To Splash or Not To Splash?
Navigating the Swimming Pool Debate!
Admit it. There’s a part of you that’s always wanted a swimming pool. It’s normal: the idea of lounging on an air mattress with a blended drink in one hand while your other hand splashes away at the clear blue water beneath. You fantasize about passing away the summer months in cool bliss as your neighbor’s sweat on the other side of the fence.
So what’s stopping you from your fantasy? It’s probably one or both of these things: money and safety. Well, owning a swimming pool may be closer than you think (especially if you are buying a new home). There are always ways which you can finance a pool and if safety is your concern, there are measures you can follow to prevent most of the dangers associated with owning a pool.
New House—New Pool
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get your hands on a pool is to buy a house that already has one. The fact is that more often than not, the price of the pool is not recaptured once the house is sold. Many real estate agents say that the seller is lucky if they capture half the cost when they sell their home.
What this means for you, is that the house with a pool and the house without usually won’t vary all that much in cost, especially if pools are common in the area. After all, in some regions owning a swimming pool is as much a part of owning a home as having a front door.
When considering buying a pool as part of your house, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:
Demand — Are pools popular in your area?
Style — Is the pool area appropriate in look and function to the home and the neighborhood?
Does the pool eliminate room for a play area or augment a play area?
Is there an outdoor cabana with an extra shower?
Condition — Does the pool appear as well-maintained as the home? Are there any visible cracks, broken tiles, or cloudy water that would telegraph large expenses to the buyer?
How old are the mechanical components?
Do they need to be replaced? Have the tile surround or concrete walkways been updated?
Staging — Do the homeowners use the pool?
Have they staged it with tables, chairs, barbecue pits and other accoutrements to outdoor fun to appeal to residents and guests?
Age — How old is the pool and does it look outdated?
If so, it can make the home appear tired, too.
Make sure your seller has the pool maintenance records handy so you can go over them before you buy. You should also obtain recent prices from local pool companies on similar pools and see where your seller’s pool compares.
The other way to get a pool with a new house is to build the house and roll the cost into the price. The benefit of this is of course you’ll have just one mortgage and at the lowest rate possible. Still, the negative is that you could be paying for the pool for 30 years, and that could be expensive. Even though mortgage rates are the lowest they’ve been in four decades, you could easily spend twice as much by paying for it a month at a time for 360 months. For example, a $25,000 pool financed over 30 years at 5.5 percent would add $142 a month to the cost of your mortgage. But over 30 years, the total cost for interest and principal would be a whopping $51,102. Over 15 years at 5 percent, that same $25,000 pool would cost $198 a month. Yes, that’s $56 more each and every month. But over the entire term, the cost would be “just” $35,586, resulting in a savings of $15,516.
Old House—New Pool
Assuming you aren’t building or buying a new house means if you want a new pool, you’re going to have to build it. Just remember that while the benefits of a pool are many (exercise, recreation, great for entertaining etc.) the one thing you want to keep in mind is that it likely won’t pay for itself when you sell your house, so just make sure that’s not the reason you are putting the pool in.
When it comes to pools, basically there are two types: above-ground and in-ground. Within either of these categories you have a few different options.
The average in-ground swimming pool ranges anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000. Materials used in the construction vary — steel walls with a vinyl liner, all concrete, or all fiberglass; fiberglass is the most expensive material. Decking surrounding the pool can be concrete (which isn’t used often), wood, stone, or patio block. It’s important to remember that some materials stain easily. If Junior spills his Kool-Aid on the deck, for example, you might end up with a permanent relic of that spill.
If you’re building an in-ground pool, you may choose from available depths ranging from 3 feet up to 10 feet; the average depth is 4 feet to 8 feet. Pools that are shallower are often called “play pools”; they’re designed primarily for keeping their owners cool. Keep in mind that pools, on occasion, have been known to end up deeper than home owners and pool builders originally planned. The most popular shapes range from the obvious kidney to rectangular, oval, and “Lazy L.” However, there’s little pool companies aren’t willing to build these days, if you’ve got an innovative idea.
Necessary pool accessories, including automatic cleaners, pool sweeps, and automatic chemical feeders, may be purchased with your pool or at a later date, after construction has been completed. The latest innovation in pool-cleaning technology is a computerized system that virtually operates and maintains your swimming pool with the simple push of a button.
Slides and diving boards that were once considered must-haves are now looked down upon because of their inherent safety risks. If you’re looking for a long-term investment and can afford it, in-ground pools are your best bet. They offer deeper water, as well as year-round swimming if you purchase heaters or various types of enclosures.
Above-ground swimming pools, the more popular variety of pool, are much more budget-friendly, ranging in price from $150 to $10,000. Sizes start as small as 12 feet round to as large as 18 feet-by-39 feet oval. Round and oval are the most common shapes, although rectangles are also available. The average depth of an above-ground pool is 4 feet; some manufacturers offer depths of up to 6 feet (it’s important to note that while purchasing a 6-foot-deep pool provides you with some extra depth — particularly appealing to taller swimmers — 6 feet isn’t deep enough for diving).
Above-ground pools are constructed using a metal frame with a vinyl liner. Steel, vinyl-coated steel and aluminum most commonly comprise the frame, although resin has recently been introduced into the market as well. Pool linings average 20 millimeters in thickness and are generally that familiar deep-blue color. Some manufacturers offer 25 millimeter-thick lining and a tile pattern with a pebble-like bottom, designed to resemble a more expensive in-ground pool.
The outside walls of above-ground pools are visible, in contrast to in-ground pools; so for aesthetic reasons, you will need to select a color for the wall. Although you have many options, the most common is brown wood grain, and during the past few years, grey — with exotic wall patterns — has gained popularity. Manufacturers of above-ground pools, in order to gain a greater share of the pool-building market, have recently introduced such features as decking, lighting, and walk-in steps, to resemble an in-ground pool. Buyers are then given in-ground aesthetics at above-ground prices.
No matter what type of pool you are considering you’ll want to follow these tips:
1. Do your homework. Conduct plenty of research and talk to friends who have pools.
2. Determine how you’ll use the pool. Will it be for fitness, recreation, or more for aesthetics and as a centerpiece for backyard get-togethers?
3. Describe your design preferences. Think about what shape you’d like, whether you’d like any special pool art such as colorful tiles and pool-bottom murals and mosaics. Also think about whether you’d like waterfalls, fountains or decorative rocks to grace the pool area.
4. Set a budget. This will be easy once you focus on the first three points.
5. Select a type of pool and choose materials. Decide whether you’d like an above-ground or in-ground pool.
6. Ask about CAD software. Some builders use computer-aided design software to give clients a sneak peek of how their pool will look before construction actually begins. You can mix and match different colors and design elements.
7. Think about landscaping. Consider how you’ll surround the pool with trees, shrubs and flowers.
8. Keep maintenance in mind. Learn about how much maintenance will be involved. Today’s state-of-the-art equipment, such as automatic cleaning and filtration systems, robotic vacuums and aquatic computers, can be activated by remote control or cell phone.
Financing Your Pool
If your heart is telling you yes, but your wallet is screaming no, sit down and consider a few issues before you give that bulldozer the green light to dig up what used to be your back yard.
Three primary issues must be considered before you sign anything: your needs, your preference in swimming pools, and the dealer to whom you will pay large amounts of money—and who you will get to know very well.
How much space can we devote to a swimming pool?
How big is my family, and what are the family members’ ages?
Do we do a lot of entertaining at home?
How many years do we plan to stay in this home?
What benefits do we want to enjoy from a swimming pool?
What is the amount of money we can afford to spend?
When you’re deciding to whom to trust your back yard’s fate, you’ve got plenty of choices: an authorized pool dealer, or in the case of above-ground pools, a department store, a catalogue, or even a toy store. Obviously, if you’re planning a long-term investment for your home, you’ll want to seek the services of an authorized dealer. Ask around for recommendations, but also strive to locate a dealer located near your home. You’ll be headed there often for various accessories and chemicals, as well as troubleshooting or follow-up services, so make it easy on yourself.
When selecting a dealer, ask each company the following questions:
Do you sell (the type of pool you have chosen)? If so, how large is your selection?
Do you offer installation?
Should any problems arise, who handles the subsequent maintenance?
Do you offer free water testing?
What kind of training in this field do you have?
Do you service the swimming pools or filters that you sell?
How do you handle warranty claims?
Depending on how extensive the work, you might want to pay for the renovation in cash or perhaps even with a credit card, though the general consensus is that you’d be nuts to finance your pool with a credit card. A credit card may be a valid choice if your remodel will run only a few grand, but if you’re building a pool from scratch or redoing the deck, adding a spa and building a pool house, stick with either a line of credit or a second mortgage. Whichever route you take, just make sure that your lender is familiar with swimming pools and that they don’t string out the approval process for several weeks. A good pool lender should be able to let you know one way or the other in no more than five days. And, if it’s a go, you should be able to close within two weeks.
10 Steps to Swimming Pool Safety
Whether safety is your primary motivation in not getting a pool or not, there are good reasons to follow these safety tips, especially if you have children. A child can drown in less than five minutes in two inches of water and not make a sound. Follow these tips and reduce the risk associated with owning a pool:
1. Before you do anything, enroll your children in swimming lessons as soon as possible.
2. Enroll in a CPR course — it’s your responsibility as a parent — and keep a list of emergency phone numbers near the pool.
3. Build in layers of protection, including a surrounding barrier, a pool cover and alarms and provide constant eye-contact supervision for young children.
4.Make sure the barrier is a board-on-board fence, which is not only sturdier; it doesn’t contain the holes you’ll spot in a traditional fence. Kids love peeping into those holes. If they spot your pool, they might be tempted to scale your fence, try your gate, etc.
5.Make sure to install and use the safety cover when the pool is not in use. Covers also help prevent evaporation, help keep heated pools warm and help cut down on cleaning maintenance.
6.Make sure to include remote alarm receivers so the alarm can be heard inside the house or in other places away from the pool area. If a child is missing, look in the pool first. You may have only seconds to save a child’s life.
6. For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
7. Remove the diving board from your private backyard pool. The risk of injury is too great. Everyone should walk, not run around the pool. Avoid pushing, shoving and horseplay in or around the pool.
8. Store your harsh chemicals — chlorine tablets, shock chemicals, etc. — in a securely locked area.
9.Keep toys away from the pool, particularly when you’ve invited guests to your pool. Very young children in the pursuit of a toy could wander too close to the water and fall. Place signs on your fence and around the pool to remind everyone of the ground rules.
10.Keep rescue equipment by the pool including life preserver and reaching pole or other device. Also keep a phone poolside. Keep essential life saving gear accessible, visible, and in proper working condition.
Don’t be under the misguided assumption that the danger of drowning occurs only when the family is outside, using the pool. A common scenario takes place when young children leave the house without a parent or guardian realizing it. Not knowing what terrible danger lurks, children are drawn to water and its shimmering reflections and soothing motion. Insist that adult guests supervise their children at all times.
Allow no-one, child or adult, swimmer or non-swimmer, to enter the pool unless a responsible person is accompanying them. Keep the drunks out of your pool. Never let intoxicated guests enter your pool. Never leave an accessible pool unattended. Non-swimmers should wear approved safety vests at all times in and around the pool. Flotation devices are not a substitute.
This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF