Ask anyone what their dream house would look like, and they will almost universally answer that it should come with a swimming pool. While this makes a great fantasy, the truth is that most people do not understand the serious implications of a backyard pool. The following reasons are why you probably shouldn’t give in to this fantasy and get an in-ground swimming pool.
Cost. Many people really underestimate the actual cost to install an in-ground swimming pool. While there are plenty of late-night TV ads promising pools for less than $10,000 the vast majority of people will have costs that go beyond simple installation. Bringing in the equipment to install a pool will usually destroy any landscaping in a yard, potentially costing a homeowner thousands of dollars to replant, re-sod, and replace a sprinkler system. Furthermore, many people discover that their backyard will actually need more dirt added and/or be leveled out in order to install a pool, costing thousands of dollars just to push around dirt. Finally, many people will not be happy with the look and size of cheap in-ground pools. A quality job usually starts around $30,000, and can easily go into six figures.
Care and maintenance. Unlike many other features of a home, a backyard pool requires year-round care and maintenance. Keeping out mold and mildew requires at least weekly chlorine and other chemicals. In addition, it is necessary to constantly filter the water to keep leaves and other debris from getting into the pool.
In addition to this, there are routine maintenance items that can cost a lot of money. Filtration systems and pumps can costs hundreds of dollars to replace. Fixing a pool liner can cost thousands of dollars. If you live in a colder climate (that is, anywhere that it snows), it is necessary to cover the pool and prepare it for the winter. This can take at least a full day and require at least two people to do it right. Failing to do this can cost thousands of dollars in broken pumping equipment. If you don’t keep up with the pool, it can develop mold and mildew problems, making it virtually unusable.
People who have issues with keeping up with household maintenance should definitely not attempt to take care of a pool. Even people who travel frequently may find that keeping up with pool maintenance is too big of a chore to tackle on their own.
You won’t get back your cost when it’s time to sell. Any realtor will tell you that an in-ground pool is one of the worst so-called “investments” that you can make in your home. Homes that have pools in poor condition, that is, they show without the water being sparkling blue and equipment that is in like-new condition will have a harder time selling than a home with no pool at all. Potential buyers look at a green pool in the backyard as an instant turn-off, and immediately lower their offer to compensate for what is probably weeks of work and thousands of dollars’ worth of chemicals and new equipment to get it right again.
Even pools that are kept in good condition can make a home harder to sell. Investment buyers typically avoid homes with pools because of the potential liability costs (see reason #4). Buyers who plan to live in the home can be wary of the potential for high maintenance and up-keep. Buyers who don’t know how to swim are more likely to view the pool as a detriment than a selling point. This means that homes with pristine pools can often expect to be on the market longer and only get a few thousand dollars more than a similar home with no pool.
Liability. Few people think about the liability issues with a swimming pool, but they can be severe enough to really worry about. In many states, the law states that a homeowner is responsible for anything that happens on their property, even if the people injured were not invited. That means that if kids break onto your property, go swimming, then drown, you can be held liable. This is part of the reason why investment property owners and landlords hate swimming pools; they can be held liable for events that happen while their renters have a party without their knowledge.
More likely, you can be held responsible for anyone who injures him or herself while swimming or playing around the pool. Someone who falls in accidentally can sue you for their medical bills. At the very least, people with in-ground pools should carry extra insurance.
Structural Issues Finally, few people consider the effect that a swimming pool has on the rest of their property. Essentially, installing a swimming pool is like a building a small lake in your backyard. If there is a bad storm, this can leave your property liable to flooding, even if you do not live in a flood zone. It should be noted that most insurance policies will not cover this damage. Furthermore, creating a small lake can wreak havoc with the water table, causing many household pipes to be completely underwater. Over time, the ground around a swimming pool can settle, causing problems with the lining and plumbing of a pool.