I Bought a House With a Pool: Here Are 7 Common Myths
Updated: Oct 18
It has become such a popular talking point over the past decade or so: swimming pools aren't worth it for homeowners. Media sources have harped on these stories. Here are just a few examples:
As a relatively new homeowner with an in-ground swimming pool, I wholeheartedly disagree. Today, I'm here to show you why all those fears about buying a home with a swimming pool are overblown.
In fact, here are eight reasons why buying a home with a swimming pool is a good idea.
Costs of owning a pool
As a prospective pool owner, you'll want to become familiar with the associated costs of owning and operating a swimming pool. These costs fit into a number of categories, including:
1. Swimming pool maintenance costs
If you have a pool, you'll need to pay a number of maintenance type costs to keep it in good working order. Among these costs are:
Pools need chemicals in order to function correctly and be safe to swim in. Among the most common chemicals you'll need to purchase are chlorine, stabilizers, pH adjusters, total alkalinity adjusters, and potentially, diatomaceous earth (if your system has a DE filter).
To operate your pool and keep the water pristine and in good working order, you'll need to run your system's pump and filter, for a minimum of 6 to 8 hours per day after your water clarifies in the spring. While pumps have gotten more energy efficient over the years, they still will add a tab onto your home's electric bill.
Just like the rest of your home and yard, your pool will need to cleaned. In the past, I've found weekly to be a good cadence, and I do it on the same day as my lawn. Cleaning equipment is not expensive, but you'll need to buy a few accessories, including:
A vacuum head (vinyl and gunite have different heads)
A skimming bag
You’ll also need to purchase chemical testing strips to assure that your water chemistry is safe to swim and safe for your pool's system. That water chemistry, even when it may be safe to swim, can still put under stress on your system's plumbing, leading to premature decay and repairs.
Don’t worry though - test strips will likely only cost you $10-$20 for an entire summer. Consider it a cheap insurance policy.
2. Swimming pool repair costs
Unfortunately, from time to time, things will go wrong with your pool. It's all part of the process. But before you decide whether or not pool ownership is for you, you'll want to know about the most common repairs that you may need to make or have completed.
In general, you can expect your pump motor to last 5 to 10 years. If you’re looking for longevity, it may be a good idea to consider Hayward branded products. My parents used Hayward products growing up, and now I use them for my pool as well. Overall, I’ve been very impressed by the quality.
There are three main types of filters that your system may have:
DE (Diatomaceous Earth)
Just last week I replaced my Heyward DE filter with the sand filter. The new filter cost me about $600 plus about $100 in plumbing equipment, but I should now be set for up to 20 years. The only ongoing maintenance now would be to change the filter sand every 5 to 7 years.
New liners/tile work
If your pool has a vinyl liner, rather than a gunite, plexiglass, or concrete finish, you will likely need to replace your liner every 10-15 years or so. Like everything else, new liners are not cheap to replace, but they do last a long time if properly installed.
Prices for vinyl liners can run up to the $4,000-$5,000 mark, though many with smaller pools will pay less.
If you don't have a vinyl-based pool, you can expect some of your tile work to crumble and fall off over time, so some repairs may be needed in the future.
7 myths about buying a house with a pool
I said really early on that I believe that the concerns about pool ownership were overblown. With that in mind, I will dispel these eight common myths to show you why owning a backyard pool may be perfect for you!
1. Pools are a waste of money
Yes, owning and operating a pool can be pricy.
But having a pool may be worthwhile if you're able to save money in other areas. Day trips to the beach may become less frequent, for instance, which can help to save on gasoline and parking expenses, helping offset your electricity costs at a minimum.
Depending on your interests and priorities, you may also save money on certain travel related expenses throughout the summer months as well.
Sure, things will go wrong, like my filter.
But when you consider that a $600 filter will last around 20 years, you're really only paying $30 or so per year.
2. Pools are difficult to operate
One of the main reasons that so many people are anti-pool is that learning how to operate the system can take some time. I dispute this, and here is why.
Most backyard swimming pools only have one skimmer and one main drain at the bottom, meaning that you'll likely only have two input valves into the front of your pump. Likewise, many systems only have two sets of returns:
One for the returns on your stairs
One for the other returns in your pool
Because they typically split below ground, in most instances, you'll only have four total plumbing pipes to keep track of.
There are plenty of online guides to help you perform routine maintenance, such as vacuuming your pool weekly.
3. You need to hire a professional for repairs
I will admit I have prior experience, having worked for a pool company a couple of summers during high school and college. And while there, I learned a lot about the business.
That said I have been able to help my parents, my grandparents and my friends without this experience to become pool experts too! There are so many free resources online, including guides on YouTube and elsewhere to help you tackle whatever project you need to work on. It will save you hundreds of dollars in labor costs.
Just this spring, I worked a project I had never done before.
While vacuuming my pool after opening this year, I inadvertently clogged my below ground skimmer line. I tried troubleshooting the best that I could and was ready to hire a professional to fix it for me.
Ultimately, I checked YouTube and discovered a recommendation to use a $10 hose bladder attachment to flush the line out with pressurized water. It worked in less than five minutes, saving me well over $100 in labor costs.
4. Your homeowner's insurance will be ridiculous
One of the often mentioned talking points about pool ownership is that it isn’t worth it because of what it will do to your home insurance premiums.
I have not found this to be the case.
My wife and I own a four bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home, on an acre of land, with an inground pool. In our first year, our homeowner's insurance policy carried an annual premium of around $1,200.
This premium would have been lower without the pool, but I don’t feel like $100 a month in premiums to protect my home is an outrageous expense. I will say that different insurers have different underwriting criteria and requirements. So, while it is always important to shop around for insurance, it is especially important to do so if you have a pool or other risky features, such as trampolines.
5. Maintenance will take all of your free time
I get it. Everyone is busy these days, and weekend/leisure time is at a minimum. One of the biggest supposed cons of being a pool owner is the time commitment required to keep your system functional and your pool clear.
In reality, this is not really the case. My pool in New England is in a very tree heavy yard, and it only takes me about 30 to 45 minutes a week to keep my pool looking great once it has been established for the summer.
6. Working on pools is boring
Working on pools can be fun!
Depending on your skill set and personal interests, working on a swimming pool can be very rewarding, particularly if you have lots of family and friends that like to drop by for a swim and a barbecue.
Personally, I am very interested in plumbing projects. Fortunately, many pool related projects involve this type of work. This spring, I have re-plumbed my system, which was a great way to improve my system's performance, while working on my personal interests and hobbies.
You may find it fun too!
7. Pools can only be used for a short period of time
Many homeowners, particularly in New England and the Midwest, fear that their pools won't get enough use to make it a worthwhile investment. And while nobody can know for sure what the weather conditions will be like in any given week, month, or year, heaters and thermal covers have extended the season in affordable ways that weren't really possible just a couple of decades ago.
There you have it! 7 common myths about buying homes with pools, dispelled.
Does a swimming pool add value to your home?
I would not recommend buying a home with a swimming pool if your main motive is achieving an increase in your home and property value.
Rather, a swimming pool in your backyard should be a good option if you’re looking to maximize your summer weekends and spend some time together as a family at home.
That said, you can expect your pool to add somewhere between 5 to 7% your home's value, on average. But in reality, this is not a given in reality. Your home's value is dictated by many variables, including your location, the age of your home and the current real estate market at any given time.
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