Thursday, July 13, 2006

should you buy an in-ground swimming pool?

Answering the question as to whether one should install a swimming pool into a new house is a very tricky challenge.
In our situation, we expect to move within three years, ideally to a larger house, which better meets the needs of our extended family (in-laws live with us).
We love the idea of having a swimming pool and our children enjoy swimming very much, we had a very difficult time deciding whether we should or should not install a swimming pool.

Here are the pluses:

  • our children could swim in the pool on our property
  • convenience
  • great for entertaining and inviting guests
  • very comfortable opportunity for my wife to relax on the deck while watching the children at the pool
  • grandparents enjoy swimming in the sun (though their skin protests)

Here are the minuses:

  • unlikely to recover the installation cost ($35k) upon resale
  • risk children could fall in the pool -- even under supervision
  • swimming pools require lots of maintenance (chemicals, cleaning, etc...)
  • increased insurance costs (possibly)
  • eats up about 1/3 of our back yard, but would otherwise dominate the space
  • expensive - $35k would go a long way toward a 529 plan
  • like a tatoo, your stuck with it where you put it (unless you spend lots of money)

Our decision:

  1. We decided against it, feeling that the $35k, plus expenses, would never be recovered on resale - this was confirmed be area realtors.
  2. We bought an 18' diameter inflatable pool as a substitute (blue pool)

The blue pool didn't work out well. I returned it to costco and received a refund on my $270. We now have a brown cirlce in our back lawn where the pool was. Grass is slowly trying to recolonize the empty space.

The pool failed because our ground was not perfectly level as a consequence, the pool listed from one side to another, spilling it's water.

The pool was so large it required a sophisticated filtration system and a variety of chemicals (shock, stabilizer, chlorine). Which we are unfamiliar with and a bit uncomfortable.

The pool turned a sickly green and evolved a very unpleasant odor. I'm glad Costco took back the pool. It was a nightmare cleaning it out. I had to take several showers to wash away the filthy algae odor.

We now have a much smaller pool without a filtration system or cholorine. We change the water regularly. By the way, the big pool cost $70-$90 to fill 7,000 gallons or so.

Do you have a pool? Are you glad you installed it? Do you feel you've received a fair benefit from your investment?

Perhaps we should have spent the time at the public pool or the pool at the YMCA? I'm sure we would have had more fun - even if the locker rooms are dubious.

Have a great day,


PS I did a quick search on the web. Here are some interesting comments re: pools and home value:

An aritlce on ringsurf mention this:

"Don’t do anything to make your lot look too gaudy. The most common example is putting in a swimming pool that takes up the entire back yard. "

The toronto real esate blog was skeptical of the value of vanity or personal improvements, like swimming pools:

"A $35,000 swimming pool or a $15,000 finished basement or even $5,000 worth of landscaping may make the home very attractive. However these additional costs incurred may not necessarily increase the market value of a home, especially if you have to sell it at a time of year where these major items add little or no perceived value. The buyer gets the home at its real fair market value, which is based on comparable homes for sale or sold in the neighborhood. All those expensive extras may be included in the home with benefit to the buyer at little or no extra cost. "

Loan to Learn, in their home equity loan guide was very specific, indicating that swimming pools usually don't add to the value of a home, even if they make it more attractive (at price without pool cost):

"Home equity loans are best used for home improvements that will increase the value of your home. Some improvements, such as swimming pools, don't usually increase the value upon resale. Others, such as additional bathrooms, living space, renovated or updated kitchens, etc., generally do increase the value of your home. "

To obtain more factual data I visited remodelling on line's Cost vs. Value report. A very handy report. Unfortunately, it does not address swimming pools, however, it did say that less expensive projecs usually have higher cost recovery - and enighborhoods in a boom have the highest cost recovery.


Blaine Moore said...

I had an above ground pool growing up (that came with the house) and we almost bought a house with an inground pool last year (but the septic system was non-existant - completely unrelated).

I enjoyed having the pool as a kid, but now that I use swimming as a training tool I just wouldn't be able to get the same kind of value out of having one. Living in Maine, it would only be used for a few months out of the year. I'm happier living on a brook and having easy access to a few different lakes. My ocean access is about a half hour farther out than it was before I bought the house (as I lived within view of it in the apartment) but it is still easy to get to (especially after work when I am most of the way there anyway).

Anonymous said...

what is going on with the prosper situation? is everyone still (back to being) current?

Anonymous said...

how is the prosper situation going?