Summer is Here So Bring on the Water…Or Not

The dog days of summer are nearly here.  For many Americans that means family get togethers, hot dogs over the grill and a dip in the local swimming pool.  If you’re one of the about 8 million U.S. households lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard, that cool and refreshing plunge is just a few steps away.  But before you go looking to make a splash-filled addition, or purchase a home with an existing pool, there’s a few quirks of pools and home ownership you need to consider.

Pools are Fun…And Costly

Any good homeowner knows that your monthly mortgage payment is only a fraction of the funds required to keep your property up and running.  From regular maintenance to monthly utility bills, extra costs can add up against your monthly budget in a hurry.  Depending on the size and model, your pool may contribute greatly to that monthly burden.

Heating, cleaning and other regular maintenance to keep your pool running in tip top shape can easily top the $100 mark or more a month.  This doesn’t even count your initial costs for filling or draining.  If you’re purchasing a home with a pool built in, this amenity often isn’t included with any home warranty and you’ll most likely need to hire a separate home inspector to assess whether a pool is in working order.  These may be small costs when compared to the enjoyment your family will receive from yearly use but it’s still an important factor to consider.

Insurance, Liability and More

Speaking of extra costs, when installing a pool or buying a home with an existing above ground or in ground model, you’ll need to be sure you’re in compliance with various rules and regulations in order to receive homeowner’s insurance on the property.  Most insurers require fences with childproof gates and separate access to prevent accidents.  In addition, having a pool on the premises can create additional liability if you have small children over to visit or play regularly.  None of these are necessarily deal breakers, but if you have small children you may want to revisit the wisdom of installing anything deeper than a few inches.

Let’s Talk Resale Value

Finally, we come to the big question on everyone’s minds: how does a pool affect home values.  The answer is the always dubious and annoying, it depends.  In this case, the answer varies from state to state and region to region.  In warmer western states such as Arizona, Texas and California, having a pool can be a big plus and adds serious value to your back yard in appearance and dollars.  Here, where the pool can be utilized nearly year-round given mild weather, the ability to cannonball to your heart’s content in your own backyard can be a big draw.

As you move further east, however, it could be a much different story.  Midwest and northeastern climates such as Chicago and New York will see little increase in home value.  In fact, the most sought-after repair item in Chicago home purchase contracts last year was the removal or filling in of existing pool structures.  Cooler temperatures and wide access to community swimming areas and beaches limit the appeal of a large private body of water that takes up space in a back yard.  For these locations, the liability and added expense outweigh the benefits in Summer enjoyment.

Which brings us to the bottom line when it comes to a backyard pool.  Whether in or above ground, you and your family should sit down and analyze the benefits and costs of having a pool on the premises.  If your family finds exceptional value in a pool and plans on becoming semi-aquatic during part of the year then any cost may make sense.  The same goes for the inverse.  Like most home decisions, it’s all about you and your family’s particular needs.



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