Let’s face it: pools are awesome. They are a great way to escape the heat on a hot summer day, they are an excellent way to recreate and get in shape, and they are just cool to look at aesthetically. Having a home in-ground pool is a dream of a lot of people and always seems glamorous from a distance, but after the daily swim, is the home pool really worth it? Many people don’t fully understand what it takes to own and maintain a home pool, so lets have a look at what a pool really costs in terms of time and money.
Initial Installation Costs
This is obviously a significant part of deciding to build a pool. Depending on where you live and what kind of pool you want, i.e size, shape, aesthetic details, the initial groundbreaking costs can be groundbreaking: anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. If this surprises you, don’t worry, the costs only go up from here. Building an in-ground pool is more than just having a hole dug, filled with concrete and water, and called good. There are many more costs associated with the concrete perimeter around the pool, safety fences, pumps, filter, cleaning chemicals, and the landscaping around the pool. These may all factor in one way or another to the initial installation costs depending on how much you can put into the pool at once.
Cleaning and Ongoing Maintenance
Having a pool is a job that is never finished. From cleaning it on a regular basis to replacing worn out or broken parts to repairing cracks and leaks, the home pool will eat up a lot of time and money. First of all, there is the cleaning. Depending on how big the pool is, this can be a big, expensive job. Buying pool cleaners and chemicals can cost upwards of $500 per year. You will also have to regularly fish out leaves and debris that accumulate in the pool–even when you cover it you will need to clean it often–especially after heavy use.
Replacing and repairing broken or damaged parts is also a big part of pool ownership. This can be especially costly if you have to hire a pool service technician to come out and fix something. Don’t forget about utility costs either! You will likely pay somewhere in the range of $80 to $100 per month in electrical bills for the pumps and heater alone. If you decide to hire a pool service company…well, then the costs really get crazy. Tack on a few hundred more dollars every month to have the pool maintained professionally. All told, yearly pool costs after initial installation can easily run in the range of $3000 to $5000. After a twenty thousand dollar plus installation, that is a lot of money for an asset that doesn’t retain a lot in the way of resale value.
Safety and Practicality
In addition to the hard dollar costs, there are the issues of safety and how practical owning an in-ground pool is. For starters, once you install an in-ground pool, many states require that you have a locking fence around the pool for liability reasons. This can be an expensive prospect when you look at the costs of a quality fence with a locking gate setup. Depending on the length and material of the fence, this could costs several thousand dollars. Then there is the issue of liability insurance. You’ll have to check your house policy to find out about liability coverage for the pool since if someone breaks into your pool and has an accident, you are responsible.
Finally, there is the question of practicality. In-ground pools are better in some places than others. In the south and southwest where long, hot summers and milder seasons overall make owning a pool more reasonable, a lot of people justify the costs of an in-ground pool simply because they get a lot of use. In other areas, however, the frequency of use weighted against seasonal factors may make owning an in-ground pool impractical.
After calculating building and yearly maintenance costs, you have to ultimately consider the value of a pool to your home geographically. In some areas like southern California or Arizona, a pool is almost expected with a house, but up North there is a lot less value in having a costly pool for two or three months of potential use. Pools are nice, but when the value to the house overall is lacking, you should really question whether it is worth the time and money. It may make more sense to buy a membership to the local health club to swim.