By Sam Wasson
Updated Dec 27, 2022
A pool can be a highlight of homeownership as it’s fun to have and great for parties. But ask any homeowner with a pool, especially those who installed one themselves, and they’ll tell you that pools are as much work as they are fun. So to make sure owning a pool is right for you, here are some of the major things to consider before installing one.
Like all home projects, pool installations offer a great deal of customization but can quickly become expensive. Generally speaking, there are two different pool types, multiple materials, and numerous add-ons that you can choose from when installing your pool.
There are two kinds of pools to choose from, aboveground or in-ground. Aboveground pools sit on top of the ground and are more common, less expensive, and quicker to set up. But, they are more prone to temperature fluctuations, more challenging to maintain, and take up more space in your backyard. A good contractor can set up an aboveground pool in a few days, and depending on the size of the pool, even one day.
On the other hand, in-ground pools are more expensive and take six to 12 weeks to install. However, these pools are more insulated, easier to maintain, more durable, offer greater customization, can come equipped with a diving board, and are considered more luxurious than aboveground pools.
You can build an in-ground pool out of concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl.
A water treatment system is the second most crucial aspect of your pool installation. Generally, there are two treatment systems: salt water and chlorine.
The overall pool cost will depend on its size, materials, treatment system, and any additional features. However, the average cost of an aboveground pool ranges from $3,000 to $11,000, priced at $10-$30 per square foot. In-ground pools have a much wider range since they have, on average, more room for customization, sitting at $28,000 up to $65,000, priced at $60-$150 per square foot.
One of the biggest hurdles homeowners face when installing a pool is obtaining permits, paying fees, and acquiring insurance to cover various legal risks. Most municipalities require construction and electrical permits for the construction of a pool. These permits usually cost around $200-$400 and can take several weeks to be approved.
Owning a pool will also massively impact your homeowner’s insurance. Pools, like trampolines, are considered “attractive nuisances,” basically something that will attract children to your home. Homeowners are held responsible for the safety of children drawn by attractive nuisances, invited or not, and are liable if the children are injured or worse. Thankfully, most homeowners insurance has coverage options for homes with attractive nuisances. Unfortunately, this means that a pool may also increase your insurance premium.
To understand the total space needed for a pool, you first need to consider the pool’s total size. The average size of an in-ground pool ranges from 10-by-20 to 20-by-40 feet. Then keep in mind that a pool must legally be a certain distance from the property line – this distance varies by municipality, but standard distances range from 3-5 feet or 10-20 feet. Finally, if you’re building an in-ground pool, you will need to account for the heavy digging machinery needed to clear the space for the pool, which you will need to ask your contractor about.
The investment value of a pool is a complex subject. In reality, the type of pool you purchase, its material, and your local market can all be significant factors in the pool’s value impact on your home. Generally speaking, most in-ground pools will add some value to your house, between 5-8% depending on location and materials. Aboveground pools are a trickier subject. For example, locations like Florida or the Carolinas generally see increased home value for aboveground pools. These locations have hot summers and no significant drought risk, making an aboveground pool a decent investment that will add real value to a home. However, locations like Utah and Arizona are more of a toss-up, as while they are plenty warm, the frequent droughts and heavy water restrictions make a pool a risky investment.
While some pools might add resale value to your home, they will likely wind up as a net neutral for you, considering the time and money put into a pool installation. Furthermore, few homeowners actively search for homes with pools during home sales, and others will be discouraged because of the work and upkeep of the pool. In the end, your enjoyment should be the main driving factor for a pool installation.
Beyond having enough space, several additional elements of your backyard may prevent you from effectively installing a pool. Most of these factors will be addressed by your contractor, but they can be timely and costly. Here are some of the primary backyard factors or issues that you should consider before installing a pool:
Finding the right pool contractor can be difficult. Some pool companies only offer basic spa and pool installations, while others provide full contracting services. You will want to pick the correct type of pool builder based on the needs of your installation. Try to have a good idea of what kind of pool you want, what features you’re interested in (such as a pool deck or enclosures), and what additional work needs to be done. If these factors are unclear, consider shopping around and receiving multiple quotes. This way, you can better understand the degree of difficulty and level of work you’re looking at and be able to find the best price at the same time.
Ultimately, every homeowner should consider whether installing a pool is worth the investment. A pool can have a steep cost, with numerous, not immediately recognizable, downsides. Here are some of the most significant pros and cons of pool ownership:
Most homeowners agree that pools are wonderful. A pool is a great way to beat the summer heat and create a relaxing oasis in a backyard. However, it’s not always a good investment, and not every homeowner wants to go through the costs and difficulties of a full installation.
Other Home Warranty Resources