Should I Build a Pool?

by Pool Builders on 07-12-2010 in Articles

This is a question I am frequently posed by clients. In the middle of the dog days of summer it seems like such a grand idea. After experiencing the hottest month of June on record in the metro DC area, staying cool in a pool sounds very appealing. People imagine their family and friends sipping beverages poolside, the sounds of children playing water games such as Marco-Polo, and adults relaxing on floats. What's not to like?

It has been my experience that about one-half of the buyers are open to considering a home with a pool and about one-half of the buyers won't even look at homes with pools. If the home value is under $1 million, that ratio I believe is even greater towards three-fourths plus of buyers not wanting a pool. It isn't until the property value is around $2 million plus that I've found buyers expect a pool to be a part of the features of the home. There are many reasons for this, the primary one being the climate in Northern Virginia is such that there is at best 2-3 months of summer that are typically warm enough to truly enjoy a pool.

The significant factors that buyers consider regarding a pool are: safety aspects; maintenance and utility costs; whether the pool is aesthetically pleasing in relation to the home and property; and whether there is still a yard and grounds for other activities in addition to the space dedicated to the pool and related functions and amenities.

In terms of safety aspects, most municipalities require a pool to be fenced. I've found parents with young children also prefer an automatic pool cover that can handle the weight of an adult person, though not designed to be walked on, they do add a measure of security. The pool will need to be a standard, rectangular shape for an automatic pool cover to operate properly. Also available are specialty fences and alarms. Of course nothing replaces proper adult supervision.

Maintenance and utility costs can be significant for a pool. For the longest life, a pool should be opened, maintained, and closed by a professional. The professional pool service company should be able to identify routine maintenance concerns and issues, thus extending the life of the equipment and systems. There are custom mesh winter pool covers that are valuable for closing a pool during the winter season, keeping leaves and debris from fouling up the equipment, as well as eliminating the need to pump excess rain water from the pool. Though not designed to be walked on, winter mesh pool covers do offer another level of safety as most will hold the weight of several adults. Maintenance costs includes the chemicals needed for water sanitation and utility costs include the water for the pool as well as electricity for the pump, pool cleaner, and, if desired, fuel to heat the water. Also remember the constant cleaning required. Leaves and other debris can damage the equipment and systems, not to mention make the water undesirable to swim in.

No longer is it acceptable it seems to just have a concrete hole in the ground. Backyard pools today are more like resort spas with specialty pools such as: infinity or zero-edge pools, waterfalls or multi-tier fountains, lighting systems, beach areas, wave pools, jet-propulsion system pools for exercise. The significant thing to consider from the market's perspective are: the quality of materials and style of pool complimentary to the home and neighborhood? A neighborhood of three to four million dollar homes commands a pool and grounds that is of a higher caliber from one of homes in the one to one-half million dollar neighborhood.

This also goes to the final concern that I want to address, and that is overbuilding of the lot. Many times buyers will ask me if the yard is large enough to accommodate a pool. Actually you can install a pool practically any where, there is one in my neighbor's townhouse back patio, an area of about 11' x 22'. What I've discovered is that most buyers who do want a pool, also want some sort of yard for other types of entertainment and recreation. If the pool and decking take a preponderance of the space, more than likely that will make the entire idea of having a pool undesirable.

And a pool can always be filled in. When the market has not responded positively to a pool in a particular property, I have gone so far as to obtain cost estimates for having the pool removed, which means breaking up and hauling away of the concrete and materials and properly filling in and landscaping the remaining space.

Keeping up on the market on things like knowing whether you should build a pool is a service best provided by a professional Realtor.

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