, and pool brush
- A pool cover
Electricity is going to be the number one maintenance cost associated with your pool. All pools require filtration and some will need lighting or heating. Running your pool pump to clean and filter your pool water is going to take the most electricity so investing in an energy-efficient pump is a must.
Lighting, waterfalls, fountains, and other beautifying features look amazing and undoubtedly add to your enjoyment of the space… but will also inflate your utility bill considerably.
If you decide to heat your pool to extend your swimming season, you might choose to get a gas or electric pool heater. Gas heaters are the least expensive option but have higher operating costs overall. Electric heaters get the job done fastest but will cost a bundle. Heat pumps are the most energy-efficient choice but will take a longer time to heat your pool.
Cleaning your pool is not an optional exercise. Keeping your pool water chemically-sound and pH balanced means frequent testing and lots of tweaks. The most common chemicals required to keep a pool looking and running its best include:
- Sanitizer (chlorine or bromine)
- Muriatic acid (to lower pH)
- Soda ash (to raise pH)
- Chlorine shock (to periodically reset your levels and clear out bacteria)
- Don’t forget your test kit!
If you live in a colder climate and need to close your pool during the winter season, you’ll have to pick up some additional chemicals (and equipment) as well.
The Hidden Costs of Owning a Pool
Hidden costs? Unfortunately, yes. I hate to break it to you, but there are some other possible costs that come into the picture that you may not even consider when dreaming of a perfect backyard pool escape.
These types of costs come in the form of increased property taxes, extra insurance, the liability that comes with owning a pool, not to mention updating your pool as the times change.
While safety requirements and insurance vary from state to state, there’s a good chance you’ll need to attach a liability rider to your homeowner’s insurance policy. You may even have to install a safety fence if you have small children at home.
You can’t put a price tag on the enjoyment that a pool can give you and your family over the years but you can estimate the financial costs of owning a pool. None of this is to say that you shouldn’t build that new pool, it’s just a good idea to know the costs and benefits before you get started.
Only you can decide if it makes sense for your family, your lifestyle, and your budget. Owning a pool can bring years of fun and memories that will last forever. Does it justify the cost? You be the judge.