Does a pool increase home value — yes or no? While it may seem like this question has a clear answer, if we happened to ask it on an episode of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?, a precise dollar-amount answer would simply not exist. Even though the debate over how much a pool can contribute to a home’s value seems to be never-ending, we’re here to unravel the mystery and finally put this question to rest — at least for 2021.
Let’s deep dive into all the details and the expert advice and finally answer this watery question — does a pool increase home value? We’ll discuss if it is a good financial decision to buy a house with a pool or to add a pool when you buy a house. Together, let’s jump into the situations in which a pool can boost value or decrease value, and also take a look at installation and ongoing maintenance costs a homebuyer should consider before taking the plunge. (Warning: We have unleashed the puns!)
Pool popularity trending up!
Shell yeah! Pools have gained popularity since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. With more people spending more time at home than ever before, coupled with restrictions or closures at local recreation facilities, having a pool at your home lets you keep palm and carry on.
One of HomeLight’s top real estate agents in Florida, Sabine Robertson, confirms: “Especially with COVID right now, there is a high demand for a pool; the cost of putting a pool in has almost doubled. So if you are purchasing a home that already has a pool in place, there’s a big advantage, and I have buyers who specifically only look at homes that include pools.”
Is this just a Florida craze? Surprisingly, it’s not! Yahoo! Finance reported that Pools of Fun, an inground pool installer in Indianapolis, had a 43% increase in pool sales in August 2020.
Statistics like these are being shared from coast to coast — post-pandemic pool sales are going swimmingly, no matter your location in the U.S. But, oh buoy… will it stick? Reports show that 45% of members of the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance predicted pool industry revenues will rise 10% or more in the future.
Scenarios where a swimming pool can boost value
While having a home with a pool is currently hotter than a balmy summer day, we wanted to outline the scenarios where a swimming pool can boost value across the (diving) board.
There are a handful of key variables to consider and weigh when it comes to understanding if a swimming pool adds value to your home or not.
Swimming pools reliably boost value if:
- You live in a neighborhood where pools are the norm
- The pool style fits the neighborhood
- You live in a warmer climate and can use the pool year-round
- The pool doesn’t take up the entire yard
- The pool is well-maintained
- Buyers in your market prioritize pools
First things first: The inspection
Pools can have leaks, pumps can malfunction, and heating elements can be broken. These are all things that a regular home inspection specialist isn’t qualified to actually inspect. As a pool is a high-ticket item, “I strongly encourage anyone who wants to buy a home with a pool to get a separate pool inspection from a licensed pool company, not from a regular home inspector,” advises Robertson.
A home inspector also has to check for safety features to reduce the insurance premium, such as fencing around the pool. “So when you’re purchasing a pool and those features are not present, the insurance cost will go up, so it’s important to make sure that they are in place,” says Robertson.
Check your local pool codes by contacting your city or county to learn about the safety and building guidelines that you must follow. As the Insurance Information Institute affirms, “These may include installing a certain size fence, locks, decks and pool safety equipment.”
How much will a pool cost you?
Do you have a sinking feeling when thinking about the cost of adding a pool to your house? We’re going to unpack all the installation costs of adding a pool so you can make a decision that’s right for you, your family, and your wallet!
According to HomeLight’s Fall 2020 Top Agent Insights survey, the average cost to install an inground pool is around $42,480; however, the cost can shoot up to between $100,000 and $150,000 if you want all the luxurious bells and whistles on the market.
Ashley Conner from Carolinas Pool Cleaning in Charlotte, North Carolina, confirms: “All pools are going to be expensive in and of their own right, and no matter which type of pool you have — you can’t ignore it.” There’s more to a pool than deciding which floatie will be your go-to Instagram pal!
First things first, you have to dig a hole. Thankfully, there is no need to grab a shovel. You’ll need to hire an excavation company to handle this.
The average cost of excavating a pool is between $400 and $1,500. There can be additional costs added to the bill depending on if there are any trees to be removed and if the soil is rocky.
Actually, the excavation price can be shockingly high if the area where you want your pool built is inaccessible, with rocky terrain. If that is the case, then the excavation can cost up to $20,000.
Why so much? Concrete needs a lot of upkeep. It will require an acid wash every three to five years to make sure that mold and algae don’t grow. While acid washing your pool may sound scary, it isn’t as bad as it sounds, and your pool will look like new afterward! The average cost of an acid wash, nationally, is between $120 and $144. Then you’ll have to factor in re-plastering, which costs between $1,384 and $1,642.
Keep in mind that the price of these services will depend on demand, the size of the pool, the pool’s condition, and the finish options that you choose.
How often do you need to replaster a pool? Every 10 years is the general estimate. This higher level of maintenance, plus the higher amounts of chemicals needed to upkeep the pool, account for the annual expense.
Concrete pools are lined with a three-quarter–inch layer of plaster, which makes this the most difficult pool type to upkeep. As Conner conveys, “You’ll have to treat it with care, or else it will quickly start deteriorating. When you have plaster, you have to make sure you’re brushing it daily, doing regular acid washes, and keeping your chemicals in check. While concrete is going to be the most expensive to keep up, it is the prettiest and has the highest resale value.”
Concrete pools require more maintenance and more chemicals than fiberglass or vinyl pools, but they typically do last the longest. The lifespan of your concrete pool should be 50-plus years.
Wait, what about shotcrete or gunite? Shotcrete and gunite are actually concrete, just with a different water ratio, and shotcrete and gunite are applied with a pressurized spray rather than form-set concrete.
The national average for a fiberglass pool is between $20,000 and $36,500 which includes the delivery and the installation, as well as a basic deck or coping, which is pool-speak for the protective lip or cap at the top of the wall of the pool.
Fiberglass pools are pre-made “shells” that are installed into a leveled hole pre-dug to match its shape. Because they are pre-made, fiberglass pools are usually no larger than 16 feet across.
Fiberglass pools generally have a life-span of around 30 years, although it depends on the quality of the fiberglass pool. Maintenance costs for fiberglass pools run, on average, between $5,000 and $15,000 over a 10-year period.
The benefits of a fiberglass pool is that it is a very short installation process, usually between three and six weeks. Maintenance costs are also relatively low because of fiberglass pools’ gel-coat finish, which is both stain- and algae-resistant. You won’t have to acid wash a fiberglass pool or deal with such an expensive or intensive chemical regime.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that fiberglass pools will not crack in cold weather as they are designed to prevent frozen water or extreme cold from damaging any part of the fiberglass pool. As HomeAdvisor affirms, fiberglass pools “are possibly the easiest types to clean and maintain.”
Vinyl-lined pools cost, on average, between $20,000 and $40,000 to install. They come in a variety of shapes and custom designs, and the material doesn’t allow for algae to grow easily, which means fewer chemicals needed for upkeep.
That being said, over a 10-year period, maintenance will cost somewhere between $11,000 and $17,000. You can count on having to replace the pool liner every five to nine years, at between $4,000 and $4,500 for each replacement.
As Riverside Pools conveys, “Vinyl liners for inground pools are usually 20, 27, 28, or 30 mils thick — less than a millimeter. Dog claws, a broken branch, or even hungry insects can tear that pretty easily.” For reference, a mil is a thousandth of an inch, .001 inch. Vinyl is the least durable material for a pool. Vinyl-lined pools simply don’t last very long.
Ongoing maintenance costs
Whether you are considering a concrete pool, fiberglass pool, or vinyl-lined pool, there are ongoing costs to consider, both as a homeowner and as a potential buyer. While we nodded at the maintenance and replacement costs in the above sections, we wanted to be crystal-clear about the ongoing costs to help you plan ahead.
Conner regularly speaks with people who are interested in buying a house with a pool, and they understandably want to know what they’re getting into. “There’s a lot of things they didn’t even realize, like if your pool gets too low then it can damage your pump; if leaves pile up in your filter, then you’ll get clogs in your plumbing.”
There is a lot of daily maintenance that goes into owning a pool, as well as things that can go awry if the pool is left unattended for too long. “Nine out of ten homeowners don’t keep their pools up like they should,” declares Conner.
As knowing the ongoing costs and maintenance requirements of having a pool is top of mind for both homebuyers and homeowners, let’s dive into the ongoing costs of owning a pool.
A water pump is necessary to keep your pool functioning properly. There are many different brands and models; pool pumps range between $200 and $1,200. The national average cost for installation is between $700 and $1,300.
A pool heater isn’t necessary, but it is something that sure makes your pool more enjoyable in cooler temperatures! There are different types of pool heaters out there, and there’s a wide range of cost, typically between $1,000 and $8,500 for a pool heater.
Solar heaters are generally the most expensive type of pool heater, while electric or gas heaters are more affordable options. On average, the cost of a gas pool heater falls between the range of $1,500 and $2,500 with installation costs between $500 to $1,500. Generally, gas heaters cost less than electric pool heaters to install, but they cost more to operate. Electric heat pumps cost $2,500 to $3,500 with installation costing around $1,000 extra.
Nothing is more of a backyard turn-off than a pool turned into a giant, murky green pond. Professional pool maintenance doesn’t just involve sweeping the pool for leaves, twigs, and branches; it also involves monitoring chemicals, testing and balancing the water chemistry, cleaning filters, monitoring the equipment, vacuuming, brushing the sides of the pool, and more.
As HomeAdvisor reveals, “The national average price to maintain a swimming pool is $228 per one-time cleaning.” That being said, most homeowners spend between $109 and $347 per cleaning. It is up to the owner how often to have a pool professionally cleaned, whether that is weekly, biweekly, or monthly. However, most experts recommend cleaning your pool once a week to keep it clean and uncontaminated, and to prevent bacterial infections or even diseases.
If you want to be completely hands-off with pool maintenance, hiring professional cleaners once a week is safest. However, if you’re willing and able to balance the water chemistry yourself each week, then having it professionally cleaned less frequently and maintaining it yourself in between is a more cost-effective option.
There is also the cost of opening and closing the pool for the season to consider. It costs, on average, $450 to open and $450 to close the pool, Which involves thoroughly cleaning both the pool and the pool cover, adding water to the pool, and letting the filter run.
“No matter what type of pool you have, you need to be checking those chemicals weekly, not biweekly and not once a month — weekly,” says Conner. Chemicals play a crucial role in keeping your pool safe to swim in, and clean enough to prevent algae, bacterial growths, and even stains.
While professional pool cleaners will make this a breeze, if you’re looking to handle the chemistry yourself, you’re going to need to know which chemicals to have on hand in your arsenal. You’ll need:
- test strips
- alkalinity increasers and decreasers
- pH increaser and decreaser
- calcium hardness increaser
- pool stabilizer
- chlorine or bromine tablets
- pool shock
- pool clarifier.
How much you’ll spend on pool chemicals per month varies depending on which type of pool you have — concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl-lined. Some of these chemicals will not be necessary to use on fiberglass or vinyl-lined pools.
The cost of chemicals also ranges widely between $100 and $1,200 per year. It depends on which type of pool you have, its size, and how many months out of the year that it is in use.
This may come as a surprise, or as no surprise at all, but having a pool affects your homeowners insurance rates. Each year, it will cause a premium increase of approximately $50 per year to cover having a pool.
You might also want to consider increasing the liability portion of your homeowners policy or adding an umbrella policy on top of your insurance. It’s important to have enough insurance to cover replacing your pool in the event of a natural disaster.
A dream come blue
Whether you are buying or selling a home with a pool, or thinking of putting a pool in your backyard, hopefully the situations and variables of whether a pool increases home value is more clear. If you’re about to take the plunge, a top agent can help steer you through any murky waters you encounter.
Header Image Source: (Jonathan Borba / Unsplash)