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October 26, 2019

Reality Check Time: Is a Pool Worth It?

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Category: Information


Beach ball floating on the surface of an inground swimming pool, casting a shadow in the shape of a heart

The perks of owning a swimming pool are readily apparent. With your own pool, you can take a relaxing dip whenever the mood strikes you, swim daily to stay in shape, host amazing summer parties, and so much more.

But once the daydreaming has run its course, it’s time to get real. See, there are also many downsides to owning a pool, with cost and ongoing maintenance being chief among them. And so the big question looms: Is a swimming pool really worth it?

If we’re talking about the property value of your home, the answer is no. However, that’s just one of many factors that go into it. The answers to the following questions will help you get closer to deciding if a pool makes sense for you – or whether the idea is all wet.

1. What’s the total cost of ownership?

Start with the cost of the pool itself, which is dependent on the style and features you choose. Then consider what sort of financing you will need, and how much it adds to your outlay. Finally, there’s the ongoing cost – in both time and money – of maintaining a pool.

These costs can all be difficult to estimate, but it’s important for figuring out how much you’re paying over the life of the pool. Also keep in mind that while adding a swimming pool isn’t the best home renovation project in terms of resale value, you should recoup at least some of the cost if and when you move. Put it all together, and the total cost of the pool, minus what it adds to your home’s value, is the amount you would be paying for all the benefits a pool offers.

2. How pool-friendly is the weather in your area?

Unless you’re contemplating an indoor pool, the next key piece of information is the number of days you can use a pool based on the climate in your area. Obviously, there’s a vast difference in the value you can get out of a pool in Florida than in, say, New Jersey. And yes, you can always heat your pool to keep it open longer, but that adds to your maintenance bill – and therefore may not favorably change the bottom line.

If you’ve done all the estimates to this point, you can make a rough (very rough) calculation of how much you would pay for a pool per “swimmable” day. That number could be an eye-opener, but it’s not the whole story.

3. How much value would you get out of a pool?

Quantifying the benefits you and your family would get from a pool is practically impossible, but it’s important to think about nonetheless. Consider how many people would use the pool, how often they would likely use it (be realistic!), and what the benefits are to everyone. When you take a hard look at things, you may decide that your family wouldn’t use a pool enough to justify the cost. Alternatively, a close examination may reveal unexpected advantages to owning a pool.

4. How do the alternatives compare?

Whatever you’re hoping to get from a pool, there are likely other options that can meet your needs to some degree. For example, you could save the money ticketed for a pool and use it for a vacation fund and/or new landscaping for the backyard. Point being, you can’t judge whether a pool is worth it unless you know what else you could be spending the money on.

5. What if things change?

A lot can change over the life of a pool. Some changes are easy to anticipate, such as the kids getting older, becoming progressively less interested in doing cannonballs into the pool, and ultimately moving out. Others are bound to come by surprise, such as a job change requiring you to sell your home quickly. While you can’t know the future, think about the likelihood that a change in circumstances could impact the value you get from owning a pool.

Granted, making cold, hard calculations about pool ownership has a way of dampening your enthusiasm for the whole idea. But if your answers to the above questions convince you to not get a pool, you can at least console yourself with the fact that you avoided a costly mistake. If, on the other hand, you go through this exercise and still want a pool, you can be more confident that it’s the right decision.

 By Mat Jobe

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