6 Things You Need To Know Before Installing a Pool

6 Things You Need To Know Before Installing a Pool

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. 

The Different Kinds of Pools

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. 

Aboveground or In-ground 

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.

In-ground Pool Materials

You can build an in-ground pool out of concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl.

  • Concrete (gunite): This is the oldest kind of pool material and still sees wide use today. Contractors use cement as a base to build the body of the pool, then finish it with a coat of plaster or aggregate. Concrete is the most durable material and offers more customization for your pool design, but these pools take the longest to build and are the most expensive. Concrete pools also need more maintenance, requiring frequent cleaning and resurfacing once every 10 years. 
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass pools are the middle child of pool materials, as they are less durable than concrete but more so than vinyl. The price falls right in the middle, as they cost more than vinyl but less than concrete. A fiberglass swimming pool is a single, massive piece of fiberglass fitted into a hole dug by the contractor. These pools have a few advantages. First, they require very little maintenance. Since fiberglass is a nonporous material, bacteria have difficulty growing, meaning less cleaning. Second, fiberglass pools are quicker to install, requiring only about a week. 
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is the cheapest upfront pool material out there. These pools are constructed by fitting vinyl liners onto plastic or metal frames. They offer a reasonable degree of customization and are quick to install. However, the vinyl liners of these pools deteriorate over time and require replacement every 10-15 years. Furthermore, the liners of this pool can also be damaged and are expensive to repair.

Water Treatment System

A water treatment system is the second most crucial aspect of your pool installation. Generally, there are two treatment systems: salt water and chlorine. 

  • Saltwater: This pool system uses an electrolytic chlorine generator (ECG) to separate the chlorine from the salt of the pool water, creating a constant chlorine level. This system requires less maintenance, provides consistent chlorine levels, and lacks the typical “chlorine” smell of a pool. There are a few downsides to this system, such as the high upfront costs, corrosive nature of salt water, the need to replace salt cells in the ECG, and the salt water can stain nearby stone and pavement.
  • Chlorine: Chlorine is the most common treatment system and the reason for the staple “chlorine smell” we associate with pools. This treatment uses store-bought chlorine combined with water pumps that directly chlorinate the pool. This system is cheaper and faster to install than a saltwater system but is more expensive to maintain. 

Cost

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. 

Permits, Fees, and Legal Risks

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

The Required Space of a Pool

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  

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. 

Backyard Requirements for a Pool

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:

  • Utility lines, piping, ethernet lines, etc.: The ground of your property is filled with necessary cabling, wiring, and piping. Due to their depth, pools can easily intersect with these various underground utility structures. 
  • Plant root cover: This issue can vary depending on the plants and vegetation present in your backyard. Specifically, plants with wide root bases can be challenging to remove to make room for a pool or can grow into the pool’s structure if planted too close to the pool. 
  • Landscaping and elevation difficulties: Pools require an even surface for installations, and because of this, dips, hills, or otherwise uneven terrain will have to be filled or leveled. These, depending on the amount of work, can become costly in short order.
  • Access to power and wiring: Pools and hot tubs can require special access to power for their motors or ECGs. While most backyards have access to standard electrical sockets, many larger pumps will require direct wiring. It is also not recommended to have your pool contractor handle the wiring. Instead, you should use the services of a trained electrician. 

Finding a Good Contractor 

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. 

The Pros and Cons of Pool Ownership 

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: 

Pros

  • Pools are fun, and few homeowners would argue the fact.
  • Pools are great for social gatherings. While this may not be immediately relevant, with COVID-19 still rearing its ugly head, life will resume once things have settled down, and a pool party is a great way to celebrate. 
  • Pools are beautiful, scenic water features that can create a backyard oasis. 
  • Your kids will love it. If you have children, a pool is a great way to keep them entertained. 
  • It’s a great way to keep in shape. Swimming is an excellent way to lose weight and keep in shape, and a backyard pool makes this incredibly convenient. 

Cons

  • A pool has a considerable upfront cost, combined with varying maintenance costs. Unfortunately, this cost can make a pool outside the price range of some homeowners. 
  • A pool takes time to build and tears up your backyard while in construction. While this does not apply to all pools, as some can even be built in a single day, many more expensive pools can take weeks to over a month to build. 
  • They make your insurance more expensive and come with additional liability. Since a pool is an attractive nuisance, it can increase your insurance premium and make you liable if a child sneaks into your pool and gets hurt. 
  • No matter how low-maintenance your pool is, it’s still a lot of work. You will have to either add salt or chlorine, keep the ECG or pump maintained, keep it clean, winterize it, and much more. 
  • A pool increases the cost of your water and electricity bills. Electricity for pool pumps and water to fill it is expensive. 
  • A pool takes up a lot of space in your backyard. While this may not bother you at first, some pool owners regret the loss of space later on. 

Final Thoughts

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. 

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