With buyers across the country gearing up for spring sales, features like swimming pools can be attractive. You may be tempted to buy a home with a swimming pool, but before you go off the deep end, here are a few things to consider.
Swimming pools are beautiful and lots of fun, but they can also be expensive and a lot of work to maintain, as well as increase your liability. So should you buy a home with a pool or not?
On the plus side, swimming pools are part of the unstoppable outdoor trends which have given new emphasis to backyard landscaping, fencing, walkways, decks, weather-proof kitchens, fireplaces, covered and open patios, arbors, ponds, and play areas. Pools are fun, they promote fitness and they give you a great place to entertain family and friends. Only you can determine how much you’ll use it and enjoy it.
On the negative side are safety and compliance issues, such as having to put a not-so-attractive child-proof fence around the pool in some areas. Maintenance can be monthly and turned over to a pool service if you wish, but that’s yet another bill to pay. Things can go wrong so you need to monitor the water frequently, for chlorine levels, leaves and to make sure your filters are working. Then there are the costs. A swimming pool uses lots of water and chemical treatments to keep it clean, attractive and safe, and it will increase your homeowner’s insurance.
The workings of the pool
According to Howthingswork.com, pools "use a combination of filtration and chemical treatment to continually clean a large volume of water." A typical swimming pool has seven components: basin; motorized pump; water filter; chemical feeder; drains; returns; and PVC plastic plumbing connecting all of those elements.
As with any mechanical components, age is always a factor, with pumps needing replacement every decade or so.
Pools come in five styles, according to the site, in order of the least to most expensive type of basin:
• Above-ground pools are the cheapest construction option, as well as the easiest to build.
• Fiberglass pools are made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic, which has been molded into a basin shape.
• Vinyl-lined in-ground pools are a lot like above-ground pools, structurally, but they look more like conventional in-ground designs, but liners need to be replaced every 10 years or so.
• Gunite pools are currently the most popular design in much of the United States, a highly durable sprayed mixture of cement and sand over a mesh grid.
• Poured-concrete pools are similar to Gunite pools, but they're a lot harder to build. Instead of spraying concrete material around a rebar framework, concrete is actually poured into conventional wooden forms.
If you’re wondering whether or not a pool is worth what you’re paying as an amenity of the home, consider the following:
• Are pools popular in your area? Do you have a long enough or hot enough swimming season that plenty of buyers will want your house and pool when you’re ready to sell?
• Does the pool complement the home? Is it well-designed, or did it eliminate an amenity you might need such as a playyard?
• Does the pool appear as well-maintained as the home? Are there any visible cracks, broken tiles, or cloudy water that would telegraph large expenses to you? How old are the mechanical components? Do they need to be replaced? Have the tile surround and concrete walkways been updated?
• Are there other outdoor features that augment the pool area, such as a cabana, barbeque or outdoor kitchen?
• Where will people change their clothes and use the WC? Will they be tracking wet footprints through the house?
Before you buy, ask the seller for any maintenance and repair records they might have for the pool, and include the pool in the home inspection. Obtain recent prices from local pool companies on similar pools and see if you are overpaying for the seller’s pool, especially if it needs updating. Most pool companies are happy to oblige in order to get the maintenance, repair, or redesign business from the new owner.
To get an idea of what maintaining a pool will be like for you, visit sites like DoItYourself.com for tips.