If a house with a pool is a “must have” on your next home’s requirements list, you’re probably envisioning pool parties, backyard barbecues and floating on an air mattress night and day. However, having your own backyard sanctuary isn’t all sunshine and pool noodles.
“I always caution homebuyers about the hidden costs of pool ownership, says Flavia Berys, a San Diego real estate broker. “You’ll have higher electric bills, higher water bills and the cost of pool chemicals and filters. It adds up over the year.”
That’s why it’s a good idea to dip your toes in these 9 pool realities before you dive headfirst into your home-with-a-pool purchase.
1. Pools Are High Maintenance.
On average, DIY home pool maintenance runs between $100 and $200 monthly, says Rhianna Miller, a home and garden improvement expert at RubberMulch. If you hire a professional, it’s even higher.
“Professional pool maintenance services will take care of regular treatments of the pool,” says Miller. “These services charge from $50 to $100 hourly.”
Pool water must be tested weekly and needs to be chemically balanced, says Jose Miranda, CEO of MKM Pool Spa. Maintenance costs vary by region and depend on whether the pool is open year-round.
“Your average pool would have a chemical cost between $400 and $800 per year, depending of the number of weeks in use,” says Miranda. “Electrical costs and cleaning equipment would be extra.”
2. Your Pool Won’t Clean Itself.
A professional pool service will charge around $50 every week to clean your pool tiles and perform other cleaning maintenance. If you do your own cleaning, you’ll need to skim every day or two with a long-handled net to remove dead bugs and debris. You’ll also have to vacuum (unless the pool has an automatic vacuum) and brush pool walls every week or so, says Julie Gurner, a real estate specialist for Fit Small Business.
3. Utility Bills Run Higher.
Pools require a significant amount of electricity to run the pump and filter, and most people pay between $50-$300 monthly if there are no other repairs, leaks, or fixes to address, says Gurner.
“While this seems fairly high, the maintenance of having a pool is what truly makes some homeowners crazy,” she says.
You’ll also have a high water bill when you initially fill the pool, since most pools hold between 15,000 to 30,000 gallons of water, according to PoolPricer.com.
4. Pools in Cold Climates Have to “Open” and “Close”.
Shutting down and re-starting pool equipment and installing pool covers can be time consuming and expensive, says John Bodrozic, co-founder of Homezada, a digital home management app. For example, if you live in Phoenix, you can leave your pool open all year. However, if you live in a climate where it snows or dips below freezing, you’ll need to open your pool in the spring and close it down at summer’s end.
5. Safety Regulations Vary.
Some states, cities and townships require homeowners to register their pool with a local government entity. Others have signage, fencing and alarmed home exit doors regulations. Check with your real estate agent and local government to find out pool safety requirements. Also keep in mind the cost of adding or replacing pool safety features.
6. A Pool May Not Always Increase Home Value.
The home’s location has a lot to do with how much value a pool may add to the home, says Miller.
“In states such as Florida, California, and Arizona, a pool could increase a home’s value by as much as 8 percent,” she says. “In states with colder climates, a pool could add no value to a home, or even reduce the value for resale, due to the cost of maintenance.”
7. Pools Can Increase Your Insurance Rates.
A typical outdoor swimming pool is covered under “Coverage B, Other Structures” in a homeowner’s insurance policy, says a spokesperson at Wawanesa Insurance. Standard coverage is for direct, physical damage to the pool and doesn’t cover mechanical breakdown. Generally, the policy provides a minimum of $100,000 of personal liability coverage that can be increased up to a maximum of $1 million. This liability coverage is for guests and visitors only and doesn’t apply to anyone who meets the definition of an “insured” under the policy.
8. Make Sure You’ll Actually Use the Pool.
Berys always asks homebuyers how often they’ll really use the pool. She recommends asking yourself, “If the cost to own a pool is the same cost as a yearly weekend getaway for the family, which would be more memorable and fun?”
9. Getting Rid of a Pool is Pricey.
If you buy a home with a pool and don’t love it as much as you’d hoped, you can make the concrete mistake go away. However, the average cost of removing and filling in a swimming pool is around $6,500, according to Home Advisor.