As a parent, you’ve probably wondered at least once, “Are swimming pools worth it?”. Usually this thought occurs to you on day 45 of summer vacation when the kids are begging you to take them to the public pool.
Yes, a pool in your backyard would be much more convenient, but it would also be expensive to put in. And after it’s in, someone has to keep it clean. Is a swimming pool worth the time and money? And even if it is, can you afford it?
We’ve been wrestling with this same decision. For our family, we’ve decided that a swimming pool IS worth the investment for us. Over the next year, I’ll share our process with you along with my thoughts after it’s put in.
Today, I want to walk you through the list of considerations we took into account before making our decision. It’s very likely that once you get to the end of the list, you’ll be certain that you DON’T want a pool. I’m not trying to persuade you either way. I simply want to help you take everything into consideration before you either rule it out or make a hefty investment in one.
Installation Cost of a Swimming Pool
There are a LOT of factors that affect the price of a pool:
- Type (concrete, vinyl, or fiberglass)
- Location (will special equipment be needed?)
- Custom Features (e.g. lighting, waterfalls, diving boards)
- Permits (required by your local government)
The AVERAGE price of installing an in-ground pool is $40,000. And that’s just for the pool. Most state laws require that you enclose your pool within a fence to protect children and animals from drowning. So, remember to factor in at least another $1,000 for the fence (average cost is $1,125).
This is the point where a lot of people throw up there arms and decide a pool isn’t for them. I’ll admit, the steep price gave me pause too. I have a child in college with three more behind him. Even if I wanted to, I didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to pour into a pool.
Then, my husband suggested financing the pool. After all, if we waited until we had enough cash to pay for the pool, our kids would all be grown or away at college and we’d be investing in it for just the two of us.
While I would enjoy swimming in my own backyard, my primary motivation was to watch my kids play in the pool. For us, we either needed to finance the pool or give up the idea altogether.
Financing a Swimming Pool
In general, I’m terrified of taking on debt. I’m typically a firm believer in the notion that if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t buy it. And a pool definitely wasn’t a NECESSITY. How could I even consider taking out a loan?
Here’s how my husband convinced me. First, with one child already in college, we are already losing some of the value of a pool and would continue to do so each year we put off installing one. Second, since putting in a pool is considered a home improvement, you can finance it with a home equity loan. This was significant since the rates on a home equity loan are typically much lower than other types of personal loans (currently less than 5% APR!).
I don’t think many people consider this option when weighing their decision to get a pool. In a study conducted by Wakefield Research, 76% of homeowners in the DC area (where I live) indicated they would renovate areas of their home if they had better financial means to do so. Even when they know about home equity loans, 13% of those homeowners opt not to because the process is confusing. Another 10% think there’s too much paperwork.
I have to admit, despite my new willingness to finance our pool, those statistics were a little daunting. However, after looking into my own options, I realized the process isn’t as scary as it seems. Capital One has established a loan application process that’s consistent with its mission to provide customers simplicity, mobility, control and transparency when it comes to all aspects of banking.
Just by visiting capitalone.com/home-equity, you can:
- Get your customized rate offer and estimated loan amount – with no impact to your credit score
- Even begin the application process – it’s simple and there are no burdensome fees
Maintenance of a Swimming Pool
I have my hands full trying to keep our house clean. I wasn’t eager to add another several hundred square feet of cleaning to my chore list.
Depending on what type of pool you get, the maintenance required varies. Concrete pools requires an acid wash every 3 to 5 years. Since the acid strips away a small layer each time, eventually you will need to re-plaster a concrete pool too. Concrete is a wonderful breeding ground for mold and algae so it requires a lot of chemicals to keep clean. Partly because of the amount of maintenance, and partly because I don’t like the harsh surface of concrete, we opted against this type of pool.
Vinyl pools are fairly to maintain and clean. The smooth surface isn’t conducive to algae growth so fewer chemicals are required. However, since they are less durable than concrete, eventually you will need to replace the liner. This is the pool type we opted for, even though we knew we’d face liner replacements in the future.
Fiberglass pools are the easiest pools to clean and maintain. They don’t require an acid wash or liner replacement. This would have been my top choice if we weren’t so limited in size. Because fiberglass pools are hard to transport without breaking, you’re limited to a smaller pool size.
All pools require opening and closing the pool at the start and end of the swimming season. You’ll need to handle the pool cover and the motor for the pump. Depending on how many trees surround your property, you might have to spend a fair amount of time skimming your pool. And you’ll also have to keep an eye on the filter so make sure it stays clean.
We don’t have any trees in the area around our pool and my husband agreed to take on the semi-annual responsibilities of opening and closing the pool. That left me with tidying up toys around the pool and occasionally checking the filter. I was up for that. You could also pay a pool service to take care of maintenance for you. Prices for this type of service vary widely ($500-$1500/yr).
In addition to your maintenance costs, there are a few other expenses you should consider before you take the plunge (haha – see what I did there?). No matter how big or small your pool is, it is an improvement to your home. Therefore, Uncle Sam is going to want his piece of your new pie. Your property taxes shouldn’t be impacted too severely, but it is a cost you’ll want to assess BEFORE you sign a contract for your new pool.
Because of the high risk of injury and accidental drowning, insuring your pool can be very expensive. In fact, some insurance companies won’t cover them. It’s recommended that you increase your liability coverage and consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy.
Reselling Your Home
You’ve probably heard that you won’t recoup the cost of your pool when you sell your home. A pool will increase the value of your home, but not enough to cover the cost of installing it. On average, it will increase the value of your home by 5%. So, if you have a $500,000 home, you can expect to get about $25,000 more when you sell it with a pool. In other words, don’t get a pool if you’re doing it as a financial investment.
Even if you are okay with the fact that you won’t recoup your investment, you should also consider the fact that while a pool might attract some buyers, it will turn other buyers away. Not everyone is willing to take on the responsibility of owning a pool. Our home is built for entertaining. It’s one of the reasons we were drawn to it. A pool is a feature that most people looking to buy our home would expect. So for us, this wasn’t a deterrent.
You might be wondering, after all of those expenses I’ve just outlined, why we were still gung-ho to put in a pool. And for us, it was because of the benefits and value we knew it would bring to our lifestyle.
I write a lot of posts about entertaining teens. That’s because I WANT my kids and their friends to hang out at our house.
With one child in college, I’m painfully aware of how fast my children are growing. I want to be with them as much as possible before they head out into the world and live their own lives. Also, when they hang out at home with their friends, I know what they are up to!
A pool is a great child and teen magnet. I’ll cheerfully install a fence with a locked gate and shell out some extra money for added insurance to watch my children having fun with their friends in my own backyard.
Whenever we visit my mother and father-in-law, my kids spend hours every day in their pool. As a mom who wants her kids to be active and healthy, I LOVE to see them having so much fun while being physically active.
I mentioned earlier that we love to entertain. We love to have our friends around us. We enjoy their company and we’re thankful to have so many wonderful people in our lives. When we entertain outdoors, we can invite all of our friends and their families. A pool party is a wonderful excuse to have everyone over. And it’s fun for all ages.
Between our work, school, and activity schedules, it’s hard for us to make time for family vacations. Plus, with so many of us, vacations are expensive! Putting in a pool is going to help us make the most of our family time at home. We can take staycations in our backyard retreat whenever we want.
Ultimately, we decided that we would get so much joy and use out of a pool, that the costs associated with it paled in comparison. For us, it’s worth the few sacrifices we’ll have to make in order to afford it and take care of it. I picture myself like this sometime next summer:
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.